The mean streets of Tel Aviv

Crime reporter Buki Nae takes tourists through the underbelly of the White City after dark.

By ASI GAL
June 10, 2009 22:30
2 minute read.

 
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A group of 30 people stand at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv, listening to an overview of drug use and prostitution in the area. Suddenly, a young, muscular guy approaches. "Don't talk about drugs," he tells the group's guide. "I'm warning you not to talk about drugs!" The guide keeps his cool. "Go away," he says to the man, who has a crazed look in his eyes. The group urges their guide to leave. "Let's get back on the bus." "Why should we go? Does he own the street?" he responds, following Batman's code: "We will not be intimidated by thugs." But the guide is no Bruce Wayne. He is Buki Nae: self-described as short, chubby, balding and middle-aged. He is also one of Israel's most famous crime reporters. Five years ago, Nae started operating night tours, taking people through the back alleys of Tel Aviv. The eight-hour tour begins at 5 p.m. at the northernmost point of the Tel Aviv port, which marks the border of the city's northern police precinct. Nae begins with a story of cops trying to push a body found floating in their precinct's section of the Yarkon River to another precinct's section, to avoid dealing with the paperwork. The crowd laughs. When the group moves on to the next stop, the place where four-year-old Rose Pizem's body was found, Nae tries to shed new light on the story. A man went missing the same night Pizem was thrown into the river, and his body was later found in the bushes nearby. Is there a connection? No one knows. Nae reveals that the diver who discovered the suitcase containing Pizem's body had found her two hours before the TV crew and police arrived. However, according to Nae, the diver was asked to put her back in the water so it would appear that the police were there when she was found. Is this pure gossip, or important information? The audience is thrilled. They love his criticism of the police. One story follows another. He tells of the stabbings ("puncherim" in street slang) among youths at the port clubs, the drugs sold everywhere, pubs that have been shaken down, and police brutality. "I want to show people what happens in Tel Aviv after nightfall," he says. "It's my job. It's what I do best." Regarding Nae's allegation that policemen pushed a floating body into another precinct to avoid paperwork, a Tel Aviv precinct spokesman had this to say: "I believe you're making too much of an effort to get our response. Whatever Buki says is bedtime stories, little made-up anecdotes for his audience. There is no way that the police would find a body and push it somewhere else - that's completely made up. As for the story with Rose, I believe that is also a lie, but you have to check with center precinct." As to the alleged discovery of baby Rose two hours before the police came, a center precinct spokesman said: "This is an unfounded, baseless story. No such thing ever happened." A full report will appear in this Friday's Metro, available in copies of The Jerusalem Post in the Gush Dan region.

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