Monday, February 14, 2005

The morning and God

To Roy Shmaryahu

A certain morning I woke up, it wasn't a strange day actually.... just one of those days you've been told about in stories, in all kind of stories, love stories, thrillers and even in meaningless stories. I woke up in a hotel room, lousy morning, cups of coffee, nicotine, telephones. Somehow in its lack of particularity it might have been the first morning to which I matter-of-factly woke up. I didn't find myself strange or extremely kind, neither devoid of violence or embroidered. Practically efficient, uninfatuated, shaved, drunk up, thought-of. Beyond that it wasn't weird waking up such morning, I woke up to old friends, to old stories, to old roots, to odd roots. Nothing could have been particular about such morning, for there were others in which I woke up to different things and to particularly evident reasons, to different battles and endless boxes of thoughts, to love songs, to sad songs, to unwritten songs, to odes. I could have even woken up to friends, to lovers and to disdainful remarks excerpted delicately from a careful conversation, from a stranger, from a letter that was never written, from a conversation with the wise, with the poor, with the smart, with the dumb, or simply with no one else but myself and my own inner desire for daily redemption, for justification, for something that matters beyond my addictions and TV-made procrastinations, beyond the news, beyond a future that was never lived.

That morning was so different, for I didn't wake up to any particular reason and to any particular person and I didn't dream anything profetic, I didn't understand anything better about life, I didn't change, I didn't wear, I didn't predict, I didn't unwind. The air found me unthinkable and I found the smoke unnecessary, yet both of us didn't delay our continued encounters all through the minutes and the hours that mercilessly decorate the days. It wasn't any philosophical and wouldn't allegedly change the course of history; it wouldn't be a morning of gods and statemen, a morning of interpretations. It would rather be the best morning my life awoke to; a morning of friends and silly faces, a morning of sugarless coffee and laughs, a morning of meanings, unspoken of. A morning of childish friendships that soon would be over, a morning of unwelcoming pleasures and simple cakes. A morning of endless brotherhood and simple conversations, it was.... a morning.

And with all its smells and people, no longer dwells among us... for we've returned, or better say we've been returned; and probably sooner than one can count will have forgotten the names and the faces and the echoes of those souls that wandered together throughout the winter cold of Jerusalem moons. So full of hate, so full of hatred, so full of ego, so simply and basically humans. But it was beautiful to wake up one day, one morning.... to be oneself.

But above all, twenty-one years and 3 boxes of cigarettes and an imaginary friendship were necessary to talk to God, to realize he exists and that there's a bit of him about everywhere. To think life again once more and then get some rest, to dream about the future and build a better world, to imagine that we're more than this flesh and this oversexualized nature, that we're more than casual sex, that we're more than our salaries, that we're not a career or a diploma on a wall, that we're more than wallets and credit cards, that we're people and that life doesn't end up in life. That one must be good and do good to anothers, respect the others and fulfill a life. That a career builds up for the rain, but a human being builds even the rain.

It was great to feel someone, to feel oneself being such.

The days keep on running and we keep on counting, but that's not what really matters. What matters is that we don't really know anything, and that still everything can be just so beautiful, that friendship can be so real, that promises can be kept, and that we can talk to God. There's always a way, there's always a second time. I guess that for the first time in many years I'm quite complete, being so damn uncomplete, and I'm happy being so damn unkind. But I can always remember, I can always return, I can always smile. Maybe tomorrow or some other day all this will just turn real.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


I used to remember those days with a decadent longing, as if there was nothing standing in history in between those days and the cronic selection of past reviews and faces that had crossed my sight and that had endeavoured themselves concomittantly in my newfound skin. I wouldn't be sure about the title I'd give to those encounters, to those cold blocks of feelings and mountains of agony that succeeded in intoxicated the sweeping veins of my intellect; nothing necessarily magnificent, never superfluous and far from contemptuous. The burning smoke that separated our convalescent postmodern and young humanities with a screen of biffurcating fogs that would never disappear, or at least not until the morning stroke with endless reminders of what had been a licentiously successful life and the odes of a modernity that we could have foregone, had we wished to do that. Sweet mellodies and queerly infatuated voices surrounded the piles of newspapers and unpaid bills until they reached our ears and found me just too young and unwise, remarkably beautiful and bitterly happy. That's how those days found me, older than I am now, older than I'll ever be. Wearing incesantly the moral burdens of a dreamer, abstracted in the deathly anatomy of unfathomable smells, of pathetic smiles, of unavoidable redemption, an assassination of the intellect.

