Tel Aviv Diary April 29, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from April 29, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 29, 2004

Support is fading for disengagement. I think it has to do with faith in Sharon.

Forgot to note that yesterday's ha'aretz noted that my book is out - nice picture and all. This is a big thing because after i discovered that the PR lady at my publisher had not sent my book to ANYONE for review i bought a whole bunch of copies and sent them out myself. Then suddenly notices and reviews began to appear. But I'm amazed that the biggest poetry publisher in Israel gives up in advance on poetry and saves postage by keeping the books in the warehouse.

That should be the least of our worries, that we've given up on culture.

What am I saying - tonight is the FInal Four - Maccabi Tel Aviv - Basketball - big screens up in all the cafes, streets empty, no action anywhere. Maccabi even has the blessing of the Lubovitche Rabbi. Wait- you say - how could that be - The Rebbe of Lubovitch has been dead a few years already. Yes, but his disciples interpreted his thoughts from the bible and have come out and blessed the team.

April 30, 2004

Big Periodontal Surgery Today - i emerged crushed as usual.

But there is some follow up news on the Google-Jew story to report. In the past weeks I've had trouble getting myself to use Google because it didn't seem to have a satisfactory solution to the anti-semitic site that came up first when you look up Jew. So the SF Chronicle now notes:Google revisits policy on hate sites
Search engine to reconsider labeling in response to Jewish group upset by anti-Semitic content
For the whole article, check out Verne Kopytoff's piece at the the SF Chronicle. My link doesn't seem to work so until I figure it out (maybe it's all that codeine) here's the address:

http:/ L

Just for some relief - so much talk about the checkpoint. Thought you might like this picture:

The sign says - thanks for having chosen to pass through our checkpoint.

For a serious view of this subject check out today's Ha'aretz.

And for a serious article about the press check out this piece about a real reporter, Khaled Abu Toameh.

I'm not thinking too clearly yet but i used to know a law student named Jamal Abu Toameh whose mind and heart I admired incredibly.

May 1, 2004

Feeling the way I do (I can't even stand up straight) the only thing i'm interested in is a good romantic novel - Sasson Somekh reviews the perfect novel for me in yesterday's Ha'aretz, something called "A Pair of Lovers from the Land of Two Rivers" about Jewish Arabs. He says its the only Arabic novel he knows that mentions jews in anything but derrogatory terms, and it's exotic romance seems incredibly attractive at the moment.

My kvetching about my publisher's pr has made my friends inquire about the book situation here. Yes it is true, like Alan recalls nostalgically, that the bookstores have always been crowded, and people talk about books, read books, and love books. The Russian immigration has increased this tendency. However my specific situation is a result of the transition from a government supported culture to a capitalistic system. My publisher is used to being taken care of by the government, and not putting itself out there to the public. When they had money they could promote poetry through literary evenings, pr for tv programs, discussions, promo events, etc. now there's barely enough to get the books out, and because they're not promoted, the shops don't want to stock them, because no one knows to buy them. So they sit in the warehouse and the publishers complain that poetry doesn't sell.

And yet there is poetry everywhere.

So my evaluation is that this is a transitional situation, that either my publisher will revise its sales concepts or it will go under. Other companies, new ones like Keshev, have already learned about agressive sales and promotion, but my publisher doesn't even have an internet site, doesn't have a catalogue, doesn't have a showroom, even though they could easily rent a place in the hole-in-the-wall where their offices are, and have discussions, lectures, readings. The DO put out the best books!

So somehow too i got swept up into the final four - Walking the dog in the streets of tel aviv all i could hear are the sounds of the broadcast game and the screams of the fans. so we went home and turned on the game. I'd thought that whether Israel's Macabbi wins or looses it will somehow work aginst us politically. But now that Maccabi TA is the champion of Europe, i don't care.

May 2, 2004

Still under the weather. But here's a nice picture:


We're apparently doing Barby again on May 22. This time you have to come.

A pregnant mother and her four children were killed today in a terrorist attack. She was on her way to party headquarters to argue against disengagement.

Disengagement - which way will the vote go now? I'm glued to the radio. It would seem logical that Likkudniks would vote for disengagement, but I think this terrible incident will throw the vote the other way. And it had to happen today - at least a dozen other incidents have been averted in the past month - Feels like it was fate.

As disengagement becomes a term of the past, the vote going against Sharon, it looks like the whole government is going to fall apart. But of course why should have it gone otherwise? All the supporting ministers (they said on the news) were are the game last night - but no one saw them at the poll booths today.

Can you imagine a man calling his wife to see why she hadnt come to pick him up yet - and her phone doesn't answer. And he doesn't know that she is dead, along with her four daughters and the baby she's carrying. Tali Hatuel, 34, and her daughters Hila, 11, Hadar, 9, Roni, 7, and Meirav, 2. It is too terrible to conceive.

May 4, 2004

Yes Virginia I still feel like I was put into a sack and then beaten by a platoon of soldiers.

Nevertheless there is a light at the end of the tunnel - and it's jokes that keep coming to me in the form of political allegories.

Once long ago at the University of the Negev when I was talking in class about the concept of outdated jokes, a Beduin student told me this story. An old Beduin didn't understand new-fangled inventions and while he was examining the newly laid tracks in the desert got hit by a steam train. After months and months of recovery he went to visit a friend in the city. Taken on a tour of the house he was brought into the kitchen where suddenly he went wild. He grabbed the shiny new kettle, raced outside with it, beat it with his cane, and then trampled it to a flat mess. "What are you doing?" screamed the host. "Trust me, I have experience. You've got to stop these things while they're young."

Two bumpkins from Tiberias were invited by a beautiful tourist to come to her hotel room. They all got undressed and ready, but suddenly she pulled out 2 condoms and told them to put them on. "What are these?" they asked. "That's so I don't have a baby." So they agreed and spent a wonderful night with her. Weeks later one of them turned to the other and asked, "Do you really care if she has a baby?" "Not really," answered the other." "Then let's take off the condoms."

The third allegory is the story of.. no, i'll wait to see what you think of these old-fashioned jokes as allegories.

But remember, I'm weak and bedridden and depressed.

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