Tel Aviv Diary May 17-21, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 17, 2008

internet went crazy today and i couldn't get in. and i only write on-line. So only now, that i have come back from the airport, can i check in. Sorry for the blank page. Originally I was planning to write something about the peace of Shabbat, but before I got to that I remembered that I need a gift immediately, and I had to hit the shabbas malls. The outlet, the seven star mall, the marina. Oh, it was hell. It seems everybody is buying the same stuff I had to buy. And on Saturday morning.

May 18, 2008

That's the way it is around here, half the people praying and half the people shopping. like half the people watching the news about the prime minister (of which there is little really new) and half the people are watching "survival."

May 19, 2008

There are times when this country is just too much for me. All I want to do is turn off the tv, the phone, email, fold the paper, and watch some movies of another world. I don't want to hear about Olmert's catscan or the money that went into his pocket or the camels wandering into the road and killing motorists and themselves or any of that. In the world where I grew up news was about a badly planned intersection called the 'can of worms,' or about how much snow fell this week. That's news I can relax to. We keep wanting that kind of news around here, and try to give a lot of attention to the weather, but it doesn't work. It just feels like escapism.

So we watched some mild Canadian film, Juno, about a sixteen year old girl who gets pregnant. That should be far enough away, I say. But in the middle I whisper, "see the Hebrew Alphabet on the back of the boys bedroom door?" then "see his bar mitzvah certificate on the wall?" It seems I'm always bringing the subject back to here.

May 20, 2008

Tom Stoppard spoke five minutes away from my house today, and right now Al Gore is speaking down the street. There's a party tonight for the new book on Tel Aviv that Lisa Goldman did. This is the city that never sleeps. At least I can't hear the snores from where I am at home doing what I have to do.

Mostly I'm doing domestic things, but among other things I'm doing along the way is planning a meeting for the Israel Association of Writers in English. And a letter for the Jerusalem Review. What can I tell you - I belong to a whole bunch of literary associations that are lacking only one thing to survive - money. This money thing is about a decade old. I know I should be complaining about corruption in the government and all that, and the fact that culture should be considered valuable to a society, but it seems like sour grapes at the moment and all I can think of is that saying: "A lot of money is tainted: 'Taint yours, and 'taint mine." Anyway budgets for the arts were cut almost to nothing long ago, but novels continue to be written and paintings continue to be painted. Even poetry pokes its way out of the sidewalk like crabgrass. So what am I staying home for? Just to make sure that Ezi's fever doesn't go up too high?

May 21, 2008

So we're opening peace talks with Syria! I cannot imagine how they can not mean we will be giving up the Golan, and I will be missing it very much. But maybe just maybe we can have a little peace and then I can go and visit Ka'alat Nimrod again. I've been longing to see it for months! That view of the entire area, the quiet, empty fortress, the sense of intoxication. And then the swim in the officers’ pool, the visit to the shrine of Pan… Definitely some of my greatest moments were there. Notice I do not speak of the entire life created there in the past years, the vineyards, the orchards, the rest. I don’t dare.

But suddenly a trip up north takes hold of my mind, a swim in the Sachne near Mt. Gilboa, for example. It isn't just an escape I'm thinking of, but a significant pilgrimage. Gan HAshlosha, the Sachne, was named after 3 guys who were blown up there by a landmine. One of them was David Mosensohn, after which Ezi was named (David Ezra).

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