Tel Aviv Diary November 22-27, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - November 22-27, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 22, 2017

These are long days. Short days in reality - by 4:30 it is getting dark and we get sleepy even though there is much more to do. The darkness - we blame on the pressure from religious organizations to ensure light for morning prayers before work. This is not a country for daylight savings time. Maybe it isn't their fault, but I'd rather follow the French example of setting back the clock 2 hours in the summer and one in the winter. I'd rather get up when it is just getting light and go to bed a few hours after dusk.

November 23, 2017

Spent half of my visit with the doctor, Eitan, trying to make him laugh. Even though I know better, because it's hard to be taken seriously when you're a joker. Even forgot to ask him for tests. All he gave me was a little mixed antihistamines because I didn't complain enough about my general weariness. So I get to the pharmacist and ask him if the medication will make me sleepy. "A little bit of insomnia, a little bit of dreaminess," says Mohammed, "it's individual." I can't tell if he is serious or not.

November 24, 2017

Didn't go for an x-ray today because it was that or Estie's funeral, and no way i could miss that. Families here are strangely important - i didn't visit her in the hospice because she wasn't really awake and i was not all that close a relative, but her nephews and grand nephews and sister-in-law were there all the time, and they were very important.

She was buried near her brother Sefi, my brother-in-law, in a civil cemetery where the religious have no say in the ceremony and the kind of burial, and although a kind of religious ceremony was held, there was music and wonderful speeches by her co-workers and friends. And her neice and nephew who had always been devoted to her spoke and even made the effort to pray over her grave.

This cemetery has been closed to new graves - Estie bought hers when her brother died. And there are few private cemeteries here. The religious burial grounds are ugly and the graves are so close together you often have to tramp over other graves to fit in a few mourners. Lately they have been burying couples in layers, and the top layer is shallow and sometimes odorous. Yarkonim cemetery, where I will be laid if i don't wake up and find a private grave, is a maze of concrete, with no dignity, beauty, or honor. The funerals I've been to there remain a blur of nightmares to me.

I suppose I'm particularly grim because of the hundreds of people killed in a mosque in the Sinai today. Senseless killings are the order of the day with Isis, and when they beheaded a blind Sufi Sheikh a while ago I lost all hope in humanity in the middle east.

The worst part of it is that we too can only lose our humanity in the face of this kind of enemy. And it does no good to blame ourselves for this bloody violence. Today there was an op ed in the Times but a Palestinian Amnesty activist blaming Israel for not letting in to mourn his father's death last month in Jenin. Of course it is terrible that he wasn't allowed to visit his father's grave (one month after) but it is also awful that he thought he could conspire to damage this country economically and still think he would be welcome there.

November 25, 2017

Ever had breakfast at Beta Cafe? I have a feeling it's going to become a favorite Saturday morning event for me. This is only one of the ways I can escape from the disgusting politics we've been experiencing this week. The fact that the Minister of Health, in such a responsible position, threatens to quit and pull down the government him, if all work on trains doesn't stop on the Sabbath, just blows what's left of my mind. The fact that the only time people can fix trains is on the day that the trains aren't working, the sabbath, and that not working on the sabbath makes travel that much more complicated for people, doesn't seem to phase the extreme orthodox minister. The fact that he has done almost nothing to improve the medical situation in the country except get free dental care for children (which really helps only the population that has many children in the family), that hospitals are overcrowded, doctors are scarce, and medical insurance is diminishing, doesn't seem to phase him or any one else in the ruling government. I don't understand how the majority of the population doesn't realize that there very very few people in the knesset today who actually do anything for the security and benefit of that very population.

Even though my publisher said that my latest book in Hebrew is doing fine, i decided today to invite people to like my page on Facebook. I was clicking all my friends randomly, proud that i was finally starting to further the book. Suddenly a notice appeared on the screen. i was blocked from more invitations because i was going too fast. Wow I didn't see that coming. That's what I get for sudden bursts of energy. The site is here. It's in Hebrew, and isn't very active, but I guess I was testing the waters. And I drowned.

November 26, 2017

Remember the Israel Association of Writers in English? Remember I was trying to get out of being in charge - another chair was elected years ago and then when he dropped the ball still another chair got picked but now the whole thing is falling apart with all kinds of government debts and guess what - I'm the only one who has financial responsibility for it. Otherwise everything is fine.

November 27, 2017

It was worse than i thought. i met with the accountant and left a big chunk of my own money with him that i hope will keep my colleagues from accusations of criminal negligence.

And on top of it i had to go to Jerusalem for it.

Why don't i feel like I'm in another country anywhere else in Israel. We stopped for coffee and everyone was dressed in long skirts skull caps and speaking English. I heard a click of recognition for a moment in my accountant's voice when i said my name is Alkalay, but when the artist came in, his eyes really lit up - he was obviously in love, not with the artist, but the idea of art, and he was not ashamed of it. You don't see that often in Tel Aviv.

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