Days that were just like today, preposterously inserted in the agenda of a political man, of an activist, of a freedom seeker, of a man in search of moral adjustment. And those days in their shape were no different than those that I've lived since there ever until today. I had read the newspapers in the morning and had been busy on the phone, giving myself the proper importance that a grown up man deserved, disinformated enough as not to notice the helplessness of modernity and the emptiness a man causes to himself, when he doesn't stare at the sky, when he doesn't meet up with stars, when he forgets his anomalous condition. I had planned life a few too many times that day and had criminally chosen to control my life, despite myself, despite lusting for higher pleasures, for a stoppover along the way, for the comfort of the fool. I had carelessly made sure not to seem just too happy, not to look through all the glasses, made sure to undrink my coffee, to soak my job in a dream, to control my words. Problematically efficient, ineffeciently progressive. That's how I found it.

I still don't forget that day, not the trousers I wore and the dreams I thought, the strikes I endured. The different loves I hoped and kept in store, the discurssive maneouvres I led through, the songs I drank, the glass of wine I thought. My dream would live itself through my flesh, and then disappear one day, just like morning comes when twilight knocks. I wish no longer that life, when I was all so grown up. I lust no longer for the opinions I seeked to uphold, for the endless sets of practical knowledge I stored, for the books I read or the men I loved. I think no longer of the days when I touched the sky with my hands.

I just dwell on those delicate pieces of self that I left untold. I dwell on the room where I never lived through, on those dreams that never came, on the words that were never words, on the futures he refused and no longer spoke. I'm not sorry of having loved that filthy touch of silk, and those vulgar glasses of wine, those movies I understood, those uncovered bodies I never touch. I'm not sorry for myself, I'm younger these days. I've kept it all held in store, for maybe one day I'll need those yearnings when in the highway or when painting the walls of a new home. The saddest skin I ever touched, the books I never wrote, the days when I never came home.

I'm happy I wore those years, as to enjoy adult love. Opinionated enough, infatuated at all. I'm glad tonight I'm home, finally alone, maybe the world will not last until tomorrow, but the TV is on.


Monday, February 07, 2005

Life and its magnificent grandeur - a dilettante's manifesto

The internet procrastinates in electronic heart beats and I'm still unkind, almost ready to unwind; the winter strikes with the largest curtains of rainfall seen in this small and unsignificant country all through the year, yet I can't put myself to quit smoking for more than a couple of hours and I'm uninfatuated just for a change. Finding myself simply stressed and never getting enough hours of sleep, out an endlessly-motivating-and-unreasonable excuse, maybe the weather channel, world politics or children's welfare, one can never get enough disinformation in the information era, just as waterless towns in Etiopia can never get enough cans of powder milk, with all the cynical irony it implies. Nearing 3 am in the morning I sit in front of the same cold screen to which I awoke in the morning, next to the same empty cup and empty ashtrey, only the news has changed.

A highly imaginative day, after the masochist pleasure of the world current events and sorrowful remarks on the way the world is being led, being left with nothing but the weapons that freedom of speech and grammatical accuracy granted me, yet feeling uninterested enough as to make any profitable use of them. Sleeps at 3 am and wakes up at 4, drinks some coffee, coughs and then right thereafter smokes, writes a couple of lines in a foreign language, erases, writes again and after a couple of hours the morning strikes with unmeasurable quantities of self-imagined violence and action, all of that happening just right there in front of me, outside the window, but I'm just not in the mood to go out, so I rather stay home, stay home alone. Play with the cat a little bit until he's tired of me or until I tire myself out, and then I return to the world news, to the State of Israel, and to the endless well-known topic of Religion and Democracy; having never enough of it. Swallowing every small piece of information and trying to become an objectively educated man, as far as that be possible for a Jewish gay man to accomplish.

