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

Tel Aviv Diary - August 9-13 , 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

August 9, 2005

Change your place, change your luck.

that's what they say in hebrew.

although not those who have to move herds of cows out to a place they haven't begun to set up...

anyway i say - change your page, change your luck.

Maybe some new leader will crawl out of the woodwork - yom tov samia, or yael dayan...

Seriously folks we have to get ourselves together - both Israelis and Palestinians as well as friends of both and either for the day AFTER the disengagement. It's going to be hell unless we do some more talking fast.

Somehow I gave the impression to a friend out there that I thought the israeli army is a killing machine. Nothing could be more untrue. In the old days when I too was part of the "schnitzel patrol," bringing homemade lunch on saturday to one of our kids stuck on some base, i felt the intimate involvement of the citizen in the military. And it was clear to me that Israel's army is in now way professional, tries not to be professional, and often generates a sense of(and a desire for) temporariness. Even in laundry. Here's an old poem I wrote when I would get washloads home every week.


On the opposite balcony Rochi hangs green laundry.
She has pulled uniform after uniform from the lines,
and now stretches out regulation long johns and undershirts,
exhibiting for me the latest in foul weather gear
for the troops up north.

Hanging on my line are enough white anklets
for a army of centipedes, olive sweaters and skirts,
and the week's underwear. Newly shined boots
sit on the windowsill, next to a pair of black oxfords
waiting their turn. "Parents really need
vacations from military chores," I say.

"Weekend furloughs are hell," she agrees.
"Let's meet in less fatiguing times."

Auguat 10, 2005

Since Miriam Adler is back in the headlines, the subject of children comes once again to the fore. Miriam Adler, you remember, is the woman who lay down on the road with her baby in a disengagement protest, and was dragged away by soldiers. But it isn't her in particular I want to discuss. It the issue. We have this "Sacrifice of Isaac" complex around here - the terrible truth that we present our children to fight our wars. People who got through the Holocaust on the thought alone that someday they would have a child they would protect from such atrocities wind up having their son, their only hope, killed senselessly.

They don't go off, far away. After all, I'm only eight miles from the border (even though I live on the shore - that shows you how narrow this country is). I make a little joke about it in the poem above, but you can imagine how scared parents can be when they send their kids off to the army, or on reserve duty. And how helpless. All you can do is the laundry, make lunch on Saturday, listen to stories, wait. When they are defending you, you have no choice.

That's another reason why the disengagement is so difficult - your sons facing your cousins.

August 11, 2005

When people complain about how Israelis treat Palestinians, I sometimes point out that they behave that way towards each other as well. The disengagement is only one of the proofs of this. It is not general to the population, but characteristic of the government and/or institutions. Was it always this way? I do not think so - i always found kind but incompetent people around. But something has changed now, temporarily I hope.

I mean it was always a distant goal, to create an impartial institution - you know - the same medical services for all, an objective school system, a government in which favors and personal acquaintance didn't count. But we created an impersonal system not in the socialist goal, but the capitalist goal - and now we can't handle it.

I am not looking forward to Tisha B'Av this year. It's worse than ever - the destruction of the temple and the eight thousand people whose lives have been destroyed. Could I not be for the disengagement? I am for it. But I suffer for these people, whatever they believe in.

August 12, 2005

Today at the opera class I got roasted during the intermission for siding with the settlers. "I've lost all sympathy for them and how they're keeping the army and the police from doing their job." "And how we paid for their high standard of living and now we're paying for their forced evacuation." "I spent 10 days on army duty just now with them, and they are all looney -- really crazy," a friend who is always loving and understanding said on the phone. An hour before that another friend told me not to count on her for our meeting this week -- she had to free herself entirely to prepare for the evacuation. Me I'm staying away from the tv, reading the paper only for articles on slang (Rogel Alper in Haaretz has a hilarious piece on english slang in hebrew today called "Velcome to Eezrael" - can't translate - you have to learn hebrew for this one) and hitting the entertainment buttons hard.

August 13,2005

It is such a hot day that all kinds of people are going to the beach and drowning - 5 today.

We spent too much time outside today and now i'm dehydrated. Not in the sun, but outside in the hot sticky air.

And tonight is Tisha B'av. There was a flurry of activity around 9. All the places of entertainment were closed and everyone not religious was getting together in private houses for the evening - for dinner. And then it was quiet. Tel Aviv is very rarely quiet.

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