Tel Aviv Diary July 21, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from July 21, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 21, 2003

The news in the morning has changed, maybe just temporarily, but there is no morning show on channel one and channel two has trivialized their morning show long ago. Sometimes it seems there is more news on plastic surgery than poverty.

It's not like things don't happen here - people are being stabbed every day. Sharon is meeting with Abu Mazen, he's setting up settlements in the desert and galil (obviously in preparation...) and Peres is making statements about how the road map is different from oslo because the us is helping reinforce the decisions, etc. so we really need morning programs. But, on the other hand, there have been more scheduled news and news related programs in the afternoon. Sharon never shows up to them.

Maybe there's less morning news because all the young people are asleep. i mean the teenagers can't find work so they hang out all night.

Why don't i write about the road map? i imagine sharon and abu mazen meeting and i shudder. i mean the scenario i would like to see is of two old enemies who meet at last and learn to respect each other - but they are pretty seedy, especially sharon, and won't bear scrutiny.

So write about economics Richard says. Jews can't be poor...

Well there are many kinds of poor here - new poor and old poor who have become poorer is one way of categorizing them. There are the recently white-collar unemployed who have dropped their standards of living; There are people who got big mortgages because the economic situation was so good and then couldnt' keep up and are now homeless; there are people who were always poor - like Michal - who has been working here since she was a child (what 60 years) and has never managed to get her head above water. i mean she supports her husband, who somehow doesn't get any retirement monies, and she has her own apartment, but buys groceries with what she makes from cooking and ironing for me. she's actually in a good situation, comparatively. there are hundreds of thousands of new immigrants who in the course of the many years they are here never managed to get their act together again (don't knock 'em - YOU try getting kicked out of your homeland at the age of 50, going to another world and learning to work in another language.) Then we have holocaust survivors - like my neighbor who screams in different voices to herself all day. She's probably never been able to work a day in her life. And we've got people who have lost limbs and or their minds in terrorist attacks (not just the past 2 years - the most famous actress on the Israeli stage, Hana Meron, lost her leg in a terrorist incident, and there are many more), and we've got old people whose pensions have dwindled, and single mothers who should have been supported by their exes but aren't.

Let me see, what other poor do we have - Ah yes, the normal average people who just can't make it now that their salaries have been cut and the once-socialized facilities have become private...


So we're in a deep recession, we have a 5.5% increase of unemployment in the past month alone, with a further increase predicted. The whole tourism branch is almost dead, with all the budget cuts, many teachers and hospital workers are looking for work.

More and more people are marching to Jerusalem to protest the economic policies -

i've been getting a lot of letters from english friends about my 'attitude' to london. i have no idea what i said - but now i will tell you my impressions of london - i loved london, walked around with a big smile on my face - even though my feet were killing me. i loved that i found langston hughes on the tube, that i saw a program on philip larkin on tv on a sunday evening, that there was lots of poetry in the book stores...

All I didn't like was BBC TV (not the radio) and the antisemitism.

July 22, 2003

More and more people are walking to jerusalem to protest the government, as well as the economic policies. Artists, students, are beginning to join the single mothers who started the whole thing. Vicky Knafo - the first marcher - is exhausted from all the publicity, but is beginning to feel some hope. Even Sharon is paying attention, making a committee to inquire into the situation...

People like me with bad feet, back, allergic to the sun, and working, can't join them, but we support. And I believe there are few people who don't support them, if only in spirit.

I haven't written about the road map for a while - or the situation in the territories. i get information all the time from Gush Shalom, Bat Shalom, etc, about violations of civil rights, but you can go to their sites to see them.

I don't write about this subject because i don't have first hand information and i don't know how i can ameliorate this terrible situation. But I am very much aware of what is happening there all the time.

And no matter what your political leaning is, this humanization of the lives of the Palestinians must be a priority. Sharon is planning changes but they can never be fast enough.

Iraq. I don't think they have announced it on the news here but CNN has been talking about the death of Saddam's sons for hours. Now we've only got to find the weapons and the father And maybe Blair has a chance.

Sometimes i too think the whole iraq thing was a big mistake. other times i think that my thinking was all part of saddam's plan - to make bush and blair look stupid, to lie in wait until the u.s. and england break down and give up -

July 23, 2003

Our news as usual foregrounds the specific - an avalanche in Peru which has apparently buried 2 Israeli trekkers as well as 6 others.

Mazal Ohana got life for stabbing her husband with a knife after she refused a plea of manslaughter. She claims it was an accident. I suspect that if the sexes were reversed she would have gotten a much lighter sentence.

Arab women - single mothers - are marching today to Jerusalem - to protest the economic policies.

I just realized that I always put a positive spin on the smaller stories that capture the hearts of individuals here - the human interest items always reflect the entire society.

I mean the whole generation of youth who get out of the army and need to do something challenging and relatively emotionally restful... it's almost everyone i know of that age. And sometimes it is dangerous. Drugs in India, Trekking in Peru, etc.


well the Arab women marched, over 300, and brought food, and all the women talked, and reminded me that i always believed that if women were running the world there wouldn't be war so easily.

Think also of Daniel Birenbaum. He's here, giving concerts for young people in Israel and in Palestine. Interviewed on Israeli news he said that we're all so tired of being led around by the politicians - The idea of the importance of INDIVIDUAL ACTS seems to be what these two items have in common.

Back to Iraq. A few people wrote today to ask me about "WMD." In case you don't know it yet, the way to find weapons of mass destruction is to type it in on google. exactly this way: "weapons of mass destruction" - and then press "I'm feeling lucky," and then read the whole "These Weapons of Mass Destruction cannot be displayed" display.

