Tel Aviv Diary January 14-18, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - January 14, 2007 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 14, 2007

i wish they would stop complaining that the hospitals are crowded because people didn't get flu shots. I HAD a flu shot over a month ago and have had the flu ever since.

So except for brief forays, I only see the city from my window.

And from my window I see part of the little garden we just paid a fortune for. It is hydrophonic (I would never had agreed to it, and would have gone for something compatible to the environment, but I didn't join the garden committee so I have no one to blame but myself). The big problem, though, is that the plants keep disappearing. "How can this be in our country?" my neighbor complains. "When we came here (from Iraq) we lived in tents, and we'd tie our tent closed in the morning and leave our chickens outside and no one ever took anything." Our gardener claims the thieves must be gardeners because they only take the expensive plants. One night when I was coming home with the dog, i thought I saw someone in the shadows. Should I go home and call the police, I thought? They're only three blocks away but if the person disappears by the time they get here, they won't be so fast to come the next time I call them. And anyhow, what kind of punishment could he get in the best of scenarios? And I certainly couldn't confront the shadow. What if he doesn't put his hands up and he decides to confront me. According to the law I don't really have the legal right to hurt someone in the protection of my property. I went home and forgot about it.

The news today, that a Jewish farmer is being held for murder because he shot a Bedouin man to death in the dark while he was breaking into his farm, raised a thousand questions for me. But a program on the first channel on television interrupted my questions. A documentary of a diary on the terrible injustice done to the Arab residents of Tiberias in 1948, it was followed by a discussion including both sides. I only caught part, but both the blame, the concept of revenge, and the need to compensate blended in with the story of the farm.

January 15, 2007

"the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity" yeats said, and we who are the 'best' quote it a lot to explain our inaction. But there is a great deal more about the situation. Why don't we 'lefties' do more to change our situation? In the old days we went to demonstrations and made sure we voted, but in many ways we were effectively neutralized. I demonstrated against war, and my leader was assassinated. I voted for Peretz and he became a wimp,negating the value of voting. And even though people are not blowing themselves up in the streets of Israel any more (and killing my friends like Ricky), it is only because they are caught at those border crossings we hate so much. So it is not surprising that i find it difficult to act on my conviction.

January 17, 2007

As I sit in the doctor's waiting room, I'm reminded that the first story i ever heard about this place is the one about the old ladies who meet here at the health clinic every day. One of them says to the other, "Where have you been? I haven't seen you for a while." "I've been sick." So guys, I've been sick, so I haven't been around. In fact I've been sick for the past couple months. And now, one of you readers reminds me, I've been sick since the spring. There are two factors - the thing that my doctors are finally working on, and the flu that is throwing everyone around for a loop. My private theory: the people who didn't get the immunization are spreading around a lot more germs, and so even the good guys who did get their shots are more vulnerable.

So while I'm so involved in being sick i can't even relate to the Halutz = Ashkenazi demi-news, i might as well tell you something about the health clinic experience. This afternoon - ultasounds at Brenner. Brenner is having a problem today. I forgot to fast 5hours for one of my ultrasounds and so the secretary processes my papers and sends me for an hour walk. Of course I go to Shenkin and buy anything i can lay my hands on so i won't eat, and by the time i come back, i'm worn out. I go to the waiting hall - where two Russian gentlemen and one lady are sitting opposite a Moroccan woman and an Iraqi woman. I sit down opposite the Russians taking the only seat left. There are two ultrasound rooms but it is not clear what is behind the doors. After a quarter of an hour someone leaves room one, and the Russians jump up to get to the door and are rebuffed. The Iraqi lady tells me pettishly when I ask that one of the technicians didn't show up on time so every thing is behind schedule, and the usual order is gone. The usual loudspeaker invitation hasn't been heard and the law of the jungle has taken over. The Russians stare angrily at us, and the ladies stare angrily back. I am too tired to participate and send an sms. Suddenly my name is called. I get up and slip into the room, hearing behind me a distinct hiss. And by the time I get out, rearranging my clothes as if i had just bought some, services on the beach, they're still there, speaking angrily in Russian. I leave, feeling a bity guilty, but am comforted by the thought that i'm much sicker than they are.

This is just a small but integral part of the mentality of the health clinic patient.

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