Tel Aviv Diary May 23, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from May 23 - 28, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 23, 2005

Today's lecture by Marjorie Perloff will be on "The rise and fall of the avant garde" - Gilman 496.

I got the title wrong.

Tomorrow will be our first visit to Yad Vashem - ever.

May 24, 2005

Whatever scared me about Yad Vashem? What could have kept me from going there all these years? Coming to visit the Holocaust is far easier than living it all the time.

It is almost as if i was seeing my nightmares on the walls. There was no picture that I had not seen, either in the real world or in my head. A man sitting on the edge of a mass grave, a Nazi pistol at his temple, a crowd of Nazi soldiers watching, a German woman and a Jewish man surrounded by Nazi soldiers, wearing big signs declaring their inferiority to humans - the hog because she sleeps with Jews, the Jew because of his overwhelming appetite for German women. I know the expressions on their faces as well, as if i had worn them for generations.

We stopped at Abu Ghosh for lunch, in part because I wanted to escape Jews, and in part because of a deep hankering for Seniya, meat loaf in tehina. But the food wasn't very good, and there wasn't a single Arab in the restaurant, except the people who work there. We did get a good price, though. It was the business lunch.

May 25, 2005

The education supplement in this week's ha'aretz in english is supposed to be printing a piece of mine about the english department of tel aviv university this friday. I emphasized the students instead of the faculty or the administration, even though i know the faculty is amazing. But why haven't they even made a tiny gesture and signed the opposition to the boycott? I don't know. I don't know. It's not like we aren't involved politically, so why not here?

Appropos the university, a few years ago I wrote something about Sheikh Munis, the Arab town vacated in 1948. I wasn't clear about how many people were there or why they left, but this version appears most plausible and jibes with other versions I've heard. That is, that the residents left, and were not evacuated. But of course they left because they felt threatened, and were threatened because they were threatening etc etc etc...

May 25, 2005

The smell of Lag B'Omer permeates through our sealed windows. The bonfires cannot be very close because we're in such a populated area, but the aroma of roasted potatoes carries well. We had to cancel our plans in order to nurse my headachey flu, but still can't get away from the celebrations. The fireworks from the university scare me as always, and the sounds of schoolmates walking the streets drift through the windows.

The boycott was voted down, but i don't know any more details than those on the web. and somehow i suddenly felt personally insulted by the presumption of moral superiority... Not that I am morally superior to others, but that I am not INferior.

The Yehuda Amichai prize is now being televised and I am filling with love and joy that the prize is being given to Mordechai Geldman, a wonderful poet, and Esther Ettinger, whose work I only know by reputation. How I wished I was there to kiss them all - Geldman, Ettinger, the judges, Amichai's widow. There is so much love for poetry in the entire process, the prize, the awards.

And to round off an evening that started off so badly, with headache, chills, etc., Alicia Ostriker's review of me is on JBooks.

May 27, 2005

Here's part of the article on the English Department of Tel Aviv University.

I'll try to have the rest of it tomorrow. It went into Ha'aretz English Education Supplement but not online. The picture is of part of my poetry class.

Now I must leave my sick computer and finish making the tehina for the family gathering this afternoon.

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