Tel Aviv Diary June 12, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - June 25-9 , 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

June 25, 2005

Still under the spell of France and England, I am suddenly aware to what extent Tel Aviv is a liberated and liberating city. The freedom and informality screams out of the television, the radio, the streets, everywhere. Why is it? It took me a few hours to realize the difference - it is the cats. There are no animals on the streets in London or Paris. The streets are not really cleaner there (the same stench everywhere)and there is a sense of laissez-faire.

And the absoluteness of Sabbath. The quiet, the calm, the sense of a distinction between work and life. The more I see the consumption society overwhelming the world, the more i appreciate the Sabbath.

And the more I see antisemitism, the more i appreciate Israel. It doesn't matter that it is perceived antithetically... that Israel is the cause of antisemitism. Before it was Israel it was christian blood in matzo making, or disease or sexuality. There was always a reason to kill the jews.

and they did

June 26, 2005

I only have a few minutes before my daughter's birthday party so I won't start long stories.

Too late.

We had a very nice birthday party and now i'm too tired to tell the usual tel aviv tales. But this morning i had to pick up some pictures at the tiny strip mall on tagore street and my friend and me were talking about the best possible scenario for israel. He told me he'd read somewhere in the papers this weekend that Ruth Calderon had said that it would be like a Continental flight - some people get Glatt Kosher meals and some people get kosher meals and some people bring sandwiches and some people eat pork and nobody looks into any one else's plate. "But look at this mall," he said. "There's a yeshiva, and the university dorms where most of the students are Arab, and a non-kosher butcher who sells what is probably forbidden to all the previous population (and thriving) and this is all within a fifty foot radius.

Strange? But common. I just got a wrong number on my cellphone. "Salaam Aleichum," the guys says. "Salaam Aleichum to you too," I answer, "But I think you've got the wrong number." "Apparently," He answers in Arabic. "So Salaam Aleichum to you anyway. Bye."

June 27, 2005

As I wait for the guy to pick up my laptop for repair (again!!!) I catch up on the internet with the desktop I hate (it's shared with Ezi and I need exclusivity to be intimate) and read Lisa's website about her trip to Jordan. That woman has a life! Me, the only time I get out in Tel Aviv is like today when I have an old friend from abroad coming. She actually voiced a great desire to eat felafel! So I'm going to take her to shuk bezalel and see what the brand name manufacturers have dumped - you can get boss shorts for five shekel on a good day. or calvin klein t shirts. or donna karan shorts. all kinds of good stuff.

Maybe I can convince her to get out of the sun and go to the museum.

No. We went to the Mall and went through the remnants of summer sales. As usual I looked for kids' t-shirts with Hebrew lettering and as usual found only English. But although all the Mall (and all the shops) are such an imitation of Western culture, I enjoyed much more than shopping in Paris. (In London I am still quite enamored of the enormous department stores with everything in order - M&S is so much more managable than Bloomingdales.) So even though there wasn't much in my size, there was more than in Gallery Lafayette, and the prices were much better. Most important the behavior of the people was far more civilized. That was the good of going abroad this time - enjoying the shopping back home.

June 28, 2005

Because I was going to get drops in my eyes I took a taxi to the eye doctor (I don't take busses because I haven't taken busses for 20 years - because I'm lazy). The drive was standard, some talk about politics (Netanyahu), some talk about movies (The Thief of Baghdad), and a little discussion of the architecture on Ibn Gvirol. But as the driver handed me the receipt he added, "I'd like to thank you in the name of the Management, in the name of Social Security, in the name of the Municipality..." and drove off, leaving me doubled over with laughter just outside of the doctor's office. It was not THAT funny, I know, but it is pretty amazing to me how many times I get a really unique answer from common interactions. More of this when the drops wear off.

June 28, 2005

Driving around Tel Aviv I see the orange ribbons flying from car antennas. There are blue ones too. Orange is the color used by those opposed to the disengagement. Blue, chosen in contrast, is for the supporters. I wanted to put a blue one on my car, and then someone said to me, "Aren't you worried about repurcussions?" Of course I said no, but the blue ribbon is still sitting on my car seat, waiting to be flaunted. And it reminded me suddenly of the Jewish Museum and the Arab Museum in Paris. The Arab Museum is totally open, full of concerts and exhibits and cafes and people. The Jewish Museum, harder to enter than an airplane, seems closed off, guarded. And why? Because the Jews are threatened and the Arabs are not. So with the ribbons. The orange ribbons fly proudly, the blue ones sit on the car seat.

In Paris I discovered I had brought clothes in anticipation of the cold weather promised on the internet. So I had to go out and stock up. I bought an orange t-shirt, forgetting its significance at home. So I was very pleased to see today that there is a new t-shirt - orange - and printed in big black letters: Not Political Orange.

And now I have a meeting with the Jerusalem Review people. It will be problematic because the settlers will be blocking roads in demonstrations at 5. That means I won't be able to get out of the meeting until night!!!

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