Along the Israeli highway that snakes up through the Golan Heights toward Syria sits the Kiryat Shmona central bus station, a herding ground and grazing spot for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers on their way to the Syrian and Lebanese borders.
I didn’t need to ask directions. Stepping out of the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, I saw them, men in hats and coats walking together slowly, a steady stream moving east along one of Jerusalem’s central thoroughfares to the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Some years ago, folk diva Chava Alberstein discovered the rundown immigrant neighborhood around the south Tel Aviv central bus station. For the Israeli superstar, the area became a refuge, a place to stroll or sip coffee unmolested by fans. The residents were foreign workers from countries such as China, Thailand, Nigeria and Romania.
But as their numbers swelled to replace Palestinians after the intifada, Alberstein -- considered Israel's Joan Baez -- saw conditions deteriorating.
"These people are brought to Israel, their passports are confiscated so they can't go anywhere and they're forced to live in the worst situations," she said. "You see people crawling out of the most unbelievable hovels. It's bothered me for a long time."