Stealing Home: Israel Bound and Rebound

By Haim Chertok | Go to book overview

"CALL ME JAIME!"

Save for journeying there to meet with touring friends or visiting family, I enter Tel Aviv's Rehov Hayarkon, a strip that parallels the sea, only to renew my American passport. It is one of Israel's most schizoid streets, a very incarnation of Boardwalk nuzzling Mediterranean Avenue: the tariff in the sleazier stretch south of the American Embassy runs in the $2.00 range; the northern reaches--a luxury hotel row-- spirals toward $50. When during our ten-day Israeli initiation in 1974 Marcia, I, and the delegation from Fresno were V.I. P. -ed around, we were put up for two nights at the Plaza, a five-star slab up the street on the wave-lapped side of Hayarkon. A parachute concession parked in front of the Plaza's dubious elevator would have done well. But we were not at the time very intent upon seeing critically.

Upon entering the lobby of the Grand Hotel, a scant four- star establishment on the side of Hayarkon which does not front on the white-flecked sea, I was spotted almost at once by a smiling, soft-spoken man in his mid-40s.

"Jaime, it's good to see you again."

The Grand : subsidies for such junkets must be harder to come by. Pumping my arm was urbane Professor Leobardo Estrada, a demographer from U. C. L.A. whom I had last seen a week before at the start of the quickie excursion he and his party of "Hispanic-American Young Leadership" would be enjoying in Israel. This was now the last full day in Israel for Estrada and the dozen or so other young--i.e., under-45-- leaders; their tour, under the auspices of a program dubbed "Project Interchange," was closing out. As for me, I was ambivalently "on assignment" to cover them for an American

-54-

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