A guy that is nothing in particular, not an average Joey neither an average Jew. Not an average queer and not a religious man, not a right wing conservative or a left wing crony, not a soldier, not an academician, not a pious person, not an atheist, not a sexist neither a feminist. Nothing in particular, unwound enough as to choose anything at all. That's who actually sits in front of this screen in control of the world affairs through the paraplexic powers of online media, not even getting to see the sun for a minute; not living down, not in the underground, not living up, not leaving, simply living. An average citizen with no name, an attractive man with no face, a smart ass with no title, a Zionist without faith.

Those facts actually used to trouble me deeply, my endless yearnings before the loving eyes of the Rabbanit and the smell of the cholent in Shabbat, the manly echoes of the evening chants and the beauty of the little children, that stubborn faith in an everlasting God, and the enlightening purpose of holiness by which those men and women of the heavenly army subjugate themselves to the laws given by the Eternal Blessed Be His Name. My endless yearnings for Zion and the verses of Rachel, the promises of a country built in the land of Israel, the glorifying past of our young nation and the stories of the pioneers, that the children no longer know by heart, neither do I... but I strive to remember those little popular stories I never heard, when sitting in cafes I never visited before, among friends I never used to know. Such as my yearnings... deep and mellow, made of yellow and almost disappearing in the greys of my clouded thoughts, smearing my regrets with a sweet and transparent feeling of comfort, a feeling that hardly ever disappears, not even when it rains, not even when the smoke is sad.

Yearnings of better days, and of worse days, a younger age and an older soul, yielding a soul in between skybreakers, handwritten pages and the smells from an old love affair; not necessarily hurt and not unnecessarily happy. Simply yearning for, maybe for the things I didn't know, for the loves I never had, for the futures I never lived, for that past that will never be. And just right here next to my screen and my pallmall filter box I can think all that over, I can think myself over, without needlessly talking about myself, decidedly preoccupied with the latest world affairs and not really giving a damn about them, in the end the philosophies are all over, and subdued to the irrationality of human understanding that we can blame for the most beautiful things that are to be found in the world, happiness, motivation, love; the little things.... the inexpensive thing... the meaningless memories and mental images of a young aunt, a car trip or maybe a childhood friend.

Yeah sure... it doesn't really get anywhere, but anyway should it? Must it be then? What should you expect? Where should the world go these days? Those questions probably trouble you when reading this hideous non-sense, but oh well... I haven't got your answers, I became a media man and therefore disinformation is my only quality, my only weapon, my only knowledge. No philosophies involved, no opinions to uphold. I forgot what I would be, what I could ever be and instead just tried to be it. I became a writer, and at this very moment I don't owe to myself anything, hence neither to you, silly reader. You who always expected from me the most intellectual and highly challenging accuracies, even provocative you liked it. But I tired myself out of it, I grew up, and I simply discovered that it's a meaningless search, it's an emptiness that never ends, it's a human quest. Hence, I'm giving you nothing today, and I haven't discovered anything that would interest you, other than having found a very attractive chin to kiss at night and a small baby to play with when I've got some free time; when I'm not frying my brains next to a almost suicidal screen that pours parallel realities through my reticular tissue and causes my brain to process informations based on the chemical reactions that your collective violence causes, that your personal violence inflicts on me.

On my busy hours I imagine beautiful landscapes and children, written letters and interesting conversations with all those women and men that live in my daydream, I find it quite close to redemption, slightly wasteful and contemptuously enjoyable. Poorly political, poorly interesting, poorly constructive... but all too enjoyable, and that's probably what I came to this world for, not in order to serve the sake of your education, which you must have pursued much better than this, in which case you wouldn't waste yourself reading the procrastinations of an educated man who actually ran out of what to say, of any opinion at all. My absolutes today fled away to Paris, they must be drunk somewhere in the rain, there must be a party downstairs. And it wouldn't really help to grab the books right now, it's a bit too late for us, for each and every one of us. It's a bit too late to educate yourself, let the morning hover on you and drink you up.

