All evening i waited for the terrorist attack - it was clear to me that it would come. So we stayed home and kept the TV on - without sound most of the time since there's nothing on any more. At 11 the program is interupted to announce preliminary accounts of a terrorist attack on a small town near Shchem. At least one woman was killed -apparently in her home. I keep asking about the statistics - how many women - how many mothers - In earlier wars we worried about our sons - the Isaac complex - sacrificing the next generation. This time it seems to be women and babies.
We know nothing more about the attack.
In this war of media depersonalization the intimate stories help clarify things. Robert Rosenberg at Ariga put a couple of stories on his site that might help. Here's one by Marty Friedlander and another by M.A. Matyash
The death toll keeps rising from the hebrew university attack. Every time there is a number given of victims, you can be assured that there will be one or two more weeks later. But by then we have moved on to another atrocity and don't notice. So the woman killed last night in the settlement of Michora had a husband who is severely injured. I hope he makes it, but the camera will probably never return to him to find out.
Everyone knows about the enormous selection the camera makes. But the vastness of the world and the choices that must be made are staggering. CNN had a program last night about children in Ramallah at a 'recovery' camp - children who have lost relatives or been injured in Israeli attacks. Their lives have been irrecoverably damaged, the gentle psychologist says. They are agressive, short on concentration, etc. They are all lovely children and terribly sad. But when they are asked to stage a play they do a shihad pantomime, with the victim carried through the crowd with pride.
Will the camera return to them? What will it film then?
(There was a similar program today on Israeli television about traumatized children. The only difference is that the psychologist here tries to have the children work with animals, to teach communication and sensitivity and concentration. That's another story I should do as hypertext when my own concentration is better)
And it goes without saying that there are increasing rings of influence - Not only Daphna Shrpuch who died today of wounds she received last week at Hebrew University - not only her family, her grandchildren, her neighbors, but her friends too, her coworkers, her classmates from kindergarten will have signs of repeated and unceasing trauma - almost unnoticed by others who are watching the camera - the spotlight - and themselves.
Nevertheless, I don't totally agree with the Ramallah psychologist who threatens eternal trauma and terrible times ahead. As one who grew up with Holocaust survivors I believe that scars can be borne. I would be happy to bear these scars IN TIMES OF PEACE, would love to be off camera, maybe wake up once in a while in the middle of the night with a little rapid heart beat, maybe recalling a sight of a terrorist's head under the bank machine in dizengoff center ('88), take a half a valium, and go back to sleep... sounds good to me.
I promised Ben yesterday that as soon as this mess is over i'[ll start an erotic diary.
So maybe we'll have a hunra now - and maybe a small measure of sanity will return.
Interesting that we are using the word from Arabic, since it is really the Arabs who are determining the situation. What we really need is an influx of sane immigrants. The U.S. has been sending us the crazies for too many years. And the young volunteers who come now are so wonderful and helpful - maybe they'll be the role models we need so much. I've noticed, although there are no statistics for this, that there are a number of American-trained Palestinians around - not in politics yet, but in business, in life. It can't be bad for societies stuck in ruts to get the perspective of a totally different system of thinking.
But I am going to have to explain this at a later date, since it is time to take care of flu victims.
Yuval, a young poet, called me last night after years. He's just written a poem about the 'situation' - against the occupation, he says, as a matter of fact. who knows what if anything will happen to it we agree. After all, there are almost no avenues for the artist to meet the public anymore. I used to thrill over the fact that I was living in a country in which every newspaper had a weekly literary supplement where you could read the very current work. Now all that's left is the strange and quirky page in Ha'aretz that publishes three or four good contemporary poets and a lot of translations from the German classics. Ma'ariv also has a poem now and then. But the sense of a dialogue with a public that would establish a literary tradition is gone. Gone too the sense that the spiritual leaders of the country are the poets. Shimon Peres still lives that way - but he's the only one I can think of. Worse, most of the writers have pretty much given up - Last time I brought this up a few nights ago Rony Sommek thought about it and then pointed out that 15 years ago his picture was on the cover of the weekend supplement - that would be unthinkable now.
I know we've got important things on our minds now - but it is interesting to point out that the Israeli Arab newspapers seem to give much more space to poetry....
I don't know about the Palestinian ones, but suspect they too know the importance of forming a culture and a spirit of the people. Even if it is propaganda, the demarginalization of poetry is important. If I had money to give to Israel I would give it to the reorganization of the Writers' Unions, the gentrification of its decrepit building, and the publication of a serious journal. (The journal now is back after well over a year - but the funding is still tentative. Toilet paper comes first in a place that is falling apart. I would also pay some managerial genius like Oren a bundle to turn the organization into a profit-making one. It's possible. But I would make sure that the writers were indoctrinated in the purpose of literature - in generating new writers, in supporting and encouraging an audience, etc.
So today is fantasy day.
back to reality. This came to me from David Alkalay.
The piece is entitled, "A Question of Blood," written by Dan Gordon, and it appeared in The Jewish Journal on May 29, 2002. Dan Gordon is a former sergeant in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), the author of five books, and a screen writer. He was in Jenin on April 16, and was told a story by Dr. David Zangen, chief medical officer of the Israeli paratroop unit that bore the brunt of the fighting in Jenin. Dr. Zangen said that the IDF not only worked to keep the Palestinian hospital opened, they offered the Palestinians blood for their wounded. The Palestinians refused because it was Jewish blood!! The Israelis, who could not have been faulted for saying, "You don't like it, do without...," instead flew in 2,000 units of blood from Jordan via helicopters. In addition, they saw to it that 40 units of blood from the Mukasad Hospital in East Jerusalem went to the hospital in Ramallah and that 70 units got to the hospital in Tul Karem. And on top of that they facilitated the delivery of 1,800 units of anti-coagulants that had come from Morocco. This information was later confirmed by Col. Arik Gordin (reserves) of the IDF Office of Military Spokesman, who supplied the exact number of units and the names of the hospitals to which they were delivered.
This jibes with things my friends who were in Jenin told me. As a universal donor, I was particularly sensitive to the blood story and remember it well.
Three women were attacked by their (ex)husbands in the past day - one of them is dead, the other has burns all over her body and is fighting for her life, the third got away. -- the violence in our society is overwhelming - the frustrations at broken dreams and impotence are reasons, the lack of clear rules caused by uneducated democracy and multiculturalism, but so is the mentality of the occupation. I will say no more of this unless someone else insists.
Another point: the humor is coming back to Israeli society - it never went away totally, but is not as much fun. My old Egyptian friend, Ali Salem, who surprised me in the middle of a reading in the Women's Studies department at the U. of Michigan by getting up in the middle and saying in a thick Arabic accent, "I KNOW YOU," stunning the ladies - and me for a second before I rushed into the audience to hug him, was researching 'humor' then. He claimed that Arabs laugh at themselves and Jews laugh at others. Then he proceeded to tell a series of jokes about Arabs that I had heard Jews tell about Jews. That's when it occurred to me that we project a lack of humor, or agressive humor, onto 'the other' the way we used to project sexual eccentricities (Bugger comes from Bulgar, for example). In the same way humor appears to relieve, to protect, to define social norms, taking no account of the humanity of the other, because that would ruin the joke. So the joke is - what do you call a Palestinian mother - "A Shahidishe Mamma."