RamleIn the pantheon of “must-see destinations” for visitors to Israel, or even residents of Israel, Ramle probably falls somewhere between Kiryat Gat and Ofakim. It doesn’t have major historical attractions (which isn’t to say it’s not historically interesting), it doesn’t have any pre-Zionist Jewish history, it’s more than a little rough around the edges, a bit economically depressed, not much to look at and, as a final injustice, always associated with Lod.

But of course, if you structure your Israeli experience around the places collective opinion deems “must-see,” you’re missing out on what makes Israel truly great. I’ve had much more fun camping in a crude shack surrounded by kilometers of nothingness in the middle of the Arava than I did, say, on the tayelet in Tiberias, but you’ll never find the crude shack option in your Let’s Go guidebook’s list of recommendations.

What I’m trying to say is, Ramle deserves a little bit of time somewhere between eating ice cream at Katzefet on Ben Yehuda and buying overpriced chintz in the Tzfat Old City, or whatever it is tourists are doing these days. One of the few major towns in Israel founded by Arabs (although supposedly on the site of the New Testament locale of Arimathea), Ramle was initially settled in the 8th century by residents of neighboring Lod and quickly became the capital of the region of Palestine, a sub-district of Syria, itself a district of the greater Arab Muslim empire which ruled the Middle East between the Islamic Conquest and the arrival of the Turks and Crusaders in the late 11th century. It passed into Crusader hands and became a major town in the Kingdom of Jerusalem – the Crusaders built the Cathedral of St. John, which was converted into a mosque following the Muslim reoccupation. Ramle was a barely populated backwater during the Ottoman period, until Zionist investment and settlement and the establishment of the British Mandate precipitated an economic boom in Palestine, attracting many new Muslim and Christian residents to Ramle.

Ramle flourished, as it had historically, due to its position near the beginning of the road from the coast to Jerusalem, but, like the other settlements along the Jerusalem road, it became a staging point for foreign and local Arab armies fighting the Jews during the lead-up to the 1948 War. In July 1948, the newly-formed IDF launched Mivtza Dani, an assault on the centers of Arab resistance which had blocked the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road, including Lod, Ramle and Latrun. When the IDF overpowered the Arab forces in Ramle, most of the town’s Arabs fled or were expelled. The government saw an opportunity and immediately began settling Ramle with new immigrants.

Which brings me, in a roundabout fashion, to my point in writing this post in the first place. One of the groups of immigrants which wound up in Ramle were the Indian Jews, who arrived in large numbers in the 1960s. And where there are immigrants, eventually one of them is going to open a restaurant. And it was because of this restaurant that Harry and I embarked on a trip to Ramle. Harry turns me on to all the cool shit.

maharaja.jpgThe Indian restaurant in Ramle is called, of course, Maharaja, because there is an unwritten law somewhere that all Indian restaurants, everywhere, have to either be named “Maharaja” or something to do with “Delhi.” It’s a little restaurant on Herzl St. attached to a Indian goods store (the sign advertises “Indian Sweets” and, why yes, you can get parve ghee – but don’t ask me how that works), it’s vegetarian, kosher dairy, affordable (25-35 shekels for a meal, unlike other more expensive Israeli Indian restaurants), and, most importantly, super tasty. It’s all your favorite dishes from American Indian restaurants that you thought you’d have to give up in Israel, except it’s Jewish Indian food, so they give you three times as much. Harry mounted a valiant offense, but in the end, the majority of his combination platter with rice still remained. Athough he did finish his sugar-water-soaked donut ball, or whatever those things are called.

Oh, and as we can both attest, the girl who works there is smoking hot.

So expand your mind, get out of Jerusalem for a day, and head down to Ramle. It only takes 45 minutes by bus. Tell the smoking hot girl that Jewlicious and the View From Here sent you. And pick me up some of those sugar water donut balls.

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  • You mean, there’s, like, a whole country out here beyond Jerusalem? Wow, like, what a shock.

  • OK, Michael, if she’s so damned smoking hot, how come there aren’t any pictures?

    Get it together would you?

    I mean, which is more important, smoking hot Jewish babes or Indian food?

    You gotta have priorities, man.

  • what the hell is up with the “…as a final injustice, always associated with Lod” comment?

    Don’t forget, Ben Gurion Airport is located in Lod and not Tel Aviv.

    Besides that, cool writeup. I was at the sweets shop to get some snacks, but never ate there. Will check it out next time I’m in Israel (I guess I don’t often need to venture out to Indian restaurants ’cause I already get that at home).

  • Seriously, man.

    I mean, he had his camera, right?

    So what does he take a picture of?

    The friggin restaurant sign!

    Jeez. I’m surprised the man can tie his own shoes by himself.

  • Alon: Lod has a bad reputation. Generally deservedly so. It was a joke referring to that. As far as Ben Gurion, unless I haven’t been paying attention, the presence of an airport doesn’t generally determine the merit of a city. Tashkent has an airport and nobody is falling over themselves to book tours there.

