Tel Aviv Diary February 25 , 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from February 25, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

February 25, 2005

Coming home from a sad evening in memory of Azriel Kaufman, we were overwhelmed by a video clip on channel 10 - a Palestinian video of Haradi settlers and Palestinians forgetting their anomosities and making peace. Some of the song is in Hebrew, some in Arabic. More of this I do not know, but it followed the news coverage of a Chabad prayer protest over pulling out from the territories.

Because today I have to go to a memorial service for my dear aunt Sima, I remembered in the middle of the night one visit she took me on to kibbutz Hamaapil, when I was maybe 19, a tourist. Many of the members were Holocaust survivors, and ardent socialists, and some were neighbors of my parents from Lida, and I felt so much at home with them that I began to tell a joke: What's better? Five daughters or five million dollars? Silence. Five daughters, I say, because when you've have five daughters you've had enough. Silence. Then someone mumbles in the back: Ah, Capitalist. Don't cringe. It was the first moment I realize my values were revealed in every aspect of my life, and that every aspect of my life had to be examined.

At Sima's memorial service today, everyone was pretty sanguine, including myself. But although in her life she would very rarely talk about it, her grave bravely proclaims her a partisan, and i started getting emotional when i saw it. Then we sang the partisan song, and i watched my tears wet the front of my shirt.

I found a passable translation and the transliterated text here. You have to scroll down for it, though.

Then afterward her grandson told me that a few weeks before she died she talked to him about her escape from Vilna to the forests. She said they went through the sewer pipes and soon after they got out of the city they left a sick family in a cave, and came back for them 10 hours later, when they had reached their camp. It must have been one of the first times she talked about this, because she learned to keep secrets in the war, and now she has taken her secrets to the grave.

I have probably talked of this before, but my aunt Malcah was with Sima and Nachum in the Partisans. It was Nachum who told me that Abba Kovner had been their commander, and that Malcah had been burnt alive when the Nazis burnt down the barn they were quartered in.

February 26, 2005

The morning after 4 people are killed and 40 wounded in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, and I have an overwhelming urge to go out. I spend the day in Nona Cafe where business appears to be as usual. Apparently even in the place that blew up, the beach is even now full of sun worshippers. Now I'm off to see Merchant of Venice. But keep checking the internet to see if the names have been released. Yitzchak Buzaglo, 40 years old, is the only one announced.

I'm sure the perpetrator was foreign-inspired, Hizbullah most likely.

Aryeh Nagar, 36, of Kfar Sava, Yael Auerbach 28 or Rehovot... No one deserved to die. And now they're freezing the pullout from the Palestinian cities. So there are more victims to this bombing - Israeli and Palestinians.

I don't know what they want from Al Pacino. He plays a man who has learned to survive by controlling and denying emotions, not to react when he is spat upon. And learning not to feel dehumanizes him to the point where sympathy is impossible. So he plays Shylock with wondrous, intelligent, empty eyes. I don't know why the film is considered antisemitic -

February 27, 2005

My brother-in-law's father, Attilio Milano, was the authority on Italian Ghettos - or at least the ghetto in Rome. Th first time I saw his book I didn't understand the title, couldn't believe that ghettos existed outside of Eastern Europe. And now all day I've been thinking about what it must have been like to live in a ghetto, not in some Polish town, but in a 'modern' city in the center of civilization, to feel the nearness of that enlightened world and its inobtainability at the same time. To be someone like Shylock.

But enough of that, I'm coming down with something...

February 27, 2005

And indeed I do seem to be down with something - whatever it was that Ezi has been hit with for over a week. Or maybe I lost my resistance to his flu when that fifth victim of the Friday night bombing died. 3 men and 2 women wasted. And the possibilities of quiet around once again in question. Two people shot at near Modi'in tonight, a booby-trapped car near Jenin - it had to happen, right? But it is certainly depressing.

And 9 women have been murdered here since the year began. That's bad.

March 1, 2005

The murdering of women is only part of a picture that disturbs me. There are at least two other recent phenomena that seem to me problematic for the future of an equal society. 1) The persecution of foreign workers (among other things) has resulted in a serious shortage of household help. Now keeping a house is much more difficult in Israel than it is in a country like England or the United States. I have done both and can vouch for the fact that there is more laundry, much more cleaning, and more organization and order to take care of. It is harder to be a sloppy housekeeper in a place where bugs gather the instant you leave food out, and if you don't change you clothes every day your colleagues can smell it. Even I, who food-shop on the internet, have reconciled myself to wrinkled sheets, and barely 'entertain,' find i spend hours on the house. In the past Michal cleaned my house, but she is from an extinct generation, and Angelika escaped from Israel in fear of the immigration police. Now I pay double for half as much help, and would reconsider working if I had children.

2)Which brings me to the next current scare. Every day another nursemaid gets caught on the hidden household camera punching a baby or two. Well, three days and three nannies. This makes it difficult for a young mother to consider going out to work, to develop an independent career.

These and other items on the news make me fearful for the future of the old-fashioned socialism I have so longed for, and for the future of an state of equality in general. And without equality, without women as well as men with equal freedom, no society can be an honest one.

Oh no,I really should have written about something lighter. But I really believe that the more women involved in a society, in government, the better the chances for more enlightened values.

But first this murdering of wives has got to stop.

Is it possible that great minds think alike? I just heard that Limor Livnat spoke at the UN and said that the more women in government the more easily peace can be achieved.

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