Tel Aviv Diary September 4=8, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - September 4-8, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut


september 4, 2004

Shabbat Shalom. My historian high school teacher says there are such difference in our concepts of history - of what happened here in the past fifty years - that the efforts to overcome the opposing visions have to be gargantuan. History teachers discuss the '67 war. One side says the israelis drove their tanks over rows of prisoners. Another, who was there, says he can't even be in the room with this knd of disinformation. One side insists there was a massacre in Jenin. The other says even the UN coulnd't find any evidence of this.

And in the middle of it all I proposed a book of interviews to Nathalya. Women writers on both sides talk about identity. But not political identity. It'll never work.

September 5, 2004

Before I forget again, please note: the performances at Jah-pan and Barbi are cancelled. We'll begin again after the holidays. Roy Yarkoni, Roni Sommek and I will do something together at Beit Levick on Oct 12, and the group will have 2 performances in October. I'll let you know.

The tragedy in the Russian school is overwhelming - not only because so many lives have been lost, but because the apparent indifference of the international terrorists to human life gives them an edge, and a promise of many further incidents in the future.

We have to learn that when we help terrorists in any way, we are helping people to murder others.

September 5, 2004

Started the day with my South-Africe dentist who was, for the first time in a long time, not in good humor. The screws on my implants didn't fit into his model and he was actually sharp with the lab when he called them. i was impressed. i always think of South African men (who are often of Lithuanian origin) as quiet and pliable, like my father. So his professional anger was surprising. In all the years I've known up, he's always told at least one amusing story in the space of a half an hour...

From this socio-cultural experience, I went to visit the family of a soon to be former student in Taibe. This is a town of 350,000 people on this side of green line, just opposite nearby Tulkarem on the other side. And after a magnificent lunch and a detailed visit to a spice shop, we went to see the border.

There is much to say about this visit, much to say about the fine people, the similarities, the differences, the fact that most of us all hate politics and politicians, but that will have to wait for a time when i am not under pressure.

Because after that we had another astounding meeting with the french and english writers - with much wine and good intellectual conversation - and now i have another apartment-board meeting to attend.

Four different worlds in one day.

Of course the most significant for the politics here is the visit to Taibe. It has been a long time since I've visited an Arab village, and as if it were home I realized from the first moment how much I have missed the experience. Of course there is always the culinary experience, but for me it is the people, the conversation, the kinds of relationships that is most wonderful.

I promise to continue this in greater detail in a day or two when I have more time.

September 6, 2004

The news is out - Comme-Il-Faut has begun to release the line of clothing with my poems. Little poems in the lining, along the pants stripe... it is one of my dreams come true!

Details More dreams to come.

Got convinced to go to a concert for WIZO fundraisers tonight. Raanana Symphonetta accompanying David Da'or and Ishtar. Da'or is very well known and Ishtar much less, although one of her songs is a standard i think for every wedding. Among other songs she sang "Salaame" to great applause. I know she sings in Arabic and French and English primarily, but was surprised in a Women's international zionist organization evening, she would sing in Arabic. But, it turns out, WIZO involves many Arab institutions and there was a fine representation in the audience.

Of course we love singing ABOUT peace and have more problems with MAKING it.

September 7, 2004

One of the ways we need to stop just singing about things is to start talking. I have written before about Ali Salem and his valiant effort to find things out for himself by taking his jeep and driving from Cairo to Israel. I have written about how he has been pretty much ostracized since then and his lovely book about his voyage to Israel hasn been ignored. The focus on real people, real Arabs not terrorists and real Jews not extremists, is to me an important step. For this reason I think the work of Nonie Darwish is important. Check her out.

I thought i wrote a whole long thing about donating food on the holidays. but it seems to have disappeared. for the new year this year we are donating food to the poor. On Sunday Ezi will take the contributions to work - flour, canned goods, rice, oil, sugar, and so forth. I am in shock over this - the whole concept of the welfare society - the whole concept of taking care of those who need us - the ingathering of exiles and their nurture - all has been given up by the government and put in the hands of the citizens. Since I am a pretty typical citizen i can't say no to the responsibility, but this is not boding well for us.

September 8, 2004

Kach, those wonderful folks who brought you the massacre of Muslims in Hebron, were celebrating the wedding of one of their leaders the other night. The fact that this is an illegal organization didn't stop its members from wearing their yellow shirts and dancing around with machine guns in the middle of a national structure in jerusalem. Now the fact that it is shocking that an illegal organization can be so open in its defiance of the laws of the state of israel is terribly significant, but my focus is on the absolute visual similarity of Kach to Hamas. Which returns me to my old and never disproven theory - that extremists are the same, and that the war in this world is between extremists and moderate people. There has been a flood of accusations in the press all over the world following the terrible attack in Basein on the school that it is Islam that is at fault, but I think it is the acceptance of extreme antisocial activity.

This is not a new idea for me - a few years ago i put this poem in my blog:


Confined to the couch by a bad back,

I watch Israel TV with my son.

There is an Arabic program on

and we slowly learn that the man

at the final fitting for a suit

("Mabrouk, Jamil!") and the woman

showing her new dress to her best friend

("Mabrouk, Azziza!") are getting married.

We watch the men come in to shave the groom,

the women warm the bride with dance and song,

the separate dinners with ululations.

More congratulations, then:

the two groups bring the couple to the square.

And when Azziza and Jamil look at each other,

slowly, shyly - I begin to cry.

I always cry at chasenes

September 9, 2004

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