Tel Aviv Diary January 26 - 9, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - January 26, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 26, 2006

Here's a pictorial version of the poem by Kavafis:

And the poem by Kavafis that the picture recalled:


voices beloved and ideal
of those who have died or are as lost to us as the dead
talk to us sometimes in our mind
the soul sometimes thinks it hears them
And when their echo sounds it momently responds
with all the other echoes
of the first singing of our lives

voices hallucinating and beloved
like music that vanished in the distance
in the night

They keep playing the movie "Prisoner of Paradise" about Kurt Gerron, and how he made the movie used by the Nazis to promote Thereisenstat, and even though I have the DVD I can't keep from watching. The way a gentle, giving artist was manipulated, coerced, and simply used to cover atrocities - the same atrocities of which he was the victim - is a contemporary theme as well. On the internet even I myself have been quoted out of context to prove theories antithetical to the ones I'm stating. But of course it is the larger scale that is of interest. What is the role of the artist in this world? So I have breakfast with Gerron every morning and we discuss it.

The potential here is enormous, that group shukran i mentioned yesterday multiplied by hundreds. Satire, drama, poetry - it all helps people to understand each other, and the more there is, the more the distortions can be minimized.

I'd probably have voted for Hammas too. I'm just stubborn enough to dislike imported leaders telling me what to do. pocketing the money that comes in from other imported leaders... the only thing i'd be suspicious of is the foregrounding of terror. i mean electing the mother of a suicide bomber is a bit tough.

The father of a boy killed by the suicide bomber whose mother was just elected is having a hard time today. Can you imagine otherwise?

And can you imagine the Hamas continuing terror while in power?

And can you imagine Europe continuing to fund the PA?

Something's gotta give.

So some guest from abroad asks me today if I teach Arab as well as Jewish students. Sure, I say. What percentage, he asks. Let me see, I start counting. Wait a minute, I'm not sure who's who. I have to look up the names and even then I'm not sure. How can you not know, he asks. It's just not the part of the student that interests me first. It's like if they're married or not. Or if they're diabetic. Or have a 150 IQ. I'm interested, but I'm more interested in if they're getting what I'm trying to teach, and if I'm getting them. Are you unusual, he asks? Probably.

January 29, 2006

As much as I hate the concept of terrorism, as much as I know the long range ruin of terrorism, as much as I myself fear terrorism, I can't imagine how anyone expects Hamas to renounce terrorism the day after their election. I do expect them to ease into a direction of peace, to slowly come to the table with us, and I do expect us to BE at that table. But people are very skittish around here today.

Me, I joined the crowds at the Ramat Aviv Mall this morning, having had a few errands to run around there. It was an unusual experience. Not only were there absolute masses of people, but they were clearly there for the fun of it. From early morning there were hundreds of well-dressed customers at all the cafes, mostly over fifty, chattering away. And all the shops were ringing up sales as if it were the day before Christmas. I was overwhelmed, but everyone I asked told me it was a regular Friday morning.

January 29, 2006

Shabbat. Cholent. Family. Friends. More Friends. Politics. Discussion. Argument. No more friends.

No actually - it was surprising to discover my friends passionate about politics. Kadima, they were shouting. But kadima has no ideology! That's what we need, I suddenly realized. No ideology. Just get what needs to get done, done. The only way to counter extremists is politics based on practical evaluations. not ideologies,

January 30, 2006

This in from Dry Bones:The Dry Bones Blog is a finalist in 4 different categories in The 2005 Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards! In this final round of voting, you get to vote once every three days! Balloting ends Feb 2, 2006. Please help us win by voting for The Dry Bones Blog. Just click each link below to open the page for voting in that category. Please?

Vote Dry Bones for Best Jewish Humor Blog
Vote Dry Bones for Best New Blog
Vote Dry Bones for Best Politics Blog
Vote Dry Bones for Best Overall Blog
Yaakov "Dry Bones" Kirschen Dry Bones, Israel's Political Comic Strip Since 1973.

And after you've voted in all four categories, then do it all over again in three days!...Hey you want us to win don't you?

I didn't even KNOW about these contests and I'm certainly not in the running, so you don't have to feel obligated to write me in! Dry Bones is in fact the only blog i know. I've known the cartoon strip Dry Bones since I first came to Israel dozens of years ago and it had a sane and unusual sense of perspective. But I'll have to check out all the sites now and see too what dry bones has been up to since I gave up on the english papers and my compatriots long ago.

January 30, 2006

I have a very warm friend who went to Oxford this year, and expected, that with his open and friendly personality, he'd find partners immediately. But now he can't seem to get the locals to join him in a drink. Since this can be a universal situation in different degrees in different intensities, I tried to reassure him that he is not alone in his aloneness."You don't understand," he said, "It's not only all that i-thou shit you know. It's political. They're afraid to show weakness to a conqueror. If I were an 'underdog' I'd be wined and dined."

The consequences of selling our little souls to the devil are already being felt. The decision to rename the Tel Aviv Museum as the Sammy Ofer Museum in exchange for a donation of 20 million dollars has begun to disturb other contributors - The Rich foundation is backing out of a contribution and i am sure there will be more people disturbed in this way. I myself renewed our subscription but considered writing a letter of withdrawal. I knew my little contribution wouldn't make a difference, but I promise to try to work in any way i can to make the arts independent of the need to prostitute itself around here. I think it is part of the greater picture of culture, but also of society.

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