Tel Aviv Diary July 13, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - July 13 - 17, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 13, 2006

What a joy last night to see a stupid movie like the Da Vinci Code where even the deepest secrets of life can be solved. Outside the theatre the world is collapsing, good and evil are all aquestion of perspective, only victims are clear.

Right now, for instance, in Nahariya, rockets fell on houses and people. The residents are asked to stay in shelters.

Nahariya! Now who would question the right of Nahariya to exist?

And now - after at least 20 years - Safed! The library at the college was destroyed. People injured. A woman dead in Kiryat Shmone. Injuries in Majdel Krumes. Haifa is gearing up for an attack.

This is not a good situation.

What should be done? I'm so glad you asked me. All I can think of are dumb things like stocking up on food and medicines, cleaning out the mess in Ezi's office where the spare bed is for friends from the North and sending my own books to start up the library again. And to the reporter reporting live from Safed who used to be a student of mine I keep wanting to call out, "Yonit! Take cover! Get out of the Street!"

"Circling the wagons," as Oren said, laughing at my inability to take a political stand. I would like to be able to say it is the bad guys against the good - but I can see it like being asked to take sides in a chess game when the players are unknown. Do I go for the black or the white? What's the difference who's right - everybody's getting killed. And that has to stop first, before we start with my philosophies about how we have to deal through dialogue... And who do we talk with - who represents whom?

What is life like in the big city, you ask? Normal. The big movie this summer is called "Bubble," about life in Tel Aviv.

But there ARE things that can be done. ISRAEL/PALESTINE CENTER FOR RESEARCH & INFORMATION, for example, lists a very clear and simple plan:
Prime Minister Olmert will immediately meet publicly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and tell him the following:
1. Once Corporal Gilead Shalit is released from Gaza, Israel will immediately release all of the women and children prisoners in Israeli jails (without blood on their hands).
2. Israel will declare a ceasefire including the end of all shelling in Gaza, all targeted killings, and all arrest campaigns in the West Bank. If the Palestinians adhere to a ceasefire on their side, effective for all of the factions, after one month of full ceasefire, Israel will release all of the Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israel since before September 1993. If the ceasefire holds for another month, another several hundred prisoners will be released, etc.
3. Olmert will also tell Abbas that if the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizballah will be released, Israel will release all of the Lebanese prisoners being held in Israeli prisons.
According to this plan, there are no negotiations and there are no mediators. Israel can take the initiative, strengthen Mahmoud Abbas, weaken Nasrallah and Mashal, bring the soldiers home and achieve a ceasefire. It is cheaper than any military plan, it doesn’t kill anyone, and it has the chance of ending the crisis faster than any other possible way.

It's worth proposing. Considering the alternative. And it strengthens the hands of the legitimate leaders of these countries. I really don't like the way we're hurting the power of Lebanon because of something Hizballah did. And I can't stop thinking of ALL the people under fire today.

July 14, 2006

The Iranian missiles have not only explosives, but also these little disks that cause a lot of human damage. A lot of people are running away from the hundreds of missiles falling all over in the north, but there are lots who can't afford to leave - people without transportation, without shelter elsewhere, people who can't pay for the luxury of being somewhere else.

By the way, it is honorable and wise to leave a city when it is being bombed, and we should be doing our best to comfort those who stay and accomodate those who leave.

July 15, 2006

"Hizballah." Get the name right. Hiz=the party, Allah=God. The name "Allah" is often used by Jews from Arab countries, and as I may have mentioned, my late-ex-father-in-law always used to answer the question of "how are you" with "Cham-dil-l'allah, baruch ha-shem." which means "Praise Allah, blessed be the Lord" but first in Arabic and then in Hebrew.

He was an atheist, I think.

And while I am sitting here fiddling with semantics and nostalgia, where are we, carrying on a 'normal' life while people are being killed up north? What else can I do? This country has been pelted with innumerable missiles (over 750) in the past few days, and now Nasrallah has started talking about Tel Aviv, and all I can think about is that if this if this is my last night i'd better go out carousing with the rest of this city.

Although last night were fewer people out that the night before.

Actually I can't explain the mixed terror and despair and desperation that seems to be taking over many of us around here. Tiberias is having a hard time and we can't stay away from the television, each explosion exploding something in every one of us.

