Tel Aviv Diary July 1-5, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary July 1-5, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 1, 2008

Last night I almost wrote about the play at the Cameri and how excruciating it was, but then I thought - maybe it was a farce and I just didn't get it. After all, the entire audience was applauding as if a new Shakespeare had been discovered. But we looked at each other and cringed. From the first words the dialogue sounded unreal, and the actors unable to make people out of the characters. The subject seemed fascinating, and there was a moment near the beginning when I thought "The Right Age" would actually deal with some of the complications of the definitions of love for different ages. But it was full of simplistic stereotype, the plot was contrived and the subplots barely sketched out, and love turned out to be the most shallow emotion there is. How was it that everyone was responding? Only the next morning when I looked at the program did I realize how out of it I was. It was written by Yair Lapid, that gorgeous and endearing celebrity who MC's the channel 22 news on Friday nights. That's when I took the unfinished and unexplained plot and wrenched it into an allegory of Israel. The husband would have no past, he claims, if he leaves the woman he married right out of the army. She is literally his whole life. But he does in the end, going off with the young woman the same age as his daughter. Maybe he's suggesting a major change in political ideology? Then I remembered that the first couple I saw last night when we left the play was composed of a guy my age who left his wife for a teenager a decade ago. Still, I wish that Yair had finished the play so i wouldn't have to look for meanings.

Yes, I think that individual relationships are very much influenced by their political and/or religious environment. In this country in particular.

I write something down in the morning and by evening it is not longer relevant. Who cares about intimate relations between lovers in Israel when a guy crushes people to death with his steam shovel. The fact that this is the second time in recent months that an Israeli Arab becomes a mass murderer in Jerusalem tells of a pattern, and it is not of love.

July 3, 2008

Nothing can be effective against this kind of terrorism. Three innocent people killed. Last night I imagined the 'terrorist,' a junkie tempted to a terrorist organization with a particularly pure drug, driving down the main streets of Jerusalem with a beatific smile and a feeling of total joy, crushing cars, limbs, people. Maybe Peres was silly for saying that it was 'a mistake,' because it shouldn't be ignored, but it has to be become the basis for greater dialogue. Not necessarily for Arab-Jewish dialogue but for greater supervision and rehabilitation of ex-coms and addicts.

What was his motive? I don't care. Nothing justifies what he did, although, as Adloyada notes, the Telegraph claimed he had a broken heart over a Jewish girl, and the justice courts agreed that he belonged in jail for two years for raping that very girl.

You know who I would like to punish now? The people who went around rejoicing that three people were murdered. I really think it should be considered a crime for people to celebrate at the death of others. Particularly innocent others. And celebrations were rampant yesterday.

July 4, 2008

The American Ambassador at the Fourth of July celebrations last night (he couldn't have it on the fourth because it would be erev shabbat), began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Jerusalem attack and for Gilad Shalit. Hundreds of guests stood still, and only a few kept on eating and talking, and that might have been only because they didn't hear his announcement.

On Wednesday an emergency meeting from my faculty concluded that the faculty of humanities has had too many cuts to be able to make a schedule for the next year, and we would not be offering a program. I went home and turned on the news, sure that such a great tragedy would be announced immediately and diverted. But there was silence. The end of the best humanities faculty in the country and no one cares. "Oh, you'll find a way out," my friends say, but the people sitting with me at that meeting were people who were responsible for building the university in the first place. They are the star professors, dedicated from the beginning to creating a place for future generations. "It was a silly move," say some of my other friends. "The dean should have tried to work with what was left." Probably it would be better to go on that to stop like that - because as they say where there's life there's hope. But if no one cares, why keep trying?

July 5, 2008

Of course we keep trying. Of course we continue doing anything and everything we can do to ensure the continuation of humanistic thought in this country, in the full knowledge of how much of a struggle daily life is here, and how little time or energy is left for the luxuries of contemplative thinking, creativity, contextual thinking, and the rest. I know I work constantly in numerous ways for the arts in Israel with full knowledge of the fact that I am what is called here a "friyer," or in English, a sucker, because I get no remuneration for most of what I do, few concrete results, and certainly no glory. My next projects for example include another conference on writing in English in Israel that will encourage the role of English writers as cultural bridges to the western world, hosting a series of international guest poetry readings in the fall (while I will officially be on sabbatical), and an few programs to encourage awareness of writers here about our environment. I don't expect to receive any credit for any of these projects.

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