May 19 BEWARE OF NORMALITY –things may look like they're going back to normal – but they never are – someone told me that there are 10 failed bombing attempts daily. So if we're enjoying a normal holiday, and a normal day after, it doesn't mean anything for the future.
And now I turn on the TV for news and here it is – at least one killed in the Netanya market -- Orit is in Netanya right now, and isn't answering her phone. Is she in class?
turns out she was in Netanya, but very ill with strange extreme symptoms - we had to go and bring her back -
like her brother yesterday
but everything takes on different dimensions when people have been killed in such a wanton and violent manner.
there was a film of the bomb factories, a short while ago, showing kids sharpening the shrapnel in the bomb packages so they would enter deeper, hurt more.
and now that they've announced that Bin Laden is alive, and planning another, immediate attack -- but no one knows where -- the terror is world wide.
We went to an exhibit of photographs of old tel aviv at the power plant tonight. The photographs have been up for over a month - i remember that the day of the opening there had been a bombing and i didn't have the heart to attend. but it was a shame that we waited so long. Because the phototgraphs put things into perspective - photographs of the war of Jaffa in 1948 -- photographs of the British governing Jews and Arabs --
Most amazing are the photographs documenting the building of Tel Aviv -the Habima Theatre (somewhere in this journal i have a picture of it today - protected by sandbags), the train station, the building of the Tel Aviv power plant (they used CAMELs to transport the building materials! Actually Ezi's grandfather built it!), the workers May 1 marches with Jewish and Arab workers marching together.
The spirit of the country seems so strong in these pictures - so full of potential, promise - even the poems documenting poverty, danger, fear.
We went with a friend who has kind of been ostracized by her family for moving to Israel. Not only is she facing all the political, security, economic and social hardships here alone, but she's got not support. That sense of loneliness - personal and ideological - must make the burdens of living here almost unbearable.
But she remains convinced of the rightness of her decision.
It's a little like the commercial that has suddenly appeared - of these 2 Israelis sitting on a plane complaining of the roads, the economic situation, all the bureaucracy... until the music "hevainu shalom aleichem" announces the landing in Ben Gurion airport, and everyone on the plane, including the grouches, begin clapping.
The exhibit was crowded - even though its been open for weeks and weeks until ten oclock at night. Maybe it was just me, but I had the sense that people are defiantly returning to normality around here. Yesterday 3 people were killed in a suicide bombing (we never count the bomber among the victims) and today a bomber blew himself up when he was discovered, and there was a bomb plan for a 1 ton bomb under the Tel Aviv equivalent of the Twin Towers, the Azrieli center, but we're on the streets again.
Maybe with panic attacks, but on the streets.
The luxury of ignoring the news. The country is in an economic crisis, an underestimated 12% unemployed, people injured from terror attacks struggling to get over their mutilations, survivors, widows, orphans, all of them, and I barely read the newspaper.
I'm not the only one.
every where i went today it seemed people are in joyous denial. The newspaper clippings and URLs and sites everyone usually bombards each other with on e-mail has diminished and instead people are turning on to each other...
And then to remember - the way i always remembered when i was a child and i was just beginning to really enjoy myself - that the parallel person in the opposite world is not in as good a situation as I am in. "You didn't have such a good time at your sweet sixteen party?" a friend of mine's mother told her - "When I was sixteen I was in Auschwitz."
Just so, when I begin to complain that the administrative strikes reacting to budget cuts in our university, that so interfere with my teaching and make it impossible for the students to complete their work - and perhaps the university semester - this is nothing compared to what is going on in the 11 Palestinian universities.
One of the ways I put myself through college was to be a subject in psychological experiments. And one of the experiments was to play a game with some stranger in which the rules were not clear but it gradually emerged that there was one way of playing that was competitive and another way that was cooperative. If you played competitively, one person could win all the money (that you got to keep) but you also ran the risk that no one would win. If you could figure out how to play cooperatively, both participants got to share the money.
Some people played as if winning was all that counted: better to prevent the other person from getting anything. Some people (like me for a long time into the game) were too thick to figure out the rules. Some came out with full pockets that they spent drinking with their new partner.
I know it takes forever for someone like me to learn the game - but isn't it about time?
During the Gulf War, while i was keeping a poetry journal about my terrors and fears, Zyggy Frankel was writing another kind of work. He brought it to me complete when the Scuds stopped hitting. It was called "The Diary of a Deliciously Plump Woman" and it is on his site [there's a link to it on my home page] - it's the diary of a woman in Warsaw during WWII who is totally involved in sex and food, and the war goes on somewhere in the background, when a Jewish lover disappears, or when it is hard to find good cakes.
I have now realized that I am that woman, much of the time. And that it is a great luxury to be in that situation.
We came back from meeting our long lost relatives from Uruguay tonight to see that we had forgotten to turn of the television. And there was the screen - an attack. This time in a square in Rishon Le'Zion where old people play chess. The conflicting reports on the number of dead and injured is part of the panic - the cell phones going like crazy - are you alive?
First thing in the morning - still reeling from last night's attack - but i have to write now because the server is going down and who knows when it will return. The economic crisis at the university is generating massive firings and the administrative staff is striking back with job actions. Cutting off email and computer access at the university is part of it. So I'm going on alternative methods. If you can't find me at my usual address, try me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The economic crisis is, of course, directly related to the political and military situation - which of course - brings us back to that college experiment I was talking about yesterday. Except both partners have to play. And if you've got the wrong partner, you're in trouble.
Limor Livnat, our education minister, was interviewed yesterday - about the austerity measures. She's become particularly abhorrent to me since she addressed the faculty a few months ago - with calm and confidence - about the measures she has instituted to 'democratize' the university. Perhaps anything she says is suspicious to you - She was contrasting the Palestinian teaching of hatred with Israeli messages of love in the schools. Literally, she is right. We sing peace songs, imagine peace all over, dream of good times for all. On the other hand, when she says the word love, it sounds like an agressive imperative to me - imposed on the other the way a neurotic mother imposes love on a helpless child, to keep him from rebelling. The mother is as hostile as the child. Because, whatever the reason and however we feel about it, we also blow people up.
Okay, we don't want to do it, and don't enjoy it.
But that's like what a friend of mine said about her adultery - she didn't enjoy it so it doesn't count.
Still, it is becoming world-wide, and everyone is going to have to deal with it. there are synagogues being blown up in Paris, threats on the Brooklyn Bridge, and a general sense of terror. So will the people who respond to this terror with agression be evil?