Tel Aviv Diary January 20, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - January 20, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 20, 2008

so i didn't go on hiatus.

but i'm pretty paralyzed. student papers, final corrections to my book. poems. all gone.

Nasrallah doesn't help either. Sderot's continued pain, the punishment of Gaza, the suffering of the students, nothing seems to help.

January 22, 2008

I was about to sit down and write last night, but suddenly an sms comes in, "Are you asleep?" "Yes, I answer. Are you?" And Rachel calls from a tu bishvat party in Sderot. "What are you doing there? Don't you know it's dangerous?" "That's why I'm here." Defeating the whole concept of fight or flight, they went there to celebrate and comfort. She actually called for other reasons, and only experienced one rocket, so she said it didn't count.

I really should have been asleep when she called - the university is an exhausting place right now, not just because of the thousands of changes and alterations and compications. Even emotionally the stress of the continuing struggle for the existence of higher education is everywhere apparent (even in the structure of this sentence).

It doesn't get to the public, however. A few scientists had a conversation last night on tv with the president, and they talked about the ptoblems of education, but their contributions were cut, and the program emerged as a shallow conversation with a smart man.

January 23, 2008

"You don't have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," I comment to a woman in Ramat Aviv G, when she says she can't imagine how the situation in Gaza will end. And she, knowing I'm a professor of Literature, says, "Where is that from? Shakespeare?" I chuckle at my superiority all the way to my car, and then turn on the radio. Maybe Bob Dylan is on. No, there is a demonstration going on at Erez Junction. Two actually. Rafi Eitan is demonstrating against opening the border to Gaza, and a few Arab Parliament members are demonstrating for. "We shouldn't open the border until they stop the rockets on Sderot." One side says. "The Israelis can stop the rockets if they just declare a cease-fire," says the other. Where o where is there an enormous kindergarten teacher who can put both boys in opposite corners of the room and make them think about what they're doing?

Not that I think the situation is even, not that I think the Gazans will stop anything if we just cease. We've been around far too many times - when we left Gaza we saw what happened. A different attitude might help us both. But i don't see the wind blowing much good in.

January 23, 2008

Those wonderful folks who built the pyramids had a problem with a wall today. 350,000 Palestinians went through the holes exploded by the Hamas, bought cigarettes and stuff and went back to Gaza. I don't get it. I mean, aside from the fact that 350000 people were waiting with their wallets stuffed with money at the wall by chance, and then pouf a hole or two appeared and then they bought everything in sight and came running home. I don't get it that Sinai has been loaded with weapons for the past couple years but no one mentioned anyone running home with extra kalachnikovs or missiles. I don't get it that Egypt is suddenly realizing that they have been stuck with Gaza. Could it be that was Arik Sharon's plan? To back away from Gaza and leave it as punishment to the Egyptians?

This afternoon on the news they put together a Gazan reporter and a Sderot teacher. Both of them are so tired of the violence - but still couldn't agree - at least not in a five minute broadcast.

January 24, 2008

Bracha Kopstein, the Yiddish poet, called me up in a rage that I have agreed to read from Eliot's poetry tonight in Beit Bialik. "Why don't they have an evening about Bialik? Why don't they have an evening about the Yiddish poets? Why do they ignore the fact that Bialik wrote in Yiddish? Why should they have an evening about T.S.Eliot?" Provincial pretension, I agreed. If they didn't have evenings about Bialik but only about the big names in other countries, it would mean we are suffering from a sense of inferiority. But we do try to give credit to our own writers - not as much as the Irish, maybe, but we try.

And indeed the front room at the old city hall, which is being used while Biliak House is being renovated, gave the sense of ad hoc education - not being in a framework even though highly respected.

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