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Israel's Three Cities

- Abstract

THE MEETING point of Haifa is the observation platform in the middle of Panorama Road. It is always crowded. People come casually to stare at the most spectacular sweep of the Mediterranean in Israel, and go away surfeited. It is a purpose in itself. Almost every day, a very old man, accompanied by two students from a neighboring yeshiva, comes there to read on one of the benches. And every morning and evening an Arab woman rides past on her donkey, keeping her back to the view both on the way up and down.

A view needs to be related in order to be understood. In Haifa the reference points are the oil refineries, the docks, the immense Dagon storehouse, the stacks of the cement works, and beyond everything, the bland vista of the sea. The eye, accustomed to staring out, naturally moves beyond these industrial fixities and takes in the ships. Not the liners coming and going with African heads of state, but the immigrant ships working regular passage. The observation platform cannot break through its limitations: at that height the number of funnels is all that matters. But immigration is the unconscious rhythm of Haifa.

About the Author

David Pryce-Jones, the British novelist and political analyst, is the author of, among other books, Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews (Encounter).