It's a bit too late to give up on hope, to give up on love. I understand it now, hence I'm unaffiliated. I don't strive to understand this country so late at night, I don't strive to understand the man of my dreams by day, he's by definition a misunderstanding and there's some awful beauty to that, an awful lot. I don't strive to understand myself for I'm a pessimist, and my only way back to primitive survival is simply living out my life, yielding up. No one of you has got any answers and you won't get them from me, that's for sure... for no less than I know you all know, I guess you even believe in anything at all, privilege which has been stolen from me as a writer, my only purpose is to remind you those things you already know, and to tell you those beautiful stories you never understood, those chapters of your life you already lived through, of those men and women who never loved you, of that God who never paid you attention, of that country where you never lived, of a milieu you actually never saw, and that's how you remember it, for a beautiful woman is not as beautiful in a frame as she was in a story.

So let me do my job as I should, and don't hasten me with questions of life, for that's the last thing I'm interested about, let me be an observer and misunderstand Israel, deconstruct the Jewish people as I please and misconceive the world. That's how you like me, in wrongdoings and faltering standards, crossing my own limits of moral circumscription only in order to satisfy your desire, always incomplete, always in your search, you need me as much as I need you to save myself from my own life, from my own endlessness, from my own loneliness. Just say you understand me, even when you don't, that's your only obligation actually.

Write critical books and interpret my sayings as you please and invest yourself with a knowledge that never existed, claim your rights and stand up for the world. Just claim you understand anything at all, so that I can feel less cold tonight. It's not so hard to be a brilliant young guy and you don't really need six years of classics, just get out of the house and look up. Realize how small you are and how little you know, trust me... it gives you a feeling of happiness that nothing can overcome.

Today, not being particularly anything at all, I'm a complete man, an objective journalist who doesn't look forward to be upright, it's easier to be happy. It's great fun to be a writer, you just need a few too many lives to kill as many women as the public wished, not my case though... with one life's being enough and I killed rather grown up men, for those were the ones I loved, the ones who loved me, my unconsiderate objects of pleasure, the criminals on whose account I wrote all those many diaries, which are nonetheless blank pages, thus for regrets I still found no words at all, I didn't write many songs.

And so early in the morning is still late enough as not to be conscious about anything at all; but of one thing I'm sure, tomorrow I'll wake up late enough as to miss the train and curse God, then an hour late to work and 50 bucks less on my account, I'll blame you for everything though, then at night you'll attack me with your life questions and I'll follow up. By tomorrow night we'll be believing there's reason in this world, that we're serious men at all. Deal?

PS: Talk this over with God, I'm dating out someone in the meantime. Leave a message after the tone, but don't leave your name or phone number at all.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

אין לנו ארץ אחרת

"אין לנו ארץ אחרת" - we haven't got any other country.

That's how an unsual TV programme finished this evening just right before the midnight news, and I guess most Israelis, Jews and Philo-semites have heard this sentence several times, from left rallies in North Tel Aviv to religious zionist speeches to the explanation of a cab driver of why he's still living in the country, despite its thousand and one reasons to ascertain it's impossible to make it here; it doesn't surprise me anymore to find out most of my fellow citizens can't really find reasons to explain why they actually chose to live in the country, but only to justify why they couldn't live anywhere else. I'm one of them, and beyond that I dare to publicize my opinions on the matter to a public that is partly unable to understand me, the English-speaking community; but not having any better language to write in, I strive in between the English phonemes and understatements.

After having heard such sentence by Nana Sheirer, one of our Israeli crazies, I thought it was a good moment to write something about "we haven't got any other country". Right after playing the devil's advocate in my last article and the conservative Jew during my daily arguments about Zionism, I prefer to play a different role tonight, to reduce the already small extension of Israel to the ghetto-like and cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv; the independent republic I've decidedly become a citizen ever since 2002. I'm not wearing the heavy burdens of Jewish history neither the shortcomings of Israeli society. You must think I'm pretty obsessed with the topic in particular and in general with anything that hides under the Jewish world, and I wouldn't dare to contradict you. It's such a waste of time, a prominent Classics scholar in the make who refuses a first hand entry to St. Anne's College and instead wanders around the world for a couple of years to end up finally the streets of Tel Aviv, falling in love with every crazie I found and worst of all, writing about it. Almost 2 in the morning, in front of a screen, unreasonably excited and reasonably confused... nevertheless writing and written, not to mention unread. It gives me some kind of masochistic satisfaction though, and it's interesting above all. For most people would secretly expect to face down here in these pages the procrastinations of a well-bred Dutch citizen about a country to which is linked only by an ancient and despisable religion practiced by his ancestors and discontinued in the family for some 200 years. We chose to be Dutch, and I chose to be Israeli. An eternal paradox, a 21st century paradox, an anachronism. Past the Enlightenment and the closure of the ghettos, a new generation of highly educated Jewish secular society whose achievements could be hardly overwritten by any Christian family of our same social standing. Yet I'm here, in front of this screen being a damn Israeli, and writing about it in a language that doesn't necessarily fit the conventions of my experience. But not even that bothers me, and I permanently wonder if there's anything at all that does, not even the fact of belonging to a not-so-intellectually-reputable generation of faceless internet dating and SMS shopping.

