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Saturday, June 02, 2007

To Be a Tourist in Your Own Country

Following Dan’s lead on traveling armchairs and hot vacation spots for this summer, my plan is to write over the next few weeks about Berlin, Shanghai, Chengdu, China’s Gateway to Tibet and Melbourne, tracking the places I plan to visit, for business and pleasure, over the next few months. But first and foremost, a report about my vacation/work time in Tel-Aviv is due. I am in the midst of a homeland visit and things in Israel are as intense as ever. If you happen to be visiting here over the summer, here are a few highlights, of legal conferences, political events, and pure fun in the sun.

Legal conferences are in abundance in Israel in June. The main reason is that the Spring semester is still in its midst here (especially after a long student strike), while summer has already begun in North America. June is also a good time to get foreign speakers to come to conferences, because it is not yet as humid and hot as July and August promise to be. This week, Tel-Aviv held an interesting conference titled: Legal Pluralism, Privatization of Law and Multiculturalism. I didn’t attend all of the sessions, but two good talks I heard were by Christine Parker from University of Melbourne, on the Pluralization of Business Regulation, and by Menny Mautner from Tel-Aviv, entitled, From Honor to Dignity: How Should a Liberal State Treat Non-Liberal Cultural Groups?, exploring the promises of a move from a liberalism framework to a framework of universal human rights.

Next week, at Hebrew University, there is a fascinating conference entitled, Democracy and Rationality, which will include such political figures as Ehud Barak, Yuli Tamir and Dan Meridor, and scholars such as Samuel Issacharoff, speaking on "Democracy and the Problem of Collective Decision-Making"; Richard Pildes, and Michael Walzer.

Politically, as always, somewhere along the Israeli borders, this time the Gaza Border, there are heated conflicts, , while everywhere else, life goes on, normalized and routinized. I am reminded of my friend Gabi Blum’s new book, Islands of Agreement, which shows how peace and war coexist within long enduring conflicts.

As for fun times, the list is infinitely long. Here are some personal highlights:

Surf School: even though favorite social psychologist tells me that where we live has some of the best surfing in the world, I decided to opt for warmer waters and probably less waves. Try the Israel Surf Center Topsea in Hof Hazuk.

Favorite beach hangout: Mezizim cafe, on the Tel-Aviv beach, where, a couple of days ago, attending a small party of a childhood friend I hung out with insightful British journalist Tom Gross.

New Yoga Studio: The yoga scene in Tel-Aviv has flourished in the past two years, and one of the best new ones is at the Tel-Aviv, a studio that overlooks the sea.

Best running trails: we've found some good ones in the fields of my childhood, between Ramat Aviv and Ramat Hasharon. There are nice summer breezes there and hills and valley, even though the citrus trees from the 1980s are no longer there. There is something beautiful about touring your home country after living abroad for several years. Its like discovering your childhood chocolate milk in the local supermarket after it went of the market for a while. Tel-Aviv in my mind is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, and if you are planning on being here over the next few weeks, do shoot me an email and I will gladly offer additional recommendations.

Posted by Orly Lobel on June 2, 2007 at 08:52 AM in Orly Lobel | Permalink

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