Tel Aviv Diary January 2 - 6 , 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from January 2, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 2, 2005

I was getting angrier and angrier that the guy who was supposed to install the water filter wasn't showing up today. Feeling sick, and sorry that I missed the bank and a meeting and all that stuff, I was even more angry to discover that the guy had been calling Ezi's empty office and leaving messages complaining that i wasn't home. So I called and let them have it. Sorry, the secretary said, the installer lost his in-law in the tsunami.

After a few other messed-up calls, I decided to give up and just drink tea and watch tv. But tv is infected with tsunamitis. so i take the dog for a walk and meet a neighbor whose friend is missing a daughter in India.

So even though we are having a wave of kassam missiles, murders every day by terrorists, and numerous other problems of our own, we are overwhelmed by what happened half of the way around the world. And of course, our own involvement in it.

We're even collecting food to send there.

I am not criticizing the interest in this terrible tragedy or complaining about our involvement. But it seems a bit of an escape as well. Not for all those who are worried about loved ones, but for the media.

There is just too much happening here that needs attention as well.

I cannot ignore David Weiner, Deputy state public defender, who died just now after he shot himself in the head, because he couildn't live with being an unwilling party to a miscarriage of justice. An article on him is here. He has been in my mind for the past 2 days.

January 3, 2005

Here is an evaluation of his professional personality by Zeev Segal, entitled "a fighter for those unfairly convicted."

The daughter in India is still missing.

Because some people wrote to ask what Zaka is, and it really is a strange concept, I'm explaining. It is a volunteer amataur organization recognized by the government called: "Zihuy Korbanot Asson" or "identification of disaster victims" and has managed to find most of the Israeli victims of the tsunami disaster among the hundreds of thousands of bodies. They are incredibly devoted, always on the scene immediately, picking out body parts from trees after a bombing, mopping up blood in paper towels.

Their goal, of course, is to bury Jews whole, so they can rise up when the Messiah comes.

Wish I could believe in the rising up of the dead. Today, in the Haifa cemetery, where every grave has a view of the sea, I couldn't help but wish that the rain beating down on the fresh corpse could fertilize it, make hundreds of the same honest person grow up from the ground. A man eulogized by the minister of justice and convicts alike for his drive to reform the legal system, his moral conviction, no wonder I was wishing his like would be reproduced in all of the young people among the mourners.

And that the terrible injustices that drove him to his death would be erased.

Absurdly I thought of my aunt, whose worries about me always manifested themselves in insults. About a decade ago I went to visit her when she had a friend over, and the two of them sat on the sofa and discussed people I had never met, while I blissfully thought about other things. Then, suddenly, my aunt looked at me and then turned to her friend, "Would you believe she used to be beautiful?"

Her friend turned to me and peered long from over her bifocals while I waited in stunned silence, then she turned back to my aunt and said, "Well, this is a hard country."

January 4, 2005

The search for Aya Shapira has been abandoned by her family and only the Tsunami knows where it buried her.

A new health journal, named Bridges has been launched by Israeli and Palestinian health professionals. It is trilingual and deals with health problems and solutions from both sides. Really a professional job. Great pictures, graphics, And it shows it can be done. Despite what happens with rockets and guns every day. Despite the fact that Egypt's building an atom bomb.. (Remember Tom Lehrer's song on the bomb: "Egypt's going to get one too, just to use on you-know-who..)

January 5, 2005

We're very into civil war at the moment. The right think Sharon imposed the disengagement and displacement on them, the left thinks the right should be willing to give up their homes and move somewhere else in exchange for peace. The problem is not the solution but the attitude and the means to achieve the solution. Sharon has always been a bulldozer, doing whatever he thinks without considering anyone else, and as long as he was bulldozing in the right direction, he had the extreme right on his side. But now he's using the same insensitivity against them.

Yossi Pilant, the soldier who explained yesterday to his comrades that they had a moral right to refuse orders when it comes to moving people out of settlements, is a new immigrant from the States. Obviously. The ideology of the settlers is an amalgam of 19th concepts of US democracy and individualism - Thoreau especially - and an absolutist sense of religion - like the pilgrim fathers. And look what they did to the Indians.

Had another meeting to day with the French writers. We've been translating each other, and find that poetry goes beyond language. There is something of commonality in our familiarity and varying degrees of integration with Hebrew culture as well as our integration into a different culture. And we write some pretty good poetry too.

One of my friends actually reads my diary and sometimes actually lets me know that I piss her off. What usually pisses her off is that I should be catching up on my sleep and not writing nonsense online just because i made myself some dumb rules about writing every day. But this time is was my tsunami thoughts. She has pointed out how many Israelis are now actually on the spot trying to help identify bodies and aid the wounded, and how many others are sending money, and food...She reminds me that CNN has noted that Arab countries are less than enthusiastic about their aid. Saudi Arabia pledged $10 million whereas last year they raised $150 million dollars for the families of suicide bombers.

Isn't it nice to feel superior - i love to grasp at straws.

January 6, 2005

But this following quote, whose source I haven't checked (and strongly suspect), but whose facts are absolutely right, does show something about this country's contribution to the world:

This was in the Daily Sport today - British version of New York Post - The View from Here

Subject: Boycotting Israel

OK. So I understand that you are ticked off at Israel, and in love with the Palestinians. That's fine with me, as long as you have truly weighed all the facts.

So, you want to boycott Israel? I'll be sorry to miss you, but if you are doing it - do it properly. Let me help you. Check all your medications. Make sure that you do not have tablets, drops, lotions, etc., made by Abic or Teva. It may mean that you will suffer from colds and flu this winter but, hey, that's a small price for you to pay in your campaign against Israel, isn't it?