Having cleared those points out then I can get to work, and play a bit of Carry Bradshaw, a bit of Ofer Mayer, a bit of God, and inclusive a bit of myself. Contemptuously uninterested in world affairs and political arteriosclerosis, above all given to the echoes of a noisy city, of an underground world at the sea level, to the mysteries of the largest Jewish city in the world, to its addictive ugliness and cosmopolitan nature. That wouldn't really describe Tel Aviv, endless nights spent in front of a dating website, or simply hitting the roads finding a suitable nitch to rest my acheing nature from over-politicized articles, breaking news and historical determinism. That's somehow what you might find in a largest Jewish settlement of the world in a summer night, in a winter night. A Middle Eastern enclave that doesn't belong to any country, that doesn't belong to any religion or to any political party, a city that doesn't belong to anyone but all. An independent city-state that might be somewhere in New York, Moscow or Poone, yet being nowhere; a contemtuous example of civil liberties, yet a ghetto crowded with wealthy suburbs and self-governed consciences.

A unique example of collective self destruction, of chosen self destruction and deconstructivism. A city whose history is recreated and re-created in each and every single corner, in every bar, in every poetry book, in each and every love story and in the memories of innocent tourists that look forward not only a good time but a taste of Israel, that there actually is in the city, but isn't there. Yes indeed an Israeli city, hastening, crowdy and Middle Eastern, messy, filthy; but at times not an Israeli city, at times just nothing in particular, nothing other than a city. Maybe that was our only purpose, just to be like anyone else, just a people, just a city, just a country, not particularly Jewish and not particularly anything else. Wandering bodies in search of identity and pleasure, in search of comfort and action, in search of freedom, in search of understanding; and still being unsure that we achieved anything of that, we didn't even succeed in being just anything else, an average Joey and neither an average Jew.

My generation made of this city an independent republic, a Jewish secular anarchy, a city of the size of Geneva with enough violence as to populate the whole of Switzerland tenifold times; yet a city where hardly anyone gets killed, where hardly anyone is a stranger, where hardly anyone is unkind. You'd be asking how can I explain that, well I simply can't and that's why I wrote this, maybe to get some relief, or just to make some justice to my newfound country; the most violent and hastening I ever visited, and probably one of the smallest.

It's not a surprise in anyway, Jews always make everything complicated and nihilism is not their kind of thing; everyone here is a bit of God, and if not at least of him a son. The philosophies have been deserted and replaced by the uncomfortable faltering of real life, even for the philosophers. I guess Tel Avivian Zionism can just be reduced to a very simple stratagema: We wanted a country of our own, but they overpopulated just too fast so we found a nitch inside; and we formed an unofficial republic that is particulaly disconnected from national reality but peculiarly connected to it, devoid of personality but too personal to be called a city, a nervous axe of our problematic identity yet not having any need to have it dealt with, a particularly remarkable example of civil liberties, the Greek model, yet subject to 2000-years-old laws.

That's actually the country I chose to live in, and as a Dutch Jew it simply helped to relieve the historical weight of my position as a Jew by determinism. I didn't have to strive in order to make of success an only way to prove a point, and therefore I could just sit next to a computer, with an useless degree in the Classics, and write about it all night long... not exactly preoccupied. Being objective I don't know if this is exactly a dreamland, or if it'll last for all that long. But from a personal perspective, well.... we haven't got any other, and as far as I'm aware of that fact I think we've just been left with the chance to make the best out of it, that's what matters I guess. These days I just bore the feeling I've been here for a few decades, more than my own age could count, but this thought doesn't really trouble me, I somehow enjoy it. A Jew that simply relaxes and stays home? I guess that's some progress already. I've tricked history, and as much as I strive to see the negative side on that, I just don't.

