Tel Aviv Diary January 22, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

So today's Ha'aretz's literary section has a cartoon of couple reading books by David Grossman and Amos Oz, and one turns to the other and says, "So what do they say - Labor or Meretz?"

I wonder how many of us are in that 'uncertain' position. maybe they don't show up in the statistics.

But of course think of all the people (on the right of course) who will be coming to Israel this weekend just to vote. I mean there are thousands of people who are citizens here just so they can come back and vote. While hundreds of thousands of citizens here just stay home.

I talked to someone at the student union about getting people to vote - "hmm" - she said. "yes. but now it's too late - they're on vacation."

i wonder if they even realize that the terrible situation at the university - from which they presently suffer - is due to the present government.

January 23, 2003

Last night I talked again to a representative of the student union who passed on my request to the guy in charge - "You give too much credit to the students," he told her "they don't give a damn."

For those who do, I post Mizna's bio:

/ /51974

Amram Mitzna a Profile


Born in Kibbutz Dovrat on Feb 2nd, 1945, Amram Mitzna was brought up in Kiryat Haim, where his parents still live.


He graduated from the Military boarding School, attached to the Realy High School in Haifa.


Married to Aliza and father of three: Sharon, Assaf and Raz.


Higher education:

A B.A. degree in Geography and an M.A. degree in Political Science from the Haifa University.

Graduate of a Mid-Career Program at the Harvard University, Boston.


Military service:

Joined the IDF in 1963. Fullfilled most of his duties from tank Commander to Battalion Commander in the Armored Forces.

Highly decorated for his acts of courage by the IDF Chief of Staff.

Among some of his duties:

Tank Regiment Commander of the Armored Forces; Chief of Armory Officers Training school; Inteligence Officer of the Armory Corps.; Chief of Barak Armory Battalion in the Armored Force; Commander of the Leadership and Command School in the Armored Force; Chief of IDF Leadership anf High-Command Schoo; Head of Operations Department of the General Staff.


In 1986 he was promoted to the rank of Major General. As a member of the General Staff he held three main positions:

Assistant to the Chief of Staff;

Commander of the Central Staff;

Head of the Planning Division.


Amram Mitzna fought in four of Israels wars: in the Six Days War, as the Chief of Operations of a Armoured Regiment (decorated for Valor); in the War of Attrition; in the Yom Kippur War as a Tank Regiment Commander, in the Southern front (Chief of Staff citation); and in the Peace for Galilee War, where he was Head of Staff for the Syrian Front in Lebanon.

He was wounded twice: during the Six Days war and during the Yom Kipur war.

In 1993 General Mitzna completed 30 years of service.


Professional and Political Career:

Mitzna was elected Mayor of Haifa in November 1993. During his first years of service as Mayor he created a new flourishing business atmosphere and accelerated development; a new transportation system, including roads, intersections and bridges; new commercial centers and new neighbourhoods were established; the cornerstone for the Carmel Tunnel was laid. High on the Municipal agenda was Haifas education system, and a whole network of computers was introduced on all levels of education.


On Nov, 10th, 1998, Mitzna was reelected as

Mayor of Haifa for a second term by a majority of 65% of the electors.


On Nov. 19th, 2002, Amram Mitzna was elected Chairman of the Labour Party and its candidate for the post of Prime Minister.

But I can't complain about students. For months I've been looking for someone in the neighborhood of the middle east who also keeps a diary. And I found now that there's a student from Tel Aviv University. He's much more flashy and has many more photographs. Apparently he was there at the last bombing and show uncensored what it is like - not like you get on the media. Even though he's on a break this month because of exams, you should check it out: Blogspot. Here's another one: View from here.

January 24, 2003

All this makes me wonder how many of them are out there, diarists of the middle east. Maybe some of you out there can send them in. Remember, THIS diarist is limited in her knowledge of cyberspace, has created her own little world where she speaks mostly (except on this occasion) to herself, and has no idea of the world around her.

