Tel Aviv Diary May 24, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from May 24, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 24, 2004

Yesterday's entry got erased - I'm sure it was there - but it disappeared. It was about Tomy Lapid's grandmother. There was a big stink about the fact that a member of parliament admitted in a parliament meeting that the old woman searching in the rubble of her house for her medicine in Rafiah reminded him of his grandmother in the holocaust.

What was wrong with that? It seemed to be a criticism of the inhumanity of this operation. The storm that followed showed how sensitive we are - not to the old woman of course, or the other victims in Rafiah, but to ourselves. FIE.

I meant FIE concerning the self-righteous reactions to Lapid, that although what was happening to this old woman was terrible, and regretable, it was not honorable for Tomy to compare her to his grandma, because the Holocaust was a deliberate destruction of a race, and this is a defensive act. I say the old woman doesn't give a rat's ass what were the motivations of the people who destroyed her house . She wants her medicines. She wants her home, her blanket, her pillow...

May 25, 2004

Tonight is erev shvuout and Tel Aviv is hopping with all night lectures and torah sessions. there are performances, discussion groups... in short tikkun leil shvuout.

I won't be there - choosing whenever possible friends over public events - but i like the idea. Even though David, who comes from religious schools, was berating the artificiality of the concept all evening last night. Dabbling in religion, according to him, is worse than ignorance.

For me, Half a loaf may sometimes be even better than a whole one.

One of my unwritten rules is never to write about private life (especially the private lives of others) unless it relates directly to public life in Israel somehow - Some of my friends actually complain about this ("How could my party have made no impression on you that you didn't even MENTION it in your diary?") But I'm afraid I'll stop getting INVITED to parties if i shoot my mouth off too much.

But it's tikkun time, so i will tell a secret. I met a friend today who is an aguna, that is she is married but deserted by her husband (he became religious, she did not) and he refused to grant her a divorce. A few weeks ago I asked another friend to intervene for her, because she knew her way around the rabbinical courts, and she assured me that all would be well. There are experts who know how to deal with this, she said.

So when I met my aguna friend, and she told me she was divorced (after 6 years in this state), I was sure that the courts had somehow leaned on her husband to grant the get. But she told me that the 'experts' never showed up, never advised her. She simply had to threaten her husband that because she had a great deal of evidence, she would publicly accuse him of repeated assault - not to the divorce court, for which (she claimed) this would not make the difference, but to the man's rabbi (which would embarrass him).

If this is true, there is room here for some correction, no?

May 26, 2004

I meant to say something about Ruth today - about how she was converted to Judaism - but every time i mention the question of her conversion my religious friends say that it is a matter of faith - she must have been converted properly because after all she's the mother of David. My non-religious friend think the story of Ruth is the case to prove that the laws of the rabbinate have corrupted Judaism...

But since I am on my way to yet another cheese meal (this is the ideal holiday for our masochistic lactose-intolerant people) I'll not elaborate at present, but just leave you with a poem for Shvuout:


Have you ever noticed I
am the only woman in the story
with no recognition? The Moabite
floozy on the threshing room floor
made her ex-
famous, and provided for
for the rest of her life.

And me
The great
grand mother
of David

gets no visits
on Friday night

Comment: There are all kinds of unmentioned people in the bible who are important because they are unmentioned. Boaz's mother is the definitely Jewish side of the family. Apparently that purity of lineage isn't significant. And that fact that this story is concommitant with the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people is more than significant.

May 26,2004

Never got to the cheese dinner - never got to the party - summer colds took us over.

I DID get to a meeting at NONA's, however, where they uncharacteristically served blintzes in a tel aviv gesture to the holiday.

May 28, 2004

Not only is the separation being squelched by the government (Netanyahu, Livnat,etc.) but journalists seem to be getting grabbed by what they used to call the short and curlies. It seems that feeling they are losing control, arms of the government are becoming strict with all 'strange' behavior. This from Gush Shalom: "Tali Fahima has been arrested"

Tali Fahima was arrested on Monday, after staying for two weeks in Jenin. During this time she was trying to create an educational and acting framework for the children of the Jeni n refugee camp, in co-operation with the camp residents and with the help of Yusef Asfur from Jaffa.

A modest sum of money was raised in a fundraising evening for that purpose and to provide some pocket money for her stay. Tali was trying to continue in the path she started in order to get to know people who are considered hostile and out of bounds. This is how she got to know Zakariya Zbeda, commander of the Al-Aqsa battalions in Jenin, who is wanted by the Israel, and other people from the camp with whom she created a sincere and human contact.

Now the Israel security forces are trying to frame Tali, in order to break this initiative which is an act of solidarity, compassion and a nonviolent direct action.

On Friday the 28th of May, 10:00, a hearing will take place in Petah Tikva Magistrate Court about the continuing arrest or the release of Tali.

Were it one case the accused would be suspicious perhaps, but when people are being arrested all over, it it is the goverment that is suspicious.

Last night at my beautiful neice's wedding, a relative from a previous generation looked longingly at her dress and said, "I too had a dress from that same material at my wedding." When I asked for details, she added, "I first had to get a letter from the rabbinate stating that we were getting married, and with that I could go to the fabric shop and they would allow me a measure of silk." It must have been 65 years ago. "There was nothing in the country in those days. But," she added, "We still had it better than now."

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