Tel Aviv Diary Dec 18 - 22, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from December 18 - 22, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

December 18, 2004

Trip to the north - Deganya, Um Jounya, the grave of Rachel and Naomi Shemer...

This is Um Jounya:

copyright Ezra Gut 2004

This is Naomi Shemer's grave.

copyright Ezra Gut 2004

She's buried next to her parents and just in front of the poet Rachel. Rachel is buried just in front of the poet Elisheva.

From what Muki Zur - the historian - says, the cemetery has the same dynamics and intrigues as the people of the kibbutzim once lived.

But as I listened to Muki Tzur, that eminent historian, talk about the way we remember history, I thought about how we don't see what is under our noses and in a surprising diversionary tactic I thought about the exhibit I had seen yesterday at "Zman Le'Omanut" (Time for Art Gallery) and how moved I had been by the "There is no new nation" exhibit, curated by Gideon Efrat, and how I avoided that emotion moment later. There were some paintings that brought tears to my eyes, paintings of Jews carrying heavy bags, exiled from their countries, paintings of Jews hiding in the stnagogue during pogroms, a painting of Naphtali Bezem's father digging the grave of the corpses around him (with one corpse the painter himself as a child). The terrible pain in these paintings, that the curator kept pointing out, was forgotten by me in minutes.

The same is true of the history of the settlements in the Emek. I heard stories all day, sweetened a bit by Muki Zur's wonderful anecdotes, but I forgot them - and the pain they induced - hours later.

December 19, 2004

Thin Lips is apparently in the Walla Alternative Music Contest. You can vote here if you can figure it out.

December 20,2004

Two things are bothering me terribly. Political and social.

Shimon Peres does not look good to me. He seems grey, and I am sure Sharon is running hoops around him, driving him crazy. I am very worried.

The cold that was so bitter this weekend almost killed a number of old people, who don't have the money to heat their homes. The fact that they are physically suffering because our government has lost its sense of social responsibility is terrible. It is true that individuals try harder to help others in this situation, but they don't have the organization, the knowledge or the means.

December 21, 2004

I try to catch the English news at 4:50 on channel 11 at least once a week. Then I watch the real news at 5. It is pretty clear that the news in English has been created for a much more right wing audience than the Hebrew news. And then after that I try for channel 10 - which focusses more on my approach to the world. Ironic. Take for the example the rockets that wrecked the synagogue this morning in Nezarim. On the English news they opened with that and interviewed an American settler then who repeatedly thanked God that no one was hurt. The Hebrew news opened with that item too, but didn't emphasize the miracle and didn't interview anyone. The channel 10 news mentioned but did not develop the story an hour later. I didn't get to channel 22 because I've got a life outside the news.

The wearing of a yellow-orange badge by the settlers to protest their evacuation by the government is also indicative of the fact that there are major differences in the way we view the world. The settlers see their evacuation as a Holocaust. This means, of course, that Sharon is Hitler - which is what the Palestinians said about him years ago. It is as though Yesha - Yehuda and Shomron - is a different planet, one that was created in order to use as a bargaining tool in peace agreements, and there is no way to negotiate with them. The only comfort to me is that the use of the yellow star is so extreme and unrelated to the real situation that they have lost all support of the public.

On a different note, I was talking on the phone to my old friend as I passed the shopping mall security guard - and I said "Kif Chalek?" or "how are you" in arabic. The guard picked it up and looked through my bag perfunctorally. Then he motioned me to continue, saying, "Marchaba" or "Welcome" in Arabic.

Why don't I say something about Wallerstein, a friend wrote me. Okay. Here it is: Pinchas Wallerstein is the Mayor of the Benyamin Regional Council and former chairman of the Council of Judea and Samaria. This is what he said about Sharon's plan: " I call on the public to defy this law calling for deportation and to be ready in the thousands to pay the price of defiance by going to jail." "Isn't this like Thoreau?" my friend asked. No. Here's why. Thoreau said, "Any man more right than his neighbor constitutes a majority of one." This is the basis of his argument in many ways, and it assumes that there is an absolute right - you can only operate on this if you believe that there is an absolute right and wrong, like with God, and that you have access to this truth. Now I don't believe we have direct access to the truth, and so we don't know what is right. So we have to work with others. And so we have to have a government. And if we don't like the government, and goodness knows we don't, we have to try and change it and abide by it. So the model of civil disobedience doesn't apply here.

December 22, 2004

Appropos civil disobedience, whatever happened to Tali Fahima? She seems to have disappeared in prison, and I still don't know what she did. See the discussion here

And now, at midnight, I hear on the news that the orange star is being rejected by many institutions and politians here. Thank goodness a tiny bit of sanity has returned.


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