The names of the 3 soldiers killed last night have not been released. Three soldiers patrolling roads to keep the settlers safe. How could the connection between the terrible loss of life we endure every day and the 'territories' not be made? How is it we're reelecting Sharon?

Last night - at a film about rave - "24 hour party" - an amusing postmodern prufrockish documentary of the Manchester music scene of the 80's - the "not-Prince-Hamlet" star narrator kept referring to Boethius - the consolation of philosophy. And this reference that Chaucer introduced English readers to in the 14th century - consoled me a bit about the local politics. Fortune is a wheel he says and once you're on it, it can take you up. But it will also take you down. And then it will bring you up again. So we - the broken hearted and disappointed - just have to hunker down and wait our turn.

He criss-crossed this allusion with references to Yeats (and the schooled in an introductory course to brit lit will associate this with "The Second Coming" where "the best lack all ambition while the worst are full of terrible intensity" - or maybe just his idea of the cycles of history since he doesn't quote.) All right, so the film ends with a kind of drug-induced zen acceptance of these changes of fortune while at the nadir of the story's history, but it helped me to think about surviving this war, these elections, the economic slump etc. etc.

i mean everyone i know is depressed. even though there are a lot of people i don't know - like the russians i'm told - who are already happy that sharon and his boys and girls will be back.

but what thinking person could not be depressed at the thought of Limor Livnat remaining as minister of education. education.

taschi hanegbi ... Bibi... oh the thought is too terrifying.

Not because they are right but because they are crazy, corrupt, and incredibly destructive people.

the fact that Bibi doesn't pay his bills, for example - that he doesn't pay in restaurants, at the hairdressers, everywhere -- is terrifying to me. simply terrifying.

i have to hold on to the thought that times will change - that some day the truth will come out, and people will change.

IN THE MEAN TIME - WHEREVER YOU ARE - IF YOU CAN, VOTE. IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO HOP ON A PLANE AND COME HERE IN TIME FOR THE ELECTIONS. AND IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO SHOULD BE VOTING, MAKE SURE THEY DO. Take them to the booths yourselves. (That's what I'm going to be doing all day, driving people who can't go by themselves to the polls.)


I know people are apethetic, don't think they can really change anything, don't trust the left, and don't feel that what they want is possible. No one can promise peace. But vote anyway.

January 24, 2003

Even if i take an evening off with my family, and we talk about important things like practical things in our lives and not about politics (for a change), the evening is political. One example: A low budget israeli made-for-television film -Sherman in Winter -I missed a half an hour and will never be able to understand the plot. Ezi falls asleep and I watch out of inertia. A police detective - wearing a cipa - someone in charge - his friend's daughter disappears. Another girl is gone too. The police catch a suspicious subject who kind of admits to it. he's convicted and the case is over. A woman teacher somehow seems to be connected. The religious guy is nervous, snaps at people,gets laid off i think, talks to people, thinks a lot - finally he figures that his friend was sleeping with his daughter and killed her by mistake, then killed her friend who knew about it and another guy who happene to be around. The point in an Israeli context: the people you love who are supposed to be taking care of you are actually screwing you and everyone else. The slick looking 'modern' successful israeli father vs, the fat religious detective who seems so meditative and meek and uncivilized - risked it all to discover the truth - and isn't happy when he discovers it. of course i identified with the detective.

there could be some very disturbing morals here: the old fashioned - traditional - ethical - uncovers the total anarchic madness of contemporary society. But the sexy russian teacher who sleeps with everyone is the one who has known a number of these cases - has known and has confronted the fathers. she knows about this one too - and tries to stop it but keeps quiet to the authorities. It complicates the situation as it complicates our society. The distrust of authority - the disbelief that authorities can help.

When I was getting divorced - about 25 years ago - i found myself at the local police station, unable to explain my fear of attack to unsympathetic ears. I also found myself at the rabbinate - a total victim of Jewish law as implemented by man of bad will. I have written a little about the educational system here as well. the sense that the authorities are here to protect themselves and their friends and to cover their asses. but the sense of a basic perversion is new to me. and yet not terribly remote.