While we are on the subject of your Israeli boycott, and the medical contributions to the world made by Israeli doctors and scientists, how about telling your pals to boycott the following...

To reduce scarring and adhesions in gynecological surgery, Laproscopy and Laser Laproscopy were developed by Israeli medical medical research teams.

An Israeli company has developed a simple blood test that distinguishes between mild and more severe cases of Multiple Sclerosis. So, if you know anyone suffering from MS, tell them to ignore the Israeli patent that may, more accurately, diagnose their symptoms.

An Israeli-made device helps restore the use of paralyzed hands. This device electrically stimulates the hand muscles, providing hope to millions of stroke sufferers and victims of spinal injuries. If you wish to remove this hope of a better quality of life to these people, go ahead and boycott Israel. Young children with breathing problems will soon be sleeping more soundly, thanks to a new Israeli device called the Child Hood. This innovation replaces the inhalation mask with an improved drug delivery system that provides relief for child and parent. Please tell anxious mothers that they shouldn't use this device because of your passionate cause.

These are just a few examples of how people have benefited medically from the Israeli know-how you wish to block.

Boycotts often affect research. A new research center in Israel hopes to throw light on brain disorders such as depression and Alzheimer's disease. The Joseph Sangol Neuroscience Center in the Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer Hospital aims to bring thousands of scientists and doctors to focus on brain research. A researcher at Israel's Ben Gurion University has succeeded in creating human monoclonal antibodies which can neutralize the highly contagious smallpox virus without inducing the dangerous side effects of the existing vaccine.

Two Israelis received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Doctors Ciechanover and Hershko's research and discovery of one of the human cells most important cyclical processes will lead the way to DNA repair, control of newly produced proteins, and immune defense systems.

The Movement Disorder Surgery program at Israel's Hadassah Medical Center has successfully eliminated the physical manifestations of Parkinson's disease in a select group of patients with a deep brain stimulation technique.

For women who undergo hysterectomies each year for treatment of uterine fibroids, the development in Israel of the ExAblate 2000 System is a welcome breakthrough, offering a non-invasive alternative to surgery. Israel is developing a nose drop that will provide a five-year flu vaccine. These are just a few of the projects that you can help stop with your Israeli boycott.

But let's not get too obsessed with medical research‚?¶ there are other ways you can make a personal sacrifice with your anti-Israel boycott.

Most of Windows operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. So, set a personal example. Throw away your computer! The Pentium NMX Chip technology was designed at Intel in Israel. Both the Pentium 4 microprocessor and the Centrium processor were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel. The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 in Israel by four young Israeli whiz kids. Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R.& D. facilities outside the US in Israel. So, due to your complete boycott of anything Israeli, you now have poor health and no computer.

But your bad news does not end there. Get rid of your cellular phone! Cell phone technology was also developed in Israel by Motorola, which has its biggest development center in Israel. Israeli scientists developed most of the latest technology in your mobile phone. Feeling unsettled? You should be. Part of your personal security rests with Israeli inventiveness, borne out of our urgent necessity to protect and defend our lives from the terrorists you support. A phone can remotely activate a bomb, or be used for tactical communications by terrorists, bank robbers, or hostage-takers. It is vital that official security and law enforcement authorities have access to cellular jamming and detection solutions. Enter Israel's Net line Communications Technologies with their security expertise to help the fight against terror. A joint, non-profit, venture between Israel and Maryland will result in a 5 day Business Development and Planning Conference next March. Selected Israeli companies will partner with Maryland firms to provide innovation to the US need for homeland security. The F-4 Phantom you know is a greatly improved version over the first one due to Israeli Avionics and weapons control. The F-15 and F-16 also enjoy important improvements due to Israeli technology. Ask any American Air Force or Naval Air pilot who fought in Vietnam, Desert Storm or the recent campaign in Iraq. He'll tell how vastly important they are.

I also want you to know that Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita - 109 per 10,000 - than any other nation. Israel has the highest number of start-up companies per rata. In absolute terms, the highest number, except the US., Israel has the greatest ratio of patents filed. Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies outside of Silicon Valley. Israel is ranked 2 in the world for venture capital funds, behind the USA. Israel has more museums per capita. Israel has the second highest publication of new books per capita. Relative to population, Israel is the largest immigrant absorbing nation on earth. These immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom of expression, economic opportunity, and quality of life. Believe it or not, Israel is the only country in the world that had a net gain in the number of trees last year. So, you can vilify and demonize the State of Israel. You can continue your silly boycott, if you wish. But I wish you would consider the consequences, and the truth. Think of the massive contribution that Israel is giving to the world, including the Palestinians - and to you - in science, medicine, communications, security.

Pro rata for population Israel is making a greater contribution than any other nation on earth.

I've been kvetching about the lack of money for literry activity for the past few years and now suddenly notice that some people have managed to scrape together contributions. There are a few new literary publications - political, I think, in orientation - but amazing nevertheless.

Two examples: 1. Mita'am: launching of an avant-garde periodical, edited by Yitzhak La'or will take place in Tzavta, Tel-Aviv, Monday Jan. 10, 8pm.. "The literary magazine's first publication will be celebrated with several authors reading from their work, and a discussion about the relations between culture and politics " 2. Maggid edited by Michael Kramer that will include Jewish writing from around the world. Both are pretty amazing.

Mohammed Bahri is being sued over his film "Jenin, Jenin" - Aaron Klein writes about it.

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