Tel Aviv Diary - October 6-10, 2010 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

October 6, 2010

The Magic of Galapagos

Photos: Ezra Gut

Poems: Karen Alkalay-Gut

Hebrew: Dina Milano

Presentation: October 17, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. in room 01 in Webb Building, next door.

Exhibit: from October 12-28

The Galapagos Islands, located 972 km west of continental Ecuador, is part of Ecuador and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Known for its wildlife, it was an inspiration for Charles Darwin, and is the source of many musings for many writers such as Herman Melville. This exhibit does not attempt to encompass the vast variety of the islands and the manifold vegetations. Rather it focuses on its specific character and the dialogues offered by the self-assurance of the living creatures.

October 7, 2010

One of my favorite seeds is something called "Ketsach." I never knew the English word for it but today I read on Green Prophet that it has miraculous properties according to Mohammed, who says it can cure everything except death. The flower looks like this and now I know it is called black cumin or Nigella arvensis. It looks like caraway seeds cut in half, and I haven't been able to eat them lately because I'm having dental work done and they get caught in all the little holes and channels. But I'm happy to know that when I will get back to normal living they'll be waiting for me.

October 8, 2010

Notice I haven't said a word about the peace process. That's because I can't speak while I'm holding my breath. And nothing about the Yom Kippur war either - that's because all the news coming out now - about the absence of leadership, the confusion, the ... stupidity, was always clear to me. A bunch of simple humans who don't know what they are doing - who would rather be reading books or screwing around, who don't want to make a profession of offense or even defense - but are in a position of superhuman demands.

October 9, 2010

Where has she been? We've been waiting and waiting for someone to say something about the irresponsibility of our leadership, about the possible alternatives, about how intelligent people don't get into the troubles that smart people know how to extricate themselves and our government is neither. So tonight she spoke - having seen that Bibi is not going to work things out. And I so wish we had been able to go with her. And I so wish she were just a bit more agressive, even though it would be against her character.

There must be something wonderful about continuity, about continuing the ways of your parents, your ancestors. With the olive harvest it is very clear - Arabs harvest from the same trees in the same manner for generations, and are proud of bearing the same wisdom through time. What makes me admire this so much? Only the fact that I have no idea where my behavior comes from, where my approach to life comes from. The rabbis who raised me might have influenced my ethics, my approach to life, to learning, but what did my grandmother do? How did my grandfather see life? Were there any professions that have been transmitted to me somehow?

I am drawn to this land for the same but antithetical reasons that the proud Arab harvesting olives in a tradition. He has been here all along. I was exiled.

October 10, 2010

What is a loyalty oath? People swear loyalty all the time. But to what? And why? And in what spirit? The spirit of patriotism, or the spirit of blackmail? My father had to swear that he was not now nor had ever been a member of the communist party. And he did. Out of fear. But he was as loyal an American as anyone I know. It is not the loyalty oath we should oppose but the entire attitude of divisiveness that must be exposed and overcome. The sense that everything is black and white. Loyalty has to be deserved, not demanded.

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