Tel Aviv Diary August 10, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from August 10, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

August 10, 2003

All this shelling in the north - and of course we have meticulously planned a trip to this beloved area for next week (well, we rented a house and looked at some books). and we are taking the little girls - age four and age one.

Now when I was that age there was a big table in our back yard made of iron, and my brother Joe explained to me that if there was a bomb and we were in the yard we would hide under the table. As a result I am always looking for tables to hide under. Last night I even dreamt that I was at a desk in some big library and thinking that I could always get under the desk, but when the bombing began it turned out there were rungs that made it impossible to hide there. check the details in advance - even in dreams!

As people are being killed in Shlomi, and barely escaped being killed in Kiryat Shmona today, it begins to look like the Hizbulah is being encouraged by Syria. This means the whole north is heating up and whether the Hudna holds or not (and every day is a miracle)we're in for it.

as I sat in a cafe in Tel Aviv today, i thought of the people sitting in a cafe in Ramallah (many new ones have opened in the past 2 months)and how over 80% of them have claimed to approve of the cease fire. Who would not prefer sitting in a cafe to killing, I ask you.

August 11, 2003

Suddenly a voice out of the past - a girl who was with me in seventh grade. Why do you complain of not volunteering, she says. You volunteered every chance you got with Mr. Cruikshank, and we sat amazed. Give me a viable example of a volunteering mission that you could not only survive but contribute to.

Now my friend Eli does military reserve duty. He's in his sixties yet goes off to Caladia for a few weeks a year to supervise the soldiers at the checkpoints. He reads Arabic documents for them, tries to discuss matters when tempers fly. He has an experienced eye for people and can help make quick decisions. Another woman, a bit younger, 57, is assistant to the commandant at that base. She claims there is a shade placed for those waiting in line, but the people insist upon waiting in the sun, as if to show their contempt for any Israeli amelioration of their situation. And she claims that the long lines are often due to the unwillingness of individuals to accept the final answer of the soldiers, making the others wait while they reargue their case. Whether she's right on the details I'm sure she puts some order into that unbearable situation. And being a grandmother may make her more capable of solving conflicts.

But anyway that is one option for someone of my age and interests volunteering in Israel.

Going north on the Ayalon from Derech Hashalom, Ezi noted today that because of the expansion there is a kind of canal next to the road - and a big sign in Hebrew translated to English that says: "Caution: Abysm on your left."

As Sefi began to express his displeasure with Israel this evening, he got to the point where he said - "all you need is money and you can live wherever you want to live anywhere in the world and noone will bother you." And the portrait of Kurt Gerron looked down at us and no one else heard him whisper to me - "Money or talent: that's what the jews always believed." And I thought about what a sophisticated Berliner he was, Gerron, and Max Erlich, and all those entertainers of the twenties. And how they wound up.

August 12, 2003

One in Ariel - one person killed and numerous wounded. One in Rosh Ha'ayin. Both attacks in the same area. Alan from London once got very angry with me for using the word 'terrorist' in this connection. And i couldn't apologize, because they do induce terror and that is their goal. The problem is that the terror is on both sides - when a terrorist kills himself he also inflicts terror on his own people as well.

Is this the beginning of a new wave? I don't think so but i wouldn't be surprised. But we haven't taken maximum advantage of Abu Mazen's leadership so far and there are many who are predicting that by October his term will be over.

And then the terror will really begin.

August 13, 2003

So two people dead hasn't slowed us down at all. Most people remain positive about the Hudna, and maybe even a little encouraged - that even 'terror' seems to have a specific purpose, a response to a specific event rather than a vague register of hatred. Hamas' assertion that it will hold to the cease fire except where there are specific situations to be revenged makes 'sense' - and when people make sense it is possible to reason out something.

Of course there are violations on both sides - But if it is any comfort to the Palestinians, let me reassure you that Sharon screws us as much as he screws you -

Last night on tv Bibi and Peres and some other guys were talking politics. I couldn't get over how the whole Likkud party works on strong arm tactics - both as an ideology and a personality. Peres kept talking about consensus and compromise (in this case in the economic policies here) and Bibi kept talking about imposing things that are 'good for you.' I changed the channel to watch sex and the city thank you.

Reading an article by Roy Kifts about Kurt Gerron's Karusell in Theresienstat helped me to justify the use of humor for escape. Even though the situations are not parallel and the remarkable lack of exciting contemporary satire about the 'situation' is amazing. We used to have all kinds of political satire - nikui rosh, habourganim, etc - Now we have some programs that seem leaden to me, or slapstick. And Orna Banai and Erez Tal are off the air - at least for the summer. During the Gulf War there was a great daily program of Avri Gilad, Erez Tal and a third guy whose name escapes me for the moment. He was the one who played the Iraqi Ambassador to Israel and gave a daily update on the war. It was something everyone watched - wouldn't miss - Now I'll take ancient reruns of Seinfeld or the Nanny over the satire. By which I mean to say that the satirical programs are not relevant to me, not that my taste has diminished...

August 14, 2003

Of course it is not just satire I am worried about - I think satire is a healthy correction to the society but not all there is. I am worried about all the arts. The amount of talent here is amazing - but Jewish and Arab. Talent here is like my garden. All i need is to water the bare earth and with a few weeks something surprising appears. Most of the time there are jasmine bushes, an accacia tree suddenly appeared before our window (okay, a few months), but there are also tropical flowers. And there are weeds. I can't tell about the weeds at first - i don't identify them until they are big. But they sometimes deceive me and turn into beautiful plants.

That's how i feel about talent.

And today's Ha'aretz magazine - perhaps in compensation for last one about Agi Mishol's sex life - has the title "omanut o namut" - art or die. or better we will have art or we will die.

Last night was Tu b'av the traditional day for love - where the young people go out in the vineyards at night and all that. It has always been my favorite holiday but i almost forgot it yesterday. Hof Nitzanim was the focus of the activity instead of the vinyard. that's where Yudit Ravitz and all the great singers concentrated and concerted. oh to be young again.

To satisfy those fans and fdriends who have asked me about Sharon Moldavi, here he is in hebrew. In English I write about him on my site in the article about holocaust and rock. He doesn't usually sing about the holocaust in concerts - in fact i've never heard him sing "Mario" except on his second disk, so my article doesn't show his mainstream self.

And who else do i recommend in hebrew, writes a woman from minnesota. Arik Einstein.

And while I was looking up Arik Einstein's stuff i discovered that my own new disk is now listed. It isn't out yet, but very very soon watch for: thin lips with Roi Yarkoni and Yishai Sommer.

(later) For those of you who complained that the Moldavi site is only in Hebrew, I forgot to warn you. The site - by the way - exists because the family of the later Ella Loren - a beautiful singer in every way - who died when she was only 28 - thought that this was the best way to memorialize her. And I agree. It's a survey of all Israeli music, the first of its kind. It's called Mooma . Now I wasn't at Ella's funeral, or any of her memorials - never knew about them in time, although my kids were there - but i think about her a lot, and all the times we spent together. She used to sing for us, and she sang with Oren. The last time I saw her she came over to belly dance with me. And then a week later Ezi came back from an x-ray on a friday afternoon and mentioned he had seen Ella there. At that moment I knew she was in deep trouble. Just like that. And just like that she evaporated.

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