Tel Aviv Diary November 14 -18, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - November 14 - 18, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Matan Vilnai told the students today at the University Rabin Memorial what we've been hearing hearing all week: get into politics. Don't leave.

Now all we need is a program - a way to provide education for the young people that makes them WANT to become involved, and to feel that their voice counts. We lost that a few years ago. Even David Broza, whose song, "Don't Give out Guns," about the death of Rabin and his dream,echoed in the campus, seemed strange in this context. Broza lives abroad - we are too small to contain him in this country.

I think often of Broza, and the dreams he had of annual international poetry and music festivals in Tel Aviv. We had a few meetings with important people (I remember, for example, the guard at the American Embassy insisting that Broza give him his identity card) but no one encouraged us enough to enable us to continue. Even though the idea would have promoted dialogue between jews and Arabs, provided tools for the next generation to become poets and writers, and helped centralize Israel's cultural position, it disappeared, and a possibility of raising a new generation to cultural involvement was lost.

I must have been involved in dozens of hopeful projects like that - with the idea of bringing together and teaching young people to become involved through literature, but they never work. Like the student anthology of poetry in three languages I still have on my computer - poems by students in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, and translated by each other. The trilingual anthology, edited by Amal Ekaik, Roi Tartakovsky and Yisrael Lvin, is entitled "here" in three languages, and in 'here' is a different place in each language. We tried to publish it, but couldn't find any encouragement.

The Clintons and the opening of the Rabin Center almost drove my neighborhood mad today - traffic jams for miles. But I cannot express how grateful I am to them for their amazing contribution to the entire memorial week. I understand they are using their visit for many other purposes also - for example promising to help to get the Israeli Red Star of David into the International Red Cross from which it has been excluded for these many years.

November 15,2005

I went to read at Beit Hasopher becaase I feared it was the last night - that by tomorrow the building will be closed down. There were eight poets - one after the other and brilliant. each poet a world of his own.

But the audience was sparce.

It turns out the city is probably going to get rid of the lien on the building and maybe the writers house will continue to exist. Now if only they could become central to the community again.

November 16, 2005

November 16, 2005

Jerusalem in another world. In this city built on Philistine ruins, we sing about love, life, and all with a sense of humor, or at least an ironic distance. In Jerusalem the focus is on religion. At least that's the way it was in the two readings i attended yesterday and today. More of that later.

Ezi sees different things than I do - he claims that the drivers in Jerusalem are different. They don't know how to drive, he says. They see rules as something to get around, and streets as a necessary evil. The roads are bumpy, he complains, and ugly, and illogical.

Even though I know the economic problems of the city, but I figure that its bad state has to do with its spirituality, and it reminds me of Jonathan Swift's "Grand Academy at Lagado" in Gulliver's Travels:"The first Man I saw was of a meager Aspect, with sooty Hands and Face, his Hair and Beard long, ragged and singed in several Places. His Cloathes, Shirt, and Skin were all of the same Colour. He had been Eight Years upon a Project for extracting Sun-Beams out of Cucumbers, which were to be put into Vials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the Air in raw inclement Summers. He told me he did not doubt in Eight Years more he should be able to supply the Governors Gardens with Sun-shine at a reasonable Rate; but he complained that his stock was low, and intreated me to give him something as an Encouragement to Ingenuity, especially since this had been a very dear Season for Cucumbers."

November 17, 2005

On the other hand, there is much more action in Jerusalem. Here is me in Beit Hasopher and Jeffrey Green in Tmol Shilshom:

It's not just the picture. Beit Hasopher had some of the best poets I know there, but the venue of Tmol Shilshom is so much more conducive to a fun evening.

November 18, 2005

Unbelievable how quiet it was on Lilienblum Street in the evening. We went very early (8:00 p.m.) because Mishmish and Shesek are still closing at 1 a.m. by order of city hall (their hearings keep getting postponed). Most places around there just get going around 1. But Mishmish has such great music and food, it is worth coming early in the evening too.

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