Tel Aviv Diary Feb 17, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from February 17, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

Febuary 17, 2004

It is so pleasant when you read the news and all there is are threats of future catastrophes.

The future at least is not this morning, and i'm taking off and going to the museum with Lisa.

As I thought.

The exhibit we saw was old photographs of tel aviv. From the 20's and 30's. A joy to see. Not only did I buy 3 of the photographs because they show structures built by Arpad Gut, Ezi's grandfather, the synagogue on Allenby Street, a concrete bridge over the Yarkon, and the famous Casino - the cafe on the beach torn down in '48 - but also the gay naivete of the photographs, the innocence and candidness of the camera, is a great joy, a great relief. Here we are filled with fears and anxieties - not only political, but also economic, sociological and sexual - and there everything is out in the open.

Naked strong men, proud barbers, collective factory workers, kerosene cart drives, preening ladies, innocent swimmers, poets and mayors. There are a fewphotographs of the poet Elisheva, that sweet Russian woman who was not Jewish and yet culturally so important she was buried BEHIND the poet Rachel at Ohalo on the Galilee.

Museum Eretz Yisrael.

February 18, 2004

It's not looking good for Elhanan Tennenbaum, the only living person we exchanged for hundreds of terrorists. It's sounding like he is someone who betrayed his country and his people. This is something that people have been saying all along, but Sharon seems to have disagreed. And there is always that sense -- that people in charge have access to information you don't have, and maybe they have more sense. Of course we know it to be false - more and more -- but what can we do? we're suckers.

Now they're saying he made up the whole kidnapping - that he was treated too well to be a victim.

So what about that fence? Abu Alla is going around saying that if israelis want protection they can build the fence on their side. True. But also true that there are places that strategically cannot be defended. So some alterations are necessary. So let's talk. But what was it Jamil Rajoub said yesterday? Our leaders aren't any worse than yours...

February 19, 2004

So the road map is dead. apparently this is the message for Bush we're sending. What about Geneva? What about a change of regime?

All right, i'm cranky because i'm on my way to gum surgery this afternoon.

And now I'm finished with it and already planning how we can see the flowers this weekend - the whole country is full of flowers - even the big crater that we visited with Jamaica last month now has flowers and waterfalls. The rain just keeps coming and bringing with it all manner of beautiful growth. I hope I don't swell up and we can go north and take some pictures!

appropos pictures, a sample of the Korbman exhibit i was talking about can be seen here. In the background is the Casino built by Arpad Gut.

The whole exhibit is at the Eretz Israel museum, down the street from me. It has become a very interesting place. The stamp collection is pretty amazing - there was one stamp of idel-fiter, the Islamic fast, that was absolutely smashing.

Dudu Harari on the radio yesterday (103) made like he was interviewing Arafat, and he asked him what he thought of the book about his being jewish. 'Arafat' answered "kish mir in tuches."

But seriously folks- a few years ago i proclaimed that we could solve all of our problems if we declared the Palestinians jews. Genetically they have been traced to the Jews who remained here when the troublemakers were exiled to babylon.

But my narcotic is wearing off so i'm off for a fix.

p.s. of COURSE you can come to the launching next week! it's open!! but places are limited - so be there by 9.

February 20, 2004

Last year today Azriel Kaufman came with Ezi and me all the way to jerusalem to speak at the Agnon house about the lack of funds for Moznaim, which he was then editing. Today Azriel Kaufman died.

His latest book is by my bed and there's a poem from there i translated for the evening he had for the book a few weeks ago - but i caught the flu and didn't go. The funeral is on Sunday at 1 - There is a special section for writers in the Yarkon Cemetery - and every year we plant at least one. David Avidan, Zyggy Frankel, and now Azriel.

If you're interested in local lit, try Ibis Editions. Ibis No contemporary Hebrews but old Hebrew lit, Arabic lit, and some good local English writers.

I didn't go out today - looking like a chipmunk and feeling like a mop - but watched "Circus Palestina" on TV - a fantastic movie made a few years ago about the Palestinian/Israeli situation that focusses on the Russian immigrants and their position here. I don't know why I missed seein it when it was big here - in 2000 - but I think the Intifada diverted attention from the issues it raises. In September of 2000 we all got so confused about issues in the face of dangers we couldn't think straight.

We still don't think straight. If the news today is right that "thousands of Palestinians rally in Gaza to urge PA to free four militants on trial for killing 3 U.S. security guards" it would be a problem to entrust people of these values to be neighbors. It's like the whole value system has been screwed up.

Appropos screwed up value systems - it begins to appear i was wrong about Hilit Yeshurun's attacker. It may well have been literary not political - but i've blabbed too much already.

February 21, 2004

Hard to believe on such a beautiful day that we are sliding further and further into hell. This is what I was thinking during my early morning walk with Shusha. Now Shusha used to be attacked by big dogs so often that she was like a sieve. At least twice she had to be sewn up the length and breadth of her little terrier body. But in recent years she's developed a more confident walk, a more compromising attitude, and a better sense of real danger and potential relationships. So walking with her is no longer the paranoid nightmare it once was. Her respect for the power of cats as well has developed and now allows her to sniff them with almost the same ease as dogs. "Surely if this can happen it can also happen among us humans," the bird-chirping sun-drenched green park made me think.

And then I passed the police station, and there was a lot of action, some kind of exercise going on. And I heard their radios and the alertness and the action. And I woke up.

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