In My Little Town

On my street in Ra'anana there is an old oak tree, which has witnessed the British leave the land, the Israeli state's establishment and the Arabs' deportation in trucks from Hirbet Azoun (now a country club) to Qalquilyah. This tree, whose branches the neighbors trim because the falling leaves litter their Tuscan garden, is one of the only ancient things left in the former citrus-grove colony. So is the old well that gave the colony its name, and a house on Hankin street, which was diagnosed as Bauhouse style.

Raanana of today is a prosperous American-style town, its residents "white and middle class." Its hardships are those of people who have everything - maybe even too much. A few token poor can be seen at the entrance to the old supermarket in the center - a dried goods vendor, an accordion player and a woman with an empty baby pram and a sign in broken Hebrew asking passersby for money. The rest have houses and shiny cars that crowd the town's roads in the morning and evening rush hours and the shopping malls' parking lots.

The residents, both secular and religious, appear open-minded. On Saturdays and holidays many of them - too many in my opinion - pace leisurely to their synagogues. English and French speakers, veteran Ashkenazis and Iraqis - each community has its own synagogue.

They all love every Jew regardless of his color and gender, as long as he keeps his distance. Thus many of Ra'anana's menial workers come from Arab villages in the triangle. The street sweepers are Ethiopian. At the end of the workday they all return in organized transportation to their homes, which are sufficiently distant.

Raanana is a well-kept city. The official who was in charge of grooming it was Uzi Cohen, of Yemenite origin, who fulfilled the white man's fantasy of a clean green city with a park and a swan pond. In winter a truck unloads snow from Mount Hermon in the square outside Yad Levanim. The only stain on the whiteness was Cohen's inclination to make racist political statements that embarassed the enlightened white bourgeois residents.

At his funeral, Benjamin Netanyahu mourned him succinctly: "You were a good soul."

They say Ra'anana will never be the same and that some neglect is already creeping in.

This my my town. Pure as the driven snow. If you scratch the surface, you'll find a little racist.