For some reason Ezi decided to turn on the news while we were exercising at 7:00 p.m. There had just been an attack in Petach Tikva. The eye witness on the radio blurted out that he could see a leg but it wasn't attached to anyone. There was a baby with half her face blown away The announcer cut him off.
We kept exercising. David said we've all become so inured to the situation we continue on.
There was some talk of another suicide bomber somewhere in the neighborhood. But we decided to go on with our regular plans and go to see the play Ziv had left us tickets for Mother's Mullochia. After all, the whole country is in such a mechanical, zombie-like state, we don't even call meetings of the government after something like this. We just go on with a little punitive attack, mop up the people who planned the bombing, and then pull out.
And then wait for the next bombing.
The play was amazing Nissim Zohar cooks Mullochia in memory of his mother for an hour an a half and tells stories of Alexandria. Mohammed Abdel El-Wahab sings in the background and I am entranced.
The stories are great. I always find the stories of the Jews from Arab countries so much more complex and colorful than those of the shetl. Ruth Setton's book I reviewed in the American Book Review is like that as well erotic, painful, sensual, enthralling.
And then we went to Nona examining every person who came by, every person as they entered well examining their middles at least to see if they had a munitions belt under their shirts.
A few days ago in Nona, Yael mentioned that she has only one thought now when she hears of an attack after she finds out that no one she knows has been effected. Her one thought is a fear that her favorite tv program will be cancelled in favor of the news updates. Me too. And we have the same favorite tv show.
This dehumanization is occurring on every level of our existence and is probably the worst effect of the situation we're losing our sensitivity daily.
The cafe that blew up, it turns out, was a 'family' place, full of babies and their parents. The eighteen month olod baby who was killed, died with her grandmother. Her parents were injured.
The cafe is next to the children's health clinic - apparently where the parents reward their kids for being good at the doctors. One toddler injured with her mother had just finished all of her pizza and was on her way to the car. Her mother is hospitalized in Bellison and she is in Shneider hospital. The mother has no idea what shape her daughter is in.
Another mother was walking with her husband and baby and saw the bomber before it happened. She said he looked crazy, and was muttering to himself, but he didn't seem to be wearing anything under his shirt. She heard the explosion and went into panic because her husband raced to the bombsite to help the injured, and she had been hysterical a few weeks before about his being in Jenin. His picture was in the paper today - he saved the life of a child.
I don't believe the suicide bombers have it as easy as they say. Years ago I wrote a poem about the last thoughts of the suicide bomber in Dizengoff Center - and how he must have been shocked by the place he was going to blow up, how he must have caught a glimpse of someone who caught his heart with his humanity, how he had to keep refocussing on the idea of paradise, and separating this idea from the wondrous place he was about to blow up. This idea keeps coming back to me. In action movies there are always scores of faceless soldiers who get picked off in battles - but I don't believe in life the enemy is totally faceless. Not totally.
And while I was writing an earlier paragraph about the inevitable repurcussions of the explosion, the army moved into Jenin again. People were arrested. This means... another attack within a few days...
and indeed there are some serioous warnings. I'm on may way to a meeting in a cafe anyway.
ON ANOTHER -- MORE PUBLIC -- MATTER - I promised people who asked me about contributions to the Hebrew Writers Association to find out exactly what to do. I was unable to get a response from the people in charge. On the other hand, the Federation of Writers Associations, of which I am vice-chair, is an organization of 12 writers associations of different languages including Arabic, Russian, Yiddish, Spanish, English, German, Rumanian, Georgian, etc etc. - and its funds have been cut to the point that they are pretty much suspending activities and publications. They are barely covering their rent, which has quadrupled this year. Contributions can be earmarked to specific languages and/or projects. And I myself can make sure that the money goes precisely to that earmarked project. Contributions can be directed through me - at the Federation of Writers' Associations, Beit Hasopher, 6 Kaplan Street, Tel Aviv Israel.
Oh no - I think I know the grandmother who was killed yesterday. She's about my age. Lived in Herzlia.
And now they interviewed the mother who lost her mother and daughter. She's still in the hospital with her husband - cries that only her mother would have been able to comfort her for the loss of her daughter.
Hadas told me a story yesterday about a rape in Bethlehem. She got a letter over the internet and can't vouch for its accuracy. But, she says, it's got all the details. It's so shameful I'd like to ignore it, to dismiss it as more of the same distorted propaganda that has emerged recently like the cries of massacre from Jenin that turned out to be totally untrue. But if there is any chance that an Israeli soldier might have raped a woman in Bethlehem, it is the moral duty of every Israeli to see that it is investigated. Can it be compared to the murder of two fifteen-year old school boys getting ready for bed last night? Can it be compared to the explosion of babies the day before in Petach Tikva? I find it just as reprehensible maybe worse because there is no --however misdirected -- military or ideological goal, just blind power. Until I find out about this for sure a part of me will remain terribly ashamed.
Six people killed in 48 hours - babies, teenagers, old people...
I saw the mothers of the boys who blew themselves up - they were proud of their sixteen year olds.
Susan asked me about Naomi Regan's assertion that the recent suicide bombers are enlisted from mental hospitals. Turiya Hamamra, the 25 year old woman who changed her mind and didn't go through with the bombings she had been sent to complete a few days ago, stated that she didn't like the idea of blowing people up as a way to paradise. she kept picturing her family exploding, she said. She doesn't sound crazy to me, but it is pretty clear that she was in a situation of pressure to turn a family dishonor into a national heroism. Instead of being murdered by her brothers for defaming her family, she would make them proud. The other woman who was caught two weeks ago, the woman i spke of in these pages but whose name I forgot, also struck me as very self-possessed and in control of her faculties, but in an 'awkward' family situation. I humbly suggest that it is not the bombers but something in the socirty that is crazy. I don't mean that the Palestinians are crazy, but the double-bind situation they;re in, and the society that is resulting.
If you're trying to reach me, I'm sorry, but I haven't had email for weeks. Here and there I manage to get it, but the strike at the university is getting worse and the best i can do is get on for a few minutes in the middle of the night. So if you want to write me, use my alternative address: alkalay_gut@ yahoo.com
It's just another thing to depress us all. We seem to enjoy hurting each other in difficult times.
Now it emerges that a Russian born Israeli woman and her Palestinian husband (It is common, Smadar tells me. The Russian immigrants can't even tell the difference, and by the time they figure it out, they're in love) drove the suicide bomber to Rishon lezion, and even drew him a map of where to blow himself up. The girl that came with them backed out at the last minute and they drove her back to Bethlehem. Marina Pinsky was arrested the next day as she strolled with her baby in Bat Yam. I have been trying to imagine what she thought of when the people who were killed that night as a result of her participation were Russian. She could have backed out just like the Palestinian woman did, realizing the human element in it. But she didn't.