July 19

Normal day - signed a petition here, forwarded an email message there -

Yes I do have a real life but this diary is about Tel Aviv and the situation as it goes through my body, so no details here.

unless they relate to myself as a reflection of or reflector upon the politics and sociology.

We were talking about prize ceremonies today - a student of mine who won a prize a few years ago that should have earned him all of $200 but the university didn't prepare the check in time for some reason and I wound up handing him an empty envelope and a kiss.

Now see, my friend said, now that i know that ceremonies CAN be empty envelopes I see the check-giving ceremony in Gaza to families of suicide bombers in a different light. For example, he said, what bank is the check written from, how do they cash their checks, do they pay income tax, does the government take half, does the check bounce? where do they keep the money, do the local criminals follow the lists of names in the paper and break in?

Idle talk, surely. Except that he almost got blown up in one of those attacks, looked right in the eyes of the suicide bomber second before he blew up, and therefore has less sympathy than one might expect for the grieving parents.

What happens to the family of victims here? he asked me. Let's say my sister loses her legs and i'm her only relative - and i wind up taking care of her for the rest of my life and my fiance breaks up with me because i don't have enough time for her. Does she get compensation? Do I? Does my sister?

Does your sister know you're thinking about this, I ask him.

i don't have a sister.

problem solved.

Tonight at a party, Smadar reminded me of a poem i keep referring to in these pages. Robert Frost's "Mending Wall." It reflects for me the ambivalence that is so characteristic of our mood - sometimes i take the neighbor's side, sometimes i take the speaker's side. So here it is:

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side.  It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn't it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.'  I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

From The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1916, >

both sides have to be considered in our situation -

Is it me or are lots of Israelis suddenly remembering their Holocaust roots? Of course it could be just my age and the age of my friends - who are now beginning to understand their survivor parents and who now are going through some of the fears they learned to ignore almost 60 years ago. The feeling of being universally hated, of being enclosed in a hatred that encloses and directs - that seems to be the worst part.

July 22

Demolishing homes, displacing people.

Every time I think we have come to a red line, we cross it. Today I told Brian there is no way we are actually going to displace the families of terrorists.

But I am not absolutely sure.

And when Liz asked me once what would make me want to leave this country, I said 'transfer.'

But even if I left this country I would be responsible for its actions, so I guess there is no escape for me.

How am I responsible for what I can't control? That's collective punishment - a war crime. But I am.

I wrote a lot about this yesterday, and was surprised to discover today that I had been too tired to save it properly. It got erased in my memory too. Something about Liz and Rafi and the interview with them in the NY Times of April about why they've left Israel. Just checked it out: METROPOLITAN DESK -The Far Reach of Mideast Turmoil Published: 04 - 10 - 2002 , Late Edition - Final , Section B , Column 4 , Page 1. Couldn't get the article up, but I know Liz and why she's living in N.Y. One thing she says is that it hurts her too much to live here - and she's right. It is daily pain to live in this country. But I still think I can do more to change the reason for this pain if I stay.


Mending Wall
Robert Frost