Tel Aviv Diary September 27, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from September 27, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

Yes, we know why people don't want to be leaders - this land devours its leaders. only the sharon survive.

Last night, as the extended family met for dinner, people kept coming and going out - it was a very movable feast, with a lot of different conversations going on at once. A lot of the talk was about the peace demonstration i missed - and how our great nephew fainted from the excitement and dehydration. No one had solutions for anything this time - the clearest picture that could be painted there was not of a revolution - as i sometimes hope - but of an implosion, a collapse from within.

It will just go on this way, the most optimistic of all said - with terrorism and blidness.

At the same time we were having this conversation, a terrorist knocked on the door of a house, and when a guest opened it, he opened fire with his M16. He managed to kill a man and a 7 month old baby before he was killed. I still don't know the identities of these people and the condition of the 2 wounded.

Tashlich tomorrow morning. i have always wanted to personalize this incredible tradition - to actually throw out something that refers to my specific sins instead of breadcrumbs. any ideas?

September 28, 2003

Perhaps the letter of the 27 pilots, refusing to participate in targeted bombings against individuals in the territories reprinted here in hebrew is a kind of tashlich.

So on Monday, Sept 29 at 5.30 PM, Gush Shalom's solidarity vigil opposite the Defense Ministry gate in Tel-Aviv (Kaplan St) is also a kind of tashlich.

Last night at a few parties I noticed no one else is thinking of that work, that concept. We were too busy having fun -

I'm going to the river to see what people are doing.

nobody was doing nothing.

in nona, on the other hand, the party continued. except for those now usual conversations - where is the opposition? why can't we get together? why dont the peacemovements join forces? why aren't mifkad getting millions of signatures? ("a href="">mifkad i remind you is the group asking people for signatures for peace - its a 'census' individual people who want to see 2 states along fair borders. 60000 israelis, 45000 palestinians have joined so far. )

September 29, 2003

Look at what Bat Shalom is up to

State Terrorism and Occupation Prevention Force


THE WALL: Coming Soon to a Village Near You

Direct Action/Street Theater

Tuesday, September 30

1:00 p.m.

at the United States Embassy

71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv

We have parts for you (all welcome regardless of nationality)

For information call IWPS, 09-251-6644, 067-387-806 (Kate) or 068-660-815 (Hannah)

Imagination and gumption. But what of the wall. - My only problem is where it is going. I think that any country has to have borders. But where? Not in the middle of a village. i kind of like the green line.

But I won't be there for another reason - my beleagered colleagues at the university are meeting to accept some other humiliating compromise in their salaries and status and that i can't miss. We have really lost our status in this society - the universities i mean. education and learning doesn't mean much with likkud

September 30

Once again I didn't save yesterday - this html writing is a lesson in life.

With so much shit hitting so many fans, I thought I'd avoid it all and talk about a little Yiddish revival. This Saturday I'm participating in an evening at Beit Leivik, the home to the Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Israel - it's on Dov Hoz Street - and for many years it was like darkest Africa to me - knew about it but didn't want to visit. Then I got into this group of people, of all ages, who want to revive yiddish not only for traditional reasons, but also because it widens the political perspective in this country, breaks down borders, introduces irony and alternatives. It makes sense.

Anyway the idea of this evening on Saturday Night (It's called Der Nakete Emes, or The Naked Truth) is that poetry goes beyond language and cultures, breaks borders. There are going to be poems read by poets in Yiddish, Ladino, French, English, and Hebrew. And then we're going to talk about how language influences the seperations and unifications. I think I've mentioned this before in these pages, but i'm only now beginning to get hoped about the evening. So you're invited.

"Don't Make Waves" is what many people have been saying to the letter of the 27 pilots - Even those who agree (and I do) that we have to get out of the territories - are worried about the show of disunity - cracks in the armor and all that - and how it will be used against Israel. But we have been far too unified - other opinions are not sufficiently aired here - even if they are raised. And for the past two days the radio has been filled with voices of people questioning that action of the pilots - a very important discussion.

We're also in the middle of major strikes here that Sharon is blaming on the Labor view. Dock workers on strike can do a lot of damage to the economy (and they are). Fruits are spoiling on the docks.

The customs inspectors are also on strike and doing their job even more meticulously than usual. Everybody's getting checked at the airport. Everybody.

The Palestinians who cancelled in Florence are back on again. If you're Florentine you probably know this but in case you don't:COMUNE DI FIRENZE ASSESSORATO CULTURA firenzestate 2003



nuova buonarroti

gruppo Quinto Alto



Comitato Firenze

in collaborazione con Il Giardino dei Ciliegi

martedì 7 ottobre ore 21, Cenacolo di S.Croce, Piazza Santa Croce 16 si terrà l'incontro dedicato alla poesia palestinese contemporanea originariamente programmato per il 4 settembre e rinviato a causa della situazione in Palestina.