To answer what I can from some the questions I've been getting by email. 1. Although I am not at all a military expert it seems clear to me that the only way the Israelis can stop the missiles on us is to make sure that no more come into Lebanon from Iran and Syria. So closing the airport and the ports and bombing the Syrian-Lebanese highways seem simply logical. (Appropos weapons and missiles, keep your eye on the Sinai as well.) 2. Everyone I know - at the moment - is okay. 3. We haven't started getting ourselves ready for a rocket attack as yet. But I'm beginning to get myself together.4. The boat that was hit - it looks like israel was surprised to discover that hizballah had missiles like that, because that boat had a phallanxthat would have stopped it. 5. i expect many more surprises - little packages from iran and syria.

July 16, 2006

So a neighbor and I opened the shelter downstairs, after the deadly showers falling over our cities nearby. A mess. We haven't been down there for at least 2 years. There's no water, litter all over, and none of the comforts we'll be needing.

Sky News is conducting a survey about whether Israel is justified. Why not vote?

I have to go buy some water.

But if you're wondering what to do while you're twiddling your thumbs and waiting for a Syrian bomb to drop on Tel Aviv, think about the poor animals who have been deserted up north as their owners fled for their lives. Here are some phone numbers.

ניתן להתקשר לד"ר רענן רפאלי בכל מקרה של פציעת כלבים ו/או חתולים - בעיקר לגבי חתולי רחוב וכלבים משוטטים-אשר נפגעו כתוצאה מנפילת פגז לטלפון: 4711211 – 052. כמו כן, ניתן לפנות למוקד להצלת בעלי חיים של "תנו לחיות לחיות", לטלפון: 6241776 – 03.

אנא, תירמו כל סכום שייראה לכם – כל סכום יעזור ! זה הזמן לעזור לחיות ! לתרומות, אנא פנו למנהלת החשבונות של העמותה אירנה, לטלפון 03-6241776 שלוחה 3 בין השעות 8:30 בבוקר עד 17:00 אחה"צ.

I didn't want to go out. I wanted to watch Nasrallah on television and rest my back. But how could I not go to the memorial service for Shaindy Rudolf at Bar Ilan University? So we went. Me grumbling all the way. Smadar had said there would be a rocket attack on Tel Aviv tonight. The instructions from Home Defense hadn't been clear at all - are we supposed to stay home or should we just be 'alert'? I had forgotten to arrange to arrange for parking at Bar Ilan so we had to park outside and walk. My back hurt.

But as soon as I got there I realized I couldn't have been anywhere else. "Nothing to do for it but be patient," Shaindy would tell me this winter when my back started to act up in such an unforgivable way. She was also on her back, but for different reasons.

We'll all miss her terribly

Our neighbors were waiting for us when we got back - the shelter can be cleaned out - water can be put into the shelter - and we must discuss the possibilities, the weapons of Hizballah, the plans of IDF, the reactions of the world...

July 17, 2006

I've been reading Lisa's blog to see what's happening in her life. Her description of the political activities are parallel to mine - but a closer and intimate view.

if the link above to sky news didn't work, try this one.

Last night we were watching the replay of the missile in Haifa that killed 8 train workers. It fell easily through the corrogated iron roof "Ah, my grandfather built that roof," Ezi sighed, and I realized that this is the first time one of the many many structures his grandfather built long ago has been destroyed. (except for the casino - which was torn down). It was just a hangar.

One strange result of this strange situation is that most people are relatively united around here. That old idea that if there are two Jews together there are three opinions doesn't seem to follow now. Even though I would have liked to handle a lot of things differently in many of the events we've been through in the past 30 years, I am at the moment, along with almost every one else, behind the government, behind the army. Jeepers!Read Robert Rosenberg on this at Ariga

We're also united in the fact that we're going crazy. Absolutely bonkers. The people down in the shelters up north are going crazy because of the conditions, and their kids, and bombs falling on them, and we who have not yet been attacked directly are going crazy about all the trivial things we managed to put aside for lo these many years - like what the purpose of life is anyway. I keep running into people who say the situation doesn't bother them, but ... and then they go into a complaint about something - maybe their partner, their career, their schedule - that brings tears to their eyes. Me I have it more directly. I just have to hear the siren on television and all the wars I've been through come crowding back to me. All the shelters I've been in. All the shelters I didn't make it to in time. All the situations where I was on the street when it went off....

Someone asked me whether she should get pregnant now and if it was worth having children at a time like this. And I couldn't help but laugh. If my parents conceived me during the Blitz, what else can I do to a question like that.

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