Tel Aviv Diary - November 1-5, 2011 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 1, 2011

A quiet night down south - that means my friend from Beer Sheva will come to meet me today

And here's my favorite person, Bel Kaufman

November 2, 2011

Last night I got to see the opening of "Cabaret" at the Cameri theater.

How many times can you see a musical? Well, this was a first for me. Because it was in Tel Aviv, and the entire significance of Berlin 1931 is altered. The first half of the play was standard cabaret and sex. A young writer comes to a big city and all the sexual standards are loosed. A little prostitution, a little homosexuality, a little of this a little of that. But of course the second part of the play wakes up to reality, even though some people don't admit it, and suddenly the issue of Nazism, Jews, homosexuality takes on a different significance. Life isn't a Cabaret. And the artistic choreography of beating a Jew or two means something elso to someone like me whose father was beaten so badly in the streets of Danzig he suffered a stroke watching "Night Porter" and never recovered fully.

Okay maybe for me, who am writing the novel Gerron by Charles Lewinsky the entire nightmare of Berlin is even more frightening, but I'm sure that there were many in the audience for whom the holocaust grotesque of the amazing master-of-ceremonies Etai Tiran had profound consequences.

To watch a play like that in Tel Aviv, while rockets are falling near by, and the threat of war is omnipresent, and be told that we have only been 'distracted' for the evening in the theater, is incredibly profound. I was silent for hours after that - skipped the party after - and felt as if I had spent the night with the devil.

November 3, 2011

Have you voted for the Dead Sea yet? I'm sitting here in the sudden chill of Tel Aviv, a bit wet from having gotten caught in a little rainstorm, and thinking that I'd rather be in a sulphur bath tomorrow and not in Nazareth. But that's where I'm going tomorrow - into the storm. Going into the storm is pretty typical of local behavior.

November 4, 2011

The Writers' Festival in Nazareth today began with a memorial to Taha Mohammed Ali. Farouk Muassi chaired:

and many many people had much to say and read in his memory. This is Rony Sommek

But the highlight of the evening was the participation of the family, who almost made us feel that he was still here. This is Ossama, one of his sons:

Ossama told stories of his father so much like Taha Muhammed Ali himself, it was inspiring. I found myself writing poems that wove pieces of all the speeches. But that's for another day

November 5, 2011

Looked myself on Google today. About 109,000 results (0.19 seconds) for my last name. In English alone. In Hebrew about 5,230 results (0.22 seconds) How is it then that I'm not eligible for a single literary award in this country? You don't think it's strange? I don't mean I deserve to WIN awards, but the fact that I write in English makes me ineligible to be part of the community. I find this strange, especially since in some ways I'm so central here.

Another word about Taha Mohammed Ali.

The poem that is probably the most loved is Revenge. Even I've written about it in these pages before. What's interesting about its centrality, especially in this memorial service, is the fact that part of its power is that it is me/us of whom he speaks about revenge.

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