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The sirens of Tel Aviv

The people of Tel Aviv insist on maintaining normalcy by going to the beach and watching the World Cup, despite the rockets flying overhead, yet, something in the city has cracked this time around.
People point to an iron dome missile trail, after an iron dome was fired to intercept an incoming rocket, during an air raid siren warning of a rocket attack in Tel Aviv July 12, 2014. Hamas militants launched ten rockets at Tel Aviv on Saturday, causing no casualties or damage, in the largest salvo yet on Israel's main business hub, since Israel launched its Gaza offensive against the Islamist group, five days ago. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR3YB2W

A friend of mine who was in New York on 9/11 told me that in the days and weeks following the attack, one could feel how the city had lost its soul. What is happening now in Tel Aviv is hardly as dramatic as that attack, but the streets are radiating a rather dark and gloomy sense, gnawing away at the special spirit of Tel Aviv and ultimately overwhelming it. This is a city in the middle of an anxiety attack. Yes, it still functions, but its nerves are on edge.

When the first rockets were fired on Tel Aviv on July 8, it still seemed as if the city had managed to preserve the cynical self-confidence that protected it from the harsh realities of the Middle East. Tel Aviv was no stranger to rocket attacks. It had come under fire during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. At the time, it ridiculed the attacks with the kind of self-confidence that very few people possess. It wasn’t a bad thing either. The capacity that people who live in Tel Aviv have to continue enjoying their lives, even in times of crisis, is one of the most charming aspects of life here, in what many people call “Israel’s only real city.”

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