Tel Aviv Diary June 24, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from June 24, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

June 24, 2003

Yeh yeh yeh - developing sensitivity... what about the Hudna - is it good for us or bad for us? Kurt thinks it's just a chance for the Hamas to regroup its forces and attack on a big scale. He's had experience with this kind of placation. Me, I am of the opposite school, and have taken to eating in the kitchen where I don't have to see his portrait. It seems quite possible that if the cease-fire works, Abbas will be strengthened and have a chance to actually run his country. Right now I don't know how he has managed to hold on - what with Arafat and the Hamas pulling in different directions. And maybe a respite will bring us to sanity.

Sanity. You may remember I have written about Miklat 209, a performance theatre - managed by Tamar Raban - on the top floor of the Beit Mercazim - an enormous cement building on the border of Jaffa. The rest of the building has numerous small businesses and factories - fashion, etc. Well last night it burned down - it's still burning.

The tire factory on the street floor is the cause - even a small first in a tire factory is going to be dangerous because the water can't get inside the tires, so it burns protected from within. I hope the little companies and especially the theatre can be reconstituted soon.

Turns out it was Niko Nitai's theatre that was destroyed, along with memorabilia like the cape he has worn for 28 years in "The Fall" and manuscripts with no copies. The Comedy Club probably will not have lost much, and the companies are probably insured and/or can reconstruct their computers, replenish their lines, but the fringe theatres - what a loss!

Fringe in Israel is rarely written about, almost never recorded, and often extremely exciting. And that building = even though it was concrete - was a clear fire trap.

Which leads me to the problem of City Hall and how it always works on the edge of the law, inspecting sporadically, often delaying closures, etc. It's like a keystone cop operation - not enough budget, not organized, not responsible. But it is improving. I've been hearing fewer horror stories in the past year than before.

June 25, 2003

Orit's Birthday

A mega-attack was foiled this morning - ten kilo of explosives planned to be detonated in Petach Tikva got held up in Kfar Kassem when the guy who came over from Schchem to blow up got caught. 10 kilos with all the nails and bits could have killed dozens of people.

I was thinking of that when Smadar asked me if i'd heard the big shots on the street yesterday afternoon. She was the first person who mentioned it - and we agreed it must have been the explosion of a suspicious object - probably something like Shai's schoolbag (I must have told that story last month sometime).

Today's news has been filled with the questions - could we have had bad information from the U>S. and England about chemical, biological and nuclear weapons or Iraq? And although I still say - if Saddam hasn't been found, they why should we be surprised that his weapons haven't?

Along with that there are the stories from the BBC about Israel's undeclared chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

And local stories about Arab chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

No wonder my kids don't want to have kids.

I mean it is not that people are getting worse or less moral - ever read Froissart's history of the 100 years' wars? But fewer people have the ability to destroy many. maybe even everyone.

I think I need an antihistamine.

June 26, 2003

We are hours,days, from a truce.. but actually light years. I means we're still picking off Hamas officers and anyone who happens to be standing next to them, and today a phone company technician named Amos Mantin got killed in Baka al-Garbiyeh, probably shot by someone who stepped across the border. Two suicide bombers in full dress were stopped near Givaat Chaviva this afternoon. And the day is not over.

We don't seem to have the right spirit here, do we?

After a discussion with/ about some antiglobalization people, i was suddenly reminded of Zyggy Frankel's poem - i must have quoted this before, but maybe you missed it:


We operate from airfields we did not build,

smuggling explosives we did not invent

onto planes we wouldn't know how to pilot.

Thank you, civilisation, for your blessings.

June 27, 2003

of course they ARE piloting and building nowadays, but the principle of the reliance upon the hated civilized society remains the same.

And there is an enormous difference between organizations like the old anarchists, the Bader-Meinhoff, etc. and the Hamas. The difference is between the theorists and the real. The bourgeois revolutionists i grew up with came from middle class neighbhorhoods and lived on a stipend from Grandma while stealing their wine from the local liquor store as a gesture against the middle class. Hamas is coming from the opposite direction.

Now i'm going to get someone complaining that i'm on hamas' side.

The only thing i have against them is that they want to kill me.

Appropos bourgeois. Remember the kid brother of that towheaded kid that used to hang around here all the time? - he's a pimp. no. more. in his early 20s and he's got 10 houses with a proper middle class conditory as a cover. Coming from the best neighborhood in the country.

This country seems to have the prostitution proportions of London in the nineteenth century.

Now I have to go look for the number of the hotline to turn him in. Little terrorist.


literally means 'time out' - right? not cease-fire. not necessarily some way station to peace. possibly a chance to regroup.

Are you surprised the Hamas is agreeing to a cease-fire? I figure they have while there's someone left to agree. Israel got 4 more today.

The Hamas is a very practical group - and they get more votes on the street than Fatach. I may be wrong but i suspect that when there is no intifada they get far less support. so it would be in their interest...

still, we dont have much choice but to trust, do we.

June 28, 2003

Don't forget They're coming out now.

i could have sworn i wrote about the party last night - but it doens't seem to be here today. so i didn't save the last entry about ageing ashkenazi ladies belly dancing at the end of a wonderful proper party - to the tune of "ata totach" otr 'you are a cannon'. But never mind - i guess i forgot to save it.

Today i asked the waiter at Ahmed and Salim's (my favorite gas station restaurant) if i could scan a napkin with their logo - and if they had something in english. He said I should scan the arabic napkin because if he had to go to the US he would have to speak English and if they come to him they should speak Arabic.

We left him all the change in our wallet.

Ahmed and Salim's is not cheap, but it's simple and good. We went once with Alicia and it was empty - that resolved me to come back. now it was full.


No. Saturday afternoon. Everyone's out to lunch.

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