Second Jerusalem Update—Another Letter, 9 July 2014

After last night’s excitement with the alert sirens and bomb shelter foray, things quieted down here. Apparently rocket fire from Gaza also slowed down in the night, but picked up again in the morning. While Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport have had rocket attacks today, according to local media, it appears that the Iron Dome anti-missile defense intercepted them. Jerusalem remains quiet so far (it’s about 4 pm our time as I’m writing this). Rocket fire remains intense in the south of the country, and rockets have struck within a few kilometers of Haifa. The rockets near Haifa in the north mark a significantly larger range for Hamas.

Iron Dome launch (archive photo)

Israel’s attacks on Gaza have continued with some intensity. Civilian casualties have been reported in the media, an unfortunate consequence of the violence. Israeli ground troops reportedly are near the border and likely will be used in Gaza. The BBC reports that photos being posted on social media as purportedly from Gaza now are also from as long ago as 2009 and from Syria and Iraq, not from Gaza. Still, no doubt living in Gaza right now would be hellish.

Today has been a mostly normal day. Moshe has a virus, so is home. There are indications of the war zone—some daycares closed today because they don’t have adequate safe room space, many public events (especially those in open spaces) have been canceled by order of the government (exceptions for large events only if they have adequate shelter space close enough to the venue for all in attendance—which is unlikely); and a lot of social media discussion about the situation. However, people are in cafés (Moshe and I had chocolate milk and coffee ourselves at a nearby coffee shop).

The weirdest thing for me today—as last night—was talking to Moshe about all of this, well enough for him to be prepared for more shelter excursions should they be necessary. I took him on a daylight tour of the bomb shelter to familiarize him with it. We showed him the video of the children’s Code Red song. He liked it, dancing with the children in the video and laughing when they did.

Aviva went to work. I didn’t do much work as I was home with Moshe and his virus, but I’m just grading papers at the end of the academic year now anyway. My lack of work was not directly related to the situation. Life largely goes on here, and many say this is necessary to keep terrorism from “winning.”

The horrendous recent political murders of the four teens continue to spark outrage here, too. Many, possibly most, Israelis are more shocked and dismayed by the Jews murdering the Palestinian teen than the three teens murdered by Palestinians. Over 300 Israeli Jews organized by Tag Meir (pronounced / tag my-ear / ), an anti-racist group, visited the mourning tent of the Abu Khdeir family to express condolences to the Palestinian parents and rejection of violence. Hebron Palestinians visited the Fraenkel family mourning tent, also to convey their personal condolences and rejection of violence. These gestures provide glimmers of hope. If enough regular folk on both sides can stand up like this, something could change.

Meanwhile, I keep listening for sirens. I have added an app to my phone developed in 2012 during the last battle(s) that sets off an alarm on the phone when the siren signal goes out, set for Jerusalem. But I’m mostly spending my time encouraging Moshe to drink water and watching Finding Nemo with him, playing with blocks, too.

Tanks near the Gaza Border

Tanks near the Gaza Border

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Jerusalem Update—A Letter, 8 July 2014

We are safe at home in Jerusalem tonight, but the situation in Israel has gotten worse by the day.

I imagine that you have been hearing news reports out of Israel. The situation has escalated in the past 48 hours and in the early hours of Tuesday morning, July 8, 2014, Israel began a full-blown military operation against Gaza (so far just air strikes, but the government authorized calling up 40,000 reservists today and reportedly a ground operation will soon follow). Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza have increased their rocket fire—85 rockets or more according to news reports were fired from midnight Sunday to midnight Monday (July 7, 2014). The rockets and Israel’s retaliatory air strikes have continued all day today (Tuesday, July 8, 2014).

Tonight we learned that Jerusalem was ordered to open its public bomb shelters in preparation for likely attacks and that private shelters should be readied. We called the building committee head and found out that she had anticipated the need and already had our building shelter unlocked and prepared (meaning swept and a few discarded pieces of furniture arranged, which is good enough). Aviva and I discussed what we would do if the sirens went off.

Not long after that, air raid sirens did indeed sound. These are called Code Red Alerts in Israel. Because we had already spoken about it, we immediately picked up our two children and our phones and went down to the shelter. We actually heard two booms close together as we entered the shelter, where we spent the next ten minutes with many of our neighbors. Shortly after, the all clear came and we returned to our apartment. The kids, who had been sleeping, woke up of course, but settled down again once we returned to our apartment.

