Tel Aviv Diary - March 20-24, 2011 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

March 20, 2011

How long has it been since we've had a Purim without rain? How long has it been since we've had a purim without some tragedy? Still, still, I've never been able to celebrate 'adloyada,' until i don't know the difference between mordechai and haman.


What if even one of the sons of Haman was not evil –
didn’t 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?

But that's what Purim is about - the universal double-bind. Here's Izik Manger's take on it.


"Look, Tzipele! The queen will be led
Through each and every street.
The king has decreed her punishment
to be a bitter death."

"A Mitzveh! When the King called,
she should have gone!
In her place, you - though a commoner -
would have done the same, true?"

"Gone? What are you saying, Rivke-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 wrapped me
in his velvet scarlet cloak
and would have seized me furiously
and commanded the hangman to execute me."

"Feh, Dvore-Kroyn, you're not talking nice.
One shouldn't speak that way.
I've heard from my grandpa,
a girl who talks like that…”

"Make way!" -- The Queen strides
toward her severe sentence,
and above her lovely, youthful head
there flies a sparrow hawk.

She walks with silent, measured steps.
Only her eyes speak, quietly
and sadly to all
the young tailors and maidens:

I go forever hence,
eternally from you.
You will act the Purim play,
and remember me for good.

"Make way!" -- The Queen strides
toward her severe sentence,
and above her lovely, youthful head
there flies a sparrow hawk.

translated from Yiddish
by Karen Alkalay-Gut

So since whatever you do is wrong, why not just enjoy what you're doing?"

March 21, 2011

First day of Spring - Nizzar Khabbani's birthday. Poets tends to come out in the spring. His political poetry doesn't do much for me, but I love his love poetry, like this one.

New York Times wrote about my favorite bakery, Lechamim. I bought homentaschen there a few weeks ago and revelled in the new tastes. I highly recommend it.

Today's Ha'aretz notes that Tel Aviv University, where I teach, is up there with the best when it comes to research, but down at the bottom when it comes to student-faculty ration. Believe me, these facts are felt in every bone in my body Get a load of the weapons that would have been used against me: The IDFNA Desk.


March 22, 2011

Katzav. Our former president. I should be happy that he was given a 7 years sentence. Anyone who has been pressured by a higher-up knows how demeaning it is. How you are trapped. But I spoke to my friend with a heavy heart. And she, who deals with problem children, warned me that her children have learned an important lesson - that no one is above the law, and everyone can be judged. She said that for every crime that goes unpunished there is another role model for her children. The rapes were not the only crimes, but the perjury as well, the constant lying and attempts to alter the facts. And there is one more factor that doesn't leave me - the danger to a society that if you have money, and can hire lots of pr people and lawyers and have press conferences.

March 23, 2011

If you don't read the paper immediately, it is out of date. Grad rockets on Beersheva, and then the terrorist bomb in the bus stop in Jerusalem, all within a matter of hours. The news calls out the number of injuries, but if you multiply it by ten you'll get the number of people suffering from shock, people who will never recover.

People were killed in Gaza yesterday, in response to the 50 rockets falling on us the day before and the revenge of 'it all started when he hit me back' is on.

March 24, 2011

What has sparked this rain of rockets? They just keep coming and coming. Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheva, and of course Sderot. My take on it is that Gaza is trying to show us who's boss. They don't want to really escalate, but to remind us that the cease-fire is in their hands. They're still stock-piling so they'll wait for the big war for a while. And since we don't attack unless there is sufficient cause, they can play us like a violin.

Whatever their motives, I just have to hear a siren and my heart is in my mouth, so I can imagine what the people in the south are going through.

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