Tel Aviv Diary -February 11-15, 2014 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - February 11-15, 2014 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

February 11, 2014

We did something awful last night. We walked out of a play - not because it was bad, but because it was unbearable to me. Our Class described the pogrom of a town in Poland named Jedwabne but it is about the way 'otherness' can develop into opposition, dehumanization, hatred, and murder.

Why did we walk out? it was too close to home. the rape and burning of the jews not on,ply reached into my own history but all of our fears about racism in society.

The first act closed with the burning. My aunt died in this way. If I had had the strength to stay, I probably would have seen the trial, the way justice was served. But I was worried that my father suffered his first stroke after seeing the film "Night Porter" about sado-masochism between a Nazi and a 'slave'. He was younger than I am now. I kept thinking that I can't afford to take the chance.

February 12, 2014

I forgot to put this link here. Tel Aviv 1 It's an interview I did on Friday in a fascinating program. I'm about half way through, after the music.

Ezi had another PET scan today and as usual I went with him. He likes to get there early so we were there at 7 a.m. and as usual I wait around because he may not feel well after. But it was me who didn't feel well. He brought me home to bed and I haven't left since. This is a problem because I am very much hoping to go to Jerusalem tomorrow - this time for a tour of christian sites and the ancient city. I have been reading Melville's impenetrable book Clarel and his description of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem is pretty amazing. I don't recommend the poem for light reading, but try the description of Abdon, the Indian Jew from Cochin, at the beginning. It may spur you on to read the rest. The places Melville describes are still there - in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Petra. It's pretty remarkable.

February 14, 2014

The relativity of issues in this country was proven to me again by Martin Schultz,the head of the European Parliament, when he chided the Knesset this week about the water distribution in the territories. Yes, it's an old issue, and I've written about it before, but with so many unclear quantities it is like doing algebra with three unknowns. Here are some. 1. How is the water distributed? Is there plumbing or leaky hoses? 2. Is the water actually physically controlled or merely managed by differentiating prices. 3. How much do economic issues enter into this issue? I have heard stories of parched Palestinian children looking with longing at the settlement children cavorting in luxurious swimming pools. I also know that since I acquired a washing machine, a dishwasher and a jacuzzi, my water costs go up exponentially when i use these devices. And yes, I didn't always have any of them. Before disposable diapers there was a time when i washed them by hand and waved them in front of the gas stove burners to dry. Now I use much more water, even though i don't do diapers. My friend in New York laughs at my calculations. She tells me she doesn't use water at all. The clothes go to the laundry, she showers at the gym after her massage, and she certainly doesn't eat at home. Seriously, folks, there are numerous statistics that are not available to us, and certainly not to Martin Shultz. THAT,I would say, is the first problem, that information is not made available. That should be compulsory.

On another note, today was Valentines Day for most of the world, but it was Grandparents' Day in our local school. Why being invited to a first grade ceremony where the sound system is so bad we can hear only muffled voices of excitement moves me so much is beyond me, but this is the second time i have been honored to be present in a crowded auditorium among a minion of grey-haired camera-blocking people. And I AM moved. Especially since so many of my fellows in the audience were, like me, a generation in which there are wide branches missing in the family tree. Grandchildren are the proof of our survival. It is strange, and not unique to the Jews at all. Every people here feels this in some way. When I bought this computer from Edward, for example, I asked him how he came to be named Edward, and he said "because my grandfather was named Edward, and his grandfather before, and his grandfather before. It's an Armenian custom."

Back to the water issue. In response to Richard and Ezi's comments about the water: 1. My friend in NY was using her household as an example of how you can't really measure a situation just be checking the water consumption. That there are other issues involved. 2. In the same vein Ezi noted that a water agreement needs to be concomitant with a waste agreement. You don't want all that water coming back to you in the form of polluted water, and that means there has to be an agreement on purification plants, so there has to be a complex (but possible) set-up to measure and regulate water rights. This complexity is true for numerous elements in our 'peace' agreement.

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