Tel Aviv Diary - June 16-20, 2012 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - June 16-20, 2012 Karen Alkalay-Gut

June 16, 2012

This poem by Aryeh Sivan came out in Hebrew over a dozen years ago.


After the fiftieth victim and the two-hundred-twentieth injured
The news of those coming after are like flies,
Not even dead-flies, smashed
On window glass and on the screens.

Only an uncommon event like for example
an eight month old boy whose face
Is a strainer of perforated rubber or the old Arab
Beaten to death after hed already died twice or three times.
Just that kind of incident transforms the item to something
Like an angry wasp or an inconsolable bee
Spinning broken circles around the head

Until suddenly
On some spring day of an Eastern heat wave
A Jew is sitting down to supper
And the house fills with little flies
Hundred of little flies
On the dishes, the food, the eyes
On the ears and the face

Even if the person totally seals his orifices
How can he taste and how enjoy
Until the breeze returns and blows from the west.

Rafi Weichert points out the allusions are to the medieval poet, Yehuda Halevi's "I am in the west but my heart is in the east" referring to Jerusalem.

June 17, 2012

As the grandmother of a male toddler I am learning to watch out for cranes (airplanes and trains are of lesser importance)and although this is not something I would have noticed before, the search takes me into developing neighborhoods and unbuilt areas that are sometimes fascinating. Today for instance I was in the new part of Shikun Bavli, less than a mile west from us. There were cranes all over the place, gorgeous apartment buildings facing the sea, supermarkets, new playgrounds. Where have I been? It looks very ritzy.

Who lives there? I don't know anyone, even though it's just near my place.

June 19, 2012

Went to see "Return to Haifa", a play based on the novel by Ghassan Khanafani. the dramatic version is by Odded Gaon, and it is a confrontation between two families - Jewish and Arab - in Haifa in 1967. The Jewish family has raised the baby abandoned by the Arab family in 1948, and only when the borders opened in'67 could they return to look for him. I'm sure Gaon's version is a bit more palatable to us than the original, but it certainly works. Now I have to find the novel to compare.

I'm sure it cant be as good in translation as it is in Hebrew and Arabic but it is worth seeing in any language. Linda told me it has been presented in London by the Cameri but we didn't hear how that went.

Or maybe we did but I wasn't paying attention. Things pass through one's consciousness and then disappear sometimes. Like I remember when Ghassani was "assassinated" by the Israelis after the Munich massacre, and thinking then it was a serious blunder, but can't remember whether i was alone in that thought or not.

In any case, the play was magnificent. Rosanna Campos is now - at the age of - what - 55? - getting the parts she deserves. The others were lifted up by the parts they played. The characters themselves are so noble that it demands a very profound personality to get into them, especially the Arab mother who didn't mean to leave her infant alone but was swept up by the crowd pulling her to the English boats that evacuated the Arabs from Haifa. We didn't see Mira Awad, but another actress whose name I didn't get, but I'll get it. She seemed too young for me but full of promise.

June 20, 2012

Now you see I am prejudiced. I have rethought my evaluation of the actress who played the Arab mother, Sophia, in "Return to Haifa." Raida Adon. She has a role that demands moving from tragedy to tragedy. Sa'id, her husband, played by Suhil Haddad, has comic lines, ironic lines, angry lines. But Sophia only suffers. That must be a very tough role to act - and it must be an even tougher role to live.

We're going to have another rocket night tonight, but that's no what bothers me. I've been worried about the Sinai for years, and have been talking about this since 2005. Here for example. The U.N. then was getting worried about travelling in Sinai because it was so wild and violent and now it's a haven for Al Kaida. I think that Al Keida thinks the elections in Egypt are going to make things easier for them, but the Muslim party is going to have to make some tough decisions about getting rid of the new guys in town or they too will be in trouble.

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