Tel Aviv Diary June 4, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from June 4, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

June 4, 2003

It is just the first step - and everything may well fall apart. The Israelis were a bit miffed at seeing all the flags except Israel's in the negotiations... the freed terrorists are flaunting their 'victory'... all KINDS of little and big things.

Still, still.

Does anyone know the story about Saddam's favorite belly dancer in Baghdad? I don't even know her name but I've heard that she can't show her face in the city, just because of her association with him. And I think something should be done to bring her to Tel Aviv. Right?

more later. there has to be something more important to write about today

Aqaba -I've been reading some of my right-wing colleagues on the web who say they can't watch it = how could something so awful happen. For me i can't watch because i'm scared to death someone is going to get assassinated like the other times...

So, yes, I AM reminded of that joke about why jewish women close their eyes when they make love (they can't bear to see their husbands enjoying themselves) but the reasons are very different for me as well as my right wing colleagues.

And yet I listen. How could I not? The rhetoric is so interesting - how 'illegal' settlements have become 'unauthorized' settlements to make people feel better - and stuff like that.

But when push comes to shove, will it work? That's the big question.

At a student concert tonight in memory of Dan Ben Bassat, there was a celloist so wonderful we were all breathless. During the break I commented on it to my friend Mira Zakai who teaches in the music department. "I wish someone would but him a cello," she responded in agreement. The kid doesn't have a cello. He makes it dance like NO ONE I have seen before (and I have seen Jacqueline du Pre) and he doesn't own a cello! He was playing on some practice shoebox in the shape of a cello. Imagine what he would sound like if he had a real instrument.

That's another reason we need peace.

June 5, 2003

to beat our swords into cellos

The palestinians were suprised that bush called israel a jewish state - here we go.

(Ezi's birthday today - much excitement - hard to stay focussed)

But to reply to ll of you who asked about the cellist - it was Udi Weber and he played Saint-Saens Concerto no. 1 for cello and orchestra in A minor Opus 33. He did not wear his much needed glasses and played most of the time with his eyes closed. And yes, I was thinking of Amichai's poem about beating swords into plowshares and plowshares into musical instruments. And how great a dream that has always been to me.

And yes I'm serious, if someone wants to donate a cello or money to buy it I will see it gets to him - through the university. But you should know we're talking about a price range from a porsche to a condo.

To answer another one of your questions the conductor was a Chinese students named Xu Yi An - and he too was beautiful!

(later) classes all night on Shvuout - studying torah, jewish cooking, whatever. Many people out on the town listening to lectures, revelling, etc. We stay home and do dishes after a big family dinner. This is a holiday of milk and milk products and I am lactose intolerant, as are about 10% of the (masochistic) jewish people i know.

Shavuout is the holiday of the giving of the torah. It's also the holiday when The book of Ruth is read. Here's one take on that tale: BOAZ’S MOTHER

Have you ever noticed I
am the only woman in the story
with no recognition? The Moabite
floozy on the threshing room floor
made her ex-
famous, and provided for her
for the rest of her life.

And me
The great
grand mother
of David

gets no visits
on Friday night

I guess you had to have been there. Hag Sameach

June 6, 2003

Hamas breaks off with Abbas. So terrorism is back on. (Anyway two people were killed by terrorists yesterday - so what's the difference?) The ups and downs of this impossible process is excruciating. Better not to know. Israel has a history of news addiction, but now we're all a bit too scared of jinxing things, or too upset.

We stay home and watch the Bible on TV, or go to ACE for a rubber hammer. Keep Dalia company while she prints up the graphs for her doctorate.

Tonight we have a 'traditional' Shevuot meal with traditional friends. Probably everyone will be wearing white except me and into exchanging cheese recipes. But we'll also probably have some good biblical conversation - since some of them have gone back to studying torah.

As long as its not kabbala i'm happy - people who go on kabbala kicks without the proper background are scary.

Jnue 7, 2003

The conversation was among other things about Keren Kayemet - and it was fascinating -We spoke of the schools in the 20's - the photographs of them at the exhibit at the Electric Company we saw last month. Last month I wasn't all that excited by them, but in discussing them and going over the catalogue, they became riveting. A teacher in white shoes and pith helment in a field with his pupils sitting on a threshing machine, a glowing young woman explaining to a fascinated classroom about the flower she holds, a child watering a flower with the same childish watering can that everyone who lived through that period owned. The sense of a cause, the innocence and idealism, was beautiful. Did I write this before? It would have been on Hol Hamoed of this passover when we went to the exhibit, and were so disgusted by the crowds and the noise that we couldn't concentrate.

We were planning on celebrating Ezi's birthday this afternoon at Mishmish - Oren's new cocktail lounge, where you can get 'death in the lafternoon' and other famous drinks, but it hasn't opened yet so our celebrations are local and disparate. Breakfast at Nona's, lunch at Ace, tea at Dina's, dinner at Linda's... More about that in between

And the peace process goes like the honda commericial. Do you know it? You should. Read about it first: here and then see it here

A very political concept.

Whoops. its not there . i'll check it and fix it tomorrow i hope.

June 8, 2003

Here it is This morning, over muesli and the news of terrorist attacks, hamas liquidations, demonstrations, etc. I ask Kurt Gerron what he thinks about the unfolding events. He's got his handkerchief arranged coming out of his breast pocket like a magen david and looks as proud and ashamed as ever - just like a diaspora jew. He gives me the punchline of a joke. Or at least it's the cynical expression in his eyes that makes me think of it. The jew takes the job from to teach the Paritz's dog to talk. "How did you accept such a job?" His friend asks, "It's impossible!" "Listen, it's a 10 year contract - either the Paritz will die or the dog will die."

Thus with the road map i fear.

June 9, 2003

Elyakim Rubinstein decided last night to prosecute Liora Glatt-Berkowitz for letting Haaretz know about about a police investigation into a loan given to Sharon and his sons. I was hoping that wouldn't happen because it seems to me that even though times are hard people deserve to know what kinds of people are leading their country. But there may be details that I don't know about.

I mean after all Sharon has been behaving with great integrity, even in the face of the livid likkud memebers at their meeting last night.

There were 5 soldiers killed yesterday - so far we know nothing of the taste of the road map. We're too busy with our tragedies. I look at their pictures and cannot but see the richness of the lives they would have lived.

Why wasn't I at the annual Metulla Poetry Festival? Last year too people called and called to ask me. Here's the answer: I WASN'T INVITED. I haven't been invited to much lately and i dont know why. Last time i was at the Metulla festival I thought Liz and I were great. The time before that I was pretty good too. I even read in Hebrew. Then I disappeared.

Strange - and I'm not a worse poet than I was.

But I AM more querilous and less friendly.

Every time a few friends get together lately they talk about foreign workers they know who are being harrassed by immigration here. The treatment is inhuman. Angelica is leaving - husband and son too. How will she manage? Ten years she has lived here - at least - gave birth at the expense of the government - enjoyed a relatively fine life - but always in fear of being caught. But each week she tells me another horror story about someone who has been picked up and deported summarily. And now I discover she has been bilked at least twice by companies who take her money for tickets and disappear. There is no one in Israel who is't horrified by these stories and doesn't rage against them. And yet we seem incapable of oragnizing against these policies.

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