Tel Aviv Diary - January 14-18, 2011 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 14, 2011

I had to explain to a few students yesterday a saying I had always taken for granted inits depth. When I couldn't find a book I was looking for in my office, I suddenly remembered my mother's response whenever I asked her where something was. "A platoon of soldiers came and took it away," she'd say. It was a joke but I knew what she meant. I knew she'd grown up on the Lithuanian corridor, and there were different soldiers from different countries invading their city every day - Russian, German, Polish. She herself could speak innumerable languages. So missing objects could well have been taken by invading or withdrawing armies. But my students, Jewish and Muslim, had no sense of this. Except for terrorists. Rockets. A bomb or two. And some times, neighbors.

January 15, 2011

If I had the energy I'd download pictures of today. We spent the day exploring the individual histories of some of the people who came to the Galilee kibbutzim on the 20's and 30's of the previous century - especially the women. There were many women whose babies died of heat prostration, for examples, and they often kept diaries of their experiences, the tragedies they could tell to no one else. The cemeteries we stood in came alive to us as we heard story after story of the kibutzim and the members who took their lives, were gored by bulls, The public diaries, published on the wall of the dining hall and consisting of comments and information about kibbutz events and general gossip also provide a history.

Something like what I'm trying to do - tell the story of an individual in a difficult but fascinating country.

January 16, 2011

this is 2 months old but i really like the original thinkingGabriel Latner gave me new ideas.

I like left-wing organizations most of the time, especially when they work toward humanist goals, but sometimes they go in the wrong direction. The misinformation on this site overwhelmed me. Mitzpe shalem is a kibbutz about a mile into the west bank, in the desert where no Arab village ever existed. It's not too far from Dragot, the Arab village I wrote about a few years ago, which has created itself in the past 20 years and profits from a trucking company that works in Israel as well as many individuals who work in the hotels on the Dead Sea. Both places seem to me to be equal.

And while I'm at it, I might as well tell you that I use Ahava hand cream.

January 17, 2011

This morning Ehud Barak announced he was leaving the Labor party and forming his own party - I'm sure a good PR person picked the name. A few months ago Ezi and I sent in our resignation from Labor, but now I might join it again, now that Barak isn't in it. The only problem is that no one can outfox the 3 foxes - Barak, Leiberman and Netanyahu. They've been playing chess with each other for years. Lieberman seems to have lost this round to Netanyahu and Barak - he won't be able to threaten the gov't with quitting for a while. And what have the other Labor people gained by quitting the government? Honesty. But honesty won't get you anywhere in this country at this moment in history.

January 18, 2011

You're wrong, says my neighbor, who always has something to say to me. She tells me that it is a very good thing that Barak has quit the Labor Party and now is free to help Netanyahu make peace. Or war, I say. Bite your tongue, she says.

It was a moment of weakness, I admit. I still have hope that Labor will return, and maybe a little respect for the cunning of the PM.

But rockets are still falling in the south, and it is only a matter of time before they make some big hits, and we don't seem to be doing anything.

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