Tel Aviv Diary March 10, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut <

Tel Aviv Diary - March 10-14, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

March 10, 2006

What does Dan Pagis say about the new cemetery, that it's all future? Well the cemetery at Kiryat Shaul is running about of space, so they're building a high rise mausoleum. Every time I go to a funeral or a memorial i note how the building is progressing, and how at least here there is a plan for the population.

Here's a poem for Purim from So Far, So Good:


What if even one of the sons of Haman was not evil Ė
didnít even carry the evil gene, and might have been
so much of a reaction to the evil he had seen
his only thoughts were of love.
What if he had been the one
to father the peace maker of Persia
in our time

how can I celebrate until I do not know
the difference?

March 11, 2006

The election campaign would be too depressing for words if it weren't for "eretz nehederet." Thank goodness the 22% floating vote is influenced by this weekly satirical program, Last night they did the 'oscars' for campaign propaganda shorts - cut through the crap with great humor and a little wisdom too. One example: (I wrote this before but forgot to save it). Bibi gets an oscar for the best special effects because his commercial has a very scary fire that illustrates how the country will go up in flames if Likud isn't elected. Assuming it is for his great politics he swells with pride in his acceptance speech. And when it is explained to him that it is only his special effects that one, he prevaricates about the effort he put into coming to the awards ceremony, is caught, and then adopts his typical shifty-eyed look. To me the message is to the 'scared' vote or the 'trembling hand vote' that always shift the Israeli vote to the right at the last minute. The Likkud's tactics are fear, fear of the loss of control, and there is always some terrible sense of 'what if they are right?' that has to be confronted, not avoided.

The program has a website. eretz nehederet but it's only in hebrew and doesn't have the new stuff up yet. Still - worth looking at.

March 12, 2006

Now here's a poem for Purim to consider the moral position of the individual in a confined and limited society:

Itzik Manger

Itzik Manger




"Look, Tzipele! Through every street

the queen will be led.

The king has decreed her punishmentt

to be a bitter death."


"A Mitzve! When the King called,

she should have gone!

And you, a commoner, in her place,

would have done the same, no?";


"Gone? What are you saying, Riivke-Kroyne?

I would have flown to him like a bird

And stood stark naked

before all the lordly eyes.


And to the King I would have said

in these exact words:

"Did you call? Then here I am,

Achashverus, my beloved."


Then would the King have enclosed me

in his red velvet coat

and would have angrily sequestered me

and commanded the hangman to kill me."


"Feh, Dvore-Kroyn, you're not talking nice.

One shouldn't speak that way.

A girl who expresses herself in this way,

I've heard from my grandpa...";


"Make way!" -- The Queen strides

toward her severe sentence,

and above her lovely, youthful head

there flies a sparrow hawk.


She walks with quiet, measured steps.

Only her eyes speak, quietly,

and sad to all the

young tailors and maidens:


I go forever away from hence,

eternally away from you.

Only then will thou act the Purim play,

and remember me for the good.


"Make way!" -- The Queen strides

toward her severe sentence,

and above her lovely, youthful headd

there flies a sparrow hawk.



translated from Yiddish

by Karen Alkalay-Gut


March 12, 2006

Had I any energy leftover from belly dancing I'd write about the election campaign, but i was so unused to the exertion i couldn't even make real smalltalk with the other strange people in the class...

and my stomach hurts.

Who was with me in this class? I still can't get used to the nonchalance with which people around here experience 'multiculture.' Well, it was a big class, and in dance classes people usually concentrate on themselves but here are a number of young women in various stages of embarassment with their bodies, a few 50-year-olds who know the moves,a male professor of philosophy, three Arab students, here for the first time, eyeing each other in disbelief at finding themselves in this situation, a woman in her late seventies who has been doing this for a long time, and me in the corner.

March 13, 2006

Specific warnings today of terrorist attacks, not just the daily missiles, but kidnapping, big explosives. 15 kilos of explosives were found with a couple of Palestinians on their way to an attack last night. In short, a typical purim.

A word about costumes - one of our greater joys was dressing up the kids, inventing costumes, imagining and fulfilling self image. Today everyone buys costumes and to me the whole shtik is lost. I want to go with creativity and how i can imagine myself, not what some manufacturing company decides for me. Whatever happened to the old trunk with mother's old clothes? My late father-in-law had some tails that everyone borrowed at some point in their Purim career. It thrills me even now to remember the privilege of wearing those tails with all their history and sophistication. My mother had a boa that literally inspired me to try on other personalities.

Remember what I said about voting? Don't forget to plan your day so you get to do it.

March 14, 2006

Ann Birstein sent me the best card I've ever received. Here is the link..

Actually the whole holiday is about sex, you know. Sex saved the Jews. I mean it's pretty clear that the king had a wife who was inhibited, and this woman comes along who captures his 'imagination' totally. So when she says there are more of us around but some nasty man wants to get rid of us...

What did you think I'd write about tonight, Jericho? Gaza?

I got stuck in a traffic jam from hell today in Ramat Hasharon because of the "adloyada," the marathon purim celebrations. The point of the 'adloyada' is to get 'drunk' ad-lo-yada - until you don't know the difference between Mordechai (the good guy) and Haman (the bad guy). Anyway, the police were directing the traffic into the small streets of Ramat Hasharon (where I lived 30 years ago) and were doing such a good job that two cars crashed in one the main centers of the 'alternative' routes, totally blocking all the roads around. So I sat in the car and listened to the invasion of the prison in Jericho following the British desertion of their posts. The destruction of the British and U.S. Cultural centers in Gaza by the Palestinians in response kept the concept of 'adloyada' in mind. I mean I don't like the idea of Israel doing anything in Jericho, but if the Palestinian killers of an Israeli minister were serving their sentence there under the condition that foreign observers made sure they wouldn't leave, and Abu-Mazen talked about the possibility of freeing them, it isn't too surprising that we would do what we could to get these prisoners under 'control' again. It isn't too surprising too that it might be considered an election strategy. But how can you make pure moral judgements in such a murky situation?

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