Tel Aviv Diary July 5, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - July 5-9 , 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 5, 2005

Because I was invited to give the plenary 'reading' at a Study Day of CONTACT, College English Teachers' at Achva College , I got to participate in a pretty amazing session of Playback Theatre

Now this is a little theater in which one person tells a story and the others have to act it out. Then they 'return' the story to the teller and the moderator asks the teller how it was. What's interesting to these pages is the fact that there is an attempt to bridge the gap between people, to make the players understand the teller, for example, and to enable the audience to become part of the other. Now my daughter has been doing playback for years, and has been telling me why it's so wonderful, but only in acting in it have i begun to understand. The entire Study Day seemed to be concerned with in depth understanding the other, both formally and informally, but I didn't get to hear the last talk, by Alan Hoffman, so I might be wrong, but I doubt it. The significance for me was pretty clear - overcoming the barriers between self and other has a high priority for these people, religious (Jewish and Muslim) and non-religious alike.

July 6, 2005

Tomorrow i am supposed to get my computer back, and then i'll be able to write like i'm used to. At the moment i find it so uncomfortable to write i can't think straight. I mean even though there is so much to write about - such as a long conversation with Amal this morning about the admirable organizational success of less than admirable right extremists....

July 7, 2005

I was in the middle of writing when my back-up computer collapsed, and although both computers are back (hooray!) the terrible tragedies in London are putting a terrible perspective on my little mishaps.

There is so much to say, and and it is so impossible. I am now off to take Oren to have polyps removed from his vocal chords, and finding it hard to leave the television - Holborn Station was just closed down and evacuated. I know it is futile and panic-provoking to call my friends to see if they are okay, what with the phones stressed to breaking.

By the time I get back, the confusion will be clear - and I am sure the clarity will show a greater tragedy than we can imagine now.

In the waiting room of this strange hospital, where most of the patients were Haredi, and some were also English, while we anticipated our loved ones to wake up from the anesthesia, we watched the horrors on television. Of course it also took us back to those days when every day brought us another terrorist incident. I couldn't but remember why i began this diary, just because my friends abroad would call in panic to see if i was alive. Then they would feel terrible because they were afraid the call just made me more nervous. And here our foreign minister announced that we should avoid trying to call England because we were tying up the lines they need to get in touch with each other and take care of their situation.

So Oren is okay - so far - but i'm packing Ezi up for a quick trip to the US tonight. And I'd rather keep all the people I love close - in the kitchen. (I'm quoting some old poem of mine that's online somewhere - "Mobilization"). I quote it in an earlier journal entry

June 8, 2005


Here on this side are all the people
who want to live together, Arab and Jew.
And on that side are all those
who do not, who throw rocks
or whatever venom they can
at whomever is on the other side.

People say this fight is about land
or old scores or ideals or sepulchers.

I say we’ve got the groups disordered.
Right now it is between those
who can see the other side
and want a chance to grow in peace
and those who believe
theirs is the only side there is
and want to win a war.

So here's my plan. Every European county, every government, must enlist each Moslem community in actively fighting terror, must turn to every Imman and ask for active participation.

This includes study groups about the role of the individual in society, channels of information to communicate the possibility of terrorist activity, and a program for social and communical cooperation.


Ezi, in the meanwhile, is up in the air somewhere, and Oren is recovering but silent.

July 8, 2005

On the way back from the periodontist, my jaw still throbbing, i stopped at the herzlia mall, and indeed the shopping therapy made me forget the painful chips. The Druze pizza i bought tasted very sour but i can't tell if it wasn't connected to the dental work. The sandals, however, are a dream. Overpriced, but a dream. The crowds and their noise was mitigated by the jazz trio playing by the escalators, and the pushing and shoving was eased by the pleasant atmosphere. It's Friday morning so everyone is in a rush, but there's a lot of money being spent and a lot of smiles.

It is as if London had not yet registered.

And yet, all the while I kept thinking about HD's poem, "The Walls Do Not Fall,". She was sitting there in London in the middle of WWII, hearing the bombs fall, watching the private become the public as a bomb takes out a wall of a house, and thinking is there the reason we've survived all this, that we're still here?

July 9, 2005

I can't tell if i made a mistake about the sandals. Sandals are very basic here - even though it is terribly hot right now, i walk the dog around 4 times a day (tried to do it barefoot the other day and wound up hopping around the sidewalk in front of my house. Amal was very amused.) Anyway - the sandals: I fell in love with a pair of TEVA sandals even though they were incredibly expensive and bought them because I figured they were made in Israel. After all TEVA means nature in Hebrew. The salesgirl called them TEEVA, and promised they were made in the US, but i didn't believe her. Then I came home and began to wonder. Teva-Naot are made in Israel, but maybe they sold the copyright to a US company, made in China by 6 year olds. What did I buy? I can't find the truth even on the internet!!! This site looks good but I don't trust it. Anyone?

One thing I know is locally made is the steak I had for lunch today at Meat-Bar. This is first time I've been there (it was pretty amazing, by the way, and I'm stuffed - for the first time in a long time) but I've always been curious about it because I heard good things and because of the etymology of the name. There used to be an all night bar on Balfour Street called "Midbar." Midbar means desert in hebrew and the idea of it was it's oasis atmosphere - a cool place in a bourgeois town. It was shut down by the neighbors as i recall. But before that happened, Meatbar opened. A kind of inside parody. But Tel Aviv is full of little verbal secrets. For example, the Meat Bar is situation on Chen Boulebard. Chen means charm in Hebrew, and indeed the Boulevard is one of the most charming places in the city. But the name really comes from an abbreviation of the first two names of the poet, Chaim Nachman Bialik.

So here's a tiny poem from the place:


The black alley cat
watches my little white terrier pass
with a look of utter disdain

The twain shall only meet
on this civil street
here in Tel Aviv

To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

To Karen Alkalay-Gut home