Tel Aviv Diary July 25, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - July 25 - 29 , 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 25, 2005

Ezi captures the Yarkon river at sunset.

Well a week has gone by and I haven't been able to digest the death of David Margolis. The piece in the Jerusalem Report shows how much he was loved. It shines even through the formality of the obituary genre.

July 26, 2005

Oren on disengagement in the San Francisco Chronicle

He says nobody gives a damn. I kind of think maybe it is more complicated than that. First of all, even the most dedicated to disengagement have a problem with the one-sidedness, the incompletion of it, the lack of faith in the 'leader' who is responsible (even the way he let his son get blamed for something that he is doubtless responsible for, shows the absoluteness of his sociopathy), the identification with the displaced.

And while I agree that Tel Avivians may appear to be totally self-involved, I think there is a reason for it, although not a justification.

July 27, 2005

Did you miss it? Moldavi at Tau? Shame if you did. He was great. Each time I hear him I am struck by how part of his power is 2nd generation survivor - i mean who else would sing a rock song using the text of Paul Celan? He also seems amazingly integrated as a performer, and his ability to communicate extremely personal and moving texts is even more palpable now than ever. From the recent "Addicted to Withdrawal" to the old favorite, "Hot and Sweet," he has not changed, but incorporated all his past identities.

As we wandered around the grounds of the music center in Yaffo, waiting for the opera class to begin, we were struck by the American-European inappropriateness of it all. What is this doing in a neighborhood that is overlooked by Bloomfield Stadium, (the lighting built by Ezi's father Bandi, incidentally)and bordering auto repair shops, and warehouses? A half-hearted unsuccessful attempt at 'integration,' i guess. And there is a really vile bakery across the street, called "The French Kiss," with no air-conditioning and not ventilation, that is considered chic by the opera goers. I bought a spinach boureka, but it was so oily i threw it out before the second bite.

The Opera Class, by the way, was pretty extraordinary. The sophisticated and sensitive John Norris, got through to one of the israeli singers, by teaching her to flirt, but the other one couldn't take the internalization he was demanding, and kept winking to the audience.

Disengagement is getting closer and closer, and the human sides are becoming more and more painful. The families who are leaving homes they've lived in for years.... not the fanatics, but the people.

July 28, 2005

What a hypocrite you are, the guy in the orange shirt who pets my doggie on the street every day says to me. You say you feel sorry for the settlers but how are you suffering? Did your stocks drop a bit? Hey, my country too is being pulled apart, big chunks of it. We chose not to live in the territories when we came back to Israel in the 80's - even though we could have sold our small apartment and bought 2 huge villas with dunams of lands for the same price. And we would have paid taxes we could afford on top of it. And it would have been much closer for my husband to go to work. And we would have had decent schools without paint falling from the ceiling.

We made a choice THEN.

Tonight we made a choice to go to Mishmish. And because we were with Ruth and Joe from Pennsylvania, I noticed for the first time in a long time how it's facade violates all rules of advertising. No sign, no invitation to enter, no entrance from the street to speak of. And yet when you enter, it is a place of endless surprises and pleasures. This is the ideal of tel aviv.

July 29, 2005

First thing in the morning I see a review of Natan Yonatan's poetry in a bilingual edition in Ha'aretz. The reviewer, Vivian Eden, is in a difficult position. She wants to encourage translations of Hebrew Poetry, and the reading of those translations, especially with the original text alongside for comparison. But there is so much that irritates her, it is difficult for her to praise this edition. And as for me, although I'm listed as one of the translators, I didn't get much of a chance to recommend, change, or have any say in the book. In fact I only found out they were using some translations very late in the process. They were with Nathan and he probably decided what poems and which versions. I'm sure Janice Rebibo, who is mentioned on the cover as the only translator, would have been happy to share the glory and the hard work, but must have labored under some difficult pressures from the sponsors or someone else. But my point is that a country's literature should be treated as a national treasure. That poets in particular, as the source of the enrichment of the language (and translators as well - in the case of Hebrew which can reach such a limited audience without the grace of translations) should have the resources fromand the guidance of responsible agencies. This was the intention of the Hebrew Insitute of Translation, and, even with such terribly (how bout embarrassingly limited funding they manage to do a heroic job. When I am asked what was the most impressive thing I saw in Ireland I am first brought to mind of the fact that the poetry society has offices in the government compound. That's where it should be.

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