Tel Aviv Diary - July 20-24. 2019 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary -July 20-24, 2019 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 20, 2019

A big article in Haaretz in hebrew this weekend about a friend, Jonathan Metzl, and his book, "Dying of Whiteness" surprised me enough to read in Hebrew. why talk about medical issues in the U.S. when we have so many problems of our own? but everything he says is parallel - that people shoot themselves in the foot, and elsewhere, because of the fear of foreigners.

July 21, 2019

So I'm continuing my efforts to bring back as many people who have left this country for political or economic reasons - just to vote.

After all, all the people i know who were in small businesses here had to leave because they got booted out by chain stores and China. Boutiques, grocers, hardware stores - No regulation and a lot of taxes. I remember Oren's restaurant woes because the taxman counted more chairs than he had figured on, or because the restaurant was open for more hours than allowed, or whatever. it was as though they were after small businesses while the big ones got and continue to get away with murder. Some suckers believe the line that our economy is booming - but that's only like when you have one foot in boiling water and the other on ice - so your temperature is normal but it's hell.

For months and months our street has been torn up as the 'remodeling' takes place. the electricity and phone lines are going underground, the water pipes and drainage is undergoing major changes, and everyone and everything is covered with dirt. and for the past two weeks the digging is going on under my window. the noise, the filth, the inaccessibility, and the shouting in Arabic...Wait! The shouting in Arabic? "who will build our land?" we used to sing, and the answer was always with pride, "We, the Halutzim, we will build this land." "Who will plant the trees?" "We will..." But our street is being built by Arab workers, who arrive early in the morning, and labor in the dust and noise through the hottest days of the year, so that we can have a bourgeois, leafy street.

July 22, 2019

my plan is to go to bed early tonight because we have to be at the hospital at 7 tomorrow. but as we are getting ready to turn in the announcement comes of a nurses' strike in the morning. their situation is indeed dire - long hours, small pay, understaffing, and with a lack of supplemental aides. but i hope they settle before morning. too many people depend on them.

but how can i go to sleep now? We walked along the beach this afternoon and discovered the masses doing their constitutionals. lots of runners, bicycles, and lovers. no starfish. no medusas. People in the water. thank goodness! something good happening this summer.

July 23, 2019

Sorry to be so self-involved but all that interested me today was what would happen in the hospital. And they had a skeleton staff so many people had to wait long hours for their treatment. Not us. We were lucky to get in early and get out soon. and i got in a little shopping here and there while Ezi was waiting for the test results. maybe too much shopping. but not enough. never enough.

The Minister of Health (well he won't accept the title of minister of health, only associate minister of health) is opposed to the strike. the minister of finance has disappeared for the summer. But I saw what is driving the nurses mad. There is far too much paperwork that could be done by associate staff. there are far too many 'other' jobs that keep nurses from doing their job. you may remember when Ezi was first hospitalized he was in the hematology ward in the basement. The nurses there 'cheated' by having people like me do their work. So the day would start with a blood test. Then I was sent to the lab on the other side of the ward to deposit the blood sample. when the answer came in, and the doctor prescribed the chemo, i was sent to the 10th floor with the prescription. A hand would receive the prescription and a voice would order me to return in half an hour. i would return to the patient with coffee and a sandwich from the cafe and then go back for the chemo, which i would bring to the basement and the nurses who would hook up the patient. there were times when i was asked to teach another caregiver the process as well. Those days would end for me in total exhaustion. (forget the patient for the moment) All this stopped years ago when the hospital wanted to receive accreditation and the ward and the pharmacy were brought together among many other changes. But the nurses' pay was not increased, and their work was not lessened. and as everyone with a computer knows - they don't save work for the individual but puts more responsibility on her/him.

July 24, 2019

Tamar Tuchler is the chair of the urban conservation organization in Tel Aviv, and one of her most urgent projects is the preservation of the Customs House in Jaffa, The Customs House built in the '30s was the immigration terminal for immigrants from the time of the British Mandate and numerous refugees entered through that building to the holy land. It's not a very pretty building but should be preserved as an immigrant museum in the way Ellis Island is preserved, and today she tried to enlist our help because it may be that Ezi's grandfather helped build it. I don't know if it can be done - she's been fighting city hall for the past three years and losing - but it's worth a try. so if you have any ideas, let me know.

i have been a bit ambivalent about this building because it is not very aesthetic but it was an important place to step in for so many years.

one thing i know: the city will make a ton of money on this real estate


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