October 17

Seven years have passed since Yizchak Rabin was assasinated. The seven bad years. When Rabin was murdered Zyggy and I did a pamphlet in his memory. This poem of mine was in it:

The Hope

On the night Rabin died I dreamt I wandered the streets

homeless and lonely in a crowd of confusion, ricocheting

off relatives and friends barely regarded, while dogs of peace

ran with panthers and tigers all loose and all free.

No one was working -- everyone

out on the streets or in groups

sleeping in different houses, using

interchangeably each others’ phones --

connecting with wrong numbers

saying a few impotent words,

disconnecting indifferently

Unseasonable cold penetrated my clothes,

and uncoated I sought shelter

in cloaks of the dead,

but found myself in other byways

before I could wrap myself in them

The river was solid and the earth

liquid under our feet -- the worst

walked on water while the best

fell in the treacherous sands.

Nothing held the dream together

and everything could fall apart

at any random moment

People like to say that the man was murdered, but not what he stood for. But that's not true - what he stood for was brutally strangled in that moment.

This year - today - for the first time, though, I felt the possibility of the renewal of his dream. His loss is more and more greatly felt all the time, and it becomes more and more clear that his way was the only way.

At the university memorial service, when Aviv Geffen sang his dirge for Rabin, the grief was more palpable than ever - the need to find our way again, the need to return to the values he represented - peace, humanity, friendship.

There were no right wing speakers in the parliament, in the memorial service, so i have no direct knowledge of what they think of this.

October 17

The poet Miriam Baruch died yesterday. She was buried next to her husband, Shimshon Halfi. Today at her funeral her daughter, the Raquel Chalfi, read one of her poems. This is it in English:


This day has already lost some of its essence.

Pale moon

walks the sky

It is no longer light

and not yet dark

Between light and dark

there is for me

neither sin

nor grace

What is far from me

draws near

and what is near me

moves far

I am in the midst

A tiny being


until it can

no more

And at this hour

there is nothing

between me

and what

contains me

Miriam became a great poet in her old age. Her daughter is already one of the best poets in Israel. It was comforting to know that although greatness dies, it continues. Because my back hurt, I wandered among the graves at Kibbutz Einat, where rest many people who could not or would not be buried in the official Jewish cemeteries. There seems to be a peaceful place for them as well as the people of the kibbutz.

On the way back I passed The Yarkon Cemetery - it is as big and bustling as Tel Aviv - Even though there is a 'poets' corner' - it seems impersonal, anonymous, merciless. The older cemeteries appeal to me more - like Trumpeldor, where Ezi's grandparents and aunt are buried, and all the gravestones seem to correspond with street names in the city.

But I'm not really qualified to make a social/political comment on it - like Avidan or Amichai have - I'm too uncomfortable about new cemeteries to be objective about this because the news ones have room for me.

Ha'aretz today published a list of palestinian children killed in the last six months - in a kind of j'accuse front page. No one would suggest that we do it on purpose - but maybe we're trying to scare the civilians into fighting against the hamas. pretty awful. pretty desperate.

Maariv on the other hand had on its front page the information that mitzna would win the primaries against the present labor leader, the minister of defence.


October 19

Today we escaped into history, geography, and ecology - a field trip along the Yarkon River that explored the ancient forts and sites, the flour mills of the last century, and the celebrated fair that took place in the 30's until WWII at the site of Tel Aviv port, when the Yarkon ends. We studied Napoleon's strategy, read parts of the findings of the Peel Commission in 1936 (which among other things decided not to let the Jews develop the harbor of Tel Aviv because it might compete with the Arab port at Yaffo, and declared the belief that the conflict between the two nations would never be solved), and explored which public organizations in Israel preserve historical sites and which destroy or waste them. The ecology part bores me -not because it isn't important, but because I know that powers much greater than me are warring over these matters. The historical parts remind me of how little I know and how much I've forgotten - or don't connect properly.

Take for example WWII and Palestine. I've always known that Ezi's grandfather was commissioned by the British to build a bridge over the Euphrates River in Iraq in '41 in order to provide an escape route for the British in case Rommel managed to invade Palestine. I've always known how close that bridge came to being used. Today I was reminded of the number of projects in Tel Aviv that fell apart during WWII, the economic and social mess that occurred here then - as well as the terror.

Most but not all were rebuilt, reconstituted, improved. The impetus of a new state helped that.

It was also quite surprising to suddenly notice and pay attention to the reconstitution that is going on under our eyes - the numerous projects for the ciy of Tel Aviv. It is becoming possible now to walk all the way down the length of the shore from the electrical company on the north to Yaffo in the south.

i plan to do that this week. i haven't been in yaffo exploring for 2 years.

Fear takes the fun out. But now i'm going.

October 20

The violence of the settlers is more frightening than any other violence right now. For days Gush Shalom has been reporting of the terror inflicted on Arab Villages - they are ratified in the Hebrew papers - settlers shoot, invade, destroy and families are forced to abandon their homes of centuries.

The Israeli character is a mess right now - Michal and I were discussing old times - because I gave her her severence pay for the past 20 years and we were feeling very nostalgic. she began working here at the age of 9 when she came her from Bucharia via Iran - As I drove her home we complained more and more about the way people have forgotten how difficult life was in the past. She talked about not having food to eat, about working 3 jobs at once, about sleeping in tents for years. "People here have no idea of what we all went through here - and the values are all mixed up!" We were passing the prostitutes near the Diamond Center. "Look at them! They're not Israelis!" I looked closely, "They're not Jewish. Then, "They're not women!" Then we broke down laughing.

She actually had some great ideas about saving money and budgeting household matters. If I were a television producer I'd give her a talk show for unemployed housewives. How do you make dinner for 10 people with $10? How do you recycle clothes? How do you make your own after-school clubs for kids? She's not only good - she reminds me of a life style i once enjoyed!

October 21

I was drinking hot chocolate with my cousin, Dvora, this afternoon, in my cousin Ani's restaurant, Paulina, when Dvora gets a call from her son on her cellular. I'm okay - you don't have to worry. What do you mean, she says. There was an explosion on a bus today - but I wasn't on duty.

It turns out it was his bus line - he's a driver - he was off today. So far there are 13 dead - there are probably more but the explosion was so great they haven't found all the bodies yet.

A stolen car attaches itself to a bus and blows itself up.

Karen Alkalay-Gut Home