Tel Aviv Diary - June 8-12 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - June 8-12, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

June 8, 2009

Too many literary activities - i can't even begin to describe the variety. Last week Dara Barnat had a party to celebrate her new book, Headwind Migration. That was in Tsomet Sfarim on Dizengoff Street. Tonight we welcome Seymour Mayne's visit with a reading in Neve Tsedek. In between there was a discussion of the biography of Assia Gutmann, and a thousand other events i wasn't involved in so decided to skip. Mostly out of pure exhaustion.

And would you believe it - this week will just begin Hebrew Book Week.

June 9, 2009

This petition came to me yesterday - there are probably more signatures by now -

The current Knesset, to the chagrin of decent citizens everywhere, is considering the following three bills, all of them blatantly anti-democratic, all of them flagrant violations of the basic right to free expression, essential to democracy.

1) That citizens who do not sign an oath, pledging their loyalty to the State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state and declaring their willingness to do military or alternate national service, will be stripped of their citizenship.

2) That anyone publicly marking Israel's Independence Day as a day of mourning, i.e. as Nakba, will be punished by imprisonment for three years.

3) That anyone denying the identity of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, if there is a reasonable possibility this will generate hatred, scorn or disloyalty to the state or any of its entities, will be punished by imprisonment for one year.

Because we understand the meaning of democracy and the nature and responsibilities of a truly democratic state, as many members of the current government clearly do not, we the undersigned.hereby declare our intention to publicly defy some or all of the above prohibitions if they are passed into law.


1. Prof. (emeritus) Bill Freedman

2. Prof. (emeritus) Zvi Sobel

3. Prof. (emeritus) Mechal Sobel

4. Dr. Shakhar Rahav

5. Prof. Sheizaf Rafaeli

6. Eliezer Rafaeli

7. Prof. Shimon Sapir

8. Prof. Avner Giladi

9. Prof. Adi Ben Ari

10. Yaron Ben Ari

11. Prof. Stanley Waterman

12. Prof. (emeritus) Michael Saltman

13. Prof. Kobi Peterzil

14. Prof. Danielle Schaub

15. Sandra Levy

16. Prof. Esther Levinger

17. Prof. Leon Blaustein

18. Prof. (emeritus) Butrus Abu-Manneh

19. Prof. (emeritus) Alexander Guiora

20. Prof. Ruth Lorand

21. Dr. Sara Meyer

22. Dr. Devorah Kalekin-Fishman

23. Prof. Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan

24. Prof. (emeritus) Shmuel Sever

25. Dr. Ilan Saban

26. Prof. Micah Leshem

27. Prof. Avi Oz

28. Prof. Guiora Hon

29. Dr. Michele Rosenthal

30. Prof. Tamar Katriel

31. Dr. Ron Kuzar

32. Prof. David Blanc

33. Prof. (emeritus) Yoram Carmeli

34. Prof. Daphna Carmeli

35. Prof. (emeritus) Gabi Salomon

36. Dr. Bennett Kravitz

37. Prof. John Myhill

38. Dr. Nadav Kashtan

39. Dr. Ruth Fidler

40. Dr. Yuval Yonai

41. Prof.. Debbie Bernstein

42. Prof. Vered Kraus

43. Dr. Ayelet BenYishai

44. Dr. Jonathan Berg

45. Prof. Anna Sfard

46. Prof. Mira Ariel

47. Prof. Noam Flinker

48. Prof. Uri M. Kupferschmidt

49. Uri Mor

50. Prof. Yehudit Harel

51. Sinai Peter

52. Prof. (emeritus) Irene Sever

53. Dr. Maria Yelenevskaya

54. Dr. Dalit Simchai

55. Dr. Yael Maschler

56. Illan Gonen

57. Prof. (emeritus) Reuven Shoham

58. Paul Inbar

59. Prof. Uri Bar-Joseph

60. Prof. (emeritus) Yossi Mart

61. Dr. Michal Daliot-Bul

62. Prof. Samuel J. Wajc

63. Dr. Diane Shubinsky

64. Prof. Susan Rothstein

65. Prof. Fred Landman

66. Dr. Amos Megged

67. Dr. Yehuda Shubinsky

68. Dr. Lynne Toubkin

69. David Toubkin

70. Michal Artzy

71. Miriam Rieck

If you want to add your name to this list, please write Prof. Bill Freedman:

My peace plan addition: I usually agree with Gershon Baskin who's article in the Post today was cool. But I have some things to add. 1. The law of return should go both ways. A million or so Jews in Israel might want to go back to their own countries of origin...

June 10, 2009

You'd think we'd encourage education in Gaza, wouldn't you? But we haven't been very nice about allowing books through - Maybe we're a little too edgy. Anyhow, this can be redressed by sending books or donations to the address at this site: There is no doubt in my mind that sending books is good. Sending money, well, i don't know.

I spent the afternoon with "Partisans of Vilna," that remarkable 1986 documentary of Lithuanian Jewish resistance. It is long because so many people relate so much about that terrible period, but I could not tear my eyes away from the screen. And I know that the entire story was not told. There was so much more that they simply couldn't get to. That amazing partisan leader, Abba Kovner, came to life again for me. I post my tribute to him, written when he was fighting throat cancer, in 1986


for Abba Kovner


Since noon was for Sloan Kettering
and evenings for recovery,
we paid our visit in the morning.
Amid sofas and tea, we spoke of poetry
and other easy solutions to complex problems,
until you rose, grabbed the shawl
that hid your disfigured throat
from the streets of New York, and said,
"Time for my dancing lesson."


"This is the last time I will speak in public,"
Abba said to the crowd at his presentation
of a Certificate of Recognition
from the City of New York.
They'd known he was a partisan,
been told he was ill,
but not until he stood
for his final words
did they know
our loss.


Dare to be simple, be true --
and though the cords are cut in your throat
your voice comes through,
still, small --piercing hearts
born even after the dust has made its peace
with your fighting bones

The poem doesn't do him justice, but it gives you an idea of what a stubborn fighter he was.

June 11, 2009

Those of you who've been following me for a long time know that I was holding Ezi's hand a lot in the Hematology ward at Ichilov for a long time last year. So you will be happy to hear that once again today, his PET scan came out clear. I've written about this a lot - especially in these poems. But Yoram Kaniuk did it much better in yesterday's Haaretz. When I was a child and hospitalized for months, my parents were allowed to visit for a very brief time every day. The staff took care of me. Now not only are visits encouraged, but family members and friends take an active role in the comfort and care of the patient. In the hemotology ward, i had the privilege and honor to 'be there,' to be able to check the medications, to be directed and encouraged by the staff. Yes, it is crowded. Yes, it is understaffed. But it is a serious and professional place, and a very large portion of the staff goes way beyond their job, and their warmth and comfort help in the patients' recover.

June 12, 2009

After leaving a particularly boring Doctoral Award Ceremony at the university, in which no hope for the future was given to the graduates (some of whom, I can say from personal experience deserve a really great future) we went to Max Brenner, the chocolatier, to get some sweetness. But we were greatly disappointed. The food, which was served to 10 people at 10 different times, was boring at best, shockingly bad at worst. I had something called a sushi sandwich which made me think about throwing up (and came with a little bowl of chocolate sauce which helped to killed the taste), and Ezi had schnitzel with chocolate sauce, while the guest of honor who had been dreaming about her ice cream chocolate dessert during her entire ceremony, returned the first dessert presented to her as inedible. If I didn't know better, if I hadn't had thousands of dinners and desserts at thousands of cafes in Tel Aviv, I'd think there was no future either.

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