It isn’t news to anyone who’s been there, but “60 Minutes” has now made it official: Tel Aviv is really, really cool.
CBS reporter Bob Simon declared as much Sunday on the US news magazine, highlighting the city’s beautiful beaches, pulsating night life and attractive young people. Titled “From Fear to Fortune: Tel Aviv’s Attitude,” the segment contrasted the region’s political and religious instability with Israel’s Mediterranean metropolis, noting its vibrant arts scene, liberal attitudes about gays and general atmosphere of openness. Talking heads included Ron Huldai, the city’s mayor; deputy mayor Asaf Zamir, who was interviewed late at night outside a bar; actress Noa Tishby and screenwriter and TV personality Gal Uchovsky.
The 12-minute segment attempted to figure out what makes Tel Aviv residents such party animals, and why they’re so accepting of sexual minorities. (Theories basically boiled down to the need to eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow a missile might hit.) Simon also attempted to explain Tel Aviv’s emergence as a global center of high tech, which one interviewee attributed — only half-jokingly — to nagging Jewish mothers.
Despite repeated references to security threats, the piece was largely upbeat and admiring, with just Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy chiming in to criticize Tel Aviv residents as willfully apathetic to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
The positive tone contrasted sharply with a “60 Minutes” piece that aired last month, in which Simon examined the status of Arab Christians in the West Bank. That segment included a tense confrontation with Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US, who had preemptively complained about the piece to Simon’s bosses at CBS. The piece suggested that much of the blame for Palestinian Christians’ decreasing numbers can be traced to Israel’s occupation, including the security barrier that surrounds Bethlehem.