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*The stunning photo in the header of my blog is all thanks to Ron Shoshani. Visit his facebook page for more of his amazing photographs of Tel Aviv!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tel Aviv Nightlife Diluted!!!!

This week, the Knesset unanimously passed a bill outlawing the sale of alcohol between the hours of 11pm and 6am. Only restaurants and pubs will not be affected by the new legislation. The bill also includes a clause banning alcohol consumption in public during these hours. Once the law is enforced, police will be allowed to confiscate and pour out the contents of any open container being consumed in a public place.

No more beer after 11pm!

The law is intented to curb incidents of drunken violence which have been breaking out with more frequency in the past several years. More specifically, however, the concern of the Knesset members has been focused on the rising number of young drinkers aged 17 and below. According to statistics, Israel's rate of underage drinking has been going up for the past 20 years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called it "an epidemic".

However, according to a ynet article posted this past November, alcohol is not really a problem among adults:

"In Israel the problem isn’t grave in respect to the adult population,. There are no accurate figures about alcohol consumption, but based on various data, the annual per capita consumption is roughly about 2 liters (based on 100% alcohol consumption); the alcoholics’ rate is less the 0.5%, and “only” 2% of car accidents are attributed to driving under the influence."

And so, it is clear to me that the Knesset is going about the problem in the wrong way. Make it a requirement for stores to acquire alcohol licenses and be subject to audits and police supervision. But banning alcohol consumption in public areas, especially in a hot country like Israel where not everyone has air conditioning and drinking outdoors is part of the culture, is like banning fun altogether.
Florentine in Southern Tel Aviv: famous for it's street parties

Let me put it this way: my rights as a citizen are being restricted due to poor budgetary decision-making. If course I believe that it is important to combat street violence and of course I don't condone underage drinking, especially if it is over-drinking. I also am aware of the rising number of car accidents cause by drunk driving in the Jewish State. But these accidents, violent incidents and statistics are correlated with poor education systems in Israeli suburbs, poor governmental support systems for low-income families, and poor public transportation at night.

The new bill will cost the government 27 million shekels which, in my opinion, should not be going towards an alcohol ban, but rather,should be going to education, social reform and public transport.

Why should I have to give up my right to buy a beer at a kiosk after 11:00pm for 7 shekels and be forced to drink at a bar or restaurant and pay 25 shekels? No more Tel Aviv street parties, beach parties or avenue gatherings. No more sauntering down Rothschild boulevard with a beer in hand after 12:00 midnight. And what will happen to our beloved weekly drinking game that we play outside of my friend Kristal's kiosk? Will our beers be confiscated and our weekly event be put to an end? What will happen to Tel Aviv nightlife?
No more beer on the beach after dark

Why should I have to fear policemen at night when I'm a responsible drinker who is only trying to save herself a few shekels buy buying a beer at a kiosk and drinking it outside in the fresh air as opposed to inside where I can't afford air conditioning!?

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