Some might hate it, some others might love it. I personally fall in love with it everyday, even when the loneliness of the big city strikes me. Indeed, this place wasn't made for everyone, but one thing is clear, you can hate it or love or maybe both, depending on the mood, but you just can't ignore it. Some say it's far better off in Amsterdam, I doubt it... but I'm a Dutch citizen so I'm allowed to hate that too. Jews with their opinions, in the end they never really mean it. I guess it's time for a more serious stream, stop smoking and hit the bed. Tomorrow will be another story, and God bless the newspapers. They succeed to remind me that this is just a ghetto, but don't tell them as for now. I love their optimism, it makes me think all this was worth it, despite God, despite myself, despite my survivor mentality. It's always great to think that tomorrow history starts off again, and that you won't even understand it.

We wanted a place to live, we wanted a common ground, we wanted a society. Actually now we have it, just ignore how to deal it with, but it doesn't matter. We've already given up reason - the only alternative for the pessimist to save himself from himself, to choose life instead.

A nut.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Tel Aviv and my own personal ghetto

Once again, I wake up in as early as possible in the morning yet finding it difficult, being a well-known night creature; fact that doesn't surprise anyone for such is the life of a writer, of a journalist and of an academician. Three positions which without any conviction I withhold but mediocrely and as an expert generalist I can't claim being an specialist on any topic at all but rather a dilettante with a rich background of well-known phrases and quotations from the least known authors. That shouldn't preclude me from writing at all, grabbing a few cigarettes and a cup of bad coffee and remembering the dreams to which I woke up, awful lot of memories and hyperrealistic impressions that remind me of my preoccupations and anxiety the day before. Religion in glasses of wine and old love stories in empty bottles, without messages, without answers and even without questions.

By this natural order everyone would agree that there's nothing sympathetically peculiar about me, for such is the life of many others citizens of this overpolluted planet, many of them who write as a morning hobby before work, others who do it as a profession or just because there's nothing else to do. And indeed there's nothing sympathetically peculiar, I myself agree, except for the fact of living in an experimental country, whose shortcomings might be understood by the empirical sociologist as the consequence of years of hatred, painful standings and a long decadent history. My country is a sociological laboratory in which an old Semitic cult which became the most influential world religion, with its legal codex and Holy books unaltered for over 2000 years attempts unsuccessfully to conciliate with the highest values of democracy, freedom of speech and liberalism. Yes, it sounds like a big contradiction and I myself doubt whether such conciliation is any possible, even in my own wishful thinking, even in my apathy. Those facts are largely ignored by most people, including my fellow citizens. The State of Israel is actually that, the State of Israel. Far from being a democratic country, far from being a tyranny, far from being a Jewish state, far from being an halachically-correct state, leave asides politically correct; far from being anything at all other than a country.

As a convinced Zionist ideologist this bunch of ideas terribly pains me, for I'm unable to find under the present circumstances a logical reason in the eyes of Jewish history for why this country should exist at all, other than the definitions of a Jew that the world of Christianity and heathenism have given. And after almost 60 years of existence I believe we the Jewish people have lost the enduring battle of our own existence and of our own conservation, not implying in any level that there's no Jewish people but rather no reasonable ground to justify its existence other than the bias of the good old Semitic cult that I have myself foregone ever since my childhood; outside the world of the Bible and the Talmudic sages I find it hard to explain why this people should exist at all, why this people could have managed to survived their tragic history and why this people should have a country at all. This is of course all in theoretical ground, and it's not actually reasonable to write an objective article on the matter being myself a Jew, or rather a proud Jew, yet lacking most Jewish identity, other than a language and a culture that originated in the freedom of the State of Israel, in the streets of Tel Aviv and the German-founded universities.

