Tel Aviv Diary - October 15-19, 2014 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

October 15, 2014

Walking on Water", an Israeli film from 2004, has been playing on tv here for months. I saw it 10 years ago but last night, worn out from a day with grandchildren, I let it feed my insomnia. It seemed to me then a little esoteric, a friendship between a young gay German and a macho straight Israeli. Retrospectively I see it was a turning point for Israaeli society. The fact that a second generation Israeli could begin to forgive the German people for the sins of their fathers, and the sanctity it gave to their friendship, seemed interesting and unique. But now I see it signaled a very important move for our young people. To forgive seemed like 'walking on water' to me then, but the movement of Israelis now to Berlin because of the welcoming socialist society now has many significances. Not only is there forgiveness, but German society contains many of the elements of socialism that have disappeared with our Prime Minister's ascension, particularly the sense of responsibility for its citizens.

Capitalism - as it has been practiced here in the past decades - has become a paranoid dictatorship.

And in a broader sense this film about Germany and Israel goes to show that people can change if their leadership and their society allows them.

What is today like in Tel Aviv? The last day of the holiday on the day before Shabbat means that we have to get ready for action tomorrow morning. Only in the morning can we replenish our stores, catch up with printed news, etc. The big work - of catching up on all we couldn't do because of the holidays - will start Sunday. Our printer was closed for the duration, and so were all the offices we need to connect with to plan for the book launch, for example. The university was closed too. I can't believe how something like that can happen - only a few of the days are holy and demand a rest from work and daily prayer. It seems to me that the days before the beginning of the semester are essential for proper organization of the university and we feel the lack of this organization for the rest of the year.

October 17, 2014

Wound up in Azrielli Center today. And as a people-watcher I couldn't help but notice again that there is a completely different population in the mall less that 2 miles away in Ramat Aviv. Maybe because of the proximity to the train station - Azrielli is a crossroads mall and the people are eager shoppers on the Friday morning, lower middle class. Ramat Aviv seems sated in contrast. Fewer people, carrying many labeled-bags, walking slowly, sitting on benches...or am i just imagining the differences on a friday morning?

I'll never figure this city out. Everyone seems to behave as one, but I can't figure out where their cues come from. One small example: We spent a few hours at the port last night and it was empty. Empty. A few tables at a normally crowded restaurant. At Papa's, by contrast, it was crowded until 10, and then it thinned out. What makes people do what they do arouns here? Why do all our young people go on those stupid treks in dangerous places? We don't have enough danger around here? Why don't they go to a Swiss finishing school instead?

October 18, 2014

Ron Lauder from the World Jewish Congress has come out for Public Relations in Israel. There isn't any. No money invested in it at all, as far as I know - So many foreign language writers in this country and no support from the government. I'll never understand it - Got another meeting to set up PEN this week.

October 19, 2014

Suddenly every one is back... suddenly the holidays are over and the kids are in school and everything that stopped still in July is suddenly moving again. It is overwhelming - one invitation after another - one demand after another - one conference after another - one thesis after another. And in the middle of all this I suddenly have a wave of poems wanting to be written.

To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

To Karen Alkalay-Gut home