Tel Aviv's Last Refuge, Shattered

The beach primrose was blooming last night, like every night, alongside the seaside benches where it all began. Only shreds of police tape hinted at what had happened only a night before. On these benches sat the Karp family, maybe clustered together, maybe each in his own world. They might have been resting after a Shabbat dinner, breathing in the summer breeze or listening to the sound of the waves.

This is the last refuge of Tel Avivians in the summer - a glorious promenade opened last year at the northernmost edge of the city, decorated with blue lampposts shining over the concrete pathways, a wonderful track for pedestrians and bicyclists alike, with its entrance rooted in the legendary prostitutes' beach of Tel Baruch.

I was attacked exactly at that same spot a year ago. "I've been dreaming about beating you to pulp for years," a man with a dog told me, and I sped away on my bicycle, riding for my life. It was winter, there was not a living soul on the remote promenade, and I felt shamefully helpless.

But last night the place was thronged with visitors, as if nothing had happened. The leisure sportsmen, the barbecue aficionados, passers by, Russians and Arabs, elderly and young, old timers and recent immigrants, people who don't have their own garden to relax in or who chose the promenade as a place to work out. For such is Tel Aviv: The morning after the murder, everything returns to normal in the city that that never stops.

One may assume that Friday night, too, there were people on the promenade, at least the northern part. Traffic here lessens as you go south, up until the blocked gate to the power station, the barrier between North Tel Aviv and the rest of the city. Perhaps there were eyewitnesses, or maybe it was only the guard dogs of Sde Dov Airport, cruelly tied with metal chains, who saw what happened here to citizen Karp, trying to run for his life. Last night they stared indifferently at the passers-by.

All that remained of Aryeh Karp's bloody trail were a few stains, already covered with sand.

Tel Aviv is still a safe city. Despite the recent murders - the indiscriminate shooting at the LGBT youth center, the dismembered woman in a trash can and now the Clockwork Orange-like assault on a Ramat Gan resident - Tel Aviv is safe at almost any time, anywhere, when compared to other cities of the world. And now, this new promenade, this last refuge from the summer swelter, became a danger zone. Tel Avivians voted with their feet and returned to the scene of the crime after police swiftly apprehended the suspects. Everything will be forgotten in a day or two, and only Karp's loved ones will forever recall the horror of that night, when an innocent citizen on a nighttime stroll came to his end in a merciless beating, helpless and with no chance before the violent thugs.

Is Tel Aviv truly changing? Will no place in it be sage again? Will what began as knives in the schoolyard, and spilled over into the violent night life of the clubs, chase us everywhere? Will the fringe groups, in this case Arabs from Jaljuliya, now raise their heads and begin to voice their social frustration in such ruthless violence? It's too soon to tell. Meanwhile, the beach primroses bloomed on the promenade like they do every night, and the barbecue smoke was floating far and wide.