Tel Aviv Diary August 14-19, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel -Aviv Diary - August 14-19, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

August 14, 2017

At the grocers today I passed an elderly neighbor at the cheese counter, who had struck up a conversation with a young woman about Emmenthal and how it was not indigenous to this area. i picked up some vegetables and returned to the cheese counter a few minutes later to see they were still talking. They were on to discussing family and family history, but by the time i'd finished choosing which yoghurt to buy, they had discovered they were relatives. Second cousins yet. From Saloniki.

Small groceries are inevitably more expensive than supermarkets and I am lazy so I've escaped the heat this summer by buying exclusively online, but it is so much more fun to buy at the grocers. you can see why.

The family was discussing the fact that weed will now be exported from Israel. My step-daughter commented "What do you think BDS will do about that?"

August 15, 2017

Sometimes when i am abroad people ask me questions as an Israeli. I am always embarrassed. How can I represent Israel when every where I go in this country I always feel I know so little. All the way to Oranim we kept marvelling at the new bridges and roads that are built and are being built. We even used Google to see where we were going and discovered the roads we were on were not on the map. Not yet. We used to take the old road this way every week - we knew it well. now we don't know where we are. So how can I represent this country.

To soften the blow of doing a two hour radio program, we stopped half way for lunch at Zichron Yacov at Adama. the food was so good and the restaurant was empty - i will always remember that lunch. There was this sudden surprise when I poured a glass of coke and the lemon in the glass sealed it up so that the bottom half remained empty. You have to see it here. Whoops no. I'll figure it out and put it up. It wasn't that important but it felt like a little miracle. You gotta be ready for those little miracles.

As for the interview I'll post the link in a few days. I have no idea if it was good or not.

August 16, 2017

The Yiddish part of my book is "ready" - now it has to be translated to Hebrew. And I wrote most of the poems in Yiddish because I couldn't say those words in another language. Rivka Bassman and I spent the afternoon going over the corrections, and i realized how much Ihave learned from her in the past few months - not only about Yiddish, but also about poetry.

Why am I writing in Yiddish? Shouldn't I be writing in English? A few years ago when i was on the board of the Yiddish Writers organization, a Yiddish scholar declared that no one would be writing in Yiddish in a few years. It shocked me to the bone. That a Yiddish scholar could destroy the souls of the writers in that room. It is a language that didn't die out but was destroyed by the Germans and then the Israelis in an effort to create the state.

August 17, 2017

Listening to the tapes my parents made in 1977. I had heard most of them before but didn't get to the last part. Suddenly my father #Louis Rosenstein spoke of his political activities, his organization of the Jewish community of Rochester, and then, even more suddenly, he began to speak of Neo-Nazism in the US. They hate the Blacks and the Jews, he said, but they don't go into Black neighborhoods to protest, they go into Jewish neighborhoods. They fear the Blacks but know they can frighten the Jews. Can they be stopped, the interviewer asks him. It has to be done Now, he says, before they get too strong. It must be done now. 1977.

As you may recall we spent a few days in Barcelona a few months ago, and we stayed a block away from the terrorist attack this afternoon. We passed this very place at least four times a day. I'm sure that I'm not the only one wondering today when something like this will happen to me.

August 18, 2017

And once again yesterday is forgotten as the pleasures of the day begin.

August 19, 2017

We saw "The Carer" last night with a Hungarian friend. The film is basically a Hungarian one, and Ezi enjoyed it as much as my Hungarian friend did. I enjoyed it too. it reminded me of prewar Hungarian films. Naive and optimistic.

A letter from Michael Chabon:

To our fellow Jews, in the United States, in Israel, and around the world:
We know that, up to now, some of you have made an effort to reserve judgment on the question of whether or not President Donald Trump is an anti-Semite, and to give him the benefit of the doubt. Some of you voted for him last November. Some of you have found employment in his service, or have involved yourself with him in private business deals, or in diplomatic ties.
You have counted carefully as each appointment to his administration of a white supremacist, anti-Semite, neo-Nazi or crypto-fascist appeared to be counterbalanced by the appointment of a fellow Jew, and reassured yourself that the most troubling of those hires would be cumulatively outweighed by the presence, in his own family and circle of closest advisors, of a Jewish son-in-law and daughter.
You have given your support to the President’s long and appalling record of racist statements, at worst assenting to them, at best dismissing them as the empty blandishments of a huckster at work, and have chosen to see the warm reception that his rhetoric found among the hood-wearers, weekend stormtroopers, and militias of hate as proof of the gullibility of a bunch of patsies, however distasteful.
You have viewed him as a potential friend to Israel, or a reliable enemy of Israel’s enemies.
You have tried to allay or dismiss your fears with the knowledge that most of the President’s hateful words and actions, along with those of his appointees, have targeted other people — immigrants, Black people, and Muslims — taking hollow consolation in how open and shameless his hate has been, as if that openness and shamelessness guaranteed the absence, in his heart and in his administration, of any hidden hatred for us.
The President has no filter, no self-control, you have told yourself. If he were an anti-Semite — a Nazi sympathizer, a friend of the Jew-hating Klan — we would know about it, by now. By now, he would surely have told us.
Yesterday, in a long and ragged off-the-cuff address to the press corps, President Trump told us. During a moment that white supremacist godfather Steve Bannon has apparently described as a “defining” one for this Administration, the President expressed admiration and sympathy for a group of white supremacist demonstrators who marched through the streets of Charlottesville, flaunting Swastikas and openly chanting, along with vile racist slogans, “Jews will not replace us!” Among those demonstrators, according to Trump, were “a lot” of “innocent” and “very fine people.”
So, now you know. First he went after immigrants, the poor, Muslims, trans people and people of color, and you did nothing. You contributed to his campaign, you voted for him. You accepted positions on his staff and his councils. You entered into negotiations, cut deals, made contracts with him and his government.
Now he’s coming after you. The question is: what are you going to do about it? If you don’t feel, or can’t show, any concern, pain or understanding for the persecution and demonization of others, at least show a little self-interest. At least show a little sechel. At the very least, show a little self-respect.
To Steven Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, and our other fellow Jews currently serving under this odious regime: We call upon you to resign; and to the President’s lawyer, Michael D. Cohen: Fire your client.
To Sheldon Adelson and our other fellow Jews still engaged in making the repugnant calculation that a hater of Arabs must be a lover of Jews, or that money trumps hate, or that a million dollars’ worth of access can protect you from one boot heel at the door: Wise up.
To the government of Israel, and our fellow Jews living there: Wise up.
To Jared Kushner: You have one minute to do whatever it takes to keep the history of your people from looking back on you as among its greatest traitors, and greatest fools; that minute is nearly past. To Ivanka Trump: Allow us to teach you an ancient and venerable phrase, long employed by Jewish parents and children to one another at such moments of family crisis: I’ll sit shiva for you. Try it out on your father; see how it goes.
Among all the bleak and violent truths that found confirmation or came slouching into view amid the torchlight of Charlottesville is this: Any Jew, anywhere, who does not act to oppose President Donald Trump and his administration acts in favor of anti-Semitism; any Jew who does not condemn the President, directly and by name, for his racism, white supremacism, intolerance and Jew hatred, condones all of those things.
To our fellow Jews, in North America, in Israel, and around the world: What side are you on?
Michael Chabon
Ayelet Waldman
Berkeley, California, 8/16/17


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