Tel Aviv Diary June 14, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from June 14, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

June 14, 2003

This song has been stuck in my head all day. It is a palestinian tune i heard Tamar Raban perform last year at Miklat 204 and translated from her literal hebrew translation into english.

If it rains

I’ll go to Grandmother’s

She’ll make me

A big omelet.

I’ll eat it

And go to sleep

And wake up hungry.

I’ll eat it

And go to sleep

And wake up hungry

It has a great melody and when i hummed it to Sharon Moldavi last year he said it sounded like Yiddish. So I translated it to Yiddish. But my yiddish is pretty faulty:

אויב סוועט גיין ש רעגען

איך'ל פאורען צום בובע'ס

זי וועט מיר מאכן

ש גרייסן פיינקוכען

איך'ל עסען

אונד שלופען

אונד אופשטיין הונגעריק


אונד שלופען

אונד אופשטיין הונגעריק

the song comes with hand gestures that i can't describe here but the illustrate the hunger. I know my yiddish is very faulty but it seems to me it really suits the whole song. If anyone has any corrections i'd appreciate it.

I forgot about the song but was reminded of it when Amos Galai sent me his ashkenazi manifesto (which i signed). For the Hebrew version of it click here

June 15, 2003

Two things interest me right now (well of course there are a lot more things that interest me but this is a political diary) and they are ethics and negotiations. The ethics of assasination first. Assa Casher, my colleague at Tel Aviv University who formulated the ehtics of situations like this in the army, claimed then that if someone is coming to kill you or organizing to kill you, then you should kill them first (if you can't arrest them or stop them in some other way) but if they have already killed someone, you can't kill just for 'revenge.' This is something to keep in mind -

The other issue of negotiations is probably even more relevant right now - negotiating 'under fire.' I think I've said this before but how can you NOT negotiate under fire? Particularly when it is not clear it is the same body you're negotiating with and shooting at you. The idea is to strengthen the negotiating body so the shooting body doesn't have a way to operate.

More after I've cut up the vegetables for the party tonight.

June 16, 2003

A few random thoughts about yesterday. At a part, I was explaining to my guest, Elaine Feinstein, about my view of right and left, that even though we have different opinions about how to achieve security and peace, we all agree on the principle that there should be peace and security.

I turned to a friend, whose political direction I didn't know, and asked her if that was not correct. She responded: Well, I'm right. And i think the left is all wrong.... My attempts to explain that it isn't a war between the right and left and that our goals in common resulted, I fear, in the loss of my friend. The concept was so pernicious to her that she found it impossible to begin to relate to the possibility. It threatened her.

This renewed proof of my constant failure to see the other (even my right-wing friend) clearly, would have depressed me for the night, had not Mishmish opened to such amazing success last night.

The young people who crowded into the elegant and exotic place, as well as my 'companions' for the evening, possessed in every way the double-vision i was trying to explain to my guest before. They are involved and detached, passionately concerned and ironically observant. For example, they spoke of the fact that Israeli society enjoys being crowded in intimate proximity in places that define them as part of a 'group,' while they are on their cellphones to somewhere else at the same time. So their identity is simultaneously in and out, identified and alienated.

I saw in this a virtue - the virtue of being able to perceive the concept i had been trying to explain a few hours ago about right and left. That if you can see both sides of an issue, if you can contain both at once, you are in a position to solve problems, even if you never feel totally comfortable.

So although some people see this youth as a very sad prospect for Israel's future, I am thrilled by it. see them as wise.

The escape of Mishmish too, the total defamiarization, lends, as Amit said, a perspective. A store front ancient and decrepit as that you are used to see on any degenerating tel aviv neighborhood, unnumbered address, blank window, rusting awning, becomes a fantasy come true once you step through the door.

There is hope that what you see is not what can be.

But perhaps its all those ginger martinis talking.

June 17, 2003

There is never a lack of subjects in Israel to discuss, or a lack of perspectives or a lack of events. But sometimes there is a lack of air conditioning, or a lack of time, or a total exhaustion. But don't let the exhaustion fool you. Someone told me today that coming back to Israel after ten years people seem depleted, exhausted. I found myself saying that exhaustion is just in the public arena. We are fed up with the Knesset (who wouldn't be?) with our 'leaders' (who wouldn't be?) but not with the desire for an organized, peaceful life. The radio stations may be shutting down (curse the government for closing the Classical channel) but people are making more original music that ever. People don't seem to be doing much, but they are.

And today I'm a bit more optimistic - economically things seem to be improving, and I think that Sharon must have been bribed with promises of getting business thrown our way if we just SAY we want to talk. That's why we're getting contracts to send vegetables to the U.S. army in Iraq.

The conference at Tel Aviv University about the future of the Middle East - with its participants from Bir Zeit and other exotic places - in itself indicates a forward movement... that there is a future - something we had all stopped believing in for a while.

The students have begun to think about the graphics in the anthology and Amal brought in drawings of a student from Nablus - a poet whose works were burnt when her house was. She draws in coal - greatly symbolic in itself - making art from charred remains, and i guess she already has a reputation - her name is Manal Tamani I think.

June 18, 2003

I don't believe much in the power of petitions, and yet if we accept things without protest, we are colluding with the decisions. Closing the classical music channel is one of them. So sign the petition here. I wish there was more avant garde music and more early classical - I miss Scarlatti and his gang. I would also like more discussion and education about the music. But taking the only classical channel off the radio is terrible.

Revising it would be much better - and taking tasteful announcements and ads.

About 20 kilometers from here a 7 year old girl - Noa Leibovich - was killed last night when her family's car was sprayed with bullets by someone from Kalkilia. I didn't notice it on CNN but we get lots of kids killed too. Some of the critics of the Palestinians saythat they put their children in harm's way by sending them against the Israeli soldiers. This is true, but it is also true that kids get killed in their bedrooms, playing, or just going about their business. This is true of both sides. The difference is that Palestinians target civilians and Israelis try very hard to avoid them.

And yes, I WAS on that road yesterday - it is right near my house (and I live 2 minutes from the sea)

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