Tel Aviv Diary July 26-30, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut
July 26, 2008
Today is our wedding anniversary. Have I ever told the story? It's such a typical wierd Israeli tale. I just looked back and saw I had mentioned "Cyprus" four years ago on this day, so it must be here. Since Ezi is still doing chemotherapy, and we are still in mourning over Amos, Ezi 'celebrated' our anniversary last night by scanning 900 photographs of Amos onto a disk for his family. Before he went to sleep he gave me the same anniversary card he'd given me on our first: "Here's to our continued fascination with each other." I hope he gets up early enough to celebrate the day with me because it is finally cooling down and the jellyfish have left the sea for now - we absolutely must go to the beach at sundown.
When Don wrote me a very moving letter about Obama, I found myself answering in a little paragraph that accepts his logical arguments for this clear leader, but reveals my ancient crochetiness. I copied it here: Oh I’ll go for Obama all right, but something in my heart doesn’t let me go all the way (as I did, for example, with Adlai). The little corrections, the explanations afterward, that make me feel he should have a little microphone in his ear with a more experienced guy prepping him… oh, well, he’ll work it out. I do think he has humanity and justice at heart, unlike so many other leaders we’ve been burdened with. But I worry that he doesn’t quite know the game – and the game is one of life and death right now. And maybe I'm just too old and fragile to trust a young whippersnapper.
(later that day)>
There is something in the general Israeli character that I recognized in my little paragraph just now about my reservations about Obama. It is something I hate but obviously am a part of. That is the inability to take unqualified pleasure in the joy of others. In Yiddish the expression "nit farginen," to negate the other's joy, has always seemed to me to be the epitome of mealy-mouthed jealousy. I find it more charactistic of my generation and much less a part of the culture of younger Israelis, who are happier to believe in the possibility of goodness and genius. It's what I think of as diaspora mentality.
But sometimes it sweats through in me. And maybe that's what's influencing my thoughts on Obama.
July 27, 2008
So we have this wedding in a week or so and I'm thinking that although I don't need anything, it would be perhaps wise to get a new summer dress before there's nothing left on the shelves. And I have an hour. So I drive to the mall in Ramat Gan, park right next to the back door, run in to Dorin Frankfurt, and try on the only long black item in my size, buy it, and run out. It's much more than I wanted to spend, and the saleswoman is a bit of a sociopath, but it does look magnificent. Almost as good on my mirror at home, which doesn't take off ten pounds. Ah, to live up to my wardrobe.
As the problems here get worse and worse, I skim more and more, and leave the papers on the floor in the place where Shusha has been trained to pee. I figure I can always get back to the news when my life lightens up.
July 28, 2008
The waiter comes over to us as we sit down at Comme-il-faut and starts talking to Lisa. He knows her from George, another trendy Tel Aviv cafe. Lisa actually knows everyone, but this is nothing new. After exchanging some good gossip, we move to more general stories, like what she did this weekend. She tells me this story I wouldn't believe, but when Mohammed writes about on his blog who can doubt it? Lisa really gets around.
I have been answering the letters I've gotten about my querelous attitude to Barak Obama = Of course I'm going to vote for him, and i'll bite my lips less than usual when i vote in the US election, but I do fear we are all being set up
Uears ago when I was a new immigrant I would watch Meyer Lansky walking along the beach in Herzlia (by the Dan Acadia where he was staying) and wonder what it would mean for Israel to allow him to stay. Suddenly the answer came to me today = boy did we blow it .
July 29, 2008
Ed says we need to begin a new campaign. Every person here should get him own Talansky. We all like nice things. We all have television and know how normal people live. We all should get first class, good cigars, maybe a few jets, Talansky, Ibn Talansky. It would all do us a world of good and maybe prevent the next world war. He's got an idea, don't you think?
Tsipi Livni. Let's get her into office before the next year. She might not be perfect, but she's a hell of a lot better than what we have, and may not be such a failure at multitasking. Can you imagine Livni and Obama determining our future? It doesn't feel very solid, but it may be the only chance we've got.
Okay, who gave me the flu? Here I've been so careful not to kiss all the people who make me feel good so I wouldn't bring any germs home to Ezi, and now we're both 'on the boards' as you would say in Hebrew. (Fortunately I have discovered Dahn Ben Amotz's sketch "Basic Hebrew" and am discovering the joys of literal translation.) My favorite is "The House of the Seat."
July 30, 2008
Every time I meet with the Federation of Writers Union I get more and more depressed. The budget keeps dwindling, even though the possibilities for projects increase all the time. Twenty years ago, for example, we had a 3 day fully sponsored conference for all writers in Israeli in Ohalo, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. Russian, Arabic, English, Yiddish, Hungarian, German, etc. It helped me to think of this country as a melting pot. Or, as Dahn Ben Amotz would have said, a pressure cooker.
You have to admire Olmert."I am proud to be the prime minister of a country that investigates its prime ministers," he said. "The prime minister is not above the law, but he is in no way below it." It's a crazy kind of logic - a guy whose career is over because he's been hounded by government investigations, deserted by his colleagues, and he's defending their behavior. It's really very admirable, unless maybe he just wants to keep the possibilities open in the future.