Tel Aviv Diary March 28, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from March 28, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

March 28, 2004

There is no doubt that our hierarchies of values are wrong - on all sides. Mine too. Two well-known details: One: I spent the week agonizing over the little boys who are sent as suicide bombers, and the week ended with the killing a 6 year old in crossfire (and of course, the mutual accusations). No child should be in those positions. Two: While my friend stayed home in terror of terrorism, 6 people were killed in road accidents. So even now we seem to be in the same situation of having a better chance of getting killed by a car than Hamas. And we COULD do more about preventing road accidents.

Okay, three: an elderly couple killed themselves yesterday in Ramat Gan. Their parting letter spoke of illness, which, perhaps is unavoidable. But it also spoke of economic stress and political dissatisfaction. And it speaks for the desperate situation of many old people - the social, physical, and political disappointments that we actually have a responsibility to ease. It would probably cost less to ease the physical and emotional pain of all the old people in this country than a single 'operation' in Gaza.

Pesach preparations begin early every year - for many it is physical: cleaning, purifying, buying new. For others it is psychological, putting off decisions until AFTER the holidays. For me it's both.

Another THIN LIPS review here.

March 29, 2004

The Student Union is selling hotdogs and cakes - giving 5 shekel for every purchase to the poor who have no food for Passover. I see people standing in line and buying cakes, but the same cakes remain on the counter. No one takes them - just give the money and move on. I actually bought three cakes, and they were great. Then I went to the bank, where a sign asking for food contributions dominates the space. I have to be back tomorrow and will bring some matzot. But it is clear that the people are trying to take up the slack that the government's 'reforms' have created. There are many families without enough to eat on a holiday.

This is not only a Jewish situation. We have seen the Muslims celebrating their holidays much more modestly this year - But for many of the Jews this is a totally new experience. For example, because many who work for municipalities have not been paid for as much as 6 months they suddenly find themselves in a different bracket. Some who have been helping others for years now find themselves on the other side of the soup kitchen. But how can a government function when a Prime Minister is being considered for an indictment for bribery. who can concentrate.

But it's also policy - the new capitalism.

My dentist told me this old joke - what's the difference between Bibi and a vibrator? Bibi is a REAL shmuck.

As Richard wrote me, old obligations still have to be met. Retired people who worked for a pension should not now find that the pension is gone because of different policies. People on a salary should not have that salary suddenly withdrawn from them. And those who break such social contracts should be prosecuted.

March 30, 2004

My Arab students hide their troubles from me sometimes. Yesterday, when a girl came to my office to hug me for my birthday, she didn't mention that she was worried about Land Day today, about the possible burning tires before her village, about the danger of violent demonstrations. She just smiled her warm and loving smile and wished me well.

And today when I thought about Land Day and the appointments i have with my MA students who are trying to concentrate on writing theses while the smell of burning rubber and the shouts of their neighbor invades their rooms.

In the evening it turns out that Land Day passed peacefully. For me it passed in Dizengoff Center, where I had to go to arrange a license and stuff. I was crossing the road there with Orit and suddenly stopped on the crosswalk. What happened? she asked me. And I found myself saying that this is the very spot where that terrorist blew himself up that terrible winter after Rabin was murdered. Why did I think of it? I've been there thousands of time since and have had thousands of wonderful experiences there.

Afterward we were having couscous in that great place on King George Street, sitting outside with the busses roaring by and the wonderful sun. And a very suspicious-looking man with a big knapsack stopped at the bus stop next to the restaurant. I had the Dizengoff bombing in my head and became a bit nervous, but in less than a minute a police car came by and spoke to the man with the knapsack. It took less than a moment. They spoke, the bus stopped, and the man got on.

March 31, 2004

Got a bunch of posters from Mifkad today. I would hang them from our balcony and the balcony of our children, but since we're going away it wouldnt be responsbile. So I'll looking for some temporary homes for them. Any one interested? If not I'll do it when I get back. We were warned that untended signs could be destroyed or defaced. At the beginning of my street there is a big sign on a house warning against withdrawal from Gaza that even I feel like defacing sometimes.

This may be my last entry before the holiday - but save the date of April 16 for Barbi in Tel Aviv - we open for Nekamat Hatraktor.


So if i don't get time tomorrow- have a great holiday.

aw, i'll check in every few days - don't give up.

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