Recital di Yousef Al Mahmoud, Somaya Al Soosy, Al-Mutawakel Taha e Ghassan Zaqtan, introdotti da Lucy Ladikoff (Università di Genova). Le traduzioni italiane verranno lette da Gianluigi Tosto. Accompagnamento musicale di Samuele Venturin

mercoledì 8 ottobre 2003 ore 21, Centro Internazionale Studenti Giorgio La Pira, Via Pescioni 3

INCONTRO CON I POETI Yousef Al Mahmoud, Somaya Al Soosy, Al-Mutawakel Taha e Ghassan Zaqtan.

coordina Hakam Malky (Comunità Palestinese di Firenze)

lunedì 5 ottobre ore 12, libreria Feltrinelli, via Cerretani CONFERENZA STAMPA con la partecipazione dei poeti

Wish I could be there. It looks more complex and elaborate than the Israeli reading. Gianluigi Tosto is an amazing treat, and his accompanist very tuned to the sound of poetry. I wish i knew more about the poets and their work.

... ah Yes..and i wish they had been the slightest bit interested in hearing us.

Everybody is now into recalling the Yom Kippur war. It is 30 years and that should be good enough reason. But I have a slight suspicion that it is the perfect war for our conscience and our identities right now - the war in which we were totally beleagered, attacked from all sides...

what was MY Yom Kippur war? I'll have to tell the story in sections.

On friday night, the evening of yom kippur, there were no cars, no children, no noise. the country was totally silent. but me, i couldn't sleep - i heard and felt rumbling all night. it turned out it was the tanks moving up Geha Road to the north. But we suspected nothing. there were no radios, no tv, no way to get news. only at 3 in the afternoon did the shock come to us sirens - shelters -- the men were being drafted. they went quickly. those not drafted went on their own, looking to join their unit. by the evening there were only women and children in our building. many little children.

October 1, 2003

That night we were sure the end was near. I can't remember how we made it through. I just remember we kept it dark - and taped the windows. But the next morning I went to the supermarket early - because it was the day after yom kippur and the beginning of a war. The shelves were empty and the aisles were full, people buying everything in sight - literally. And pushing and struggling for every inch of space, every package of flour. There was not a soul in that place who was not terrified -

I was the only person in our immediate neighborhood with a driver's license and a car - so i was the one who went to Tnuva in Tel Aviv to buy milk for the 15 odd children in our building and our nearby neighbors. All the delivery trucks had been commandeered. All the drivers were in the army.

We had a problem with batteries too - batteries were needed for radios, especially 9 volt ones - and i found myself at the Tadiran factory in Holon a few times buying up stores of batteries for neighbors and relatives.

I didn't hear from my husband for 2 weeks. we didn't have a phone, he was at the front, and we had no idea what was happening. one night he showed up - a few hours off - too tired to really talk.

It was a great relief - but a short lived one - he went off again - i seem to remember he was in the army for almost six months. and although his visits became much more frequent his business was a mess.

It took months to recoop.

In the mean time my mother in the US was sending us packages of powdered eggs, tuna fish, coffee. I would laugh at her holocaust mentality and use it all greedily. The eggs were all going to the army and we didn't get any for the longest time. Of course we made do easily - i learned to make mayonnaise cake, powdered egg french toast, etc. it was no big deal. and we all helped each other. we all worked it out.

If you ask me about the front, about Golda, about Dado, I know only what i read in the papers - if you ask me about the feeling here - it was much better than now because we all believed in ourselves and each other. Even when we saw Moshe Dayan sweating over press questions on the black and white tv, and knew there had been a foul-up, it was a human mess, not like today.

Today we are still arguing over the pilots - "would you fly in a plane with them?" come on. they did something amazing - i didn't even understand the significance until i heard all the stuff that is coming out of people - all the poison and sympathy. people here seem to have been in a state of quiet despair and now they're angry, or they're heartened, or at least they're beginning to think.

And, on a personal level, another good word for socialized medicine and the health clinic. I did more tests today - it took 20 minutes - and the results are already up on my screen at home. Everyone (except the bitter secretary of the doctor i saw last night) was wonderful, sweet tempered and efficient - even though the government owes the health clinics millions of shekel and they are cutting down on almost everything. My own medical problems seem to be covered by the 'medicine basket,' the stuff they give out for 20% of the cost, but I know there are other more serious medications they are not able to cover anymore - like some of the more complicated and expensive medications for cancer and for aids. All we need is a better government and we've got a great health service here (Which is more than I can say for the school system).

"So how is it you didn't sign the document supporting them?" couldn't. i kept thinking they should have started with an internal letter of protest first, not sold the rights exclusively to the second channel, and not flaunted their uniforms on screen. I would like to support them, but i have a problem with the demoralizing way they did it. "But this is a country that only understands the extreme gesture." True. Especially now. But I still don't work that way. My body won't let me.


check out my THIN LIPS my new CD with Roi Yarkoni and Ishai Sommer. It should be out in 2 weeks, but you can preorder at Pookh.

you are visitor number


To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

To Karen Alkalay-Gut home