Tel Aviv Diary Nov 7, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from Nov 7, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

Computer problems. Sorry.

Let's see: Elhanan Tennenbaum and three bodies in exchange for how many hundred terrorists...

What about Azam Azam? What about the old bodies for bodies policy? I wish I could believe we have something up our sleeve and we're not just being stupid.

Not that I do not value the life of Tennenbaum, but the very idea that people have to vote on his life in the Knesset on Sunday... It is very very stupid to put a nation in this position. Especially such a demoralized and depressed nation. I can't wait until this Sophie's Choice story is behind us and forgotten. We have enough tragedies to face.

And responsibilities. The Geneva Accords for one. Given the choice between the two issues i have no doubt which one i'd choose. And even though I have repeatedly expressed my regard for Tennenbaum I would refuse negotiation (unless of course there are elements i don't know about).

It goes against everything I believe in - which is to save life whenever possible, but it seems to me that we are strengthening Nassralah and that is even more threatening.

How do people sleep having to make decisions like that?

Why am I not marching tomorrow against the fence? Because I still believe in a fence - just not THIS fence in this place. I believe that afence on the green line would cool down the fevers. But ON THE GREEN LINE not where it is going now.

We had a visitor today from the U.S. who reminded us that in order to get here they have to go through criticism and warnings. She said that people were calling her to say goodbye forever before she left for Israel.

She doesn't think of herself in particular as a heroine, and has been enjoying herself here it is clear, but she's disturbed by the image Israel has around the world of being a dangerous place. Although we have some other friends coming this week, and there's a cousin here from Italy, I still wanted to hug Ronnie for making the trip, for braving the dangers.

Dangers. I tell you all the time about how I live, and I'm out and about all the time. And when I'm scared I tell you. It isn't often and it isn't immediate - the long term dangers scare me much more.

November 8, 2003

Typical Shabbat - Like Wallace Steven's unidentified agnostic, we lounge in our negligee amid the coffee and oranges. Then we take Shusha for a long walk in Ramat Aviv -where the parents and children are playing in the parks, and the congregations of the two big synagogues are strolling home - talking of sushi and automobiles, and the old couples are sitting on the public benches that appear more and more often in the past years as the neighborhood seems to have more and more elderly to rest on them.

The serious walkers don't seem to be out on Shabbat morning, and i am thinking that it is very appropriate. The feeling that Shabbat is special is everywhere. But when we go to Ahmed et Salim's for lunch, and realize that the waiters are fasting until after sundown, it expands our concept of holiness. We don't have a monopoly on it. There is also Ramadan.

(later that day) Ally complains: You always talk about going places to eat but you never say what you had! Nothing big happened today - relax and tell me what was on the menu!

So here it is: I had Musht, or St. Peter's Fish, which was deep fried and then broiled, and perfect. My companions had Shishkebab, Lamb ribs, and Denise (What the hell is Denise in English - its a fish, it's good). The food, as always, was great.

And while we're at it, we made an amazing cream of mushroom soup with Hawaiyage and curry yesterday. Fry 4 sliced leeks until golden, add 2 cups of milk and 2 tbsps flour, a tbsp of curry and one of hawaiyage (for soup, not for coffee), then add all the mushrooms you can find. Cook without boiling for about fifteen minutes. Hawayge is what, you ask? Wish I knew. Yemenite combination.

5 Tablespoons ground cumin

2 Tablespoons ground cardamom

5 teaspoons ground black pepper

3 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoons ground coriander

This is what I was told - i never made it myself

Try it and let me know.

I have been drinking my coffee with Hawaiyaj since we bought the stuff at Avi Tsittershpiller's in Upper Bethlehem, and it adds depth to my day.

The day isn't over - by the way - there is still a multilingual poetry evening at beit levick i'm hosting. Since Mark decided not to read i had to put myself into the program to fill the gap so I'm reading too.

It's a good evening with Rony Somek, and poetry in Croatian, Yiddish, Russian, English, Ladino, and of course Hebrew. But watch for the Reading series at shesek, starting december 30 - and starring seymour mayne, rony somek and me.

Here's an important notice:

Next Thursday evening, November 13th, an evening devoted to "Us, Them & Human Rights" will be held at Tzavta, Tel Aviv, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Representatives of 12 Israeli human rights groups and six Palestinian human rights groups will participate, along with Shulamit Aloni, Ziad Abu-Zayyad, Natan Zach, Lucy Nussiebah, David Shaham, Danny Rubenstein, pilot Chagai Tamir, Prof. Chaim Gantz, Hana Meron,Yaffa Yarkoni and others. It's an opportunity to create links and raise consciousness about the importance of placing human rights on the public agenda. The evening is being held under the initiative of the Palestine-Israel Journal,following the publication of our recent issue "Human Rights Now", and it is being held under the auspices of Development Cooperation Ireland, with the participation of the Irish Ambassador H.E. Patrick Hennessy.

Now this looks like an important evening and worth travelling to Tel Aviv for.

November 9, 2003

I heard the news about the prisoner exchange agreement while shopping in an amazing fun shoe shop on Basel. The shoes are all red and yellow and green and make you smile. But the smile faded when the news came on. Like everyone else I would have been upset no matter what the decision -

(Had to discontinue last night because the rain storm.) So went to bed thinking of the decisions we make all the time - always with imperfect information. The popular formula for children Remedia (imported from Humana in Germany) turned out to be missing a vital ingredient - Vitamin B 1, and at least 2 babies here have died from it. Now how do you make a decision about giving your child formula? You think it is the best for the baby - a special formula for those lactose intolerant - like me. You're an advanced parent, who can solve those digestive problems that kept babies like me up all night screaming. And then it turns out - whoops - they forgot thiamine.

The same principle holds here in the prisoner exchange - you're trying to take all the factors into consideration, to make the best deal possible for now, for later, for all the people involved. And who knows how many walking bombs Israel is releasing from its prisons? Who knows what Tennenbaum had actually done in Lebanon? For sure there's a missing vitamin somewhere.

November 10, 2003

I cannot pass an olive tree without thinking about how this noble staple in the middle east has become the center of such controversy, such pain, such destruction. When Linda went to buy an olive tree, remember, she said that when they asked the owner to figure out the price he came to something like $30000 because he was figuring in life income, heritage, etc. And here some youths in the territories run around uprooting them. The other night I held my dress out in front of the neighbor's tree that leans over the fence onto the sidewalk and Ezi shook the tree. My lap filled with olives. Then we took them home to crush and cure them. So simple - so basic.

Oh, yes. i'm terribly allergic to olive trees - they make me go totally limp.

Amazing that on the anniversary of Crystallnacht comes the discovery that the German formula for babies designed for kosher babies is dangerous. Thank goodness we're not paranoid.

November 11, 2003

And while our minds are full of the strange prisoner exchange we're involved in, comes Ezi's distant cousin, Gideon Graetz, with the story of his own exchange. He tells us this story by the way, as part of what he did today - filmed a tv interview about when he was a prisoner in Syria in 1951. Happened to cross over the border by mistake while touring with a friend, and they get caught. He's wounded, but apparently not seriously. Five months later they are exchanged, along with 3 other Israelis, for 5 Syrian sailors. End of story.

It wasn't so bad, he says.

There should be a story about it in Maariv on Wednesday - he doesn't know when they'll air the tv show.

Now that's a cool man. And those were cool times.

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