Tel Aviv Diary Oct 28, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from Oct 28, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

Election Day - we've had 6 calls already this evening to see if we've already voted and if we voted Huldai for mayor. i wish they'd called before the elections to see if there was anything they could do to make us satisfied residents. But we never hear from them except on election day or when they want money.

This afternoon i spent some time with a friend's daughter who's in the army - she's 20 and very tiny. lately she seems even anorexic and i could see during lunch it was hard for her to eat. she doesn't talk about the things that happen around her - we discussed music and dancing - but she's lost a few friends recently to terrorist attacks and an ex-boyfriend is still non-functional after almost a year. i was thinking what i always think when i talk to people her age - whatever their religion or race - that they should never have to go through what they are going through.

It kind of reminds me of the second generation holocaust syndrome many people i know have lived through - you know where you say to your mother "i had a terrible time at the prom last night," and she says "terrible time? when i was your age i was dodging Nazis day and night." and then you think - you have no right to feel sorry for yourself. well now its the next generation that i am comparing myself with - "how can i be upset about what happens to me when my the life of my kids is so much more complex and dangerous?" It's like my friend who has cancer says - "hey i should be happy i've made it to 60 what with all that goes on around here."

I tried to watch the news - it began with 350,000 people living below the poverty line in this country, and went on to show some of the new antisemitic tv series (for Ramadan) on Egyptian tv about the history of zionism (the evil jewish conspiracy to take over the world) and then I changed the station and watched the Flugtag coverage from last month (I missed the real thing because Ezi had to work) where all people think about is how to make the most stupid flying machine in the contest. Much more to my taste and blood pressure. I had really wanted to participate - maybe next year - i want to make 'wings of song' with ezi (but it's too abstract for this competition) - my idea is to take all kinds of poetry (multilingual of course) on silkscreen and make wings out of split golf umbrellas. Much more interesting that cursing the Israeli government (who made all these poor people) or the Arab governments (who can't seem to get over hating us for a really false image).

I just get finished complaining (to my diary) and i get an email criticising me - "thought you said people have fun in Israel? what's this kvetching? the cancer, the poverty, the holocaust leftovers?" Maybe kvetching is a part of our pleasure...

Oh, all right. i went to Nona and drank tea at the bar - it was a quiet day but there were others like me, enjoying the last afternoon of summer.

tomorrow it's supposed to rain and that should be fun too.

and for all those of you who want to know about my biopsies - i didn't hear - so called the endocrinologist's wonderful secretary (You remember Her - the embodiment of Israeli service) and told her that my appointment is for next month, but i would like to know what my test results are. She answers: "Oh, come on! If something was really wrong we would have CALLED you!" This is the famous bedside manner Kupat Cholim is known for.

And I was happy to get that response.

October 29, 2003

Let's take a peek at some statistics. First, the population - it seems to be growing and t his is supposed to be the most densely inhabited area in the middle east. Second - as Limor Livnat says today in haaretz, "While Netherlands for example invests 128 euros per head in culture annually, and France 189 euros - as is common in most European countries - Israel invests just 8.5 euro a head in culture each year". So there are more people with no culture here than anywhere else ...

And yet we still seem to be creative and productive. how?

It takes its toll - we stopped voting: Something like 27% in Tel Aviv. That sounds right - most of the young people i know couldn't be bothered.

The Arab population, on the other hand, had a big stake in elections yesterday - in the 90s voted. Would you believe that discrepancy?

So who won? in Tel Aviv- surprise surprise - it was the old timers' party. Then meretz. In the local elections only the people who could see their own interests furthered voted.

To return to the issue of culture - last week the tv program i taped aired - but i watched it through the filter of my fingers because i was too embarassed to be appearig as a 'rock singer.' Anyway I watched it for the first time today - it turned out the program was about the issue of selling yourself and your art for the sake of money: singers who make commercials on the one hand, and people like me who don't understand from money on the other. Boy did we appear foolish. Working with an Indy label that operates out of a one-room apartment-office. I was actually very proud of that.

So what if i laughed too much.

October 30, 2003

So while me and my friends work for no money at all (on the CD, on poetry evenings, on literary journals, on websites, etc.) and I lend a portion of my salary to the university (so it will recover from all those bad investments and poor management) and have increased my donations to charity by 50%, my prime minister is being interrogated by the police about strange money deals in the millions of dollars, the knesset is allotting all kinds of monies to the territories, and over 20% of the population is under the poverty level.

October 31, 2003, 2003

My statistics about voting in Tel Aviv were more optimistic than real - on 23% voted for mayor. And even the national rate was 47%. So everyone is talking about Tel Aviv indifference, the young people who are not committed (which is why the retirement party won), and the fragmentation of society. But the real answer to this is very different. It is a question of control - In our government, where the real issues and the real power is, we have no say. NOBODY IS LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE. So when you compare the issues of peace and security to parking and sanitation, you think - THIS is what I have voting rights on? Why bother?

Appropos Tel Aviv - Another evening of "Der Nakete Emes" will take place in beit levick next week, November 8, at 9:00 p.m. featuring urban poetry of Rony Somek, Ruth Pardo-Yaron, Moshe Sachar, maybe me, and a few others. Dov Hoz 30.

November 1, 2003

Normal? A friend asked me to what kinds of things have been going on this week - that I write too much about politics and not enough about my fun life. All right - the cafes are going strong - had lasagna at Nona's yesterday - a few days ago i had some meatballs there that blew my mind, but lasagna just puts my whole body into RELAX. especially when it's washed down with draft. Actually we've been eating out a lot lately - mostly at Nona and Ahmed et Salim. What about blowing up, writes my friend? Aren't you afraid? I write back: I try to watch my calories.

The conversation over dinners - especially with friends - always acknowledges the terrible national depression. the poverty, the lack of direction, the powerlessness. Acknowledges, and then balances with the personal stories - of desire, anticipation, hunger. I have the right friends.

What? You're not going to the memorial for Rabin tonight in Rabin Square? How could you? I don't know why, but I can't. Ezi won't go because of his back, I don't feel like going alone.

Besides, we are going to a party and we're late already, unable to get ourselves moving. It is obviously more important this year than any other year, because the site was defaced yesterday with swastikas. in israel. swastikas. tv cameras were filming a program before the event by the memorial and a guy walked by and saw the cameras and spat on the site. So there seems to be a controversy building up about the whole idea of Rabin as the 'peacemaker' and therefore the hero of the nation. or - more likely - the few who always hated the idea are less cowardly about their twisted beliefs.

There was a big blimp hovering over the memorial service and security was everywhere. think about it - who were they trying to keep out - not only the ubiquitous palestinian terrorists but also their antithesis, or israeli parallel...

we found no place to park in tel aviv and drove around and around for a long time

now i have to go watch the news to see how many people were - and what was the thought...

The past weeks have marked the reappearance of some of the silences fighters for peace. Yossi Beilin began to speak all over the place and in this mornings Haaretz as well as and perhaps elsewhere, Mitznah explains more about the development of national comprehension.

you are visitor number


To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

To Karen Alkalay-Gut home