Tel Aviv Diary - March 26-30, 2015 - Karen Alkalay-Gut


April 1, 2015

Today we went to Taiybe to our Arabic teacher. She is teaching us to read. My partners are much better students than I am because for me it has to go through the Hebrew. It is just so much easier to compare Arabic grammar, writing, and vocabulary to Hebrew, but it complicates me.

Nevertheless it is essential. I cannot believe we can live together without understanding each other. Whatever the U.S. and Iran decide, if there is a nuclear attack on Israel, it will kill all of us. We have more decisions to make together than against each other.

And what do I think of Taiybe? That the streets are horribly neglected. That there should be a traffic circle in the center of town at the very least, that the streets need to be repaved, at the very least, that there should be designated playgrounds at the very least. The street signs seem to be pretty good, though. Arabic and Hebrew.

I have been to Taiybe before, always to homes, always with the feeling of great welcome, but only today, when we navigated the streets ourselves and got hopelessly lost, did i realize how impossible it is not to have an accident on the street there.

April 2, 2015I've been thinking about protest poetry - how you really have no right to say anything until you've seen all sides. and that's so hard to do!

Passover seder seems to be a bigger and bigger deal each year- there are people here and there left out. here and there there are stragglers but almost everyone is included in a family. The only problem is that we are beginning to deport asylum seekers this week. Our idea of a family is we belong and you don't. it's like the closing of the ranks

I'm just a little sorry because some of the people I care about don't have a place to go and I can't invite any more to our seder. because we're invited guests. i think this is a first time in recorded history, but i'd have to read this entire diary to find out.And I'm not allowed. by the way i think this is a 13 year anniversary for this crazy diary.

April 3, 2015

We're supposed to be getting ready for April 7 when Anonymous is going to cyberattack us, so I'll probably ease off the web for that day. How strange that we are so used to cyber attacks that we just back up and go to the beach.

For the seder tonight we are bringing the chopped liver, the potatoes and the cake. Why did I have to volunteer so much? I think I secretly love the whole ritual. The deconstruction of the origins of the passover rituals in canaanite paganism that is so popular today just makes it more interesting, even less based in ritual and more in community symbolism. Of course, I will have a different opinion after tonight.

April 4, 2015

Leftovers from the seder. we had lunch at a friends house today - Jewish food left over from the night before. both meals were accompanied by amazing conversation and terrible grief over the elections. Terrible grief. I am broken by this and the loss of so many of my friends - particularly thosel who tried to change our world, people who could have made things here just a bit better. I know that it's part of my age that so many get-togethers involve the discussion of those who have departed or left the country. But it is so painful nevertheless. Yeats wrote it better in "In Memory of Major Robert Gregory"

NOW that were almost settled in our house Ill name the friends that cannot sup with us
Beside a fire of turf in the ancient tower,
And having talked to some late hour
Climb up the narrow winding stair to bed:
Discoverers of forgotten truth
Or mere companions of my youth,
All, all are in my thoughts to-night, being dead.

well not all of them are dead, but all of them are gone - or going - for other reasons than political. But for me the support of friends would havr helped me cope with all this.

Notice that it is always in a room full of friends that I mourn the friends that are not here.

Happy holiday, by the way. We've actually had a wonderful holiday in the state of Tel Aviv. Secession proceedings will be beginning soon.

April 5, 2015

Avoiding politics and the article i should have finished long ago about Anna Margolin, I spent most of the day translating Yiddish poetry - Celia Dropkin for example:Celia Dropkin. There is a film I have written about in these pages that is now coming out in theaters near you -The Pracht Inn, an adaptation of the novel by Aharon Applefeld, "Night after Night." It begins with a very sexy nightclub singer singing in Yiddish:

I am an amusing ghost
Who stands before you
and begs a scrap of joy.
You blessed with beauty
In every limb
with certainty in sight
do you recognize me?
Do you recognize my transparent hands?
They extend only delight to you.
Once you were an honored king,
And I your enemys beloved wife
Once you destroyed and burned
The city of the enemy
Your fuming will
Did not exhaust me
But I, I was delighted
With your fuming will,
With your royal love
And now, an amusing ghost
I stand before you
And beg a scrap of joy.

Marina Maximilian Blumen sings to Roy Yarkoni's music (and you may notice some of Panic Ensemble playing throughout the film). It becomes clear that the sexy singer herself represents Yiddish. The music won't go out of my head so I tried to suit the English.

This is all to avoid the terrible fact that Sasson Somekh is terribly ill and won't make it. His work in translating and explaining Arabic literature, in writing his memoirs, in training two generations of Arabic scholars - all dwarfed by his warm and wonderful personality. And now he is in the same situation as my father was.

The terrible and violent activity of Isis is to terrible to comprehend or to discuss. It's just beyond comprehension. The murder and rape is terrifying. And they are in our backyard.

3d Printer

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