If you want to find the Israel that many gay and lesbian citizens know, go for a stroll along Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard on any day of the week. You won’t find a gay parade there or the gay center. What you will see are numerous blue and white Israel flags hanging from balconies of the many apartment buildings that line both sides of the street. You will notice numerous trendy cafes and restaurants, including Evita–a stylish and openly gay commercial venue in Israel. It’s an eatery with gourmet food, a bar with casual ambience, a lounge with soft sofas, recessed lighting and a floral arrangement in the corner. The décor clearly signals gay style and class.

It’s a cosmopolitan gay and straight crowd who inhabit Tel Aviv with an air of laissez-faire typical of any western city of well educated, financially secure, professional singles or partnered adults with more on their minds than sexual orientation. Here a observer can see gay and lesbian folks, among countless straight folk pushing baby strollers, walking their dogs, sitting on benches reading a book, riding bikes, chatting and walking or stopping for a coffee at one of the kiosks.

At the seaside end of the Boulevard, along the beach, people stroll along the sea promenade, the Tayelet. Bikers, joggers, tourists, children and the elderly community in Tel Aviv, all enjoy this paved boardwalk with its sea view and well situated benches.

On Sunday (the day after the sabbath) military personnel return to their camps via train, turning the Tel Aviv station in the morning into a virtual encampment.

Finally, at the Ben Gurion international airport thousands come and go daily, war or no war (last 7 photos).

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