Tel Aviv Diary - April 22, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary April 22, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from April 22, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 22

I made the mistake of upgrading my main site - because it was crowded and crowded with ads. The result is that nothing is available and I don't know why. Anyway there's only tangential access right now to this page. Never mind. You're not missing anything. The only thing that distinguishes this holiday of Passover in Israel from other years is that there are no "Hametz" checkers and you can buy bread in any cafe. Even under the counter at the grocers. Friends ordered a pizza. Unbelievable for passover in this country. But it's a reaction. The religious parties no longer control internal affairs so all hell is breaking loose. I'll bet that once the first feeling of freedom is over, there will be more of a sense of tradition. But as soon as Israelis feel that rules are being imposed upon them, they go crazy.

April 23, 2003

Talk about 'hefkerut' (how can i translate that word? anarchy?)We just went to a Jewish restaurant in the middle of Tel Aviv (Bebele) on Passover holy day and had Kreplach.

Another advantage of the visit to Montefiore Street is that Sefi showed me where he was born, where he went to school, where he played, where his father's office was... Every time I go through the streets of Tel Aviv with someone who was born there - like my husband or his family - I am overwhelemd with the way in which these generations grew up with the city. It goes beyond the attachment of people to their native town, because with a person born in Tel Aviv -whatever they did they are in some way responsible for the growth and development of the city itself.

And now for a word about Abu Mazen.


I can't wait to see these guys get moving on the peace process again. And everything looks possible to me. Sharon is the one who evaluated Yamit when we made the peace agreement with Egypt, right? (I know, I know - I've been bad mouthing Sharon all year - try not to miss a week without a bad word - but who cares what i think of his personality - If he can do it now I'm behind him.

As more and more stories come out about Iraq, about torture, about 200000 people killed during Saddam's reign, about the great poverty in the country, and at the same time about the paltriness of their chemical and biological abilities, it becomes harder and harder to come to the same decisions I came to before the war, with completely different information. What did Bush know then? What do we know now? How do we know how things will work out now? Estie says we'll be able to drive to Baghdad by next year at this time, and some other friends say that the economy world over will pick up with the peace that is sure to come. But others say they'll starve before the situation improves.

In the mean time Oren is getting ready to open his jazz bar (Mishmish - right next door to his Shesek) and I think if people can afford to go out at night, the situation is not as bad as it seems.

April 24, 2003

I know I wrote a long piece last night about Lisa but this morning it seems i didn't save it - so if anyone saw it, let me know...

First, some news: This morning a security guard was blown up at the train station in Kfar Saba when he prevented a terrorist from entering, and three people were seriously hurt. I'm always uneasy until i know who the victims are and then i just grieve. the bomber from Balata refugee camp near Nablus.

and they wonder why we try to keep the palestinians out of israel.

Last night Lisa described a long, bumpy hour long drive from Ramallah to Zafra. A twenty minute ride that took an hour because the rain roads are closed to Palestinians. She went there to work some of her magic with art therapy on high school girls - and found that their imaginations had been contained - by poverty, by physical closure, by the lack of political opportunities. She got them singing "we shall overcome" by the end of the session and went away satsfied with her success. Even after she told them she was Israeli, they treated her wonderfully, as she richly deserves.

So, on the one hand attempts to break through the barriers in order to create warm human relationships are possible - on the other hand the suspicion that prevents it is sometimes well founded. This is the basic situation in the Middle-East, isn't it.

April 25, 2003

I don't know why it isn't in the online edition, but today's Ha'aretz talks about an exhibit that will open next month about Native Fashion in the 60s at the Eretz Yisrael Museum down the street from me. Since I learned about this concept as a child and at a previous exhibit at the Tel Aviv Museum in '83 I know this is something to plan to see. The concept of fashion at Maskit in the sixties, when Ruth Dayan was in charge and Finny Leitersdorf was the designer, was the conscious promotion of native identity - Bedouin fabric, Hebron embroidery, Yemenite filigree, native fabric and desert colors. When I got married Sara bought me one of her friend Finny's "desert coats" and i was crazy about the idea (if not the whiteness of the coat - I liked the original black better, but that was one of the things Sara and I always disagreed about - dark colors). That concept of national pride and more important promotion of local talent and resources, is something sorely needed here and around the world right now.

But for the time being I think we'll go see some Bauhaus structures today.

(later)we went. the Helena Rubinstein Pavillion of Tel Aviv Museum showed enormous pictures of the bauhaus houses of tel aviv (and a few fakes in jerusalem) in various stages of disrepair. It makes you realize how gorgeous and sophisticated Tel Aviv is and how run down we've let it become. There too the idea of the need for promoting local talent, local art, and local products was blatantly obvious. We keep thinking that maybe now peace will come and we'll be able to turn our attention elsewhere...

But Ezi notes that Abu Mazen is now in a similar position to Ben Gurion at the establishment of the state of Israel - got to get rid of the little independent groups who will disrupt the concept of statehood. a nice parallel, except Abu Mazen's hair is shorter and he doesn't have a secret twin brother.

How do i want to spend tomorrow? at Time for Art Museum. You can take a little tour there yourself if you click it.

So it's not in English. So they forgot to say what times they are open. So the map to get to the place does not have street names on it... It's just part of the Israeli paranoia - if you have to ask, you don't belong here, and you may be planning to blow us up.

April 26, 2003

And an amazing place it is. The current exhibit is "Ruins Revisited: The Image of the Ruin in Israel, 1803-2003," a postmodern masterpiece in itself, but in the context of delapitated Tel Aviv in general and the magnificently reconstituted museum specifically, it is absolutely magnificent. First, the exhibit, which takes you from the romantic nostalgic ruins of the 19th c, David Roberts and the like, to the Zionist reconstituting paintings proving this land had a history, to the ruins of Arab houses bulldozed by the Israeli army. Gideon Ofrat is the curator and it is clear he's got education, experience, an amazing eye, and an agenda. And the exhibit taught me a lot about - not only the current political experience - but also the paintings we have in our house. Forst example, we have a torso and a column by Shalom Sebba.

I always thought it was an exercise in materials and composition, but now I saw it in the context of his other paintings and those of his contemporaries, and it is clear he is dealing with the idea of reshaping ruins, making something new and vital out of torsos and columns, the bodies and houses, destroyed. See the armless venus looking out at the Bauhaus apartments of Tel Aviv?

And this indeed was the whole mood of the exhibit, the beautifully reconstituted museum building in a neighborhood that once contained so much promise and new beginning but now is one eyesore after the other.

Even the attempts to gentrify the neighborhood, while sometimes very successful, point out the economic chasms between the haves and have nots, between the socialist dream and the tired reality.

Although it looked inviting we didn't eat in the gourmet restaurant - had some coffee that was great but no better than Nona.

If tourism ever picks up here, maybe they'll even start making the signs and their site in English.

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