Tel Aviv Diary July 20, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - July 20 - 24 , 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 20, 2005

Since this week is pretty much shot for me (don't ask), I'm looking forward to next week's entertainment. Especially since it is our 25th anniversary and I have overbooked for that day. After I got tickets to the Opera Master Class (at 7:30 p.m.), I discovered that Sharon Moldavi is playing with Shiff Arad at Tau (Hertzl 1)on the 26th. Fortunately his show starts at 10:30 pm. It's also free.

Watching the settlers and their supporters fighting the army, disobeying the law, I am struck by how romantic it is - God on my side and all that. Their prayers seem to reinforce their conviction - the land given by God and all that. But THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW, and this lack of respect for the State of Israel, for the independent soveriegn government, puts me in mind of the diaspora mentality, the need to outmaneuver the government that exploits and persecutes the Jews. It is a mentality that Israel was created to overcome.

July 21, 2005

It's not that I'm happy about the disengagement. Anything not negotiated is stupid. But our efforts should be in uniting against mutual enemies - terrorism for example. Here's a site you might consider signing after you see it. Unite Against Terror . I don't know how much petitions help, but it's a start.

While the London bombings were going on today, and the terror filling the streets, we were obliviously enjoying a beautiful lunch at a place on the beach called Seatori. Everything was white, with a few stripes and some deep brown wood for contrast, and the light and the beach was definitely paradise. The food was just a bit too pretentious to be perfect, but it was close. The contrast between being in paradise and hell struck me only when i got back to the car and turned on the news. Whether the bombs were a failure or not doesn't really matter - they've succeeded in creating chaos.

July 22, 2005

Sayed Kashua, as usual, burns into my heart. Today's Ha'aretz piece by him is proof. Even though I think there is something wrong with the translation. He overhears some Jewish-Israeli men discussing current events and concluding that the best thing for them is to keep the Arabs squabbling among each other. Then he goes home without the meat he had promised to bring his wife, and when she gets angry, remembers what he overheard.
"Listen," I said in a gentle voice, "I really love you, you know, give me a hug."
"What?!" my wife asked, surprised.
"I love you, and you know what is most important?"
"I'm listening."
"That we shouldn't batter each other."
"All right, all right, give me the kid and do the dishes."

Kashua is someone I'd love to know - because he sees his personal life in relation always to the political, and often with irony which should not be mistaken as merely humorous.

July 23, 2005

Joan Dornemann's Opera Master Class put in a mood of hope, of encouragement, of improvement. It was held in Jaffo, in the usual hall, and each singer emerged from her lesson a bit wiser. The questions she raises are of identity and relation, and these are always political as well as personal.

Last night's party also raised political issues for me - it's the group of families who tour Israel together - most of them very left, and very zionist. Our big question was about what kinds of trips we would take the next year. Should we study our immediate environment better, or should the lectures we take be organized around the north-south axis of Israel - from Metualla to Eilat. I was one of those who want to stay close to home, perhaps because I'm getting more and more agarophobic with each bomb that goes off. But I fear I lost on the argument. But it was such an innocent day.

And then to wake to hear of the bombings in Egypt. What can I do to help stop it? What can the individual do? The sense of helplessness is part of the damage.

And then I realized, Sayed Kashua's fear - Arabs quarreling with Arabs - how many were killed today? - Every Imam in every mosque must come out against terror, against all hatred.

July 24, 2005

I'm back to looking at apartments in Tel Aviv - just like years ago when I wrote the poem Apartment Hunting in Tel Aviv. Now any where in the world apartment hunting is like going to one museum after another, but in Tel Aviv I know almost immediately from the address what the apartment will look like inside. There are a very limited amount of choices. 1) The hallway model (where the entrance is in the middle of a long and narrow flat. To one direction is the living room, before you the tiny kitchen and to your right the rooms 2) the box - where you come at one corner of the square - next to you is the wall, before you the bathroom and/or kitchen and to the other side the living room, with the bedrooms in the farthest corner from the entrance, and 3) the Bauhaus. Entrance into a hallway that opens on each side to a different area of the house. The floors of all these places are generally stone blocks, in some form of sesame seed pattern. The living room either opens onto a balcony or has been 'redone' so that it has the standard blinds of the standard balcony. The only questions are where is it? is it a noisy street? what ventilation does it have? how much is it? how much will you really take for it? and is there a parking spot under the building? And with all that, it takes forever to find something. Especially now, when the prices are going wild.

I can't remember at what point in the preparation of Shusha to remove that ugly growth on her head, the vet suggested (or agreed) that we give up on a general anesthetic and I would hold her for the duration of the operation. But the way I kept quiet and focused on the operation was to watch exactly what was going on and talk about my husband's grandfather and all the places he built in Israel. After I got through describing his involvement in building the big synagogue on Allenby Street, the vet (sewing up Shusha's head) said, "You know, MY grandfather built the first synagogue in Zichron Yakov." In general, a successful operation performed by a complementary team.

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