Tel Aviv Diary - December 8-12, 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - December 8-12, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

December 8, 2009

Remember the petition I mentioned to you about academic freedom ? It seems to be considered by some anti-Israeli.

It's here. I'm not sure why asking for consideration is anti-Israeli - and ask your opinion. The site claims we are ignoring the security needs of Israel, but my assumption is that we take security needs as a given.

December 9, 2009

As we sat in the conference for Jewish Writers, examining the subjects of exile, home and language from all aspects, 10,000 settlers were blocking the traffic in front of the prime ministers residence in the center of Jerusalem. There was a lot that we could have said relating to what was going on in the streets but very few of the participants in the conference were aware of it. What does this tell us about the level of our awareness?

December 10, 2009

Tomorrow morning at 11 the first ever human rights march will be taking place in Tel Aviv. Beginning at Rabin Square and marching toward the Tel Aviv Museum, this march is meant to unite all the different movements for civil rights, and I wish them all the luck in this endeavor. I won't be there, primarily because I'm otherwise engaged, but also because something about the language disturbs me, the way argumentative and self-righteous rhetoric takes control of individuality and sympathy. This is one of the reasons I am a dats'lash (dati lesheavar), a formerly observant person, and can't take the rhetoric of the right. I can't even bear it when I'm called on to talk about 'identity.' 'Identity-shmidentity' I said to Dara today, and then suggested we have an international conference by this name. Maybe I'm just a sucker for individualiry in rhetoric, but i fear very much that we need to learn a rhetoric that includes the 'other.' "Right," I hear myself arguing against myself, "but that's the way Obama started and just today in accepting the Nobel prize for peace he couldn't stop himself from using the word 'evil' in referring to his enemies." i make a good point - it's easy to be humane and inclusive while i sit in my armchair at home, but if i have someone's knife at my throat I will not only talk about evil, I will kill him.

December 11, 2009 - Hanukka

Sometimes one small candle
reveals the great darkness surrounding us
Sometimes it takes time
to learn to look only
at the single light
the tiny illumination

December 12, 2009

Only the second candle and I'm already over-doughnuted. Every year Hannuka is an opportunity to meet with family and friends and eat too much fried food. The miracle of this holiday is that you only gain five pounds for eating 10 pounds worth of latkes. I've got to go to lunch now.

Save the 24-6th of December for the Yiddish poetry festival in Tel Aviv. I'll only be there on the 26th because of prior committments, but I'm really looking forward to it.

I only found out about the burning of the mosque in Yasuf this evening. We went to lunch at Abu Khaled's, at the Paz gas station in Herzlia, and the place was so crowded I couldn't talk to anyone beside the kids. The food was great, plentiful, and accompanied by so many extras I can't count them. And I looked around at all the peace signs and pictures and thought about how well our relationships are developing... ha.

And then, at the Hannuka party tonight someone told me. The outrage was so great I could not speak for a while, but I have no right to feel that outrage. It's a kind of self-righteousness. There have been other events leading up to this for months and I've said nothing.

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