Tel Aviv Diary - July 3-7 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - July 3, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 3, 2009

Friday afternoon stroll on the boardwalk. The sun just beginning to slowly set in the Western sky and we start from the north, just south of the bridge after the electric company, with the exercise machines - a little playground for adults. Then we watch with great pleasure the birds attacking some kids trying to play soccer in the field. By the time we finish playing it is already six and we get some ice cream, while watching the entry of the sabbath being celebrated with a little missionary klesmer band, and then we step into Castro for a t-shirt on sale. By then we're tired and head back but hunger overwhelms us and we are drawn into the air conditioning of comme-il-faut restaurant. On our way out the crowds begin a major invasion. Now I'm ready for bed and the neighbors upstairs are just beginning their big party.

July 4, 1009

What will become of the universities here? When did we stop respecting study, research, intellectual inquiry? I'll bet that if we started a school for fame our registration would shoot up and we'd started getting some of the money the government owes us back again. Not talent but fame.

Or maybe a school for how to make money. But of course the example of the university doesn't really allow it to draw crowds in that area.

I heard one suggestion for raising money for the university today that beats all of the others for its metaphoric truth - turn part of it into a cemetery and sell plots. Professors can get buried for free.

All this kvetching is connected of course to the sudden 'resignation' of the only president I ever encountered in the university who was a mensch, a gentleman and a scholar. For years the power of the faculty has been eroding and the interests of the university have been becoming purely financial - a very dangerous thing when it comes to education. And Zvi Galil put the old-fashioned academic goals first.

July 5, 2009 - The Aviary -

How an an aviary be uniquely Tel Avivian? I didn't quite believe it, but the birds are just like the local people. First off, there is almost no concept of borders in the aviary. A heron may be sitting in it's little heron place or walking down the visitors' aisle. A parrot may be picking at the cage walls from within or without. And the birds outside the Zapari in Yarkon Park are just as interesting as the ones inside. There was a tree of swallows - for example - by the big wooden mazes - that was making so much noise I couldn't help but stare until i could figure it out. Apparently it is the mating season and everyone is excited. The noise level and the action of wings flapping reminded me of any one of the night clubs on Allenby. And once inside I found the sexual activity even more reminiscent of the city. On the path between the herons and the cockatoos there was a young peacock presenting himself to a rooster who couldn't care less. This indifference seemed to inflame the peacock even more and as the rooster pecked his way down the road, the peacock was shivering all over. Later the rooster crowed but it didn't seem to change the peacock's mind at all. Ah, yes, just like the streets of Tel Aviv.

July 6, 2009

Did I already mention this petition to the U.N. about Hamas? I got it today but it has been circulating since January and apparently we signed it months ago. It seems that some of the facts need to be called to their attention.

July 7, 2009

With no trouble at all I could fill these pages with complaints about laws being made in Israel. The one about illegal immigrants. The crazy taxes. The lack of government developed industry bothers me the most today. I ran into some students who are unemployed and some old friends who are unemployable (and being treated for depression) and all i could think about was a new deal. The number of teachers, tutors, teacher's aides, nurse's aides, administrative assistants needed in government institutions is phenomenal. The amount of funds required to 'employ' people in these positions certainly is less than the amount of damage to the social structure of society which wastes its human resources and demoralizes the population. I'd get some of the incredibly young writers I've met this year involved in a guidebook for all the villages and cities in this country, like they had in the '30's in the U.S., and art projects to take some of the ugliness out of the little development towns (although there I think we're not doing all that badly.) More music teachers. More cleaners. More interior designers. More shesh-besh teachers.

I have long suspected that one of the reasons for the increase of autism in children is the lack of human contact in our society - not just Israel but everywhere. So the idea of more regular 'people' becoming involved in the educational process is one of my big dreams. My own life was significantly altered by adult attention at crucial periods in my children - the kindness of strangers - people talking to me, asking me questions, taking a bloody interest. This was my mother's major success - she could get blood out of a stone by paying attention to children. I will never forget the way she trained a seriously mentally challenged child for his bar mitzvah. Some people said it was just rote learning but I knew his whole life would be affected by the success he managed to achieve that day before the entire congregation. In other words, making people involved in a society by giving them employment benefits the individual and benefits the society.

Some people didn't quite believe the picture of the peacock and rooster. So here it is from the opposite direction. The peacock is a little clipped, and these pictures were taken with my cellphone so they're not totally clear, but the perversion is obvious.... To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

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