Tel Aviv Diary - October 13-17, 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - October 13-17, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

October 13, 2009

Yes, my new Toshiba has broken down - i have no memory and will have to start from the backup. It happened after we returned to Israel so I can't blame the trip. i'm back to writing on my burning Dell. But first there is much news to catch up on - we seem to be blamed for everything - even the things there's no way we could possibly be involved with.....

Hizballah, for instance. keeps blowing itself up and blaming us - and some people actually believe it.

I've been reading "A Woman in Berlin," which is the actual diary of a anonymous woman in her thirties just after the war. It is concerned with survival, with rape as a way of life, with hunger, and attempting to remain sane. My mother told me far worse stories about the war and her experiences in it, so I don't find it shocking, but what I do find shocking is the fact that in the narrative of a woman in Berlin, the Jews aren't mentioned - half a million Jews disappeared in Berlin and at no point does she see their absence. It seems to me of the utmost importance not to lose one's humanity, no matter what the circumstances.

October 14, 2009

Don't I sound self-satisfied. As if I am 'humane' because I 'feel.' It's a national disease. If we were really as heartfelt as we say we'd be doing a national inquiry on all the accusations against us. We'd be testing ourselves. Not that I believe most of the accusations, but I owe it to my conscience to try to be absolutely sure.

I thought about this today when my hairdresser was striping my hair and his assistant had seated another woman next to me. "The color didn't come out right last time," she complained. "It looked a little grey." "That's impossible!" the assistant responded. "The colors are always uniform amd registered on your card." "Let me give you a little lesson in professionalism," my hairdresser said to the assistant. "Watch." He came up behind the customer, lifted her hair, and said, "Was there something wrong?" "Yes," she said, "The color was a little grey last time." "All right, we're fix that." Then he turned to his assistant and whispered. "Same." (which meant "Now do the color exactly the same as last time.) "That's how you do it," my hairdresser then announced as he returned to finish my stripes.

October 15, 2009

My latest resolution: watch news on tv only once a day. I have decided the news programs are in a conspiracy to raise my blood pressure beyond all records. It is the emphasis that does it to me more than the news. Turkey for instance. A country we've ignored even though we were providing it with lots of army stuff. Now they made a few mistakes - okay - big mistakes as far as we're concerned. But we should be as busy trying to fix it as we are with being insulted.

October 16, 2009

We were supposed to meet friends for brunch in Tel Aviv this morning so we figured our regular time to get there - we forgot to figure Friday into the equation. It was wall-to-wall cars and then when we got to "Lechamim" it was wall-to-wall people. Wonderful food and great service but crowded like you wouldn't believe.

Can't seem to get Germany out of my mind. Finished the "Woman in Berlin" and explored everything I could find about the anonymous author, Marta Hillers (who it turns out was as i suspected involved in Nazi propaganda) and then watched "the Good German," before i went to reread some Applefeld. A friend suggested I reread Kojinski too, that everything fits together.

A conversation with economists and businessmen left me with the certainty that my impressions of the economy are right. Get ready. The image was clearly of the wily coyote speeding off after roadrunner and suddenly realizing he's gone off a cliff and is racing his feet in mid air.

October 17, 2009

Because of the twentieth year since Dahn Ben Amotz died I wanted to put up a translation I did of a story of his called "Bongiorno Valentina." But I don't know who has the rights since I published it about 23 years ago. It was very important then to Dahn to get this story out in English, and then I wasn't sure why. But now I see. It was a kind of autobiographical piece about his days after World War II in Marseilles, when he was helping to get refugees to Palestine. But the story focuses on a night he picked up a woman who turned out in the morning to be a man. When this is revealed to him, he's shocked, and then shakes her hand and says, "bongiorno Valentina," accepting the sexual experience as part of the postwar alterations of hierarchies, values, ideals. He was demythologizing the image of the hero of the Jewish Underground. And not too many Israelis got it.

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