September 18, 2019

What Will Become of Tel Aviv's Iconic Trees

“Israel is in the midst of an ambitious mass-transit project, a new light-rail network serving the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, where 44 percent of Israelis live. The system is expected to provide half a million trips a day and save hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon emissions annually.

But the project has drawn the ire of environmentalists, who say it threatens a precious resource: Tel Aviv’s towering, glossy-leafed ficus trees. Planted decades ago along the city’s wide boulevards, these trees are an iconic part of the streetscape, central to the city’s early identity as a European-style settlement in the Middle East.

For three years, environmental groups, residents, and Tel Aviv University students rallied to save the ficus trees lining Jerusalem Boulevard in Jaffa, the mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood of Tel Aviv. A Facebook group called “Save The Trees on Jerusalem Boulevard,” with more than 700 members, served as a hub for strategizing and communication. An online petition to “cancel the death sentence” of the trees garnered 2,172 signatures. The movement received frequent coverage in the Israeli press.

In one act of protest, activists pinned traditional Hebrew mourning notices to the trees, alerting passersby to the “untimely death of the street ficus.” (In Israel, such activism has precedent: In the 1930s Tel Aviv poet Yehuda Karni published eulogies for every tree removed by the municipality, according to a book by the late Israeli historian Natan Dunevich.)”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"Congratulations, Mr. President. It took an extraordinary effort, but you finally managed to spark a serious global crisis. I know you don’t like to share credit, but don’t worry. The current mess in the Middle East centered around Iran is all..."

"We’re approaching the anniversary of one of the nastiest political battles it has been my misfortune to witness—the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault and his..."

"There are few one-offs in life on Earth—rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create..."

"He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m..."

"The poverty rate in the United States fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau — the lowest it’s been since 2001. But this estimate significantly understates the extent of economic deprivation in..."

"Streaming is the future of TV. But for now a big part of the streaming business revolves around old TV shows. Latest case in point: Netflix is paying a lot of money for the rights to show Seinfeld to its 150 million subscribers around the world..."

"On the eve of the second Israeli election of 2019, there is no shortage of apocalyptic rhetoric about the potential consequences of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. From the New York Times' editorial column to The Forward’s..."

"Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and..."