Do i make any sense at all?

A dinner with some cousins left me, Ezi, and daughter voting left. 5 are voting shinui and one likud. We might even get Tomy Lapid as prime minister, said one. I Lost my appetite. Tomy is great as an entertaining conversation partner, and I remember a few great conversations with him from long ago, but as a politician he isn't serious a few Saturday night party issues for a platform, no means of implentation of anything, and NO plans for or thoughts on the Palestinians.

Give me strength. If he gets the number of votes it looks like he's going to get, he is going to have to rent people to go into parliament to represent his party.

And no one will have any experience, any opinion.

But at least you won't have an extreme right wing- religious coalition, you may say. I doubt it. I think he'll not be invited to joing the extreme right wing religious coalition, and will be sitting in the opposition with labor twiddling his thumbs. Maybe I'm wrong, but it makes me ill that people even think he's a compromise vote. He is a little fascist and can't work with the left at all.

With little left to enjoy, I have been chuckling over the way the 'objective' press is losing its objectivity in the last few days. Sometimes I think that if I worked on the news in tv, I too would try to get in the barely noticable little digs at the right. As an example, I point out to you the headers of articles in Ha'aretz in english. " If you're happy and you know it, vote Sharon " Now the articles themselves have to be translated literally (they're pretty left usually) but the titles are left to the english editors and they are a riot the best thing about the paper. Check them out. While I'm on the subject, you might want to enjoy the following, unintentional titles they too give great pleasure in times like these.


Something Went Wrong In Jet Crash, Expert Says

Police Begin Campaign To Run Down Jaywalkers

Iraqi Head Seeks Arms

Is There A Ring Of Debris Around Uranus?

Prostitutes Appeal To Pope

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over

Teacher Strikes Idle Kids

Miners Refuse To Work After Death

Juvenile Court To Try Shooting Defendant

War Dims Hope For Peace

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

Cold Wave Linked To Temperatures

Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge

New Study Of Obesity Looks For Larger Test Group

Astronaut Takes Blame For Gas In Spacecraft

Crack Found On Governor's Daughter

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Chef Throws His Heart Into Helping Feed Needy

Local High School Dropouts Cut In Half

Hospitals Are Sued By 7 Foot Doctors

January 26, 2003

I always recommend you read Ariga, but todays update has 3 smashing articles relevant to everything I've been saying. Robert Rosenberg, who must be the guy behind those wonderful headlines in Ha'aretz writes and publishes great stuff. This is from his announcement: Three articles about the elections:

Veteran journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery says '...the fate of the Labor party is the central issue of these elections. If it will seem that Mitzna, the man of peace, has brought disaster upon his party, there will be no chance for Labor to play a role in the struggle for peace for a long, long time.' in his article For Whom to Vote: here Roy Isacowitz refers to George Orwell's story about shooting an elephant to analye the colonialist tragedy, saying 'After 35 years of wearing the colonial mask, our faces are distorted beyond recognition. We have become callous and indifferent. We speak in the gruff, assured tones of the sahib generals, serving and retired, who pontificate ad nauseum about dismantling the terrorist infrastructure and contending with the strategic threat from all sides. The truth is, they dont have a clue. They are like the British officers in the raj, the Belgian officers in the Congo and the French officers in Vietnam; men whose upbringing, training and experience in a colonial army left them woefully unprepared to deal with a war of liberation; with an entire nation fighting, and prepared to die, for its freedom' in an article called 'Sharon shoots the elephant' here And Robert Rosenberg says 'Zionism is about changing reality, not bowing to it as if it was divine fortune, soluble by either Arafat's death or the wrath of the Bushies against the horrors of Saddam, in either case something other than Israel solving the country's problems. Nor is Zionism about repressing another people's rght to self-determination' in his article, 'Anti-democratic forces, corruption, and a hopeful scenario' at here

And in case you're undecided about the elections yet, here's an interesting timeline of bombings you will find useful timeline

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