Tel Aviv Diary - November 18-22, 2013 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - November 18-22, 2013 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 18, 2013

A guard stopped me at the MOMA to recommend some specific paintings of Magritte. Turned out we had the same taste and we just kept on talking until Ezi began to hum and haw from the other room. We got onto Israel and prices of flights and stuff and he asked me about the best time to come. Of course before christmas - leave Israel on the flights that go back to the US empty having brought all the pilgrims. It was such a practical conversation - in a place that I had been clowning around for hours.

My greatest pleasure is not to photograph the paintings, much as I love them, but the people and the paintings together. sometimes me too. For example, Twombly's Leda and the Swan looks like a nursery school reproduction until you put yourself in the position of the exposed and shocked Leda suddenly owerwhelmed by a gigantic bird - feathers everywhere. So Ezi photographed me in the middle of the painting - where her eyes and crotch are - looking overwhelmed.

Anyway, the idea of talking about Israel in practical terms with this guy with an Ivory Coast accent was so remarkable to me, since everyone else who talks to me about Israel carefully introduces the problem of inhumane government policy and then steps back, waiting to see how we take it. I agree with all of them - the government policy is inhumane and the government is paranoid and the kinds of dialogues we have with ourselves resemble the dialogues Moran Korenfeld Weiss describes in her book "Dear Darwish" that just came out.

Nevertheless articles such as Israel's Policy of Erasurethat are accurate - containing information of which numerous Israelis are acquainted and protest regularly, seem aimed not at contributing to a dialogue, but an incitement to further anger. Will this help change the increasingly unyielding governments? It seems to me that we need change from within - we need more left-wing minded people to take an active part in working toward compromise - and the fact that my leftist friends protest by by silence or complaints from afar scares me.

But what else can they do? How long can people work against injustice without breaking down? How long can a people endure suffering and smile and work towards being understood? How long can a 'humane' person exist within a society like this without going mad? I know only a few people who are actively doing something to change the situation in a positive way. And shamefacedly I must admit I don't count myself among them.

November 19, 2013

You really have to hear the interview withAri Shavit before you buy the book.

At last, someone I'd vote for.

I've seen him before on tv in Israel, and he's always had the right things to say, but at last he's speaking out in an organized, honest, and forceful way. He is terrified - as am I - of the entire Middle East falling apart if the Israelis and Palestinians are pushed into a corner and realize there's no way out but war.

November 20, 2013

On the eve of our return home we had the opportunity to discuss politics like adults - with people who have read about all aspects of the history of Jews and the significance of Israel, as well as all the limitations. It was a kind of relief. The amount of lowered-eyed criticism has been unsettling. The amount of unlimited support has also been unsettling.

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