Tel Aviv Diary February 3-7, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - February 3, 2007 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

February 3, 2007

Proportion - that's all I'm asking for, People are killing each other in Gaza, people are waiting half their lives at checkpoints (that haven't gotten any easier), my holocaust neighbor still screams every night.

So to get some proportion we went to the Judean Desert today. It was like being in another world: Ezi took a thousand pictures but I'll just begin with a few and you can look up the judean desert for more.

This is the beginning of the desert. You can see Jerusalem above.

The most amazing of the monasteries is St. George. Hard to get to, as you can see.

Poor donkey got so scared when I paid Sahar to give me a ride back up to the road, he couldn't control himself - farted long and hard in fear. His regular rider - as you can see - is small and although he said he's fifteen, I suspect he was just telling me that.

This boy overwhelmed me as much as the monastery,although there was much about the monastery that was overwhelming, including the four monks who man it. We had a long way together (although Said, the donkey tried hard to go faster to get this incredible crooked burden off him as soon as possible), and we spoke of politics, education, and family. I wasn't totally sure what country I was in, so when he asked me where I came from I said America. "Is it a good country?" he asked, and I thought he was asking about whether it was a good place to live, and answered positively. After a while he went back to the subject. "What's better," he asked, "America or China?" What do I know of China? I answered, and only after we parted, realized he was asking - not about how to get a visa but whether its heart is in the right place.

He goes to school in Jericho, he said, but when I asked where he lived he answered,"I'm Beduin," and if there were an Arabic word for "Duh," he would have added it. But only in his heart - he was polite to the finish, and took great care to treat me well, even if i didn't fulfill his need for intelligent conversation.

Back to the monastery for a moment. There was a little room for solitary confinement that stirred my imagination much more than all the amazing icons. You can see the basket here where food can be raised. The way to know if the guy has died is when the basket doesn't get raised any more. I don't know when they stopped using this - probably long ago - but I kept thinking of Anatol France and Thais.

February 4, 2007

At Sara's request, here are some more pictures of the trip. Let's concentrate on a specific place - a tank converted into a guard position just above the caves for Monks (Lauras) in the Judean desert.

This is me inside

and coming out.

This is the view from the tank - notice the Beduin and his donkay.

This is the view of the tank from the next jabal.

And this is what is under the tank - the caves where monks lived.

February 5, 2007

I'd check carefully before I took trips like the one I took the other day. We are on the verge of a new round of violence and all the carnival of gossip we've been engaged in, relevant and important as it is, will be pushed aside.

Of course all of it is related, sexual harassment and medical malpractice and racial prejudice. The doctor yesterday convicted of overdosing his patients with hormones so he could harvest extra eggs for use in his private practice probably really believes that a woman's body belongs to him if he is the doctore, and that feeling is not unlike our president's concept. But I really believe we're getting somewhere with all this.

February 6, 2007

An email glitch delayed the posting of this letter from Judy about Haim Ramon. I post it now with many apologies:

Do you really think the girl was making it up? And that they convicted him without decisive evidence from the courtroom? Would you have taken this attitude if the man was a member of Yisrael Beitenu or a rabbi? Anyway, he surely wasn't the first to be convicted... What about Aryeh Deri, Naomi Blumenthal and what about the several others from Likud who have been convicted?

I find it upsetting to see so much slack given to a man in his fifties who is convicted for assaulting such a young woman so much under his power-- and isn't it just because he's originally from Labour and someone who must feel very much at home amongst the Tel Aviv liberal intellectual elite?

I think you have grown up children-- how would you feel if it was a daughter of yours to whom this happened? Especially after what you wrote about being chased round the desk yourself?

She also drew my attention to this site and a ha’aretz editorial

To repeat - i see this issue as completely connected to our general political situation -

I don't know whether the new road to the mosque in Jerusalem is actually some kind of violation of the sanctity or El Aksa or not, but I know that if the people had been involved in the decisions, in the considerations, if they felt they had been ASKED, the situation would have been different. Remember how Sharon started the last intifada by barging into Temple Mount without asking because it was his right.

Which brings me back to that old riddle: what's the difference between our government and a condom? You can only fit one shmuck into a condom.

February 7, 2007

Daniel Freedman was sworn in today as Minister of Justice, to the great chagrin of most of the judges. I'm only a little citizen here, but I have a funny feeling that this might be like making my potential cousin, our local gangster don - Zeev Rosenstein, chief of police. I think he'll do an amazing job, if the ministry of justice doesn't blow him up first. He's probably been chosen because he has been so opposed to the decisions of the court, especially the judgement on Haim Ramon. I actually suspect that he suspects that Ramon was framed by members of the ministry who feared the changes Ramon was going to make. But in the long run, it will work - the Ministry of Justice and the Minister will put all their differences behind them.

And I have been guessing things pretty well lately. If not in these pages (I don't read this - and have no memory, remember?) then in life.

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