Photo: Iron Dome battery in Israel. Photo: REUTERS

Iron Dome battery in Israel. Photo: REUTERS

The reports of what actually happened on news websites are not very specific or clear yet—likely the media are working with partial information themselves. It seems that Islamic Jihad or Hamas took credit for firing four rockets at Jerusalem. It may be that the Iron Dome anti-missile defense took one or more out. A picture of a rocket on a road outside of Jerusalem has appeared on social media. There is a report that one hit in East Talpiyot, which is  Aviva’s mother’s neighborhood. She’s alright and some upstairs neighbors are staying with her so they can get to the bomb shelter more easily (Paul, the rabbi who married Aviva and me in Israel, and his wife). The rest of Aviva’s family is safe, too.

With cell phones, WhatsApp, Facebook, we all stay in touch. The rumors ran quickly through it all, but using more reliable sources (including some journalist friends’ FB posts), it appears that at least one rocket may have hit a house that is burning in a suburb of Jerusalem. Again, the news media are giving contradictory reports and FB is full of rumors. So what actually happened may take until tomorrow morning or longer for us to know.

We don’t know if it will be a long night with more alerts and rockets, or if this was a one-off for tonight. My theory has been that they wouldn’t aim for our neighborhood because an overshot would land in the Old City, potentially hitting the al-Aqsa Mosque, often cited as the third holiest site in Islam (possibly for the Sunni) and one of the religious reasons given as to why the Arab world wants to keep East Jerusalem. Apparently my theory doesn’t hold up, as East Talpiyot is also in that direction (and next door to us).

I will post new developments. We have our plan and it worked this time.

So.

It’s moving towards midnight here and I think I’ll try to get some sleep. Not very damn likely, as this whole bomb shelter things is new to me (only once before, back in 2006). So odd to have to explain to a three-year old that there are people shooting rockets at us and other people on our side shooting them down when they can, but still it’s a good idea to go into a bomb shelter…

If you want to know a bit more of the subjective experience of hearing the sirens, I recommend “When You Hear Your First Siren,” by Ariela Rossberg.

If you want to see a remarkable approach to helping children through the experience of the sirens, I recommend this FB post with video: “What Israeli School Children Sing to Deal with Rockets.”

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Where we are (8 July 2014)

The past weeks have shown how deep are the wounds here in Israel. The storm rages around us.

The kidnapping three weeks ago turned to murder, it seems right after the boys were taken. 

Despite the facts we now know, that it was known from the first they were likely dead, that the authorities who initially dismissed the emergency call as a hoax had in fact heard gunshots and screams, that the government lied about this while declaring its belief they lived…despite all of these facts, Netanyahu, the Israeli PM, used it as an excuse to move troops into the Occupied Territories and arrest between 350 and over 500 Hamas-connected Palestinians under the title of Operation Brothers’ Keeper

Many of these had been released as part of a ceasefire deal with Hamas 2 years ago. Hamas considered this a violation of the deal.

A Palestinian throws stones toward Israeli police during clashes after prayers on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Shuafat, an Arab suburb of Jerusalem July 4, 2014.
Source: Haaretz, July 5, 2014

The bodies of these three innocent humans were found and buried just this past week (found June 30, 2014, buried July 1, 2014).

Angry rioters called for blood vengeance against fellow human beings—not justice for the murderers, but “death to Arabs.”

Then the horrible news of another teen kidnapped and murdered, this one a Palestinian, Mohammed abu Khdeir.

Next, Palestinian riots exploded, young people calling for “death to Jews.”

And even worse, the arrests of Jewish suspects and reports of a “nationalist,” let’s say it—terrorist—motive.

Rockets come out of Gaza because of the deal violation but using the teen’s murder as incitement. The Israel Air Force strikes Gaza using the rockets and the teens’ murder as incitement.

My heart grieves for all four children who were murdered in hate with ideology and vengeance as excuses. My heart grieves for Jerusalem and Israel. These haters, these murderers may have sparked the third intifada. I hope not. Certainly the responses of Hamas and Israel have sparked another conflagration—Operation Protective Edge.

I wrote most of this in the past few days. The back and forth between Hamas and Israel has ratcheted up since then. Reports say from 70 to 85+ rockets were fired at Israel on Monday, July 7. From 40–60 came over a one or two-hour period.

In response, Israel began a full military operation with a stupid name as translated into English that would almost be humorous—Operation Protective Edge (the Hebrew name for the operation, transliterated is “Tzuk Eitan,” strong cliff, perhaps better translations would have been: drop off, moat, sheer cliff, or strong wall). They have made, as of this posting, something over 400 strikes and continue the attack. The rockets also continue to fire. Ground troops stand ready to join (40,000 reservists have been authorized).

