Tel Aviv Diary July 26, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from July 26, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 26, 2003

The Fence: Something is definitely wrong with the fence. When Mitzna wanted to build it, he wanted it to be on the Green Line - but Sharon has been using it to take more territory, to divide villages from their lands, to isolatede towns.

It is not the problem with the fence. It is that the fence is not in the right place.

If there were good relations there would be no need for a fence, and if there is peace the fence can be removed, but it still does not follow that peace and a fence don't go together. "Good Fences" still "make good neighbors" - but they have to work together on the fence, on the peace, on the whole concept.

We're celebrating our 23 anniversary at mishmish this evening.

i thought we'd stroll through tel aviv this afternoon, but it is too hot and we're too old to brave the unadulterated sun. even if we walk through the avenues - like rothchild and chen - where there are trees, the weather is too humid for me. But it's such a beautiful city, we'll have to try it on the way home.

July 27, 2003

It was an amazing party and we drove through Tel Aviv - me at least - in a haze of martinis - so all my rapture about tel aviv has no validity. i peeked in every bar and cafe on rothchild and saw they were all crowded with beautiful people and thought i'll have to put these photos on the web. but now i'm afraid to download them and see what i actually took. If they come out i'll post them here:

And then I went home and read Salaam Pax and a link he made to a human rights rape site and the differences in the worlds suddenly became salient again. Adrienne Rich has a poem entitled "Rape" which emphasizes that rape is doubled as a trauma when the authorities, the surroundings, duplicate the patriarchal authority over the violated female body. And on this site, human rights watchthe terrible situation Rich describes and I myself experienced, is even more intensified`and multiplied.

July 28, 2003

so i'm not writing. i'm busy holding my breath wondering what's going to happen with Gilad Sharon. If he doesn't hand over the information relevant to tArik Sharon's loan, if the whole thing comes out, if Arik will have to step down because of corruption - then we can start reorganizing this awful fence he's been building. What happened to the GREEN LINE?

I know I know there are thousands of areas in which Sharon was not honest. Maybe even a bit of a murderer (My bet is not that he killed people in Sabra and Shtila but that he cut his first wife's brakes). But in the case of the fence i feel it is My Mind that was messed with.

Right, I suspected a serious problem with putting something in Sharon's hands. But how far off the green line could he go with the fence, I thought. Anyway, as Ezi said, if they want a fence somewhere else let THEM build it.

But I think of Sharon and return to wise words of the Pauper Witch of Grafton who said, "Right's right. And the temptation to do right/ Especially if I can hurt someone by doing it,/ has always been too much for me."

I mean it's not like we don't need a fence. Just in the past few hours at least two bombs were discovered - one in Kibbutz Merav, near mount Gilboa in the north, and while they were looking around, the army found two more roadside bombs. And then there was one weighing a few kilo near Jenin, attached to a tripwire, near 3 other pipe bombs.

So the concept of separating the people is not all that bad.

But not like this. And not like shooting rubber bullets at protesters!

But the Israeli answer is also logical. The fence is meant to be so absurd and so irritating that the other side will HAVE to negotiate.

Unfortunately this is not a way to make friends.

The phrase in Yiddish is "Af tsu lochis" loosely translated as 'in order to anger' (or for you linguists: from the German 'auf zu' in order to, and from the hebrew 'lehachis' - make angry.)

July 29, 2003

And now for something completely different.

Sara Gut

A woman called yesterday when i was deep in to some research and asked me if it was possible she had reached the family of Sara Gut. It turned out she was an art dealer and was looking to renew some old business (Kurt Gerron?) but even though the idea of selling Gerron hits me like selling one of my grandchildren, that wasn't what threw me off.

What struck me was the fact that Sara has been dead for 8 months and we are still feeling her alive. David White came here for a visit last month from England. He was only going to stay a week and renew some of the many generations of friendship between his family and Sara's, but wound up being inspired by his staying in Sara's flat and stayed a month to create an amazing installation. The flat, a magnet for so many years to so many generations of family, became the background for a series of postmodern portraits of all the living relatives. Hung almost all over the house on clotheslines, each portrait has a dynamism and individuality and completeness of its own. But all together there is a melange of dialogues. In her bedroom a video plays of the experience of walking through all the portraits in the rest of the house - showing her participation and supervision and her absence.

I didn't count the portraits - but i know we're talking over 30 people. Just Sara and Bandi's offspring and spouses.

David said the idea came from Orit, and many stages of the development of this installation are products of things that happened while he was there and results of conversations he had with the people and with friends like Sharon.

It shows. It isn't a warm or sentimental exhibit, but it is profound and complex. And very much alive.

Meanwhile, i have been trying to find out whatever happened to the same number of relatives (on my side) who were shot in Lida in May of 1942.

Debby introduced me to a friend who has access to some of the Holocaust records and may be able to help me. He needs some information to start with like dates of birth, however.

When was Mirke born? How many children did Batya have? What was Bluma's husband's name? Did Shifra ever have a child? Could Rachel Katz ever have been a mother? Does Moshe Aharon's son live?

Who knows.

july 30, 2003

When I was in England I spent some time with an Arab friend who has a two year old child with whom he speaks in Arabic. Now my level of Arabic is perfect for a 2 year old so I spoke with him inArabic too. My friend was surprised and I'm not sure he was pleased. How do you know this? He asked. Look where I live, I answered. How can I not know something.

Like most people who are not actually here, and even many who are, he was unaware of the proximity and the interrelationship of the cultures. Arabs and Jews: The number of attempts to work together on many levels usually goes unnoticed in the world press. Take Andalus Press for instance, that is dedicated to translated Arabic books into Hebrew.

Even there Arabs and Jews work together.

And our tri-lingual anthology of student poetry and awaits a publisher.

The cease-fire. Maybe it's only a temporary respite, but there is no doubt that we need it desperately. Maybe it's true - what many people say in Israel - that it only serves to allow the Palestinians to arm themselves more fully, untrammeled by the Israeli Army. But I cannot imagine that there is one citizen in this area that doesn't appreciate the quiet fully. Today we went to the port of Tel Aviv, where my cousin has opened up his new restaurant, "Paulino on the Beach," and as we ate comfort food - pasta - and enjoyed the sea breeze and the great view, we looked around for tourists. "If there are any tourists in this region, they'd be here," Ani said. But we saw mostly locals, relaxing in the afternoon air.

In the evening the port is crowded now, people eating watermelon or drinking beer - after two years of being exceptionally careful, staying home whenever there was an option. This is the way i like Tel Aviv - and i'm sure this is the way the people in Kalkilya like Kalkilya.

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