Tel Aviv Diary April 9, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from April 9, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 9, 2004

We have just returned from a week in Moniciano. I thought it would be only family and wine, an escape from the troubles of the world, but on the first morning I took a walk through the country side with my sister-in-law and she told me about how 250 jews hid from the Nazis through the War in this tiny town. Later I the opportunity to speak with Anna Livorno, whose family runs the wonderful farmhouses where we stayed, and she intensified this story with details. As a researcher of the archives in the Synagogue in Siena she probably would have been able to go on and on about this unknown topic, and about the 70,000 Italian Jews exterminated then, but my family had a group portrait scheduled and she had an evening of holiday activities as well. So I will have to learn the old-fashioned way about this.

As for Israel - I know nothing having been updated only by the daily newspapers on the flight home (and that, of course, tells you almost nothing)So I will have to get back to you.

April 10, 2004

Okay, I'm up to date.

But I'm still full of Monaciano, the apparent simplicity and the weight of history. Holocaust Day is coming up next week here. And the more I know about the Holocaust the more overwhelming it is.

The more I know about the Holocaust the more I see how complex it is to gather and process information. Take this site here: a petition to Sharon to allow food to be sent to Gaza.. I will decide today whether to sign it - it seems so obvious, so important, but I have rushed into petitions before, only to discover they are not what they seem. In fact, even once after I signed one of those petitions to make 6 million names for Holocaust Day - my brother suggested vaguely that a list like that might be very useful for some nefarious purpose and i got all worried.

So in this case I want to check to see what is really happening - did Sharon suddenly refuse to allow food into the Gaza strip? Why would he do something like that?What will a petition do?

Other media: We're opening for one of my old favorite groups - Nekamat Hatraktor - on Friday - in Barbi. 30 minutes of Thin Lips.

And the radio program on Reshet Aleph that aired today will be repeated on April 14 at 11 p.m. and on the 16th at 9:00 a.m. It's an hour long program, and there's some in English but the interview is really in hebrew.

April 10, 2004

The petition - i looked at all the names - about 10000 people who feel shame and anger at the fact of Sharon's refusal of allowing food for 600000 people from the UN into Gaza. Most express this anger against Israel - of course. But without knowing why it was stopped and why it should continue, i feel lost. i didn't sign. the papers don't say enough. maybe i missed the big article about it. i will continue trying to find out. Maybe you can help me?

April 11, 2004

In the end I found no explanation. No comments in the present news. Maybe it was discussed when I was away. But I didn't feel I know enough to sign.

Zapping channels tonight I discovered a program about the play "Tsor beYerushalaim" by Menachem Shoham, one of four plays he wrote about biblical events in the 20's. This one concentrates on Elijah and Jezebel. It was playing a few months ago and I would normally have rushed to see it, in part because it was directed by the very original Yossi Yisraeli. But because it was directed by Yossi Yisraeli and I miss his wife Talma so much, I couldn't bring myself to go.

But the program, about the development of the elaborate operaic production, was riveting. And now I'm sorry I missed the antique-like examination of contemporary issues. I wonder if it will be translated to English. That whole controversy of individual responsibility in the face of enormous issues...

And there was that moment in the film when he talked about Talma, and his latest book of poems about Talma, "The Poet's Wife," and his face suddenly appeared... And that moment when Yossi said that that way to handle enormous issues is through the individual.

April 12, 2004

Because I'm resting from vacation I watched television all evening. Last night after the program on Yossi and Talma, I switched to channel 8 and discovered a program on artists whose native language is not Hebrew but work in Hebrew - authors musicians and actors. Aharon Applefeld, Agi Mishol, Meir Weiseltier, Salman Massalcha, etc.

For all of them there is a complex relationship to a language imposed upon them, or chosen, or longed-for. For none of them is it a natural language. After all, it wasn't spoken before them for thousands of years.

The feeling of its artificiality suggested also its transitoriness - and this i found frightening.

I can't imagine another language in this position.

And this relationship of the individual to the language is basic to life. I LIVE in this strange, limited, distorting language.

One example, a religious poet whose name i didn't know discussed her problem with words. A word like "purification" which to her is part of sacred religious rituals is used in the army to describe a raid on a village containing potential terrorists.

Afterwards there was a program on love - theoretically much more simple. But of the couples in crisis they interviewed one was a muslim orderly and a jewish patient. madly in love. but his family was arranging a marriage for him, and if he married the jewish woman, his whole hamula would be ruined: his siblings would be divorced by the partners, etc. so the muslim man became passive and let it happen, while the jewish woman exhibited signs of hysteria with which i am well familiar.

ah, it's so good to be back in israel.

Meanwhile all around the world, i got this email that said that if you look up Jew on Google you get some antisemitic site first. I tried it and got it. So I'm putting the email from Steven Weinstock here:

When performing a search for the word "Jew" on google.. the first result is a site that has been notorious for being anti-Semitic... the site is called Google is the # 1 search site and the fact that the first search result would yield an anti-Semitic site is all too common in a growing era of increased Anti Semitism...

In order for google to remove this they would need a petition of over 50,000 requests....

I have setup a polling site , please scroll down to the bottom to leave your 'signature' ... Thanks.. please click on ....

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