In reality, despite the failures of our Zionist principles the such country actually does exist, a chaotic milieu, half post-modern and half medieval, enclaved in the Middle East striving between the values of the ancient religion and the quest for modernity and equality. The country constitutes a brilliant example of Biblical promises, of how the Jews escaped the teeth of the wolves and landed on boats and returned to the land of their ancestors to reclaim their throne as the descendants of King David. This experiment, as full of historical dramatism as it sounds, was relatively successful and emotionally overwhelming for the people that lived in the western world at the time, and even for those who live there today; not so much for most of us who populate the country itself. Facing the surprising fact that after almost 60 years we've almost entirely forgot the principles that initially brought us here and that had been keeping us under terrible yearnings and fondness over a long period of human history; we simply became another country, another "people", and earned for ourselves that recognition that had been stripped away from us several centuries ago, we strived for legitimacy and eventually outreached our enemies, our friends and our own history. At what price? This is the question that troubles me, we seem to have forgotten history, we seem to have chosen legitimacy and democracy over identity and conservation.

And probably as many American Jews would put it, we seem to be using success as our only way to prove a point, in order to grant ourselves the legitimacy of "we made it", we succeeded in our struggle for equality in a somewhat painful way, by foregoing most of our original values and creating new ones that would give some ethical ground to our struggles; and mostly I can say we simply became another country, the Israelis, just like the Germans or the Americans, because "we made it here", and we probably left the "Jews" (and in a semantic context the word "Jew") out of this picture, and we don't seem to care much about them unless it's convenient for us, for our geo-political struggles or in order to justify our existence when our quasi-democratic values weaken and tremble and then nothing else could be sufficiently powerful as to grant ourselves redemption other than finding comfort in our long history and the troubles of our brothers in the diaspora, without forgetting that this country might well be the only safe and "official" shelter for Jews in distress, without mentioning the complicated issue of who is a Jew. Unfortunately our daily life is well different, is well less meaningful. In the day-to-day life of Tel Aviv sometimes history commenced in 1948, sometimes commenced yesterday, probably right after a long love affair or an old exhausting job. And only when death hovers on us with its delicate and unavoidable breath we are prone to remember the 2000 years that came down on us before all this happened, before the internet age, the mobile phones and the gay life of Tel Aviv. Short memory I'd call it, our own way of self-denial, for we find no other way to deal with the heavy weight of our own history, of our own historical identity, of our own troubles. Somehow else we just endure the same moral and social troubles of any other western country, just not exactly being one and not dealing with them as one.

In the bottom line we "needed" to build a country of our own, because it was a Biblical promise; but the reasons that brought it into existence seem to be far from the Biblical promise to the Jewish people. Maybe we built a country because after the jewels of European Jewry were wiped out in the concentration camps there was nowhere else to go? Because not us, but the enemies set up the ground on which someone would be considered a Jew or not? Maybe because the Hitlers and the Arafats of the world are the ones granted the right to say who is a Jew and who is not? I'm not intending to turn my back to this country for I'm this country, in each and every single aspect of my life; but maybe I'd like to review the theoretical grounds on which we granted ourselves the rights to settle down here and not just to settle down, but to build a society, not that we don't have them, but how do we understand them? How do we determine them at all? Of course I'd the the first one to agree that after hundreds of years trapped in the ghetto I feel just comforted to walk around this country and feel free, it's our own personal and collective struggle for freedom and lack of determinism, our dreaming and wandering souls and the longing of a tragic past. I just feel these days that even when the ghetto is not there anymore, we keep thinking our lives so. In our survivors mentalities after so many hundreds of years I'm not so sure that we've left the ghetto at all, and that we're not trapped in our own dynamic reality without much regard for the outside world.

These winter days, although I don't get depressed, I do contemplate with a certain longing the practices of Orthodox Judaism and somehow it touches me deeply, but nevertheless I feel like standing on a point several thousands of kilometers far away from it, and in despite that nothing can just strip off my connection to the Jewish people, my feeling of being a son of a king and my ideal of social action for the Jewish people, probably my only personal way to live Zionism and Judaism by itself. I feel somehow denying our origins and our legitimacy as a people just in order to be like "everybody else". I don't know if others noticed already, but we didn't really succeed. We're not like anyone else, even in Tel Aviv and next to the Mediterranean Sea I can feel as if the ghetto has just shifted the colours of the buildings and the income bracketts.

