Lag B'Omer. I keep thinking about what Amal said about no one celebrating holidays here - It's important to remember that the empty streets and the subdued bonfires in secret and undefined places, do to some respect reflect the holidays, the recurrent descent into hiding and shame. And the emergence. The hiding is frightening - like the hiding of the marannos - and it bodes ill for all the jews of the world. More and more I believe that adage that the fate of the Jews in the world is bound up in Israel. Not only does our situation reflect what is going on in the world, but it creates it as well. Our fears and war-traumaed reactions create extreme responses in the rest of the world community. And those responses make us react as well.

i know a woman who has been trying to get an interest up in filming the situation as it is manifested in different elements of the society = the theorists, the people of all levels from both sides, to reflect the kind of division between extremists and normal people on both sides I've been thinking about as well.

There's interest. There's no money.

Because of the incredibly restrictive financial situation, not only are businesses going down, and hundred of thousands losing their jobs, but writers are not publishing books, dancers don't have stages,people are unable to express alternative opinions - not because of politics but because of money. it is de facto economic censorship. without encouragement an entire culture collapses. There are organizations desperate for money - the hebrew writers' association, the federation of writers' associations, and others. Me, I give my money to cancer associations, autistic children, etc. But it's time to rethink that. A spirit needs to live too.

So now we're not letting the UN into Jenin - i'm sure it is part of Sharon's Sabra/Shatila paranoia.

There has been terrible destruction in Jenin in the past - the British did much more to Jenin in 1938, when someone there assassinated a British official. And they were brutal. The information was only released a few years ago, and no one said anything, but they were war crimes in every sense of the word. Maybe that's why people in Jenin seem to opt for dying rather than giving up.

Still, I would do a great deal to have a government I was proud of.

Tel Aviv is beginning to wake up - for the time being - slowly, people are beginning to come out - at least it looked like that tonight. A few people in cafes, some walking the streets. Most of us are so traumatized that even the most elementary activities are fraught with fear. Last month, I wrote something about grocery shopping to show how it feels. The grocer's commander from army days was kidnapped last year in Europe by Hizballah and is being kept for ransom. The other day they offered to trade him for a few thousand Palestinian prisoners. I saw it on tv at the grocer's.

The grocer is very voluble when it comes to politics - he used to be very left but since last year he's been pretty angry. People ask what could have made Marwan Bargouti become a terrorist when he was so peace-loving. Well, it's the same thing that transformed Velvel.

May 1

Some people have been writing to ask where to send money for Beit Hasopher - the Writers' House - people from Tel Aviv, from abroad. Don't send yet. I'll try to find out from the guys who have been put in temporary charge. It might be a good idea to put the money into an earmarked fund, say for workshops for young writers, or multilingual programs. Or into a coat of point. I'll let you know what Gad Yaacobi and Miron Isakson, who are supervising the auditing, advise.

In the meantime it couldn't hurt to get s little program of ' buy israeli products' going. Buy Israeli products whenever possible, tell the store you're buying it because it's israeli, and that you'd buy more if there were more to buy. You might want to add that you're buying despite your political differences - because as bad as the country is behaving, it shouldn't disappear.... But that's only what I would do...

Almost two years ago we were well on our way to making a large percentage of our products in cooperation with Palestinians, Jordanians... It would have been great for all of us. Why shouldn't we try for that again?

In the mean time I talked to Omi who responded to my "how are you" with "worse than yesterday, but better than tomorrow." He was the guy, I think, who told me that summer that he sees the light at the end of the tunnel, and its an oncoming train.

i think i'll keep trying to work things out in case the train isn't aimed at us and/or won't make it to us..

That petition that was circulated in Europe to boycott academic and cultural ties with Israel seems very dangerous to me. Even if we're repulsive and totally evil, we might benefit from dialogue... If you want to protest this 120 signatured letter in the Guardian, <"http://euroisrael.huji.ac.il/sign.htm">sign here.

May Day - workers day - I need a parade, some great signs with proud laborers, a hymn, enthusiastic marching women - but we've become capitalists here.

Update on contributions to Beit Hasopher, the Writers' House. Gad Yaacobi and I agree that a special fund has to be set up for a specific purpose - for maximum and immediate benefit to the cause. For Moznaim, the journal, or the Archives - which is the most important Hebrew literary/historical source in the world, or workshops for young writers. Whether to save the present, the past or the future.

went to see the painter Salli Ariel today - she's been doing these watercolors of tel aviv - so dynamic, so unique, so free. She reminded me again of what a great city it is. Even the tall buildings, that since September 11 strike fear in my heart, are so full of a great hedonistic spirit - whatever happens.

May 3

Every time I go to buy a baby present, it's a traumatic experience. I'm not talking about blowing up or even the prospect of the chemical explosions that have been promised us with the next group of suicide bombers. It is the style of the baby clothes I find repulsive. Not only is the softness and simplicity gone (the emphasis is on pretentiousness), but the Hebrew language is almost impossible to find. All the t-shirts have English words, as if the quality of the work is suitable for export, and the child as well. Even when there are Hebrew words, they are in English letters.

What are we teaching our children?

Today, at Citan, the old factory outlet store where I used to buy all my kids' clothes, I was in a rush to buy a present before Shabbat. Anything that doesn't have English on it, I told the saleslady. She thought.

Sorry.

She should be the fact that she is peddling a debased image of Israeli children to children isn't her fault but all of us are involved in the escapist pretension here.

Before the shopping ordeal I went to a memorial service for the Holocaust victims of my parents' town in Lithuania,Lida. On May 8, 1942, 8000 Jews in Lida were killed my mother's family brothers, sisters, and their children were shot in the marketplace near their house. The rabbi gave a little speech over the grave of ashes brought from there after the war, about the revenge of one of the survivors of Lida. One year after the massacre, he blew up a German military train, and the light of the explosion was like a memorial candle.

This made me very uncomfortable, the Rabbi's talk of 'nekomah,' and I was happy when an old man spoke right after. I like to think, he said, that the fact that we are in this country, alive, sharing stories of grandchildren and great grandchildren, is the real revenge.

I agree. That's why I want our kids to grow up with the values of that man

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