2023 Chery Tiggo: It’s Asia’s century and NPCs are just living in it.

Israel is in the midst of what you might call an “unconstitutional crisis” and I’m on the front lines to see what it’s all about.

Y’see, the little country that could doesn’t actually have a formal written constitution and its current Strongman-in-Chiefi Bibi Netanyahu is doing everything in his executive power to keep it that way, and furthermore to reconfigure the judicial system to be more favourable to him. Not only that, but he’s aligned himself with far-right-wing groups with political views that are closer to MBSii than the MLB, which is to say less-than-democratic and unabashedly so. This, of course, isn’t particularly noteworthy political alignment in the region – which we might call “Mediterranean” at best and “Middle Eastern” at worst – but it’s essentially unknown amongst the EU countries that modern democratic Israel was in so many ways founded to emulate. Needless to say, the pot is well and stirred at the moment.

As such, leading up to the nation’s recent 75th birthday (or 5,783rd depending how we count), there were tens of thousands of anti-Bibi/pro-democracy protests in the streets of every Israeli city over the last few months. Interestingly, these were all 100x more peaceful (and productive) than the BLM protests just a few short years ago in the “civilised west.” How so? Isn’t the hot desert sun supposed to make these tanned fellows even more chaotic and crazy, especially compared to those pale protestants with all the aircraft carriers on the other side of the world? You might think so, but unlike the arrivistes ineffectively trying to get TV celebrities to drain the swamp for them like a buncha overweight NPCs, the masses of regular middle-class Israelis are actually moving the political needle and recently got Bibi to pause his proposed judicial reforms, not least of all because the protestors included military reservists who refused to show up for duty. In a country with conscription and *legally undefined borders*,iii not having the full strength and force of your military is about the most existentially threatening act imaginable. This is, recall, an almost unbelievably small country surrounded by much larger and seriously predatory neighbours, all of whom would love nothing more than to seize the opportunity to (again) wipe the know-it-all Yids off the map, sending them wandering once more. Indeed, Israel’s existence is as precarious (and magical) as ever!iv

Which brings us neatly to the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 800 290T, our rental car for a couple of days on this trip. While we rented a car for the entirety of our last family trip here in 2012,v since then the country has been connected by a very slick new transit system including intra-city trains, inter-city trains, dedicated bus and bike lanes, and of course electric scooters and ride-hailing apps galore. As such, it was only for our out-of-the-way journeys to visit cousins in some of the smaller population centres that were otherwise not-so-easily accessible that we needed a rental car at all. Which served me just fine because navigating the roads here is like hawker markets in Hong Kong: crowded, hot, and aggressive. So I was only too happy to leave it to the pros! But when we did rent a car, we ended up with something of an exotic delicacy for North American buyers – no, not one of the many delicious-looking Frenchvi cars on the roads here, but rather a Chinese-made and Chinese-branded vehicle.vii The helpful fellow at the Hertz counter seemed quite proud about it, but I wasn’t any more fussed by the news that our Nissan X-Trail reservation had been replaced with the Chery so much as I was just happy that they had something with 6 seats for our whole travel pack (myself, The Girl, our two little boys, and my parents). So how did the Chinese chariot fare?

Well, let’s compare it to the Holy Land we drove it through. The similarities are striking! Here’s the Top 12:

Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 800 290T - 5

1. Both make just enough power, not too much, but definitely not too little.viii

2. Both have great visibility and vantage points.ix

Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 800 290T - 1
3. Both are still kickin’ even if it’s unclear how long either will last.x

4. Both are substantially more expensive to live with that you’d think.xi

Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 800 290T - 3
5. Both look European but are made in Asia and undeniably feel it once you drill down beneath the surface.xii

6. Both look polished from a distance but have no shortage of battle scars up close.xiii

Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 800 290T - 2
7. Both ride well over rough surfaces.xiv

8. Both have an inexplicable spirit in them.xv

Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 800 290T - 9
9. Both offer first-class comfort and hemmed-in frustration at the same time, just depending on where you’re sitting.xvi

10. Both are very vocal.xvii

Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 800 290T - 7
11.Both are “disasters” for die-hard enthusiasts yet represent the will of the people.

12. Both are mirrors of our time, whether we like them or not.xviii

Chery Tiggo 8 Pro 800 290T - 8

Lest we forget that that it’s never as bad or as good as we think it is.xix To more adventures!

