Tel Aviv Diary Jan 3, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from January 3, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 3, 2004

Tel Aviv, Friday afternoon. The quiet streets wake up around 6. On Shderot David Hamelech a steady stream of people pass us as we stand there waiting for Shusha to make up her mind. I count roughly 60% are carrying bowls or pots in front of them. Another 10% have wine. And the rest are coming home from the beach, exercise, whatever. Later we are in Herzlia and I notice that the same pots are being swung in light plastic bags...and then still later we drive through Ramat HaSharon and everyone is having coffee on the streets.

In between we too have had dinner and watched Eretz Nehederet where they do a little nature program about how leftists are becoming an endangered species and they shouldn't be shot (so that they will be around next generation for our children to torture). Such a monolithic culture trying to be multiperspective.

And now to the museum.

January 4, 2004

Because the director of the Rishon Lezion Museum, Yitzik Brenner, wrote his Masters' thesis on Ezi's grandfather, the engineer Arpad Gut, Brenner showed us a film of him yesterday building the Al Raqqa bridge (It was then called the Gut Bridge) over the Euphrates. It was built to enable the British Army to escape from Rommell if he manages to invade Palestine - so it was a massive bridge (for tanks and heavy equipment) and it was built in the space of 4 months. The Imperial Army Museum documented this project.

So there he was, Arpad, supervising the building over the wide, moving waters.

It was a big impossible project, and Arpad was offered to be knighted for it.

Brenner also claims that because Arpad was responsible for bringing the eisenbetton system to Israel (concrete mixed with Iron) and therefore enabled the whole Bauhaus style in tel aviv. (Is that a good thing?)

I ask that question because I was so charmed by some of the buildings in Rishon, especially the ones with dedications or explanations built-in to the walls. They are small, human size. The school has the words 'school' in the cornice.

Of course there would never have been room for all the 6.7 million people in the country. So it's a trade-off

And while we're in the unique suburds, last night I got stuck in a traffic jam in Ramat Gan. And remembered that i was stuck in the same place the week before. Why would there be traffic jams just near Bnei Brak at the close of Shabbat? Of course, the sabbath is over in a religious neighborhood. Everybody's out. But I didn't think of it.

January 5, 2004

The Jerusalem Review is renewing publication. Their website will be up soon, and they are accepting manuscripts until April 1 for the next issue.

I'll put up the fax and email tomorrow - so get ready.

Who cares about the Hague, the planes dropping into the sea, all the other things we can't seem to control? We've got to do something about what we have do power to control.

So what about the conscientious objectors - the five kids who were given prison terms yesterday for refusing to serve in the army? I wish I had an answer - my heart is with them but I know there is a real danger in anarchy. And I think they made their calculations about the possibilities before they decided to refuse. As i keep repeating - if this is allowed, what will happen with the soldiers who refuse to help evacuate settlements?

And yet, my 'system' here depends on some basic trust in the essential justice of elected officials - and as we know that is not something we can rely on - to make decisions that the population wants...or needs....or even knows about

Example: This morning when Limor Livnat confessed to the papers that criminals are trying to take over the Likkud, i didn't assume, as friends of mine did, that she had boldly exposed corruption. it was clear to me that she had some coup in mind - some way to take more power to the government, or herself, and not for the good of the people. That intrinsic distrust i have is symptomatic of my approach to the government,relates to all issues - and it is not mine alone.

And the news on tv proclaims the likkud congress tonight to be - the best show in town.

Not because it is bringing good news - but because it is so dramatic and unreal. No two members seem to be thinking alike - every one seems to be pulling in a different direction and understanding differently what the prime minister has just said (missed the speech - was busy jumping around with Smadar. Unlike in CNN the news doesn't usually repeat itself around here - there is something new every minute - so you have to catch it as it flies.

Janaury 6, 2004

The headlines: Sharon says "I decide, I act."

Nobody's taking over the Likkud while he's alive.

He's determined to 'make peace' but we still don't know what that means.

Just like we know that there are hundreds of thousands of people living under the poverty line here, but we need the government to explain what 'poverty' means. what does 'living with dignity' mean. I'm actually thrilled that these questions get asked - because we usually explain everything away with statistics (not just here - everywhere) and here we're demanding to know the meaning of statistics. Maybe just because the statistics the government comes out with is so much in contrast to what we see around us.

Last week David went to his sister's 'medium' to ask her whether his career as an artist would take off. She told him he was David, the shepherd, but it was time for him to become David, the king, but she should get back in touch with him on the 8th. It threw him off completely. Today, as I was walking in the rain with Shusha, David called to say she'd died. I told him he had to go to the synagogue on the 8th and say a prayer for her.

He will, too. And it got me thinking about the strange spiritualism that characterizes so many of us here. I mean I've never been to a medium, but long ago, when I was getting divorced, I went to a kabbalist to ask what to do. He wrote something on a scroll and told me to burn a little of the scroll every day, and when it was all gone, my marriage would be whole.

And a few years ago when we were at Shirley's birthday party in the middle of the desert, there was a woman reading cards - who told me I was one of her tribe. But she was at the party more as a prop. Most people here don't ... tfu tfu tfu

In the short storm this morning, lightning struck my computer - i saw the lightning in the sky, and saw my computer die. never mind.

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