Tel Aviv Diary - May 1, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary May 1, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from May 1, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 1

Boy did i screw up - i erased the old site and that erased the links here - so i keep getting letters asking about whether i'm okay. thanks to all of you - i even wrote a letter to some, giving my new address - but with a mistake. so what else is new.

let me put it down to a kidney infection that is confusing the hell out of me. but maybe there is someone out there who knows how to restore a deleted site - not the contents but just the address -so i can tell people where to go.

i know i have no right to complain. 10 palestinians killed today in an israeli raid. now that's a reason to complain. i don't know how we think we're going into negotiations with that kind of attitude. yes i know the palestinians blew up the tel aviv equivalent of "cheers" just 2 nights ago, but come on....

Now they are saying 13 Palestinians. a baby too.

We are still looking in Tel Aviv for the terrorist - who turns out to be British - who got away - His belt didn't blow up and he ran off. That's why only 3 were killed... Now I was on my way to Students' Day at the University and suddenly I heard the fireworks. I knew it was fireworks - i am old and wise enough to know the difference, even if my dumb dog isn't. But I decided to stay home anyway and avoid a heart attack.

Naomi Shihab Nye just sent me an article about Jewish - Palestinian relations at Georgetown Here's the site. I often think that Naomi and me could manage the negotiations we would have had peace long ago. Well not me - maybe my sister-in-law Muma. She's a quiet negotiator.

May 2, 2003

A quiet day at the eye doctor. No one in the building but Ezi and me and the specialist. We hear a loudspeaker, but pay little attention, and then a loud shot. What was that, says the doctor, looking into my eyes. I call out to the waiting room - was that a shot? suspected bomb, ezi calls back, and i know he hasn't lifted his head from the national geographic.

while the drops lose their effect we go to have coffee. it's a friday afternoon, usually very crowded, but today it is quiet. because of the terrorist on the loose, i ask the waitress. because of the beach, she answers. it's a perfect day.

see? we're all sated with fear.

the strike has been called off - for the time being. the garbage has not yet been collected, but will be before the sabbath i think. after all it is an incredible danger - not only germs - but you can just drop a bomb into those piles on the sidewalk and no one would notice until the explosion.

the mail got delivered, but there are still no traffic cops....

the strike is not only a symptom of our economic emergency and our politic dilemma between socialism and capitalism. it is also a moral touchstone - we see how in almost everything we do either choice is wrong. the economic bill that will most certainly go through is almost immoral in its social and conomic implications for the poor, for the old, for the helpless. it is also absolutely essential that an economic bill go through so we can begin to get out of the economic disaster we have created for ourselves.

that's why we're indifferent, immobile. double-bind.

better read the national geographic.

May 3, 2003

Traditional day for rejoicing in Chaucer. Here the beach opens officially. Shabbat Beach - a significant holiday in Tel Aviv. I think I will stroll down there before the crowds come - no. it's already 8 a.m. - the fast-walkers are already there to disturb the pastoral peace. And, as Galway Kinnell says, "Their faces show there is a hell and they will reach it."

It looks like a lot of trouble is coming from Britain. Alan wrote me yesterday that maybe Tony Blair will have to be declared irrelevant and locked up in Downing St. 5 suspects accused or airing the 2 suicide bombers arrested in London. One British bomber still loose in Tel Aviv. The big danger of course is that he will take up with one of those beautiful Russian immigrant girls, convert and blend into the sidewalk cafe scene. I mean Tel Aviv is seductive.

The British citizen filming a documentary about children in Rafiah is the one who really bothers me. i mean camera crew are usually clearly identified. what could have happened that soldiers suddenly fired on him?

What am I saying? Soldiers are firing on each other all week around here. A little retraining is already going on, but obviously not enough!

I don't say enough? There are so many other more eloquent sites - with more details and opposite opinions. Here's a taste:

Mike's Place



I've got to make a special link page. I often recommend places and note links, but because this is such a homemade blog and has no format except what i happen to learn, you have to read back in the diary to see - like about Zman l'omanut or the Maskit exhibit at the Eretz Israel Museum. I was just about to do it during the war when Salaam Pax when off the air (he hasn't returned yet and I often think about him. I imagine him to be very much like a guy I knew in graduate school - a little pudgy, but with a great face and shape and a great eye. Moustache?

Now that reminds me. I was just reading Asher Reich's latest book - it begins with a questionnaire about the Angel of Death and asks if he/she has a moustache. I'll have to translate it for you.

More and more I have been hearing that ISRAELI MUSIC IS IN AGAIN here. This may not be entirely true but people know the oldies by heart and dance to them at parties with great joy. groups like nosei hamigbaat, nekamat hatractor, tislam, etc. this gives me hope that even the hora may return some day - can you imagine? there was a dance we used to do when i was young - maybe some of you know it - we would be in a circle with arms locked to shoulders - boys and girls alternating - and we would start chanting - cacha cacha cacha cacha cacha cacha ca -cha. and we would move in a cross side step to the beat at first slowly and then faster and faster and then the girls would let go of the floor and their feet would go out with the centrifugal motion. it was very exhilarating.

all right - i've betrayed my age and my idiocy.

May 4, 2003

So in bellydance class today someone mentioned that her friend was stuck in Europe because El Al wouldn't let any planes land in Ben Gurion airport yesterday even though the strike was over. If El Al can't fly on shabbat then why should anyone else. We were about to bitch about that when all of a sudden a school teacher exploded - i can't understand how this is the only country in the world where people don't support the workers! doesn't anyone care about the terrible economic situation? we are all old friends so it was very important that everyone be happy - but we couldn't even get a discussion going - too many sides to the question. And everybody merely emotionally involved, kvetching about how their lives have been affected rather than what is right.

It was a great hafla though.

May 5, 2003

Mitzneh quit as head of the Labor Party and everyone is angry. It's not that Mitzneh is a loser and we don't like losers, but that we needed him and he wasn't there. He couldn't do anything about the economic plans, he couldn't do anything about the labor unions. Of course no one in the party LET him do anything - my idol Peres himself kept exhibiting signs of latent jealousy and didn't seem capable of putting his shoulder to the wheel. Of the others I have also already spoken. Ephraim Sneh must have been putting salt in Mitzneh's sugar bowls all year... Matan Vilnai was just waiting for his chance. But the big operator was the broken hearted Ben Eliezer.

I would have enjoyed a sociological analysis of the labor party at this time if it wasn't so painful.

But it is. And I'm not enjoying it.

May 5, 2003

This is the eve of Memorial Day for the 21,500 soldiers who have fallen in Israel. It began unofficially on Sunday as people slowly get into the atmosphere of grieving - not for those who died in Europe but for those who died long ago and as recently as the day before. The knowledge that the number will only increase, that the lives which have been given up did not end the tragedy but are only individuals in an ongoing list, makes this day even harder.

At the university there was a ceremony at noon. Even the cafeterias close down - but on antibiotics and allergic to the sun i didn't dare attend, and i wondered if i wouldn't be seeing all my Arab students in the hallways. But they weren't there. Could they have gone to the ceremony? Perhaps they avoided the university altogether to avoid the unpleasantness..."

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