Jerusalem Old City 2023


  1. Strongmen are very de rigueur at the moment, in case you hadn’t noticed.
  2. The nearby Saudi autocrat, not mortgage-backed securities.
  3. Ambiguity is power! Just ask Strauss:

    Strauss would have recognized in our “post-liberal” moment a vindication of his thesis that great thinkers should write “esoterically” out of consideration not only for their own fates, but out of respect for society. For Strauss, the problem is not the Keatsian ideal of “negative capability,” then, but the expectation that most people can or should achieve it. Negative capability is a rare talent. […]

    Rather than decry this situation we might simply acknowledge the reality that true thinking and poetizing is clandestine. No annual report or resume will be able to measure it. Even in a modern society, poets must remain “unacknowledged legislators.” For the world is not yet ready for negative capability. The messiah has been delayed. Supply chain issues.

    via Zohar (archived)

  4. For a more in-depth read on the current political situation in Israel, check our Dror Poleg’s article (archived). 
  5. Back in 2012 it looked as if French-bodied electric cars with battery-swapping stations were about to take over the country (and possibly the world… it was “inEVitable“), but instead this little slice of the Mediterranean ended up with an intelligently-designed public mass transit system combined with an entirely-sovereign Uber-alternative called Gett, a half-dozen electric scooter services, and insane new car taxes have all but obviated the need for a personal vehicle in this country.
  6. Sooo much forbidden French fruit here. I could do a blog post on that alone!
  7. Chinese-made Volvos, Buicks, and Teslas are a little more shy about their origins.
  8. Thanks to Shimon Peres’ negotiations with France in the 1970s, Israel is a nuclear state. Thanks to the Chery’s 187 horsepower
    mated to a 7-speed dual clutch, 0-60mph comes in at 9.1 sec and the far more relevant 0-15 mph speed in this country is, to borrow an old Rolls-Royce-ism, “adequate.”
  9. More or less!
  10. Both will probably last a lot longer than critics think!
  11. Coming in at NIS 167`000 for the base model and NIS 179`900, loaded up with the shekel being about 3:1 to the Canadian Dollar, you might not think this was such a bad deal compared to a much more spartan Honda CR-V, but when you add in Israeli VAT and “purchase tax,” the price out to the door essentially doubles, which makes this Chery a CAD $125,000 vehicle new. For reference, in Canada you can buy a new Porsche Cayenne S for this kind of money, which makes the actual (and understandably rare) Cayennes you see on the streets of Israel a hell of a lot more impressive! By Canadian standards, at least. By Australian, Danish, or Singaporean standards, perhaps less so…
  12. Asia is defined by its despotism, after all. In the long-run how free can Israel be from that destiny? Anymore than the rest of the world can be free from having China as its global factory?
  13. Not only are cars rarely if ever washed in this country (mainly due to the lack of water), but every car is scraped, dinged and scuffed to a degree that would make the anal-retentive Cars & Coffee crew spew their Starbucks all over their diaper-wiped Tourings. Which really just makes Israel feel like many of the other great old cities of the Mediterranean, like Rome, where it’s all-out war for space, the walls are narrow and lined with stone, tempers run hot like the summer sun, and cars are inevitable casualties. So don’t be precious about these things! They’re just things after all.
  14. Israel has gone through a pretty wild number of ups and downs in the last 75 years.
  15. The Chery grabs at the wheel even when you think you have all the driver aids turned off. Deus ex machina! Likewise with Israel and its very genuine protests over the last 18 weeks.
  16. Kings will be kings and plebes will be plebes, true here as everywhere else.
  17. Take your hands off the steering wheel while cruise control is activated and you get very annoying bongs and four-way-flashers going off. Likewise, it probably goes without saying, Israel is a pretty shouty place.
  18. Indeed, the world is a complicated place! Though whether our new AI co-pilots are helping or hindering our understanding of it all remains an open question.
  19. In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’

    In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

    This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

    ~CS Lewis via Justin Trimble.

2 thoughts on “2023 Chery Tiggo: It’s Asia’s century and NPCs are just living in it.

  1. […] Samson, One building material binds heroes to grandsons, Each block a spell disguising growth, More cars and cranes so little […]

  2. […] the double-edged blade of our transgressive rejection of tradition and bear the burden of our neotenic obsession with novelty. Like, how important could old shit possibly be to me? I mean, the present appears to be changing […]

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