    Moron Twins: Harry had the camera. He took the pictures. Complain to him. Although if there’s such a paucity of attractive women in your lives that you need to rely on some guy who posts on some blog, truly, I pity you.

  • Ha. As reputations go, Ramle makes Lod sound like fucking Paris in the springtime.
    For cheap and delicious Indian food (vegetarian only) check out 24Rupee in south Tel Aviv. I don’t know how super authentic it is, but at least it’s not in Ramle.

  • You know what? It’s done, I’m moving to Israel as soon as I can. I had the most redicuous night of discussion about Israel and Jewish people…..with european liberals.

    did you know, that most euros simply don’t understand jewish self-determination?
    Did you know, that even though Israel exists, most people don’t think it has any right to?

    I’m I just niave? Or am I drunk? In any case, I thought i could rely on most people of intelligence to at least discuss these issues without immediately blaming everything on “the jews”…….

    Who wants to make aliyah with me?

  • Elon: Sorry buddy – I’m already there. Once you get here though, I promise many more drunken nights – minusthe uh… European intelectuals. Unless that useless git Tommy Lapid shows up. Again. Someone PLEASE get that man a job… So yeah. Elon. Get here already. I don’t care if you speak German and look like a red-headed poster boy for aryan youth. Israel Macht Frei chabibi.

  • I only need a job and it’s done.

    I have my proposal for a 2007-08 Fulbright almost done, but I’m not sure I want to wait.

    Oh and tonight the “intellectuals” were Polish, German and American. That’s enough for me to see the situation for what it is.

    I look forward to drunken nights in the eretz! Ck, will you take my heretic ass in for Shabbos until i get that Orthodox Conversion? :-

    Layla tov!

  • Ck- I was totally being smart ass about the “heretic” business….it was a shy guy reference!


  • Drunken nights in the eretz are imminent. After birthright, of course. And if I see one intellectual there, I’m gonna have a cow. A red one. And that’ll learn y’all.

  • Been to Rupee 24. Lo Mashu. Sorry, I’ll take my Indian food made by actual Indians rather than Israeli hippies, thank you. They try a bit too hard at Rupee 24. Maharaja forever!

  • I believe the “sugar water donut balls” are called gulab jaman. They are [usually] delicious!

  • Moron twins? You go on and on about a smokin’ hot babe and post no pictures? I’m not sure the word “moron” is being properly used here. But it was a joke in any case.

    And, dude: just because we want to see pix of the smokin’ hot babe you were braggin’ on doesn’t mean that we don’t see any out where we are.

    There are some things that one cannot get enough of, and smokin’ hot babes, either in the flesh or via pixels, is one of those things.

  • Michael: I don’t know what you’re basing your judgment of Lod on but based on your misinformed knowledge I assume you feel that someone would “bust a cap in your ass” as soon as you enter Lod’s boundaries. At any rate that is what I heard of NYC before I moved here. Been in NYC for almost 2 decades and still alive. It’s unfortunate that sometimes the least responsible get to make such comments and pass around bad information. BTW, I also was stayed in Lod for a while about 3 years ago, and guess what, no scratches!

  • Least responsible? Least responsible? I could be so much more less responsible than making a little crack at Lod’s expense. I mean, for example, I could call you a crybaby. Lighten the fuck up!

  • Michael: You fucking douche bag. I love it when idiots get a place to run their stupid mouths. You ignorant piece of crap. It’s ignorant comments like the one you made that unfortunately ruin an otherwise nice little blurb about a restaurant. You fall under the same category of people who first find out someone is from Israel. They are surprised that anyone is able to stay alive in Israel because it’s such a combat zone. Whatever queer. Good luck with your douchebaggery.

  • “When the IDF overpowered the Arab forces in Ramle, most of the town’s Arabs fled or were expelled. The government saw an opportunity and immediately began settling Ramle with new immigrants.”
    Are u serious? You have to be completely ignorant to realize it was all done on purpose. The didn’t “see” an opportunity, they Forced it. And for the record, the arabs did not flee, they were absolutely inhumanely forced out of there homes!

  • For the record, many Arabs did flee. They didn’t flee in all cases and there were times when they were forced out, but there were many who fled.

    What makes their escape even sadder from your perspective is that they were encouraged by their leaders and by Arab propagandists to flee. Either they were convinced they should leave to clear the way for incoming victorious Arab armies or they were told that Deir Yassin was so horrible they should flee. Don’t believe me? Watch the BBC documentary where the two Palestinians who broadcast the Deir Yassin story admitted they went overboard, at the request of others, and ended up scaring many Arab families into fleeing.

    That, of course, is not even getting into the fact the war was started by the Arabs together with the Palestinians, and that’s after decades of bursts of violence against the Jewish population. Had that violence not existed, the Jewish Yishuv would not have established defensive capabilities. Had the war not been launched, with fiery rhetoric threatening the Jews with destruction, they would not have had the opportunity to win all the land they won. In fact, Israel had accepted the Partition Plan which called for a much smaller Israel. The Palestinians rejected that plan entirely.

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