Tel Aviv Diary - April 18, 2010 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - April 18=22, 2010 Karen Alkalay-Gut

From this afternoon until tomorrow evening is a very difficult time for us. There are few in this land who have not lost as a result of war or terrorism. We do not let the greatness of the schievement of statehood mask tbe loss of over 20,000 losses. And we shouldn't. That loss is always with us. But it should not let us be blind to the losses of the other. It does not diminish the significance of those who died for us, or their importance, but it does begin to allow us to transcend this loss, and to help increase our own worthiness of this wonderful possibility of a homeland.

April 19,2010

I really didn't want to pay too much attention to Memorial Day. Not that it is not an important and basic day to this country, but that I had a particularly grueling fine needle aspiration at Ichilov yesterday morning, and with twelhe holes in my thyroid, was in need of an anodyne, not sharper pains in my neck, especially after a night of national mourning on television. I woke up early, just made it to my GP for an appointment, and then decided to get some chores done before I went home. As the baker was explaining to me in her Russian-Hebrew that the cheesecake could also be frozen, the sirens sounded, and everyone at that crowded little shop stopped in mid-sentence, standing at attention. Each person I knew who died in a terrorist attack, each one of the 22,684 mourned today, came back into my mind. Sappi, who would dance next to me at the studio, tapping her cane over her shoulder and smiling at me, was the first. She didn't look like a grandmother, but she was as serious about her role as she was afraid of being blown up in Tel Aviv. Didn't go to cafes for that reason, and got blown up waiting for a bus on her way to see her grandchild. So many individuals just like her, on their ways to ordinary things in their lives, and stopped abruptly, violently.

The soldiers are even more deeply buried in our collective memory. "I've got a dead son in my heart," a friend told me once - in a general sense this is true for all of us here, bearing a dead child in our hearts.

The last part of that long minute was filled with thoughts of those not numbered amount the more then 20,000 - all those missing arms and legs, brain damage, burns all over their bodies, trauma victims those who weren't killed but whose lives were irrevocably ruined in one moment - people I meet daily - even in the bakery.

April 20, 2010

As much as I am proud of the State of Israel, I do not forget the grief of my Arab neighbors. Their leaders opened a war when Israel was partitioned and many left (having been told they would returned victorious in a few days) and many more were chased out. The Nakba was not something determined by Israel, but I still think we should be as sympathetic to the fate of the people who were displaced as we can possibly be, and do whatever we can to rectify the situation without doing harm to ourselves. Enough of my diatribed. We spent the day with friends - first quietly in a beautiful garden with nothing to disturb us, then in a dingy but well-considered cafe in Ramat Aviv. Everything was quiet and relaxing. Then we picked up the kids and went to the park. That was the real Israel. There was not a square inch of the southern shore of the Yarkon river that didn't have a family with a barbie. Even though I was sure I'd picked the most secluded part of the park, every one else was there. The ostriches and the goats and the deer and the ducks and the peacocks were all nervous even though no one was paying much attention to them. Must have been something about the smell of cooking meat.

Animals feel atmospheres - I don't know how but they reflect whatever is going on with our politics, our economics, our senses. When I was walking with Shusha today, one of the crows who always watches us carefully buzzed her. It was a clear warning, but she didn't notice a thing.

April 21, 2010

Have YOU been called for questioning yet? We're in the middle of a deepening inquiry concerning land graft, proving that Israelis don't just screw Palestinians.

April 22, 2010

I don't write about friends or students unless they clearly relinquish their privacy, even though sometimes I want to very much. I don't want to make individuals into symbols - certainly not examples of my life. But today, just after one of my Jewish students told me he is going off to active reserve today tomorrow, and is very afraid he will never return, an Arab student told me he was having serious problems coming to class because he's needed in his village.

How can I not mention the land-corruption scandal? To me this has the same character as the sex scandals we were enduring in these last years - the same character in that the opportunity and the reason for the massive corruption in this arena is connected to the shift from one type of society to another, in the latter case from socialism to capitalism. As the government releases (previously socialist controlled) lands to the public, selling them to the highest bidder, there is so much money involved it would seem stupid not to bribe anyone possible in order to obtain that land. So in that space corruptible people thrive.

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