Tel Aviv Diary Oct 18, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from Oct 18, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

Nobody's seen the Geneva Accords yet and already everybody's arguing. Right left uncommitted everybody's in a stir. I tend to embrace them, think Beilin a right thinking man (unlike lots of people) and would like to give the whole thing a chance.

But the technical problems seem overwhelming. Not only do both the Israeli and Palestinian people need to be convinced - but then it has to be implemented. who's going to pay for it? what do you do with the minions who don't agree? What's the word in Arabic for oy?

As you know i never look back, and never read what i wrote, but i was thinking about what yuval goldenberg and i said yesterday about the bathrooms of tel aviv bars - and it really deserves to be made into a little sociological study. so if anyone has feedback about the political significance of bar bathrooms in tel aviv, please write in.

And only a few hours later - quite a few comments! I'll see if i can get them together and post them.

I must say that when I finally used the unisex bathrooms at Mishmish I too felt just a bit 'naughty' -

Back to the suicide lady. I must admit that after reading the article in Ha'aretz today on her, I began to understand much more what drove her to want to destroy everyone. Not that i can sympathize - but understand. The fact that she couldn't get to Rambam hospital to get treatment for her deathly ill father and therefore wanted to blow it up - has a certain logic. But the logic is crooked and is widespread. if she could get into Israel in order to blow it up, the same people who helped her could have helped her get her father to the hospital. If she was in despair and decided to put some others into despair as well...what good did she do for her despair? what good did she do for her people by killing 21 people?

Despair seems an excuse, no matter how based it is in facts. there are always an equal number of antithetical facts.

October 19, 2003

Many returns on the question of the logic of the suicide bomber and how it characterises the politics of Arafat. i must admit i really don't like characterizing people according to a stereotype, but there does seem to be a similar pattern.

Appropos patterns - the workers are on strike and i don't see a settlement coming. it is also being predicted that the silent opposition to the government will not be silent any longer. so a big mess is ahead.

in the meantime people are really hurting here economically - correction - some people - many people - the lower middle class for example. Those who managed to keep their head above water, or even were doing well at some point --- Michal, my former cleaning-lady, of whom i have written a great deal, is pushing 70, but with no pension, no insurance, and the comfortable compensation i gave her used up while she was ill, she's in a bad way. What can I do for her? the money i used to pay her has been taken off my own salary in all the loans we give the university, and another younger and more hungry person does her work in half the time. I need to find her a job taking care of an elderly person, something where she doesn't have to lift or work hard.

There are at least 10 other women i know in her situation, however, and i don't know all that many people. They, like her, were promised pensions and care, and the changes in the governments' policies have nearly killed them. I don't mean her surgical expenses - of that i have written in the past. i mean medicines, help, the extra needs of a convalescent woman. I know i will give her an extra bonus now, but it isn't gone to solve her problems.

And of course I have a number of friends whos businesses are going under but they don't want to acknowledge it - they just avoid the subject and don;t make outgoing calls.

Live in Israel? Got satellite tv? I'm on tonight with Roi Yarkoni and Yishai Sommer - a program called Prime Time on Yes+ at 10:30 p.m. I may have complained about filming this interview in the middle of Tel Aviv in the middle of the day after waiting 2 hours for the previous group to go through Their hoops. The previous group, by the way, is called Porno. So we are post-porno.

Now what I discovered today in looking for a friend to record this program for me is that I know two people with satellite tv, and neither of them know how to record. Neither of them showed any excitement about the program anyway. So we're going to Roi's even though they are new parents and probably use all their waking hours for work and diapering.

October 20, 2003

So here it is, the Geneva Accords. What do you think? Peres says we could have had a much better deal.

Because i clearly have masochistic tendencies and i knew i was going to the doctor's anyway at 6 i watched the opening speeches of the knesset on tv. it began with a diatribe by the speaker, ruvik rivlin, on the low status of the knesset in the public eye - 18 minutes if i am not mistaken - he blamed the press and the fashion and urged the members of parliament to try to be honest and not use govvernment money to go abroad for pleasure, etc.

and then sharon began to speak. and the knesset members don't let him get a sentence out. because he's pushing his theories of why the geneva accords are bad (they subvert the honest effort he's trying to make to prove to the palestinians that violence won't work). he has a point, but he is such a bulldozer that it becomes clear where the low esteem of the parliament begins - in a corrupt and autocratice government. parliament essentially has nothing much to do but follow his commands. no wonder the knesset is corrupt - what would an honest person DO there?

anyway i left in the middle and got my antibiotics and they won't help against this government.

...maybe i was too harsh about the knesset. i don't think so, but maybe. i mean there are many really honest people there - but they are going crazy.

in any case i hope they will be more active in the coming months than they've been this past year.

And to return to the Geneva Accords for a moment - here is a possible way to find out:

"Open Debate - Geneva Understandings

Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - What are these Geneva Understandings all about???

Come and find out from those who signed it!

20:30 hrs at Tzavta Hall, Tel Aviv - Mk Avram Mitzna and Mk Haim Oron and Peace Now's Arieh Arnon will be present the Concept of the Geneva Understandings to the public. Prof. Galia Golan will chair a question and answer session following the panel discussion: bring all your difficult questions!

The Lecture is open to the public - invite your friends and family."

i got this from bat shalom. so it has a slant.

October 21, 2003

Hamas is promising a violent reaction to our stupid bombing of Gaza. So many people killed. So many injured!

So what do we do? We go to a cafe in Tel Aviv to discuss it! Nona of course, because that is where i gauge the amount of panic or lack of it.

I even have a few poems about Nona, some on the web, like this one on Scriberazone about meeting Kafka at Nona's.

This morning we spent talking about multiculturalism with American poets at the house of the U.S. Cultural Attache. The American poets, from the festival in Jerusalem that I can't seem to bring myself to attend, all had wonderful ideas about what we could do in this country to promote multiculturalism, and I didn't bring up the festival in Florence where the Palestinians cancelled, or the numerous attempts we've had in the past to get together, or the poetry anthology I'm still struggling with.

But we need these ideas, and we need more imput from visitors, because we're getting incredibly insulated here. The Israeli writers (except for me but i don't count) DIDN'T SHOW UP.

October 22, 2003

I woke up this morning to the aerial photos of the bombing in Gaza the day before. (I always watch the morning news while i read the paper). Anyway, there was a car alone on the road - no passersby. it got bombed twice. there were 3 bodies. what massacre?

So where were the 80 who got injured? The Israelis can't figure it out.

Maybe the car really did have lots of explosives like the Israelis claimed and the explosives blew up after the car got bombed? Who knows?

Last night I was with two people who have a lot of experience with polygraphs. i said you can learn to beat polygraphs. they said it is very difficult. But, they said, you can't give a polygraph to an Arab. It doesn't work.

Haaretz reports tangentially. Some 164,400 people have left Jerusalem over the last decade, while only 97,300 new residents have moved into the capital, according to the data published in the latest edition of the Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem.

Here I am wondering why i can't find the time to get to jerusalem even to see the poets i'm dying to hear...

you are visitor number


To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

To Karen Alkalay-Gut home