Tel Aviv Diary August 13-17, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - August 13-17, 2007

August 13, 2007

Panic Tonight.

I couldn't write today - the phone was ringing off the hook, people kept walking in my office, and we had to buy a washing machine after work and before the panic show. and then i got to thinking about texts and couldn't get to my computer on time. So it is way past midnight.

But any way nothing happened today.

August 14, 2007

That line I used yesterday, "nothing happened today" I stole from a story by Chava Rosenfarb about a holocaust survivor who writes, relieved, in her diary that 'nothing happened today.' She destroys her diaries all the time but keeps writing. That makes total sense to me. To say 'nothing happened' to your diary (like this journal) means you made it through another day without being 'selected' or being blown up...

But of course the problem with this place is that things happen all the time. Gaza. Syria. Lebanon. And I would be so much happier. So would they, I'll bet. The people I mean. I would not be surprised if the Hamas and Hizbullah and Syrian government all trying to tire us out just by this teasing.

Panic, if you could get in last night, was great. Watch for their disk in a few months.

For you Tel Aviv people, Papa's Pizza and Pasta is slowly moving into a running-in situation by the end of the month. It's where Big Mamma's was, and you will find me there at least one day a week. After all, its from those wonderful folks who gave you Mishmish and Shesek.

Because of a song for Panic (that I used to do with "Thin Lips") whose text I'm not satisfied with) I have been reading and rereading the Book of Judith. Now it is clearly not a historically realistic account but it is geographically accurate. But there are other elements that make me think it's just about the emblematic 'jewish woman.' Not only because her name means the Jewess. I mean she's a pure widow, she manages to 'get' Holofernes without sleeping with him, and she lives in a town called "betulia" which means to me the 'home of virgins.' And she saves the Jews when all the men are helpless.

August 15, 2007

Today for the first time I started getting ads for gifts for the new year. Hard to believe we'll be abroad for the holidays. They are so integral to life here.

I hate the whole gift shtik, though. It's not in any way integral to religion. The high holidays are not about people's relationship to people, but about our relationship to God.

Although I really like the idea of giving away everything I own before I fly to NY on September 11.

August 16, 2007

The more I know people the better I like my dog, said Twain. So I want to concentrate on dogs and cats. What would we do without them? We use dogs to help the blind, to check out busses for bombs, to examine packages for drugs, to guard and to comfort. If i find myself alone with a dog on a dark street I'm usually happy for the company, and usually so are they. It's hard for me to remember a time when i wasn't mad about dogs. And yet my mother was terrified - the dogs of Lida were trained to attack Jews - she used to say, and Jews, in turn saw dogs as tameh, as impure, the way the Arabs see dogs.

When I have a guest, my dog usually jumps up on the couch next to them and pulls on him/her, begging to be pet. Not always do the guests want to cooperate, but I am always thrilled by this. It is hard for me to believe a person could remain frightened after the sight of this:

As you probably know I'm quite mad about cats as well. Today I saw three crows discussing the property rights on a sandwich with a cat at the university. The crows were winning the discussion until I came out and they all flew away. The cat remained, looked me in the eye, and dared me to take her on. The university is great place to learn about cats.

On the news today there was a Hamas children's program from Gaza where the regular host in a bumblebee costume went to visit the local zoo and started throwing the cats around. I actually couldn't watch it and just heard the commentary, the fact that it was taken off the air immediately, and the explanation that the children in Gaza are very upset by what the Israelis are doing to them and need to find releases.

One thing is sure - there is a relation between the way animals are understood and the way humans are perceived.

August 17, 2007

The dog's name is shusha and she's a terrier. cute, right? but if you've been following this diary you know she has been paper trained so that once in a while i can put somebody's picture on the floor and know that in a few hours it will be peed on. Mostly they are local people in Israel and in the Middle East, but lately I've been looking for articles about Russia and their prime minister. It does wonders for my sense of hopelessness.

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