Tel Aviv Diary March 18-22, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - March 18, 2008

Okay, so we're girding our loins and will now attempt to act normal. Why not? How different is our situation from so many others in this country? Everybody's sick or crazy and many are both. My Auschwitz graduate neighbor who goes around wearing a kerchief tied on the front of her chin and a homemade fleece coat stopped me today and began ranting "They're going to destroy the world - that's what they're doing! Driving up oil prices, weakening all the economies, and then they want to fill up this country with their refugees!"

There are people who might believe I make up the figure of my schizophrenic neighbor and give her speeches that are projections of my wild imagination, but for almost thirty years she has given me strange perspectives on the world. She also never lets me forget the terrible damage done not only to her and her fellow victims, but also to our own mentality and our soul We are all so damaged, it is impossible to think straight.

I may not be able to write tomorrow because there is no wireless at Ichilov, and I may be otherwise occupied, but I make no promises.

March 19, 2008

I'm on my way, but I couldn't resist this little note. As some of you who are newsaholics know, Angela Merkel spoke in the Knesset here yesterday in German. This is a big thing because, as you oldtimers may remember, Albert Einstein was refused because HE could only speak in German. Anyway, Bibi also gave a speech in her honor, and apparently he was going on and on about history and such when the Labor Party members interupted with totally irreverent laughter. Turned out that Rony Bar On received a text message he passed on to his friends: "Any minute now Bibi will start remembering seeing the Nazi soldiers in the streets." An allusion to his 'memory' of British soldiers in Jerusalem, when it happened before he was born.

I don't want to laugh so much at Bibi in this context as at myself, always referring back to the Holocaust. Maybe there is a self-constructed post-trauma syndrome...

March 20, 2008

This was another hospital day, and although exhausted and scared and all that, i am filled with admiration for what this place manages to do with the funding it has. The recovery room for example. A screen with the initials and part of the patients' id number to tell the people waiting whether their loved ones are pre surgery, being operated on, or in recovery.

Since no one would leave the room, it was wonderful that costumed volunteers came by with mishloach manot, with the traditional Purim pastry of hamentaschen. As we all wolfed them down I looked around to see whether all the Arab families were participating, and noticed they had all disappeared. Don't they feel entitled? I wondered, and waited for them to return. But they didn't. And when the names of their families were called to accompany their patient to the wards, they weren't there. I know they were no less concerned than the others, because they spent the night in that room, but where were they in the morning?

Why do I mention race in the hospital? Because more than anywhere else, the mix of clothing is evident. Priest, nun, Bedouin, etc. etc. As well as the traditional female Israeli garb, skinny jeans and tight t shirts.

March 21, 2008

First day of spring, adloyadot all over, and a mishloach manot that exploded in a kids face.

As I walked out to the hospital underground parking lot today, I saw it was already unlighted, even though it was only three in the afternoon and shabbat hadn't come in. It was creepy - no other cars around - and i suddenly remembered a most important fact: if you get into danger, dial 112 on the cellphone. Even if it is locked, it will dial that number.

March 22, 2008

On the Sabbath in the hospital there is only a skeleton staff working. Many are Arab and Russian.

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