Tel Aviv Diary - May 30-June 3. 2019 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - May 30-June3, 2019 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 29, 2019

so how do you feel? someone asked a politician yesterday morning on the radio and he said "do you know those busses in Peru? the ones that travel those steep mountain paths alongside a deep ravine? well we just discovered we don't have a driver!" and of course we are all in that bus. Even though it looks like everything is the same here - in the university, the supermarket, the wonderful little restaurant we discovered called Zorick, we are all being driven at top speed along a precipice, and the autopilot isn't working.

Who knows? some people say. Maybe people will wake up in the next elections and we'll be more careful about choosing shady politicians. amazing how hope triumphs over experience.

May 31, 2019

Haaretz has a cartoon today of a couple watching the news of our brand new elections and one of them says "I feel like I'm four years older already." It is not an uncommon feeling here today, on all sides. Wait - the sides were made up by Bibi - left and right. You have to be left or right here. A lot of the fascist leaders made it this way. And we never really thought that way before. I mean I don't think Ben Gurion would have gone for any of this. Israel was never meant to be so divided.

We go into the Giraffe restaurant on Ivn Gvirol at 6. it is empty. but by 7 it is crowded and people are waiting to get in. Our dinner was average - the kids ate half of the food, but the profiterole were great. I actually enjoyed the gyoza, although the stirred friend spinach we had for lunch with onions, mushroom and chicken, was better,, The strangest thing was I was remembering how I used to sit in Nona across the street - before Oren decided to open other bars and restaurants and got cheated out of Nona. it all seemed simple then, except for the fact that we could get blown up any minute. I didn't know how Oren's partner was carrying on like Yair Netanyahu, I didn't know about the nasty parts of tel aviv, was thinking the awful things were coming from outside, the terrorists, the others.

that seems to be the problems of this country - I used to think it was the others were the cause of the problems in this country, but it isn't, it's us.

Still, we enjoyed ourselves and I continue to enjoy myself in this city. Even though I'm translating Zalan Schneur's "The Middle Ages are Coming," a terrible warning written in 1912 that describes the coming holocaust in Europe. It is terrifying - but it seems to be terribly relevant today. The dragon breaking out of the cocoon of the seemingly sleeping earth. Shouldn't have worked on it last night - it's the kind of thing one translates only in the morning. But Ezi and I work on it together when we can coordinate free time. that's not easy to do.

June 1, 2019

Sometimes i'm so astounded by what is going on here I forget to write anything down. The changing of the laws here to suit the personal needs of our illustrious prime minister, for example. of course I should be at the demonstration tonight, but today I found myself unable to move and spent most of the afternoon in bed. we had gone to Shfaim to get a radio after our old kitchen radio lost a screw inside we can't get to because the whole thing is sealed, was not made to be opened. Yelena comes on sunday to clean our weekend mess and what keeps her sane is the Russian radio channel, so I didn't want to delay getting another transistor. I was feeling rotten even before we went but once there, instead of perking up, I faded even further. i'm pretty sure it's either an allergy or something I picked up from the kids, and nothing more. still, I had to confine my communication to Zalman Schneur, who is proving ever more a handful.

June 2, 2019

I looked at my neighbor's number on her arm for the first time in the 40 years I've known her. she's always showing it to me but I don't really see it. I was there to get the end of year statement for the Israel Organization of Writers in English so I had to go to the business teller, and complaining that I am bad with numbers, I just hander the teller my phone with the information on it. My neighbor was waiting for the clerk to come back from his break at the bank, so I stood there to keep her company, and she went into her old ritual of showing me her number. Unlike the dark hallway where we usually meet, the light in the bank is very bright and I couldn't avoid seeing how small the numbers were. how old she must have been when those numbers were tattooed on her. not more than my small grandson.

We are on our way to Iftar, but first we must visit an old friend in the village. what do we bring whom? for iftar, some elegant dishes with cookies, for a visit to an author - books for his library. all must be prepared and arranged. no time to rest.

June 3, 2019

Tonight is Eid Il Fiter. Yesterday was Iftar. The more the government tries to separate people, the more the extreme religious parties try to limit us, the more I find thhad so many e Arab culture attractive. I know that it's a stubborn reaction and that what counts are people not religions, that I am a Jew and a zionist no matter what, but still.... When I saw the busses in Tel Aviv with their destination signs in Hebrew, English and Arabic, it made me feel good. Even if they're taking Arabic off the list of national languages, we're trying to give it some respect.

last night we were invited to Iftar in Baka Al Gharbiya. As always the first thing we are taken to when we visit an Arab village is the wall. In Taybeh as well. it is shameful to them, painful, and they show it like Yaffa shows the numbers on her arm.

But it was a great evening,

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and I enjoyed Abu Jamil's Farm almost as much as the wonderful company.

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