Tel Aviv Diary September 6, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - September 6, 2005 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

September 6, 2005

Because it is my fate to be the mother of a cafe owner, i have aquired a critical eye in relation to hygiene, quality, service, etc. These are things I learned to ignore in the Israel of my youth. Public toilets, for example, were always off limits except in the case of emergencies. And then, only when you've brought your own toilet paper. But that was thirty, forty years ago. And I felt at home in Jordan a few years ago when I wound up taking a whirlwind tour in a condition that demanded frequent visits to every toilet from Amman to Petra. But this morning I took an ornery mood to Nona, and looked for flaws.

Nona - with its enormous window to the street, and strategic mirrors - was created for someone like me - a people watcher with an attention deficit disorder. I can see someone interesting coming past in the mirror and then slowly watch them going by. But this morning, as I found myself losing focus on a fascinating conversation with Dalit, I noticed there was something of a film on the window. "No one else but me will care," I thought. "I'm the only one who has to examine all the details of the passersby." But before I had managed to look away and look back, there were the managers with ladder and spongees,and the long tall window was sparkling. I should have realized that this is a national obsession and not just my own.

The need to see through clean windows.

As well as the need to measure ourselves by others.

September 7, 2005

Who killed Moussa Arafat? I know he was not the most popular of people - but to be dragged out of his home and murdered? I fear chaos in Gaza. Because if there is chaos there, we'll be going right be in there and making a mess. And the people there deserve peace and quiet and not more violence and lawlessness.

Someone sent me this just now and even though I don't know the source, I'm posting it:


Tulane University in New Orleans with an enrollment of thousands of students has been flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
All Israeli Universities have responded positively to this Jewish Agency initiative and will accept students by an accelerated procedure for the new academic year.
Thousands of students including 2,000 Jewish students from the disaster stricken New Orleans area will be able to continue their studies in Israel as part of an initiative of the Jewish Agency for them to study in English in programs for overseas students offered by Israeli universities.
In co-operation with Hillel - The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and the United Jewish Communities (UJC) - The Federations of North America, the Jewish Agency has approached all the Jewish Communities in America with the goal of locating students at Tulane University to offer them the alternative opportunity of studying in Israel. Tulane University has been flooded and courses are cancelled. The offer to come study in Israel has been extended to all denominations.
This week all Israeli Universities (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University. Bar Ilan University, Ben Gurion University) responded positively to the request of the Jewish Agency to expedite the registration of students from New Orleans wishing to study in Israel.
Courses are taught in English and Hebrew Language Learning courses (Ulpan) will also be made available. The existing programs will be expanded so as to accommodate as many applicants as possible.

The Jewish Agency is behind it. And there's a similar story on Ynet. I know so many of us keep trying of think of ways to help - Not just money. There is an art therapist I know who is looking for a way to go there to help ease the psychological pain.

September 8, 2005

The headline of the Tribune says "What killed Arafat" Infection a mystery" with a subtitle of "Both Poisoning and Aids Doubted in study of French Medical Records." Ha'aretz says "Experts: Yasser Arafat died of AIDS or poisoning." In both articles it's clear they don't know. And my point is no matter what he died of, his wife thought it was something shameful - probably AIDS - and therefore covered it up. And that he carried the HIV virus. "Where did he get the virus?" Linoy asks on channel 10 and Avri answers, "Not from Suha." And my question is, we've known about this for months, right? Why is it coming out right now after his nephew (and probably his son) was so brutally murdered in Gaza by the Hamas?

September 9, 2005

Lisa often tells less than she knows. You have to read between the lines. Like who is that politician who picks his nose during interviews. Fortunately there are also links to other places on her site that give you other sides of her.

Anyway Lisa says the question of Arafat's demise has been raised because a book on the subject is coming out now. What killed Arafat? I still don't understand. With all the talk I'm not seeing doctors' reports, blood tests, pathology, nothing.

Maybe he died, like Alexander Pope, "of a thousand good causes."

Don't ask me about synagogues. My own experiences is that they are a place to pray. Not that they are holy sites per say. So they can been moved, destroyed (with nothing holy inside), and made into something else. But if they were holy, they should be honored by the Palestinians, the way we honor all the mosques in our part. (I was even just a bit surprised at the amount of space the mosques were given in the "Mini-Israel" site - and delighted.)

But I can't get over the fact that the whole idea of Judaism is mobility. The Torah is holy. The ark is holy. The synagogue is holy only insofar as it is a place that signifies the holiness of the prayer. But not in and of itself.

Don't quote me on this. Maybe I'm wrong and the religion has changed since last time i checked in.

September 10, 2005

Meron Benvenisti says I'm wrong about the mosques. The local treatment of them has not been stellar. The reasons, however, seem to be neglect and not desire to abase the religion.

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