Tel Aviv Diary - July 18-22 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - July 28, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 28, 2009

Gilad Shalit could be traded for 300 million dollars. That is apparently an alternative to all the terrorists Israel doesn't want to release into the wilds. And it happens this is what the US is going to give the Palestinians in aid. There is certainly a great deal to do there with that money, but it would be nice if Obama made that aid conditional on Shalit's release. You can click here to ask him for it.

July 29, 2009

Tisha B'Av. Because Shusha was violently ill today I had to bring her in to the Vet. He gave her a shot and she needs to come in tomorrow. "But tomorrow is Tisha B'Av," I say. "Will you be open?" "Sure, it's one of our busiest. No one knows what to do with themselves, so they take care of their pets." That was nice to know, since this day was not marked with a particular love for one another in the knesset or among people in the world. And of course, that's what Tisha B'Av is mourning, not the loss of the place, but the diversity that it created.

July 30, 2009

Now that there are no wardens giving out fines to restaurants who stayed open last night, almost all of the nightspots were closed. The city was pretty much dark. Are people becoming religious around here, or, as it is more likely, when they are not pressured, they have respect? I don't think there is more mourning for the destruction of the temple, but there is a little more understanding that respect for tradition is basic to a civilization.

I may have caught the flu that is wracking everyone i know. But I wasn't feeling lousy this morning when i called the vet to announce that Shusha is not well yet. "Bring her in for another shot," says Moshe Ben Ari. "Drive over, stop at the door, and call me, and I'll come out with the injection." I did, and it saved me at least an hour, and probably saved him from catching the flu that presented itself an hour later. It's true he's been our vet since 1987, so I'm biased, but again and again I've had opportunities to encounter other vets and compare, and he's the best.

I must admit, even as a child I never took this day too seriously. After all I grew up with the idea that the state of Israel existed, and a new world without mourning could be created. But today i heard Rabbi Loew on tv responding to the question of what is the big mourning about, and it concluded a thought that had been on my mind all day. He noted that as a result of the loss of the temple and homeland, the Jews suffered not only expulsion, but also later tragedies including the inquisition and the holocaust. It seemed to fit.

There was another kvetch on my mind as well. Some guy was trying to impress me with his new-found wealth and his new-found culture (wines, clothes, food, and, incidentally, concerts. This always turns me off unless the person shows me how he gives it away to fruitful charities, and today of all days it affected me even more. I kept thinking of Thorsten Veblen: "This growth of punctilious discrimination as to qualitative excellence in eating, drinking, etc., presently affects not only the manner of life, but also the training and intellectual activity of the gentleman of leisure. He is no longer simply the successful, aggressive male, the man of strength, resource, and intrepidity. In order to avoid stultification he must also cultivate his tastes, for it now becomes incumbent on him to discriminate with some nicety between the noble and the ignoble in consumable goods. He becomes a connoisseur in creditable viands of various degrees of merit, in manly beverages and trinkets, in seemly apparel and architecture, in weapons, games, dancers, and the narcotics. This cultivation of the aesthetic faculty requires time and application, and the demands made upon the gentleman in this direction therefore tend to change his life of leisure into a more or less arduous application to the business of learning how to live a life of ostensible leisure in a becoming way.... High-bred manners and ways of living are items of conformity to the norm of conspicuous leisure and conspicuous consumption." This seems to me to be connected to a general degeneration of Israeli society - but the good news is that it seems much more prevalent in the people of my generation than in the younger people. They're more into recycling, cycling, and in general having fun with their lives. And understanding. It gives me hope.

July 31, 2009

Now that I have your undivided attention, I should add that Ezi was not diagnosed - the doctor gave him "tamiflu" and antibiotics a few days ago with a warning that if his symptoms increase he should go to the doctor, and he's feeling much better. (And I always have the same symptoms whether I'm really sick or not) But we stayed home today just to complete the recovery. A perfect day, not too hot, not too cool, and we are home cleaning out our studies. It was only when we saw the news tonight that we thought about whether we (he and maybe me in my own special way) had swine flu.

I also had the opportunity to put most of the songs of "The Paranormal in our Daily Lives" on line. Liz Magnes and I recorded the poems and music a while ago but haven't had an opportunity to perform together for a long time. I'm hoping we have a chance soon.

August 1, 2009

Another ambulatory day at home. We watched Halfon Hill Doesn't Answer - a slapstick comedy from the seventies about a crazy army unit on the Egyptian border. It's got all the standard characters - the swindler, the naive sexy girl, the experienced sexy girl, the stern Egyptian officer with a heart of gold, etc. etc. There is a glow about the whole idea of Egypt and Israel, naive and optimistic, and it is not hard to see the connection between the writer and his father Moshe Dayan.

There is a frequent commercial on tv for a phone company that portrays an army unit called to the wall between Israel and the Palestinian territories, and it takes a few moments before they throw a soccer ball over the wall and it comes back - The commercial is supposed to be about communication but it sticks in the throats of a lot of my friends because it is so opposed to the contemporary reality, but when the Halfon film was made, it seemed to me to be really possible.

August 2, 2009

I have no idea who burst into the gay club and murdered two young people, but it is such an outrageous act that it threatens the nature of life in Tel Aviv. All Tel Aviv. The atmosphere of 'no judgement,' is the characteristic of the city.

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