From Israeli news and glossy magazines I’m getting an image of Israel as a booming technology powerhouse, “startup nation” bustling with entrepreneurial activity to rival Silicon Valley. Yet, when I look out of window I see much different picture, that of of hopeless poverty, weary poorly clothed people, shabby houses and dirty streets.
These pictures were taken in the center of Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city, a home to large high-tech community, including Technion, Microsoft, Google and Intel’s offices. These crumbling dilapidated buildings on both sides of Arlozorov street are typical for Hadar, the very center of Haifa. In 1936, one of these houses, Arlozorov 17, was a residence for Raoul Wallenberg who saved tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary. Wallenberg was a man of means and the house definitely saw better times in 1936.
The bottom picture is not a shanty town at the outskirts of Johannesburg. It is entrance to the Haifa market, known as Shuk Talpiot. I love markets, whether in Paris, Barcelona or Munich. In Western Europe food markets are places of joy, fine dining and family/friends meetings. Not in Haifa. Shuk Talpiot is crowdy, thousands of Haifa residents buy food there daily but you will find there only poverty, filth and gloom; joy is not there among impoverished buyers. Poverty does not look good, does not feel good, it stinks, literally.