When Israelis talk about tzfonim (literally “northerners”), they aren’t referring to people who live in northern Israel or in cold climates at the top of the world. The tzafon (“north”) in question is a much smaller locale -- north Tel Aviv, to be specific -- though the epithet refers at least as much to a mindset as to the addresses of those who harbor it. Like “yuppies” and “JAPs” (from “Jewish American princess”), the term “tzfonim” expresses an element of having money and wanting to spend it. Certain ethnic, religious and political identities are also assumed: Ashkenazi and secular as well as casually liberal, not interested or adamant enough to be engaged in political action. According to the prevailing stereotype, tzfonim are the materialistic, even hedonistic, residents of medinat Tel Aviv (“the state of Tel Aviv”), the bubble where they blithely idle away their days at cafes or bars, even when rockets are flying in other parts of the country.
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