Tel Aviv Diary - November 2-6, 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - November 2-6, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 2, 2009

Another murder solved. Just the other day I was thinking about all the unsolved mysteries in this country and thinking of how little money is allocated to police and their salaries, and here they are coming out with one success after another. I'd say I can sleep better in my bed, but I must confess that from my bedroom window I saw the explosion that blew up Shulman, heard Avia Pappo screaming unsuccessfuly to be saved from her sister's husband, etc. etc. Yes, they were years ago, but there have been others since. All gangster or family related.

Here's a little confession for you appropos gangsters. Today Shabtai Kalmanovitz, the spy, was murdered in Moscow, and it reminded me. On my mother's side my grandmother's name in Lida was Chaya Keile Kalmanovitz. My grandfather's name was Yosel Kaganovich ( guess the name of Stalin's economic advisor) and my father's family was Rosenstein. Don't mess with me.

November 3, 2009

A Petition To Refute and Condemn the Anti-Israel Academic Boycott Campaign at Norway's Trondheim University

Written by: By 246 October 31, 2009 To: Academic Colleagues From Around The World Wishing to Refute and Condemn the Campaign at Norway's Trondheim University to Boycott Israeli Scholars and Academic Institutions

We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, scholars and members of the international academic, research and professional community, refute and condemn the campaign to boycott Israeli academics and academic institutions at Trondheim University.

We stand in solidarity with Israeli academics and academic institutions; if you boycott them, boycott us as well.

Background material
1) Translation of a petition letter against the boycott proposal from employees of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Sør-Trøndelag University College(HiST):

To the Boards of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Sør-Trøndelag University College(HiST)

A group of employees at NTNU and HiST have earlier this year in an open letter requested their respective Boards to perform a cultural and academic boycott against Israel. We who sign this letter are employees of the same institutions. We are generally positive to unbiased and objective internal discussions at NTNU/HiST on the Palestine-Israel conflict. However, we are of the opinion that it is very unfortunate if the institutions as such give their unreserved support to one of the parties in the conflict. In our view, the following arguments support that the proposed boycott should be rejected:
• The primary tasks of NTNU/HiST are research and education, not constructing their own foreign policy. To take sides in difficult political issues gives the impression of not being objective and unbiased. This goes against the university role as a meeting place of a wide range of thoughts and ideas.
• To be associated with a controversial viewpoint in such a difficult conflict will have negative consequences for NTNU/HiST internationally. Do we really want to be known as the first western university to make an academic boycott against Israel?
• Within NTNU/HiST there are also different opinions on this conflict, and a decision of boycott will tend to make internal divisions. Even we who sign this petition have different views as to how the conflict should be solved.
• We do not know if NTNU/HiST have considered all the legal aspects of a possible boycott resolution. What means are for instance the institutions willing to employ against researchers who may defy the boycott? Will their salaries be reduced, or could they be fired?
• We do not believe that a boycott decision will contribute to a peaceful solution to the conflict, but rather that it will result in an increased polarisation.
• NTNU would also loose by cutting the ties of scientific contact and collaboration with the various internationally renowned academic groups of Israel.
• If NTNU/HiST decide to boycott Israel, it will also be very difficult to produce rational arguments for why we should not also boycott other nations who perform far worse human rights violations. It would thus mean that the institutions initiate an ongoing process where boycott will be used to flag our standpoint in other conflicts as well.
• We therefore request that the Boards of NTNU and HiST vote against the proposal of boycotting Israel. Individuals at our universities are of course free to involve themselves in international conflicts, but it is unwise that the institutions as such choose one side. Our universities will lose more than we might win by involving ourselves in a boycott.

Letter was signed by Prof. Bjorn Alsberg and colleagues.

Nobel Laureate Endorsers
Kenneth J. Arrow
Stanford University
Roald Hoffmann
Cornell University
Steven Weinberg
University of Texas
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
Ecole Normale Superieure
• To Sign this petition click here

Visit Scholars For Peace in the Middle East website

Don't think any intelligent person believes in closing off means of communication.

November 4, 2009

The air raid siren went off a few hours ago. I wasn't going to run down to the shelter, especially since I was barefoot and in the middle of writing a complicated sentence, even if my life depended on it, But after a few seconds I heard my neighbors skittering down the staircase so I got up and stood in the hall for the rest of it. I guess I didn't believe it was real, even though I heard ambulances and police. But a few minutes later when I took the dog out, I met up with a motorcyclist who asked me what had just happened. "Ah, it was just an exercise," A guy on the street commented, "Didn't you see it on the news last night?" "I saw the news," he answered, "And didn't see anything about a siren." I didn't either. "I was scared to death!" He added, "All I could think of was how much my helmet would protect me." "So the war's not on yet," the guy on the street added.

A few hours later we had a terrorist warning that closed the highways down for a while, but that too passed. So now we can sit and watch the news about the ship of armaments from Iran to Hizballah caught less than 200 miles from our shores. I wonder how the Goldstone report is being debated.

November 5, 2009

I'm not happy that Abbas is resigning. I'm not happy he feels it necessary. I'm not happy we're all playing with fire. But what if it is another trick.

And so we continue, mistrusting one another, cutting off the branch we're sitting on - from both directions (but which one of us is sitting on the side of the tree?)

What's going on with my private life, a friend who reads this blog texted me today. When I called him (because i don't do well with text messages), he said that whenever I write about politics he knows that something's wrong with my private life. Not entirely true. We're still recovering, but managed to get to dinner at Pappa's, which is so crowded that I am having trouble getting a table. The mother of Pappa. But I got in a dose of chicken livers in marsala that should keep me satisfied for the week.

November 6, 2009

I missed three memorial services this week – Each time I thought of the people who would have appreciated comfort but understood that I’m functioning on half my engines. I wish I could have been with them, even though I really hate the aesthetics of Israeli cemeteries. They are just so dusty, and except for the military cemeteries, seem so neglected. Yes, I know the aesthetics are supposed to be of ashes to ashes and dust to dust, but I do miss the grassy, peaceful plots of my parents in Rochester. And the military cemeteries are really the worst of all, because they are all single young men, and they are manicured by despondent parents.

To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

To Karen Alkalay-Gut home