Tel Aviv Diary Nov 30, 2003 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from Nov 30, 2003 Karen Alkalay-Gut

Today is Oren's birthday and of course our celebrations began yesterday.

I received a few questions about who owns the land in Israel. All I can talk about is the land in my family. Ezi's grandfather, Yitchak Ben Tovim, was sent here from his town in Russia to buy land for himself and a few others. He bought land, had too many children, and some children managed to keep their wealth and others (like us) did not. This was at the end of the nineteenth century, when most of the purchases were private and personal. Ezi’s other grandfather did not find himself as a farmer and moved to Tel Aviv to become a merchant at the beginning of the 20th century. There he bought properties – like the house of Herzl Street. On his father’s side, his grandparents came in the twenties and because Andre Gut was a builder he also bought lands in Tel Aviv. The orchard on Geha, and I remember a big property in Rishon LeZion where his workshop was. I think his sons pissed them away with bad management of the company.

But all the land I know about in my family was privately purchased –

There is a delineation of who owns the land in Israel in the paper a few days ago. I'll try and look it up.

So I've been asking around - who ownsthe land. JNF owns some.

Remember when you put money into the blue box? You helped to buy land.

But I site I just listed doesn't give the details of what land it's in charge of.

Of course the government owns most of the land here - I assume it's the same everywhere.

On a different subject - surveys today show that the public here is more dissatisfied with the government (on economic matters) than ever before. Poverty is spreading and deepening and many people who were once in the middle class are now below the poverty level. There are even stories about people who used to heelp out in soup kitchens who are now standing in line for the same soup. At the very same time the banks are showing profits and some companies seem to grow fatter and fatter. The difference between us and the Palestinians lessens - rich leaders and poor people.

My server seems to have gone mad - won't update the diary - the date for today is march 30, 2002, according to my editor. hope it updates tonight -

December 1, 2003

Yesterday the Palestinian and Israeli delegations went to sign the Geneva Accords. Both met with opposition from their people but both seem to have a significant majority behind them. At a family gathering the other night ninety per cent had read the Geneva Accords and a hundred percent were behind them. But we're pretty much agreed on politics from way back. The left have remained left and the right have remained right. So now our left and their left are signing together. Can a majority be reached?

The radio call-in shows are full of people complaining about the Geneva Accords. Most people i know say they don't love them but they think it is the only way. So the people i know are apparently not representative.

December 2, 2003

In a kind of incidental survey of a tangential tv program today they asked israelis if they thought theywere living in a civilized country. more than 90% said we had a long way to go. I was impressed. Everyone seems to be aware of the problems in this society- it can't be THAT impossible to fix things.

And yet violence among young people seems to be escalating geometrically. Poverty is more and more painful. (Take Alicia for example - her two children need dental work but she can't afford it. This means that they are already at a disadvantage for the future. I'm kind of hoping that ESRA may respond when I ask them for help for her.)

Any Ideas?

Sometimes you guys solve problems that i mention in this journal. Sometimes you guys offer solutions that I don't get to implement - like the one about the film archive of Israeli authors. I know it needs to be done, a few people made suggestions, but all of them involved work on my part that i'm incapable at the moment of doing. Still, sometime, somewhere, i'll find someone who could take this project on.

maybe too I'll find someone who will collect all of Kurt Gerron's films (I've only got 2) and will study the image of the outsider that he represented before WWII - the very image that made him famous and made him participate unknowingly in the persecution of the Jew. I know that this will be done one way - and we will see the way in which the Jew, trying to fit in to the German society, allowed himself unaware to be created as a monster.

But me I don't have time to go into that research. I imagine spending a year in Germany reading the reviews of Gerron's 70 odd films and theatre and cabaret performances and tracing the changes in the critical response. But me - i'm busy. And since you asked this is what I do: Teaching, power point presentations for each class, papers, proofs for my next book in Hebrew "Tangential Desires," housework and cooking (Oh I long for the days when I could afford more than double the help I have now). Last night we even did the Tel Aviv thing and went to the opening of Dogville with all the diplomats and fun tel aviv people. There were people there i hadn't seen for years since i crawled into my hole - and the warmth and the intimacy worked as a form of renewal.

The film itself, an interesting idea placed in the U.S.A., could only have been made by someone who has never seen the U.S.A., or indeed, has never been out of Denmark. It has the sense of superiority of someone who has never been embroiled in the complxities of a multi-cultural multipowered society, and can give advice - albeit modified by a sense of pseudohumility.

I longed for the luxury of that intellectual distance. Here every time i conceive of a pure thought someone blows up next to me.

if you want to hear part of my new disk, "Thin Lips" it's here: scroll down and click on the 'play the songs'. There are 3 samples -

December 4, 2003

I don't know why but there seems to be a discrepancy in what is on my html and what you are getting to read. I guess it is time to move to a different server.

But i will do what i can to keep you informed.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend who actually witnessed the Geneva Accord signing. The big question for him was that since it was such a big event in europe how was it so ignored in israel. The tangential nature of the event is very evident here.

Does the government determine the media? I never thought so. before.

Even the daily evidence of terrorist attacks foiled - huge piles of bombing equipment displayed, admissions made, etc. - became suspect to me.

I was thinking also of the WMD that the US was so sure of and must have been based on Israeli intelligence as well. What do you think?

And now I just read about it in Ha'aretz

I mean it had just occurred to me during one of my sleepless nights, and then there it was in the morning papers. The article in Ha'aretz was about how our Intelligence must be a bit screwed up if we were one of the sources for information leading to the war on Iraq. I however was thinking about the greatness of our imaginations and the power of disinformation - A "wag the dog" that involves as much self deception and misreading and projection as the deception of others.

On the other hand there were at least 25 actual terrorist attacks prevented this past month. The latest one this morning on the school in Yokneam - of 950 children. This is a place where the wall was supposed to be built months ago.

If i were a real sociologist, i'd be doing a study of the cultural distinctions and confusions in this country. Take ten minutes of TV from 5 minutes to 5 to 5 in the afternoon on channel 1. There is the news in English - a very right wing position of the same footage that is shown on the hebrew news five minutes later (which is also not totally left). Between the two there is an ad for a new hebrew musical of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves (part of 1001 nights - the fantastic tales told by Sheherazade to keep from being slaughtered.

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