Tel Aviv Diary May 4, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from May 4, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 4, 2004

Now I feel somewhat like Sharon must feel this morning - I'll make it through this.

No wait: all my friends didn't desert ME when i was down. They didn't disappear discreetly when their support and publicity would have made all the difference. True, but then I don't have Likkud friends.

Seriously folks, the right AND the left opposed the disengagement plan. I didn't like it but would have gone for it as a beginning. Unfortunately I too suspect there was no plan for the next step. it felt like just something he blurted out to Bush on the spur of the moment.

Compare that for a moment to Bellin's Geneva Agreement - detailed, considered, presented logically and yet too a total failure.

For opposite reasons. Sharon's plan failed despite the personal loyalty many people felt to him. Beilin's plan failed despite its great value because of the personal disdain for him and his disregard for others.

Which reminds me of another lame political allegory. A tourist is being taken through Tel Aviv and sees two men on the street masturbating. The guide explains that these are Labor Party members. "How do you know?" asks the tourist. "Because if they were Likkud they'd be screwing each other."

Beilin may no longer be Labor, but he was raised there.

The image of a mother pregnant with her first son, and driving a familiar road with her four daughters, doesn't leave me. She gets shot, brakes so her car won't crash and kill the kids, and dies. The men step up to the car, and shoot each child in the head at close range. Can you imagine for a moment being the fourth child in that car, the last one to be murdered?

An amazing film: Aviva Kempner's documentary of Hank Greenberg absolutely enthralled me tonight. The whole history of the 30's and 40's in the U.S., baseball, antisemitism, WWII, and the self-image of the Jew - issues that are even now shaping the Jewish concept of self and consequently its politics - all these thoughts were racing through my head as I watched the fans of Hank Greenberg tell of how his mere existence changed their lives.

Now there are lots of issues here - and i would love to discuss them, but there is also a lunar eclipse going on here and i don't want to miss it.

May 5, 2004

Let me add one thing about last night. The film we saw was on the lawn of the American Ambassador, and was interrupted by the sound of helicopters at one point. A woman turned to Ezi and asked, "should we be worried?" "No." After the film he reminded me that long ago we heard the then Prime Minister, Yitzchak Shamir, lecture on that very same lawn. Shamir was talking about the great era of peace before us but we couldn't hear him because of the military helicopters overhead.

"What are you? this guy asked me today, "A zionist or a post-zionist?" "Both. No, a zionist. but my kind of zionism includes post-zionism also."

May 6, 2004

I'm almost proud of this country today- after all, the new and very judicial appointments to the supreme court were made even though all kinds of dirty accusations from the politicians of the right against one of the candidates, Edna Arbel, were made to stop it. Once politics gets involved in Justice we're in trouble. Right now we have a fair mix - 2 non religious women, an orthodox man, an arab...

And I am feeling good because I've just eaten an amazing delicacy called Kak that Amal's aunt made. Any body got a recipe? baked doughnut-shaped things filled with ketzach (in hebrew and arabic - czernishkes in yiddish - what could it be in english?). cardomom, rosewater, what else?

I was trying to explaining my difficulty with changes to a friend today, about why i am not going abroad for my sabbatical, and found myself telling an old story to a friend:

When my father got out of prison as a teenager after two years in prison in Lita for being a communist (he got caught hanging up a sign advertising a meeting), he was not allowed to work; nor was it illegal to kill him. Worse than that he couldn't get a passport to leave the country. Fortunately my mother was his next door neighbor, and she formed a plan to get him to the international city of Danzig. She arranged for her and her sister to get train tickets out, and for m father to accompany them to the station (under her brother's name I believe). At the last minute they switched and my father escaped to Danzig with my mother(unmarried as yet). They rented a room there, but it was soon discovered that my father was both communist and jewish, and was alternately beaten as a jew and as a communist. Each time his identity ws discovered it became necessary for them to move from one rented room to another. And my father would look around the room and say to my mother, "Where will be find another room like this? - what a view, so convenient, such a perfect bed!"

This is one of the few stories I know about their past because my mother kept reminding my father of it every time he balked at moving.

Now I get as nervous as he did about moving, would prefer to stay in the same place whenever possible, and indeed have lived in the same apartment for 25 years (can't bring myself to move even though the building is falling apart). I frequently attribute this mild form of agarophobia to my jewishness, and many jews (as well as Arabs) here follow the same settleness. But what about my mother? She saved my father dozens of times by being fast on her feet - flit like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Forget my stereotypes.

and this is the train station at Lida.

Sunday night is Lag B omer.

May 7, 2004

I understand that a quarter of a million people are descending on Safed to prostrate themselves on the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Perhaps it would help tourism in Tel Aviv if we could discover a holy grave here.

Today's entry got erased. i'll try to reconstruct it tomorrow - it had something to do with historical tours of Tel Aviv.

May 8, 2004

I've been trying to figure out what this iraqi prizoner torture is about. it's so awful what they did - it's almost as bad that the pictures come out before they are investigated.

This from Asher about objective reporting:

{A park in Paris.}

A guy saw a pit bull attacking a toddler. He killed the pit bull and saved the toddler's life.

The reporters swarmed the guy. "Tell us! What's your name? All Paris will love you! Tomorrow's headline: "Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!"

The guy says, "but I'm not from Paris." Reporters: "That's OK. All France will love you. Tomorrow's Headline: "Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!"

The guy says, "I'm not from France, either."

Reporters: "That's OK. All Europe will love you. Tomorrow's Headline: "Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!"

The guy says, "I'm not from Europe, either." Reporters: "So, where ARE you from? The guy says, "I'm from Israel."

Reporters: "OK. Tomorrow's headline: "Vicious Israeli Kills Girl's Defenceless Dog!"

What would Reb Shimon Bar Yochai have thought of the way I celebrated his day? That spiritual perfectionist how would have liked the Pernod I drank along with the forbidden fruits of the sea at Bar Bun Ia? The bonfires this year seemed more and more distant for us this year but we werent alone. The bars were crowded: First Saloona on Tirza Street and then Mishmish and then this strange little place on Ben Yehuda where the food on the bar was incredible and the liquor just right. What surprised me as well, since its been a long time since Ive been on Ben Yehuda Street, is the number of bars catering to specific ethnic atmospheres Iraqi and Rumanian come first to mind, but there were more. The Romanian stands out in particular, even though I never went inside, because of the belly dancer I saw in the window. She was not my style, because I go for the classic Egyptian, but she was good and it was pretty amazing to be able to see a show from the street.

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