Tel Aviv Diary January 10, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - January 10, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 10, 2008

Anything you might have written me in the past month - anything i might have written you - is lost. Somehow we reformatted the computer last night. I don't even remember how or why. But I haven't backed up for over a month, and now....

The conference- a very inspiring affair - was capped off with a student poetry reading in the botanical gardens - which was in turn capped off with a rousing tour of the gardens by the director, whose name I have temporarily forgotten. It is almost Tu-Shvat - The new year of the trees - and for many years we always celebrated with a visit to this very place, but I don't remember when was the last time I went. It is very lush and alive, much more than I recall, like a thriving family. Thank goodness it was saved from all the budget cuts. It was threatened for a while, but the new president of the university realized its value.

January 11, 2007

We stayed away from Jerusalem today - even though I really wanted to visit Asher z"l's family = because Bush was there. At 1:30 they announced on television the siege of Jerusalem is over, but it is too close to Shabbat to start now. In the mean time I'm catching up on the strike news - after all we're not going to study anything if we don't settle this soon. But all the wrong people are involved and all the right people have been kept out of the dispute.

Of course my lawyer friend Richard is right. He writes me all the way from California that he doesn't know the issues, but if you strike, you strike. Here I have been organizing a conference on enironment and the arts with the thought that 1. it is an important awareness-raising issue, 2. it is an important issue for research in the future 3. we had invited the guests from abroad before there was a strike and would not want to hurt the reputation of the university by disinviting him, and 4. the students would have benefited greatly from it.

I think 60 hours a week for the past month would cover the number of hours I've invested, and I'm sure the other colleagues also did the work. This is what we call strike.

This week if the strike continues I'll be reconstructing all my lost student papers in my computer and the article I wrote last month. And the rest of my correspondence. If you've been in correspondence with me in the past month, by the way, you should try to reach me again. It's gone.

Why are you avoiding the big issues? A long lost friend asks me. What big issues? That Bush was here? I didn't get to see him. Although Olmert did. In the past three months Olmert has met with Bush, with Seinfeld, with a local comedian... do you think there is a pattern? Well he didn't meet with anyone about solving the crisis at the university. Despite our repeated pleas.

January 12, 2008

Despite my incredible depression about the state of the university, and the anticipation and dread of court orders to return to work (How in the world can we have negotiations with a body that can stop the negotiations at any moment with a court order?), we went to Jerusalem this evening. Asher Green's tragedy called me to visit his family. How I had always assumed he would return to Israel and begin working with my own son.

But I don't interfere with private lives in these pages, not even my own. So let me concentrate instead on Jerusalem. I never want to like that city, but it always manages to reach out and grab somewhere in my heart. A little talk with the warm people there, a conversation with the grocer, a few encounters with some very cold animals on the street - and I am in love with the city again. The walls always put me off, the sense that it is a city that keeps others out, that the residents themselves keep away from each other. Once inside the walls, no matter in which neighborhood, it is a different world.

January 14, 2008

While we wait all day for a court order, there are so many more immediately tragic things going on around us. First, the cold - two people have already died of hypothermia, fields of vegetables frozen in the fields.... Then there are the rockets that don't stop falling around Sderot, the Hamas terrorists who don't stop getting killed (note the difference - citizen vs. militarists. still).

It's too much. I'll have to think of something else. Like the latest review of Pappa's in Time Out. Sorry, it's in Hebrew.

My computer has been revived, although its alzheimers is final. lost all kinds of grades, papers, and poems. And my car won't start. So all the photographs I wanted to put on line about the conference will have to wait.

January 14,2008

I dunno. I'm listening to the radio and Olmert is warning about Iran's nuclear power, then i go the meeting about the strike and it looks incredibly bleak, then i talk to a lovely lady who expresses opinions without hesitating about the possibility of peace that could make your skin crawl. And the fact that I probably won't be able to retrieve my lectures and student papers, the fact that my car won't stop screaming,and my sciatica acting up seem trivial. So I opened my email and someone had sent me some powerpoint of partisans and I kind of look through them casually and suddenly recognize my aunt Malcah. this can't be true. now i'll have to do some serious investigation.

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