We had this kind of Blind Date you sometimes have with people you should work or start a project with, people everyone talks about saying: You two should meet. We missed our Blind Date several times before we finally bumped into each other by chance in an event in Kantstraße, a part of the city that neither me, nor Hanno ever go to – only for that one evening, for the first time in years, the last time in months. So we were both a bit late, both waiting for something, but stopped waiting within a second, started talking and didn’t stop since then. Talking also means: Listening. Talking with Hanno also means: Silence. What I immediately liked about him was the intensity of his thinking, the ethically motivated way of looking at the people around him, the intimacy in which he engaged with them. Hanno knows how to ask the right questions at the right time. He thinks in stories and he acts in stories, constantly travelling between Tel Aviv and Berlin, down to earth with his head full of intellectual glittering. I always calm down next to him. I always get in a good mood. I always laugh a lot. He has a rare empathy, which sets him apart from the rest of the people with whom you have this kind of Blind Date just because they are part of your network or circle or community. And if I would be one of those writers who would need a muse to be inspired, I might choose him, because he is amor fati – sometimes I’m sure: he has an old soul. You should talk with him, when you meet him around.
There was a time in which Jaffa, Tel Aviv’s Arab sister, meant something magic to me. It wasn’t just the area’s increasing hipness getting me excited – a remarkable hipness –, which fed itself from the myths of an ancient port-city representing a time of prosperity before Zionism as well as a literal safe haven for the European Jewry, the ones which fled the Nazi Regime and arrived safely in Palestine. More than that, Jaffa seemed to set an example of Jewish-Arab existence beyond the “co”. There were days when I would wake from the sounds of the mosque immersing the city in chants, when minutes later I’d walk over to my favorite bakery for Rogelach and coffee. Ana Lulu, a tiny club in the center of the city was one of the few places, maybe the only place in Israel, which equally invited a young Jewish, Arab and international audience, to the point where you just couldn’t tell anymore. Things seemed perfect. Some days ago, I planed to cool my moments of fear and hitchhiking with reality – constantly waiting for the next alarm, the next interception, the next images of dead civilians in Gaza. I walked down Jerusalem Road, Jaffas main street. On my way I ran into Dafni Leef, one of the former leaders of the social protest of 2011. Back then the people demanded social justice. Dafni was shouted at by a raging woman in her mid 40ies. Walking further I understood, what the people, not Dafni herself, demand today. A group of about 100 men covered with Israeli flags brotherly held each others arms, jumping, shouting, as loud as they could: “Death to the Arabs – Death to the Arabs – Burn their houses – Burn their villages – Burn down Gaza”. Having seen them attack the first anti-war-demonstration since the beginning of “Operation Protective Edge” about a week ago, senselessly hurting left-wing demonstrators, out of which some ended up in hospital, was a shocking experience. It was something I had never seen in Tel Aviv before. Yet, it seemed more like an internal fight. In the Jaffa demo no one got hurt. Still, it was the first time I conceived such hatred, as well as my physical disgust towards the symbols which represented it. Whilst more and more civilians die in Gaza, many people in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa and other Israeli cities do their best to hold against a serious shift within the Israeli society. A shift, which seems to undermine its’ sense of diversity and human values. Standing in an almost surreal empty Ben-Gurion-Airport a day, an airport where incoming flights have been cancelled and everyone pushes the line to be first to leave in departures, I thought that listening to those people, staying aware to one’s sense of empathy, as well as to its ruin directed by voices of blunt racism seems to be one of the most important things these days. Otherwise this sense of magic might be gone quite soon. Not just in Jaffa.