Tel Aviv Diary August 9, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - August 14-18 , 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

August 14, 2005

Hard to stay away from the television today - not because we think that something unknown will happen - Dan Halutz has explained exactly what will happen - but because we identify with both sides. Driving today I listened to the Chief of Staff on the radio briefing the commanders - about love, feeling, sympathizing1. 1127 families. Some of them on television seem to be living in another world, totally unconnected from the reality of this existence. And actually I have friends like that too.

And at the time I am very angry that a small group of people are endangering the safety and stability of this country by distracting such a large force of military and police personnel.

Funny, I can't remember fasting on Tisha B'Av as a child. And I do remember the great joy of fasting on Yom Kippur. Until the Yom Kippur War. I haven't been able to fast since that morning after the war started. I wnet to the supermarket that morning and all the shelves were bare - everyone had begun hoarding food. Since then I've had 'separation anxiety from my refrigerator' as Oren says. I'm fasting now for blood tests tomorrow morning and i can't tell you how absolutely freaked out by the fact that i won't have a bedtime snack, a midnight snack, and an early breakfast!

August 15, 2005

There is no way to see these days as joyous. Even though i have never every believed in the justification of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, from the time of my own visits to Gaza in the early seventies, I could not help but feel today as a day of amputation.

I wasn't there.

Picture me on the treadmill, the 10 electrodes on my back and chest, and instead of my heartrate all i can think of is the picture before me on the television - a woman holding a baby, weeping in pain to the Golani commander Erez Zukerman; a young man singing the national anthem through tears of agony, hugging the same silent man; the anchorwoman (another alumna of our department) trying to be objective, but involved as much as everyone else...

On the other hand (and there is always at least one other hand) who could not reach out to those amazing soldiers whose behavior has been stellar. And who could not be furious at the these people who have been protected at great cost by the army for many years, and who now do as much as they can to degrade and curse these soldiers.

There are other populations who are influenced greatly by this day. I was watching a Muslim woman in the hospital who was watching the television like me with great interest. We never got to talk, because we were both busy getting sent around from doctor to doctor, but it is not hard to imagine what she was thinking.

August 16, 2005

As usual Robert Rosenberg at Ariga has great things to say about the disengagement.

Everybody has something to say about this. Picture this: a hair salon filled with gracious elegant models, and me, looking out over a grassy area where an unstable middle-aged lady with peach gloves, high heels, and a parasol is trying to make her way. Suddenly, behind me, I hear: "Those settlers make me sick. I've been paying through the nose for years to keep them there, and now my tax dollars are paying to get them out." It was the peach color that brought out the animosity in the young woman.

Since I've been blocked off anyway in Arab countries, I might as well say what I think. King Abdullah has just reassured his people that no more Palestinians are going to be citizens of Jordan. I wish I could remind him that until '67 THE WEST BANK WAS PART OF JORDAN. See Ha'aretz for details.

I wanted to see Smadar Lavi tonight, who was singing at the Heineken Club, but i had meetings that went on forever. So I listened to some of her samples on line, especially my favorite in Ladino, "Adio." Ladino has so many songs of farewell to beloved that you know the arranged marriage system must have been absolutely tragic.

Yes, I am speaking from personal experience. I know a woman in her eighties who was married away from her beloved to someone more convenient for the family. She can never speak of it without weeping.

August 17, 2005

Well the constant televising on the disengagement has had one effect one me. I no longer sympathize with the settlers at all. The communal autism they display, at the vast and deep expense of others, is beyond forgiveness or sympathy. The epitomy of passive-agressiveness, screaming "We love you" at the soldiers who have orders to evacuate them while they rain eternal curses down on them.

Of course only a few thousand of the settlers (and a few hundred tourists who have come to participate in the opposition to the soldiers)are these fanatics. Others are feeling quite justifiably like Sharon's sheep - pushed and pulled with no plan and no mercy.

August 18, 2005

And to my friends who ask what am i doing on these tough days - still correcting papers - doing standard medical tests - rehearsing - preparing for the visit of grandchildren - arranging for the reading of ARC on next thursday at beit leyvik (food - publicity - come!) and trying not to get nauseous from my adiction to the television. The little research i can sneak in in between is pretty scattered.

In short there is no one who is not affected by this shock. All the preparation, all the accustoming we get every day to messes and violence, leads us to expect the unexpected (and I expected more suicide and less murder) and to let our blood pressure rise and our cheeks glisten from tears.

What about all the local crime? Now that all our cops are totally otherwise engaged - it seems crime is down... Huh? Even the car thieves are watching tv?

Me I took off from weeping with the tv at the drain on the soldiers and went to Jaffa. I would have liked to stay home, but i had business on Rabbi Akiva Street. I had things to do in the market, where business was as usual. Along the way I bought a calendar - with drawings by Rushkevitz for a calendar of 1947 - simple, naive drawings of jewish life in palestine then.

But now I'm back with Israeli tv and CNN - which are very different dramas. Israeli tv goes more for the human stories - the soldiers and settlers hugging and kissing and exchanging phone numbers. CNN goes more for political drama and physical action. Either way, it is terrible, and all created by Arik.

Of course I am against the settlers, but there is no clear right and wrong there.

To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

To Karen Alkalay-Gut home