Tel Aviv Diary - February 18-22, 2011 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

February 18, 2011

Objectively we had an easy flight. We left for the airport around 11, returned our rental, got stuck on the newark airtrain for half an hour, checked in, did the double security and starting queueing up at 3, when the announcement came that there was something wrong with the plane and we would be delayed. A crowded wait in the secure area ensued followed by an announcement that our plane would be replaced and we would be boarding at a different gate. that meant not only another delay but another security check at the second gate. this was not too terrible, and we got off only a few hours late. But for some reason it threw my whole body off and i spent the flight twitching and suffering. So coming home was difficult.

What of the culture shock? haven't experienced it much. The next morning was spent with our cute French doctor who kissed Ezi so expressively the entire waiting room was asking how they get that kind of treatment. Then we picked up Shusha and reunited with our family - or most of it - and are now in the process of refilling the fridge that suffered an open door while we were away. So I don't know much about the changes that have taken place here, whether a result of Egypt or not.

I did manage to catch a program on tv of the most popular lyricist in the country, the guy who write the excruciatingly anti-literate texts there are, Yossi Girsen.His agenda is clearly an attempt to elevate the anti-culture of the Mizrachi, and I can't blame him. Although his texts aren't political, but romantic or religious, I can feel the sense of prejudice he felt he labored under. He told yesterday of how he left his subsidized position at highschool because the teacher told him in front of the class that she was sick of parasites. When I first came to Israel I had no idea there was such a thing, but when advised by my daughter's first grade teacher that it would be easier for her to learn how to read if she had some books in the house, I slowly realized that my mizrachi name had stereotyped me as an illiterate.

perhaps my writing is influenced by this as well.

February 19, 2011

Lucky for me I've got friends who are experts in important fields. I can understand the newspapers better when I get to read them. Like, I've got one friend who teaches teachers how to read the news criticially, a very important skill when the different news presentations all have such obviously biased directions. It's easy enough with FOX, because they can't even get their facts right so you know not to believe them - i mean if they didn't even know where Egypt was, but put it on the map where Iraq is supposed to be, you don't expect them to understand what's going on there. CNN is much better, but suffers a bit from naivete and an attempt to over-clarify murky situations. BBC makes no attempt to get to reality. Israeli news seems to me to try - with limited means - to get at objectivity, but they are playing ratings, and that determines a great deal - makes for sensationalism and constant change of focus.

On the other hand, there are people like my friend Michael, who cultivate their own garden, who do what they can do to help others, without trying to understanding what it all means in the world. Here's a piece on him that was in this week's news: Michael SegalHe discovered the little school for blind children when he first came to Israel, and has been volunteering to run it (and expand it) for almost a quarter of a century.

February 20, 2011

Yes, I'm tooting my own horn. Yes, to get a review from the president of Israel sbout my poetry is very cool.

it's also inspiring. This is what redeems the country for me. With leaders like this, we can overcome the other leaders we have.

February 21, 2011

Well at least we're not investigating leftist organizations here. the bill got crushed when some people woke up to the potential boomerang effect of a McCarthy era. You too can be investigated. But never fear, our right-wing contigent will get back at us.

And I continue to refuse to comment on the demonstrations in Arab countries, as much as I continue to wish them well, and an eternal hunger for freedom for all.

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