Tel Aviv Diary May 30 - June 3, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - May 30-June 3, 2007

May 30, 2007

"What do I care? Am I in Labor?" the grocer exploded when I told him how I can't get over the shock of Barak winning the Labor primaries, and asked who he had been for. And I thought that even if I wasn't involved in the election, I'd be upset for the country. I know that many people voted for Barak because he could win over Bibi, but ideologically I don't know how I would be able to put his name in the envelope. Not even ideologically, but tactically. I mean I would find it impossible to vote for someone who is purposely keeping quiet so I won't remember what an idiot he was. My biggest problem is that I can't stand the social autism in this country, and need a communicative leader, even if he's not as 'brilliant' as Barak. And what of Ami Ayalon? He too has been a bit strange. Ophir Paz-Pines is the only one who talks straight.

So I sadly left the Grocer's having changed the subject but not my mind.

What about the Presidential election? We have 3 candidates. And I've been pressured a lot to go for Collette Avital. And I'd love a woman, and I like her. But Peres has to be given the presidency - there is no doubt.

May 31, 2007

The beleaguered faculty in Israel has received another blow - the British academic boycott. I have repeatedly wondered out loud at the simple academic logic of it - how the whole point would be to have as much dialogue with Israeli academics as possible in order to discover how they can explain their position and be encouraged to change it if necessary.

Me, I've learned more about politics from my Arab students than anyone else.

So if you want to keep up a dialogue, despite the boycott, you may want to write to the regional and local heads of the UCU (University and College Union) who voted to boycott Israeli academics. I don't know which of these people listed at the bottom of this page voted for the boycott and I assume their motives are positive, so if you write to them, I hope you will write in this spirit.

June 1, 2007

John Williams has wisely pointed me to this site to contextualize the British boycott.

I had always wondered why my parents, who escaped to England during WWII, were forced to leave in 1948, but really never delved into the subject. It must have been incredibly difficult, after my mother had learned that almost all of her family in Europe had been killed, and my father's delicate health after the beatings he received from the Nazis, for them to pick up once again, with two children now, and take off for a strange country. I'm sure they couldn't have done it if they'd had a choice.

To change the subject, perhaps, you who are academic-affiliated readers should read the letter below to which you might wish to add your name, by sending your name, affiliation and indication whether you are student or faculty (or academic rank) to


Israeli Committee for Right of Residency

To: Presidents and Rectors of the Israeli Universities.

Save the foreign passport holding faculty members of Palestinian Universities.

Request for intervention by the Presidents and Rectors of the Israeli Universities.

A significant number of faculty members in the Palestinian Universities hold foreign passports and their continued service depends, as long as the occupation persists, on permits issued by the Israeli authorities.

We are very concerned by recent reports on newly imposed restrictions that reflect a policy threatening the possibility of these foreign passport holding faculty members to continue their essential work at Palestinian Universities.

Requests for visa extensions, addressed to Israeli authorities, are being responded by demands for "work permits", without, however, specifying how and where to get such permits. Short term visa renewals of 3 months, given under pressure of foreign embassies and the international media, do not even guarantee that a faculty member will be able to teach a full semester without a constant fear of being deported.

You, the heads of Israeli Universities, do not need to be told how essential the functioning of universities is for the building of a civil society and a viable economy. We are therefore requesting you kindly to intervene with Mr. Ronnie Bar-On, Minister of the Interior [02-6701400], Prof. Yael Tamir, Minister of Education [02-5602330] and General Yussef Mishlev, Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories [03-6975351], urgently and effectively, to secure a fair and transparent procedure to enable staff holding foreign passports to engage in academic activities, teaching and research, at Palestinian Universities, without threats of deportation.

Your immediate and forceful intervention is needed in order to avoid pending disruption of academic activities in Palestinian Universities, were their foreign staff forced to leave now.

Sincerely yours,


Yes, I signed it too.

just in case you forget from all this politics that I am a poet, here is a picture of my reading in Santa Croce Church in Florence.

June 2, 2007

Back to politics. an interesting take on the boycott issue.

I signed a petition against the boycott, although I have litle hope for petitions. June 3, 2007

Did I forget to save today's news? Did I erase what I wrote? Well, it's gone, and I can only summarize it now. One item was a long item on the situation of Israeli Arabs today. My own impression is that there is a great deal of progress, that more and more salespeople are Arab, that more and more women on the street are wearing traditional Arab dress, that there is even a women's soccer team, that like the Jews some of them are nice and some of them are not. I wrote it better the first time.

I also wrote a great piece on the phone call I got from Ezi as he was going back to work this noon. He saw an enormous traffic jam going the other way and at the end 12 police cars, an Arab taxi, and five guys, hands up, hugging the wire fence on the side of the road. A bomb robot too. Was there a bomb? If they brought the robot in, the chances are good. Was it on the news? Maybe a tiny notice. This happens all the time.



The names were removed for the time being.

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