Despite of the internet era, casual sex at ease and our skybreakers, our minds are still in the shteytelach of the good old times, for we can't close 2000 years of history in one go, and I don't think we even want. Despite postmodernism and equality and freedom I don't think we made it all through, we might be justified, but understood? I certainly doubt it. Maybe we'll be a democracy, maybe we're, maybe this is just a crazy dream; but we're paying a very high price for it. Wars, internal divisions, a growing despise for our religion and cultural heritage, deep identity conflicts and an apathy that nothing can cure, not even death. I'm not calling up anyone to turn to the other side, I wouldn't do it myself. Just like yesterday after my daily Talmud study group travelling back home on a bus I hear a program in the radio led by a prominent Ultra-Orthodox figure. During the 10 minutes intervention I heard the most awful discourse on the Jewish religion. According to the halachic view there's no democracy in the Torah, there's only a king that rules mercilessly over his people and subjects them to his will as he wishes, the Torah is a heavenly dictatorship. I wonder if that's how I want to raise up my children like, and doubt whether I want them raised up as I myself was.

Heavenly or not, I prefer actually our half broken identity and half granted legitimacy within the boundaries of democracy. You can say I'm a traitor, you can say I'm a Greek. But as a Jew after 2000 years and a a long personal history in the search of this Judaism I only want to make peace with the world, to grant myself the right to exist, to think that it's right to be a Jew, that it's not an issue anymore. I don't think I or anyone else is succeeding, specially if you're an intellectual. But we might just try, we might just get another chance. We were given the choice too, even by the merciless king that rules over our faith. I know most of our Jewish theory might be just tears and non sense, overdramatizations and extrapolarizations, but it's just too late in history to regret all that, it's just too late to give up, it's just too late to give up our identity, it's just too late to leave the ghetto, to leave Auschwitz. Maybe at this point we just need to go on with life, legitimate or not. Messiah is not coming, said Marx and even Wiesel, but we're still waiting for redemption.

Even in Tel Aviv, I can't claim I know that many people who wouldn't take a seat back when hearing the word Jew anywhere in the world. My freedom is a bit of an understatement, I believe myself being free and legitimate in this country, hence I can deny everything my own life was built in and for, at least according to historical determinism. Yet overseas I'm not who defines what or who is a Jew, and somehow I'm not that self secured that I really want to leave the ghetto at this point. A bit of denial every day, cups of coffee, cigarettes, a trip to Paris, a good partner, all that... maybe will do the trick. I still think I need to succeed in order to prove a point. I'm not sure I want to be a doctor in anything at all, but I do know I "have" to get a Ph.D, because I have to "make it", ironic no? Not even inside the land of Israel I give up on the thought that I actually have to make it. As D. Wang would put it, our collective ghetto, and my own personal ghetto; even in Tel Aviv.

Good morning State of Israel. Are you also "making it" today?

No answer

We thought an idealized world
In your living room
Somewhat dark, somewhat bright
Under the infatuation of heat
Your world failed on me
I failed myself
Devoid of repair
Succeeding everyday
Proving a point
That's how we made it
Until you tore off
Until you walked off
Until I turned in

A glass of water
2:23 am
Old thoughts
Still proving your points
Wearing blue shirts
Worn out in Blues
Nothing to remember
Nothing to recall
Somewhere to run
Sky, that's all above

Waiting for an answer
That will never come
Foregoing the truths
Embracing the clouds
Conversations never held
A life was never lived
A dream of few hours
In glasses of wine
In films, captured
The essence of being
Potato chips and TV
Waiting for an answer
For someone to deflect
For withstanding blame

The next day didn't come
And I swallowed your promises
That I myself invented
Your faces and your stories
That life, you never told me
Forlorn this time
This youth
This mind
Absent within
You never gave it in

I wish I didn't write
I wish I just swallowed and didn't cry
But honest truth is
I still yield on better days
On the futures that I buried
On the futures that you carved
I'm just not being fair
I know
But next time
Next summer
We'll talk it over

When you'll be older
When you'll be a loner
Drink coffee in the morning
And just chat about life
Proving your points for a life
Those well-constructed philosophies
The truths you never found
An ill-covered veil
Smaller your eyes
And your skin sadder

I guess I know it all by now
For I hasten no longer
I simply drink coffee
Waste my mornings
While you prove your points
While you make it
And there's always paper
A man is always patient
Even the newspaper