Seriously folks. Think of how much destruction just the IDEA of WMD has been in the world in the past few months. Whether they exist or not they have served to divide nations, destroy reputations, and even lives. The truth is we don't NEED WMD. We manufacture our own.


June 24, 2003



things that happen to me, personally, i understand. but how do i understand what happens in the world? even what happens under my nose here?

Here are excerpts from the last 3 emails i got just now: (not including the penis enlargement and viagra ads. which are very clear)



A ONE WEEK PHONE, FAX & EMAIL CAMPAIGN Call, Fax & Email the office of the Minister of Immigration & Citizenship Denis Coderre EVERY DAY from Thursday July 24th to Friday August 1st 2003.

Support the Palestinian Refugees facing deportation from Canada!

This is a call for a phone, fax & email campaign to the office of the Minister of Immigration & Citizenship Denis Coderre in support of over 100 Palestinian refugees who are facing deportation from Canada. This is an extremely urgent situation as some of the Palestinian refugees have already received deportation orders. The Palestinian refugees are mostly from the refugee camps of Lebanon and from Occupied Palestine who have claimed refugee status in Canada over the last couple of years.

Delegations from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver went to Immigration Canada offices on Monday July 21st and Tuesday July 22nd to demand a meeting with the Minister and to hand deliver the letter signed by over 100 organizations across Canada (SEE LETTER BELOW). Other delegations went to Canadian Embassies & Consulates in New York, San Francisco, San Jose as well as London (UK), Paris (France), Dubai (UAE), Cairo (Egypt), Beirut (Lebanon) to hand deliver the same letter to Canadian Immigration officials and embassadors.

The Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees is now calling for organizations & individuals throughout Montreal and Canada to phone, fax and email the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Denis Coderre's office to express their support for the two demands of the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian refugees.

Those demands are:

1. Immediately stop all deportations of Palestinian refugees.

2. Accept Palestinian refugee claims, thus giving them the title of Landed Status in Canada.

What i don't understand is WHY they are being deported, and where they will go.

These 2 items make all the difference here. And i have no way of understanding the information given to me without them

2)We urge you to join us, the Zionist Organization of America, in Washington, D.C., this Friday, July 25, as terrorist and Holocaust denier Abu Mazen meets President George Bush at the White House. We will hold a vigil/demonstration protesting the Roadmap, Mazen’s invitation to the White House, and the movement toward establishing a Palestinian state. This vigil will take place at the “Ellipse,” which is between the White House and the Washington Monument. Speakers will include Mort Klein (President, Z.O.A.), Richard Hellman (President, Christians’ Israel Public Affairs Campaign), and Helen Freedman (Executive Director, Americans for a Safe Israel).

We will hold a ceremony commemorating the 6 million Holocaust dead, whose murders Abu Mazen denies took place.

And we will hold a ceremony commemorating the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Munich Olympics, since Abu Mazen helped plan and execute the massacre. He also coordinated many other terror deeds as co-founder of Fatah.

We remind you that just this March, Abu Mazen stated that the Palestinian Arabs have the right to fight Israel over the Green Line “with all means at their disposal,” a transparent endorsement of suicide bombings and other forms of terror. And this very week, Abu Mazen reiterated that “cracking down on Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian organizations is not an option at all” (AP, July 23, ’03).

For President Bush to meet with a lifelong terrorist makes a mockery of his statement that he will only meet with Palestinian Arab leaders not compromised by terror.

No one else is protesting Abu Mazen’s red carpet reception by our government. Our voices are the only ones. Please let them be heard! Meet us at 10:00 A.M. this Friday at the Ellipse. Also, tell your friends and family to join us at our vigil. You can direct them to our website at, where we have all the information on it. Click here to view today's Jerusalem Post article on the ZOA vigil.

Nothing wrong with the facts here - as far as i know. Abu Mazen's doctorate thesis denies the holocaust. he did help plan the munich massacres. he has had a problem with getting tough with Hamas et al.

But that's why he's an enemy, right? who do you make peace with if not your enemy?

am i being naive here? or should we wait for a nicer leader to come along - maybe we can even get a jew next time around? (:

that's enough - i'm getting cynical.

but the problem of determining and acting on the truth is sufficiently evident, right.

The Fence. I thought at numerous points that it could only be a good thing - but now i see where it is going - how it is being used by a government in bad faith. and instead of a solution it is a devestation. with cynicism. (as we say in yiddish, 'noch mit a nigun.')

one of my emails is from a dear nephew who hates it when i use names. he complained that i don't write about my own life any more and he can't tell what i've been up to. what, he says, no readings, no parties, no dancing, no drinking?

Dear nephew. yes to all.

more of this later.

We said goodbye to Sherard and Brigitte Cowper-Coles, the British Ambassador and his wife, tonight. I kept thinking during the evening that i would much rather be attending a welcoming party for them. He has been such an inspiration, a model of a responsible individual - learning both Hebrew and Arabic - his outspokenness and devotion to human ideals before political ones....

Even at the party for him his influence was actualized. Yael and I decided to try and get an Arabic conversation group together again. I think Linda is in too. With Ezi that will make 4 -

July 26, 2003

How do I feel when someone i meet tells me they read my diary? like George Costanza when his fiance started hanging out with his buddies - "Worlds Collide" -

But when you're as multiple personality as i am, you get over it very very fast. So don't worry.

Let's talk about Art for a change. David is living in Sara and Bandi's flat at the moment and making an installation of the family there that he'll be taking back to London and back here. His idea of the family and the generations of different people all interacting in portraits is fascinating. But his comments on Israeli art are very relevant to his concept. He claims we've all become so involved in the pain and the guilt and the tragedy that that is all we work on in art. And its boring. Repetitious. And, he claims, there are so many other subjects here that are much more significant. That's why he's doing the family.

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