Tel Aviv Diary January 26, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - January 26, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 26, 2008

Let's see. where have I been? One thing was we tried a nearby restaurant called 206 Fish. Don't ask. My sister-in-law ASKED me to find a good place and I couldn't think of anything so we went there. Don't ask. It wasn't that the food was particularly bad but somehow we seem to have managed to antagonize the waitress and she brought out her worst. A sullen accusatory air took away my appetite, and nothing tasted right. A limp kayaddiff crowned my meal, and made me swear never to return. On the phone my nephew told me that this was the place where all the soccer players come after a game, but as I spoke with him I looked around and it didn't look like there were living people there, much less athletes.

Afterward I thought of a hundred restaurants we should have visited, but that will have to be for next time.

Wherever I go - from a wedding to a dry cleaner, people ask me about what's going on with the university. I hang my head. We've got to start getting more money into higher education. I just met the third person today who I would love to work with on a MA degree, and the only advice I could give them was to go abroad. Even though I am continuing to do the best I can to get more books, more posts, more rooms, more everything, i don't seem to be able to get the attention of the people I know who are connected to government.

And this is true of every aspect of culture I touch. I can't believe the Jerusalem Review isn't going to be sponsored by the government. This evening I was talking with the widow of Uri Zvi Greenberg and suddenly realized to what extent this important poet has been ignored. Every time I hear about things like this I think about Ireland and how they created an entire national identity by developing a culture.

January 27, 2008

Shabbat should have been cholent weather, cold and rainy, but we didn't have the leisure to sit around opening our belts after lunch, so our shabbat meal consisted of stuffed fruits and vegetables. i am actually crazy about fruit stuffed with baharat-scented meat and nuts. Baharat and cinnamon and salt and pepper.

I spent the shabbat thinking about the ever filling shelves in Refiya, and the endless supply of money the people from Gaza seem to have. This more than any of the other news grabbed my attention. With all that money, and the enormous quantity of goods to buy from the cornocopia of shops, i understand that we are seeing only one small manifestation of a massive organization, funded by people who could more easily have simply brought food and supplies to the people of Gaza. And this is just the beginning.

This does not mean I don't sympathize with the people of Gaza, but I don't sympathize with the PR.

I wanted to see the film "Open Eye - Open I" tonight - at the Cinemateque, but I was feeling sick, maybe just exhausted. Well I won't let that happen to me on Thursday, when Moldavi plays at Bialik Cafe. From the clip you can see he's worth it. Who's coming with me on Thursday?

January 28, 2008

Global warming, humbug. It's cold here! The snow is coming and we're not set up for cold weather. Even my dog is asking to sleep in our bed to keep warm, and we all know what a stickler she is for personal space.

What luck for me that it's too cold to gallivant - i can watch "Avoda Aravit," (Arab Labor) the comedy series about an Arab Journalist and a Jewish photographer. When I first came to Israel the expression was used as a synonym for shoddy work. "Arab labor" meant that the plaster would soon fall off the wall, the plumbing explode, and the cinder blocks fall apart. It never occurred to me at the time that there was no reason for an Arab laborer to put his best effort into building for the Jews.

January 29, 2008

The Winograd Report is coming tomorrow, but anyone who was glued to the news like I was drew the same conclusions about the war last year. It is so obvious and it was repeated by numerous reporters and interviewees through the summer. In the past few weeks they come out with some information and Ezi and I look at each other remembering when that information first came out and what we said about it then.

Once again I didn't go out last night - no partying - despite great desire. More soon - Have to get the dog out before the new cold front.

Today is Sarah's birthday. Happy Birthday! I wanted to celebrate with her, but by the time I called she was out. I thought no one would go out tonight. The wind, the rain, the cold i thought would keep everyone home. But Oren called me as he was walking into Pappa's and he said the place was crowded. So I was all wrong about how Tel Aviv people live.

January 30, 2008

As I was driving home from the hairdresser, cursing myself that I had allowed myself to sit around with a wet head instead of demanding a hair dryer and missing my turn in the blinding rain, the radio droned the Winograd Report. The complexity of the evaluation of the war and the responsibility was like the discussions of biblical commentaries I grew up with. On the one hand, on the other hand on the third hand... Personally I was impressed. It was not one person responsible for all the problems in the last war - it was actually the outcome of many years of shirked responsibility. This is the message we should get - we have to take responsibility for what is happening to us, and make it right. Too many years we've been letting ourselves slide.

But I would like to point out one more little fact. The person responsible for the war is the leader of the Hizbullah. Period. If Olmert made some stupid decisions and people died (especially in choosing his Defense Minister), if Tsipi Livni didn't have the nerve to speak out over what she didn't believe, if the army continued to screw up, all that is detail. The war was caused by declared enemies, and mistaken leaders should be chided, should be corrected, should be helped.

I say this despite the fact that I never liked any one of the leaders who screwed up, and despite a long term personal dislike for Dan Halutz.

And yes, I'm now coming down with a major cold and my hair doesn't look that good.

To return to the moment to the Winograd Commission, I am reminded of an old poem of mine:


"One clear loser in the hostage crisis is Israel, which has gone down nine points in the ratings" NBC, June 30, 1985


"This is the game ..." You draw a diagram.

"First, a river" a line across the page.
"On this side lives a husband and wife."
You write (H) and (W) on the bottom half.
"On the other side are her lovers," (L1) and (L2),
who live in view of each other.
(L1) loves (W) madly but (W) is mad for (L2)
who doesn't really care but consents
to sleep with her when she's there.

"There are two ways to cross the river
a bridge and a boat. The boatman, (B),
for a coin will carry anyone anywhere.
The bridge is free, but from eight at night
until eight A.M. is patrolled by a murderer (M)
who destroys those who try to pass.

"One morning (W) goes to see (L2).
They spend all day in bed.
She is so besotted
she forgets the time, and it is eight.

"When she runs to (B) she sees
she has left her wallet at home
and asks to owe the money.
(B), a businessman,
does not operate on credit.

"Returning to (L2) she asks
for a small loan, but he reiterating
what he said in the morning shakes his head.
He has no ties to her, except, as she knows,
an indifferent willingness to acquiesce. Can
she stay the night, she asks. He shakes his head.

"(L1) watches her run down his path, desperate,
hysterical. 'If you love me at all, please
lend me the money for the ride or give me a roof
for the night!' 'Not I who have watched you two all day
in love and pain I will not be further used and wounded.'

"It is bitter cold, and if she sleeps outside
(W) will surely freeze. Perhaps, she thinks, the
murderer will not come out now. She tries
the only way left.
When she gets to this point," You draw an (X)
with your pencil half way across the bridge, "She is killed.

"Now," you say in triumph, "List
the letters in order of responsibility."


That was years ago and I, a young American, newly wed,
wrote down (W), (at least she should know
to take her purse) then (H), (who could not keep
his wife at home with love, understanding, reason,
who did not go to look for her).

The lovers were somewhere in the middle
but he who loved should have wanted
to save her, had an obligation to that love.

The one who didn't care should
have cared for self respect.

The boatman can you blame a capitalist?

At the bottom of the list, I wrote (M).

After all, I had been everyone, felt shame
for all of them, except the man on the bridge.

January 31, 2008

If you look to east in Tel Aviv at sunset, you can see the snow-capped mountains.

That's the good part. The bad part is that everyone is suddenly wearing padded coats and sneezing all over. Including me. Padded coats, Who wears more than a snazzy jacket in Tel Aviv? The weather is clearly cutting into our style.

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