Tel Aviv Diary June 30, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - June 30-July 4 , 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

June 30, 2005

My diary is on the computer that lingers in the IBM shop, so if i stand someone up today, that's it. Yesterday I managed to get almost everywhere on time, but Ezi got stuck a block away from home for half an hour because of the disengagement demonstrations.

I have no doubt that the people who arranged these demonstrations should be arrested and charged with endangerment. I also have no doubt that their motives, beyond calling attention to disengagement, are pure frustration at not being the center of the universe. I mean that's what they were told for thirty years - that they ARE the center of the universe - and now we say we can get along without them. How sad.

I wrote those two words and went away, but found I couldn't STAY away. Why is it sad? Because so many people were misled by the government and themselves? Because so many people seem to have lost all shred of human empathy? Because they won't succeed? (THAT, i'm not positive about.) I think it is because all I wept about concerning the use of Palestinian children in 2000 is now apparent here. We constantly fight an enemy. And then become it.

July 1, 2005

My computer with all my dates on it is still at the shop and will be there all of next week, so expect me to miss what you haven't reminded me to get to. I was in the middle of bemoaning this, when suddenly a small, familiar voice said in my head - "you're complaining about not having your computer for a few weeks and there are people losing entire houses, there are people losing complete ideologies..." It's the same voice from my youth, when a parent would say to a child: "You're complaining about not having enough lunch money? when i was your age in Auschwitz we were lucky to get a piece of bread once a day...It's the voice that makes you feel bad about complaining, invalidates your own suffering in the face of truly much greater suffering experienced by many. It's actually part of living in Israel.

This is an argument you can't win.

More about this and the relationship to democracy later.

July 2, 2005

Orange ribbons flying from cars - that's because people with blue ribbons get the ribbons taken away and their cars scratched. And the people with blue ribbons say nothing. Maybe they're angry, but they have done nothing. They did nothing a few weeks ago when the sidewalk markings that identified parking areas were obscured with orange, and a pedagogical lesson added in a flyer about this being the beginning of disengagement coming to tel aviv. But then again - years ago when kids wouod come in droves to ramat aviv to heckle Rabin as he was entering or leaving his home - we did nothing.

Democracy, you know.

Invalidation, you know.

Watching the LIVE AIDS around the world on live tv, I wish so much that all that good will can do something. The eyes of the audience are so warm, so trusting. And yet at the same time I fear there are a few people who are going to make a lot of money from this.

When we put the new floors in a few months ago, we were assured they were almost maintenance free. But as the days went by I began to notice they were getting darker and darker. In the past few days we've been on our hands and knees slowly and painfully scrubbing them down. I\ve also been restoring and framing some of the more interesting paintings and drawing we have. So I am particularly aware of the need for maintenance. Today we went to the Tel Aviv Museum and instead of the artwork I kept seeing dirty signs, faded carpets, unpainted walls, insufficient lighting, scuffed plaques. I would love to take the amazing collection they have and clean it up, restore some of the paintings, reframe others, and reoorganize the whole thing, supplementing the works with pamphlets, explanations, contrasts. It's pretty clear it is a financial problem, but I'm sure with the right program they could get the right funds raised. There is just so so much more that should be done with that place. It looks like no one has touched the main collections (except with dirty fingers) since the 60's.

July 3, 2005

Had a dream last night about the museum. More of a memory of an opening over 20 years ago that was such a wild happening the whole place was hopping. Something about postmodern art, I'm sure. In the days before postmodern was tired.

Can I recommend a good restaurant in Tel Aviv? Sure - there's one opening every day. Like all restaurants, at first they are wonderful, but it's hard to maintain that freshness and intensity. Gabriels, on Montifiore Street where Bebele used to be, has the possibility of staying good. At least it is good right now - actually more than good.

I've been enjoying the latest arc (ARC 17, the journal of the Israel Association of Writers in English). Before I stuff it into envelopes I have to read it, and the concept is very good - "The Promised Trees," it's called.

I had a lesson today about trees - I rarely identify the local trees, even though they are a joyous part of my environment. They are all new to me, tropical and exotic. But today I was with Sabina Messag, who is into eco-poetry and knows the names of all the trees in English as well as Hebrew. The Coral tree is outside my window, the Flame tree down the street... Most of the trees are not really native to these parts, like the Jacaronda, but were brought here in recent years. The Eucalyptus, brought here to drain swamps and camoflage roads, is called the "Jew Tree" by the Arabs.

July 4, 2005

Did a radio program last night on poetry and independence for U.S. Independence Day. It was about how the poetry after September 11 became politicized.

In the old days we would celebrate at the Ambassador's, but I guess I was taken off their list.

A few of my friends have reported recent close calls on the road, caused by driver violations. It turns out that any citizen can report a traffic and/or parking violation via FAX to the police, and they will issue a ticket to the owner of the car. Get the form from here: 03-960-2600 (Agaf Ha'Tnuah Ha'Artizi). The FAX number for filing the complaint is 03- 960-2626, Attention, Rosh Agaf Ha'tnuah.

Make sure you include:
*License number of the car
*Make of the car (both company and type)
*Color of the car
*Location of the incident
*Description of the incident
*Time and date of the incident
*Your name, personal information and phone number
You also have to sign that you swear that the information is accurate and true.

July 4, 2005

Happy Independence Day!

Thin Lips is back performing - at the end of August at Tmuna. About the same time there will be a reading of ARC 17, which has finally come out.

I spent the past 24 hours with a blood pressure monitor - the most interesting part of it was the remote clinic they sent me to to pick up the monitor. Both coming and going I met ex-students who are in the midst of fertility treatments. It seems like one of the most developed elements of our health clinic. Well maybe not - and it is always great to see students from the distant past.

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