Tel Aviv Diary Feb 22, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from February 22, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

Febuary 22, 2004

I was just going to write something about this being the first of the month of Adar, which is the holiday month - and the idea of new beginnings and salvation - and a terrorist explosion in Jerusalem was announced. At least 5 dead, at least 2 dozen wounded, bodies trapped in the bus.... now 6 dead. That starts a completely different focus for the day. Now people start calling each other to see who was there - whether everyone is accounted for, whether plans have been changed, etc. etc.

So far my plans are the same - an interview and then a funeral. We will say goodbye to Azriel today no matter what.

Today there was supposed to be a test of proecting busses in jerusalem - some new system. too late for these young people on their way to school.

The phones start ringing - where is....? i cant reach...

and of course this is the opportunity to prove your political theories - if you like the fence you say - see! if the fence had been finished this wouldn't have happened! or if you don't you say see! the fence doesn't help!!!

But logic is not a factor here.

The question is not whether or not to build a fence - but how to make peace and how the placing of the fence can help.

The number of dead is already 7 - on this the 29th bombing in Jerusalem. And the assertions of fences on both sides have begun already. The police chief of Jerusalem is sure the finished fence will help his job. I wish it were that simple.

Usually when these things happen my heart goes immediately to those family and friends seeking their loved ones with desperation, often not for the first time, sometimes with growing horror. Today, on my way back from the funeral I suddenly imagined myself a resident of Bethlehem hearing the news, hearing that my life will suddenly get worse because one of my people blew up 7 others and wounded over 60. There can be no logic in this. And yet these bombings will continue.

February 23, 2004

So, despite my antipathy to the telephone, I decided to call an old friend to see if she was possibly in the area. A woman answers the cellphone. "Dalia?" I say. "Shchem," she answers. "Shchem!" I start to laugh. She starts to laugh. "Slicha, sorry!" "Boker Tov Lach," she says. Good morning to you! "Salaam Aleikum," I answer, both of us still laughing, and hang up confused.

Now what was that number? Maybe we could get into politics together? We certainly had the same sense of irony that overrided the tension even of yesterday's attack.

And while I am thinking about her, the layerness of the effect of the attack yesterday strikes home more and more - how for most of the injured and dead this was not the first attack, not the first time their families have suffered from terrorism, not their first loss. The longer you've been here the more likely you have a family member killed in a terrorist attack

Here's a moral dilemma for you. I have a poet friend who was asked to participate in a reading in the U.S. with some Palestinian poets. She felt she would be set up and thinks it might not be a good idea. Me, I wouldn't turn down the chance even if I was being set up - even if i was going to be used as a propaganda tool. Like Kurt Gerron who made all those character German movies and then his characters were used by Goebbels to prove the degeneracy of the Jews. Knowing this, I'd still do it.

It is worth taking the chance.

Although I have been in situations where I was surprised by an organized propaganda attack, was raked over the coals, wasn't up to shrieking out alternative facts and wound up looking like a fool.

And didn't help the case of Israel a bit.

February 24, 2004

Yoram, who is making my cake for the party on thursday, tells me delicately that he is swamped with work and is having a hard time getting back to me about my "thin lips" cake. He doesn't tell me, but I know, that a colleague's brother was killed in the attack. We ignore it politely. But make the condolence calls, and worry about the wall.

The wall.

I keep saying that I know it is effective, because no bombers have come 'out' of Gaza to Israel's cities since the wall was built. But I also know it is terrible on the Gazans because those who want to come to work in Israel, who want to travel freely, to visit relatives, etc. are locked in.

So the effectivity of the wall is clear. But where. It is certainly possible to negotiate a border and built a border - if there is good will. a border that could be permeable.

The key to all of this is good will.

Good fences make good neighbors. Every time I think of the expression, I want to emphasize another word.

GOOD fences... Remember the "good Fence" next to the Jacobs' house in Metulla, on the border of Levanon?

Roi and Yishai and I are in the paper today, haaretz. The article is in Hebrew but the picture is in English...

February 26, 2004

In the past week I've been hearing a great deal of criticism at the opposers of the fence. it's not patriotic, some say. the hague is trying to take away our right to protect ourselves.

My problem all the time is that people are taking stands without knowing details. why the fence is necessary, why is it wrong as it is. borders are good. but recognized borders, not fences that cuts through jerusalem's old city, including people who don't want to be included. i can't understand why everyone oversimplifies the issue.

everyone's got an opinion around here - about everythig. A pregnant friend of mine just got criticized for bringing a child into the world when she doesn't know whether she'll be able to support it. it used to be a simple pleasure to have children here - cheap and devoted child care, grants, time off from work... let's go back to socialism.

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