And the rioting inside Israel continues. And the hate continues. I saw a Facebook post a couple of days ago saying that people in the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem chanted “death to leftists” and “death to peace activists.” 

And that’s where we are.

Written 6 July through 9 July 2014.

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Solstice Poem

Solstice

i
Darkness cool and short
relieves the solstice heat
while the earth stealthily slips
around toward winter.

ii
Dogs darken barks
at sight of shadows & eclipses
but dance high, with wild glee
when they see glinting waves.

iii
Tree bark peels away
only to display colors
beyond gray, brown,
or black imagining.

iv
Peeling my eyes open
though sticky closed they’d be
gives me ways to see this world
unravel from my dreams.

v
Summer opens as its end
starts—long day toward
long night—without noticing
cold harmony under hot melody.

20140629-002802-1682232.jpg

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Escaping Rooster

A bit over a week ago we visited the Jerusalem Zoo. In the children’s area, goats and roosters run loose. Other animals stay in pens nearby, and both the goats and roosters can escape into the pens. It’s all made of wood with a very distinct ranch feeling.

I was taking photos, some of which came out, some of which did not. In one, a rooster that had been crowing from a post took off just as the shutter clicked. The resulting fuzzy image of part of the rooster as it escaped the frame inspired me to play with software to create a digital painting from the photo.

Escaping Rooster

Escaping Rooster Digital Art by Michael Dickel ©2014

Escaping Rooster
©2014 Michael Dickel

 

Escaping Rooster, the process, more or less

I had saved the image in various stages of the digital manipulations. Google+ backs up photos from my mobile devices (I used an iPad for this work) and saved the file iterations I had saved. Recently, G+ has added a feature that modifies photos in various ways. One is to take similar photos from a short period and turn them into an animated GIF. Below is the result, Escaping Rooster, the process, more or less. It’s a fun bit of accidental digital art.

Shifting image of digital artwork,

Escaping Rooster—the process, more or less
animated GIF ©2014 Michael Dickel

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The Toad’s Garden ToC

Current working title: Riding the Chariot The Toad’s Garden

Fireworks Tzfat Klezmer Festival 2013

Fireworks
Tzfat Klezmer Festival
7 August 2013

 

This post invites you to preview my next book by following the tentative table of contents links (below).

I’ve been working on a book manuscript for print that collects the prose I wrote last year (flash fiction, experimental prose, short stories) and posted here on the blog. I don’t know that I’ll keep the working title—until just now, it was The Woman with a Beard, The Toad’s Garden, and Other Stories. But that sounds too pretentious. Perhaps just  The Toad’s Garden, for now. eventually. For now, Riding the Chariot, as that piece is about a lecturer gone bonkers and disappearing into his own crazy world of fiction, sort of. And, hey, isn’t that what working a book manuscript is like?

I hope that you will follow the links, in order.

Another possibility could be As Far As I Go…although I’m not sure that story should carry the weight of the collection, or rather, I’m not sure the collection should carry the weight of that story on its back.

In this post I’m sharing the tentative Table of Contents (ToC), with links to the original posts. In the book, I’m making the amount of text on each page relatively small, a bit like prose poetry—for the more experimental works in the collection, the breaks are almost like stanzas. For those pieces that veer into more conventional modes of fiction, the breaks are more like scene shifts. In some of the original posts there are lines to indicate sections, and these are honored in the manuscript. The book will be around 125-130 pages with these breaks, but far fewer if I simply use a conventional flow of text filling each page of prose.

I’m interested in comments about the arrangement, the way each piece does or does not flow-connect to the adjacent ones.

Reaching handsI’m also doing edits at present, which don’t appear if you follow the ToC, as the links go to the original posts. You will be able to read the edited versions when the book comes out.

I hope that you will follow the links, in order. After you’ve read a post, you’ll have to close the new tab on your browser and return here, to the ToC. I’m interested in comments about the arrangement, the way each piece does or does not flow-connect to the adjacent ones.

Riding the Chariot begins almost in the chronological order the pieces were originally written in, but veers from that order at first to keep the woman with the beard and the toad’s garden stories together. Then, further rearrangements are an attempt to group stories that might connect to each other…but your comments, I hope, will let me know how well the arrangement works and how well this succeeds as a “book.”

