The Situation

Some notes now that Ive been home for a couple of weeks.
 I obviously feel connected to various people in Israel; that's fine–it's no different than being tight with people in the States. Much less comfortable is my atavistic and somewhat repulsive attachment to the place itself. I resent this feeling, because it's cliché and gvini, but I have to acknowledge it or else it does its work while I'm unawares. It's good to be in the physical space of Jerusalem, not just the Jerusalem of the mind we talk about at our seder. I recognize that this is primarily juvenile romanticism, but street names like Solomon ibn Gvirolabderraman andHasdai ibn Shaprut have an affect on me. And the fact that the words of Mosesand Mook E are in the same language…it's cool.

It's not that I feel moved by the apparatus of the nation–the fact that it's a Jewish "state" is not the meaningful part. It's that these very old things, important to me, are acknowledged in Israel in a real way–even though I don't agree with the interpretive structure around them. It's hard–maybe impossible–to separate the institutional practice of Zionism with the things I dig about Zion. Perhaps it's like Kolakowski says about state socialism and Marxism, that it's naive not to judge the latter based on the former…though of course, he's wrong about that!

And despite these embarrassing tribalistic impulses, "I can safely say that it is because of me that Benjamin did not move to Palestine."

OK, enough about politics and on to music. Free your mind and your etc. The HolyLand Hostess shows were great, both sold out with hundreds turned away. The lovable club we played at, Levontin 7, had to buy a new air conditioning system because of the crowds. The opening acts were all cool. Dropkin played both nights. The first night was also Panic Ensembleand the second night Michal Oppenheim and Ravid sang solo sets. Generally, the programming at Levontin is varied and excellent, so it felt good to be part of that scene. I really dug the musicians I worked with, and particularly enjoyed our big band arrangements of a cappella tunes like "War" and "Eskimo Suit." Stay tuned for the DVD.

So the shows were a success, with credit due to Shemi Frenkel'sbrilliant poster, Assaf Evron's lovely photos, and Boris's OCD press campaign. Since most foreign bands were canceling shows, I was somewhat of a curiosity in Tel Aviv. Every journalist asked me what I thought about the situation and I told him or her. On the other hand, some didn't ask me anything and just made assumptions ("Jewlia has added another show, in solidarity." Yikes. Read it and weep.) My favorite headline was in TimeOut:
"Another timeoutLesbian Against the Occupation."

My favorite forum exchange on the Ha-Aretz talkbalk page:
"Go back where you came from you filthy lesbian!"
"Forget her politics, look at those tits! Can you doubt her place is here?"

telavivI was not the only person in town opposed to the bombing of Lebanese civilians. Thousands of people attended anti-war demonstrations while I was there. But I did notice a remarkable shift towards pessimism among my Tel Aviv lefty friends–even among people who do village defense/wall sabotage and other practical acts against the occupation. Except for some anarchists, most people I hung with seemed to believe the bombing campaign was necessary, that it's either slam Hezbollah now or be sorry later, and that brutal and indiscriminate military action is the best way to deal with them.

There are so many parallels between the fucked up policies of the US and Israel–murder as a necessity of self-protection, the creation of terror with the stated goal of undermining terror. But I expect more from Israel–not because there's a bunch of Jews there, but because it is so tiny. Its size raises hopes that a concerted effort by a handful of coast-dwelling hipsters could make a big difference.

AnMarieSo the most wonderful thing about the whole Israel trip was that AnMarie was able to join me for the last week. On Craigslist TA, I found an apartment in the Yemenite Quarter, just 2 blocks from the beach. So we had a happy little place to come home to, though we weren't home that much. She got to see the shows, hang out with everyone, eat proper ful, and even do some tourism. She really loved Akko and Tzfat! Just kidding, we were in TA the whole time except a few days in Jerusalem. After some stress over the acceptable way to get there, we had a sweet couple of days in a cottage in Emek Refaim. We spent our time in Jerusalem walking around, chilling with crazed fundamentalists, and being depressed about the state of the Old City. (see AM interview coming soon). We dined with David Shneer and Gregg Drinkwater (see David's blog) and saw Susie Schneider way too briefly.

Yair DalalThe last couple of days in TA were frenzied. I met with the music director of the Diaspora Museum, who wants to do the Bowls Project but has like one penny. Along the long road of learning more about the waters of Babylon, I took a lesson with Yair Dalal at his gorgeous pad in Yafo. He told me to spend the money I would normally have spent on a lesson at Khezi Tokyo's stall at Shuk Ha-Tikvah. I did so on the next and last day, also buying the best zkhug I have ever tasted, and watermelon and feta cheese for our little closing party on the beach. So three cheers for the Jewish state after all–the only country where men bring TOO MUCH FOOD to a party! It was a beautiful night. We had a couple of hours with most of the friends we had met, eating hummus, fruit and chocolate cake, drinking beer, swimming in the medusa-free Mediterranean, talking theology (it was Tisha B'Av) and feeling rather contemplative. Pretty soon it was hugs all around and time to go to another colonialist nightmare, Belgium. Whee!


Charming Hostess | San Francisco, CA