Tel Aviv Diary - January 7-11, 2010 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - January 7-11, 2010 Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 7, 2010

A kassam costs 200-300 shekel to put together, about $75 max. Our iron dome system costs thirty million or so. and the Iron Dome doesnít stop the kassam. The magic wand program will have to be finished soon and that will stop the smaller rockets. Itís cheap to kill and expensive to protect. But we really have to spend the money. The barrage of rockets this morning may not have killed anyone, but makes life impossible for anyone in range. And of course, makes it necessary to retaliate instead of concentrating on bulding relations. Terrible.

Nissan Festival I called Naim Araidi today to tell him that even without an invitation I want to come to Mrar for the festival. Of course, he issued an invitation on the spot. How cheeky of me, how uncharacteristic! But I didnít want to plan to go to Italy and then find out that the Nissan Festival was on the same date. I missed it last year and I missed it, and for some reason it is very important for me to be there. There is a hope I feel there that I never feel elsewhere, even though the level of the poetry is not at all higher. So Naim told me to save April 2-5, and I will. You come too. January 8, 2010

"No, no sunlight!" I screamed like a vampire at Ezi as he dragged me out of the house. I didn't think it would do me any good to go to Ein Harod to see this first display of a private collection of Israeli art. "I'm still sick." But he would have his way. (This might be a slight exaggeration) But there was a picture or two that made it worth it. Uri Lipschitz's abstraction called "Kfar Kassem" that shows the shock and blood and confusion of the massacre there in 56. Shalom Sebba's sketch of the stained glass windows for the parliament, with its twelve tribes of Israel overwhelmed me - because each son was so typical of the present members of parliament: jealous, suspicious, unfaithful... No wonder Sebba never got to make those windows. They are brilliant. I started telling my sister-in-law about them and she laughed, "You know my mother saved them from the waste basket," she said. "They were individual sketches and Sebba wanted to throw them out." They are so beautiful, so human, so profound, and to think they almost were destroyed by their maker. There were numerous other gems in this collection - Batya Apollo's amazing consciousness, Yohanan Simone's early clarity, Reuven Rubin's family with donkey (in which the donkey is the focus) and Aharon Messeg's darkening vision, for example. What I couldn't get into were all those impressionistic paintings of landscape. When the light here is so clear, so sharp, why did so many Israeli painters make their blurred visions of the scene? Was their idealism clouding the paintings?

In any case we really had to leave in order to get some shopping done for Shabbat, and although I considered the nearby Arab town of Uhm El Fahem I decided it was too much of a hassle to shop where I don't exactly know where things are, and we raced back to our neighborhood before the local supermarket closed. That turned out to be funny because I had never noticed before that in the supermarket where I shop all the workers and many of the shoppers are Arab.

January 9, 2020

Everybody is riding bicycles around here. And what with the heat wave we've been having, the weather is perfect for pedalling around the park. I do it sometimes, but today was Ezi's day to join the hoards. My day to stay home and cook. Some people love the quiet regularity of Shabbat - i love the possibilities.

January 10, 2010

We've begun counting the number of times in the local news the word "normative" is used. Usually the defense lawyer brings up the word first - a "normative" family gets killed, a "normative" teenager robs an old lady, etc. etc. The big problem with this term is that in Israel the norms are variable and changing. And since the occupation violence is becoming normative.In addition, the more we learn about 'normative' people behaving in an antisocial manner, the more we become innured and accept antisocial and violent behavior as normative.

January 10, 2010

Fifth day of rockets. Not a big deal, but not terribly nice. Ezi explained to me how to make a kassam and it is terribly easy. You take a stop sign and take off the sign. Then you file it down and add little metal wings to make it airworthy and then you add the nails and explosives (a little fertilizer will do) in the end. He taught me how to make the launcher when he was planning his cremebo launcher long ago. A cinch.

"Good fences make good neighbors," said Ehud Barak today as they announced the border to be built between Israel and Egypt. At the moment you can just step across, almost everywhere. But the quote is out of context. It's what the old fogey neighbor says and the speaker in the poem continues:

"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was wallin in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

We've got good reason to wall out, but in our case, I think this is a mutually agreeable wall to regulate terrorists, smugglers and illegal aliens. So I don't see it as a wall to keep Egypt out, but to help both countries control the chaos that is now Sinai.

Still, it would be nice if Barak knew the whole poem and the name of the poet. And if he understood and explained the complexity of the situation.

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