Table of Contents

I. The Woman with a Beard (Chicken and Egg)

Tomorrow  1
Today  3
Morning  6
Afternoon  9
Evening  13
Yesterday  16

II. The Toad’s Garden (Deciduous Mirror Reflecting)

Butterfly Effect: Chaos on a Shoe String  19
The Other Day  20
The Toad’s Garden  22
Reflexive Properties  23
Word-tossed Salad  26
Deciduous Mirror Reflecting  27
Reflections on the Toad’s Garden  30
A Visit  33
Nematode Garden Crisis  38
Political Philosophy  41
Soon the Trumpets  45
Ison Tonic Expressions  47

III. Palm Reading (As Far as I Go)

Out for a Walk  52
Palm Reading  58
Riding the Chariot  61
Blues Teacher  65
Globalization  66
As Far As I Go  70

IV. Off the Trail (Dark Date)

Personal / Politics  75
Independence Day  76
Off the Trail  82
A Warm Gun  86
Dark Date  95

V. Final Destination (A Crack in Everything)

Character Development  98
Character Actor  101
The Big Sale  105
A Day in the Life  109
Open Road  113
A Crack in Everything  118
Final Destination  122

After Words (God’s Pop Quiz)

Words  125
God’s Pop Quiz  126

Palm Reading

Palm Reading

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The Poetry Reading (29 March 2014)

The Poetry Reading

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday evening, 29 March 2014, as I scurried about the house preparing to head out to participate in Jerusalism’s Wordplay reading, one of the organizers called me. Lonnie Monka told me that the photographer scheduled to cover the event had to cancel at the last minute. Lonnie wondered if I might take my camera with me and shoot the event (as well as read). Sure. Why not…?

Jerusalism commandeered the “half” of Heder v’Hetzi (Room and a Half) Bar in (West) Jerusalem’s center for the reading. A dark bar with a smaller room walled off in glass where events such as this can happen, Heder v’Hetzi proved a great venue. We filled the “half” room to capacity, and several of us hung out at the bar afterwards talking writing, art, music, and life in Israel.

Some of the photos I took came out well (and will soon be posted on Facebook here or here). However, as usual in a low-light, live situation, many of the photos also did not turn out great. Focus was off, movement blurs distorted the images because of low shutter speeds, all of that. So what to do with these images?

Play in Adobe® PhotoShop, of course.

And here, for your viewing pleasure, I offer this series of digital art from photos. (The cover photo of the slide show is “Ambience,” a straight-up photo, and “Transforming-1″ is an in-camera trick. The other photos are digital art from photos.)

Right-click (alt-click for us Mac users) images in slide show to open them in another window.

Scroll down to see the images in a larger format, posted individually.

The Images

Ambience
Digitally altered photos of a poetry reading

The Poetry Reading

Margot Saffer–1

Margot Saffer–1

 

Margot Saffer
Margot Saffer–2

Margot Saffer–2

Margot Saffer–3

Margot Saffer–3

 

Margot Saffer–4

Margot Saffer–4

Margot Saffer–5

Margot Saffer–5

Margot Saffer–6

Margot Saffer–6

Transforming–1

Transforming–1

Transforming–2

Transforming–2

Transforming–3

Transforming–3

 

Margot Saffer Ultra-Violet Light

Margot Saffer Ultra-Violet Light

 

Lonnie Monka
Margot Saffer sketched

Margot Saffer sketched

Lonnie Monka Sketched

Lonnie Monka Sketched

 

Ariela Rossberg
Ariela Rossberg–1

Ariela Rossberg–1

Ariela Rossberg–2

Ariela Rossberg–2

Ariela Rossberg–3

Ariela Rossberg–3

Ariela Rossberg–4

Ariela Rossberg–4

 

Benjamin Kerstien
Benjamin Kerstein–1

Benjamin Kerstein–1

Benjamin Kerstein–2

Benjamin Kerstein–2

Benjamin Kerstein–3

Benjamin Kerstein–3

Benjamin Kerstein–4

Benjamin Kerstein–4

Benjamin Kerstein–5

Benjamin Kerstein–5

Benjamin Kerstein–6

Benjamin Kerstein–6

Benjamin Kerstein–7

Benjamin Kerstein–7

Benjamin Kerstein–8

Benjamin Kerstein–8

Benjamin Kerstein–9

Benjamin Kerstein–9

Benjamin Kerstein Lost in Words

Benjamin Kerstein Lost in Words

 

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02 04, 14 · 12:19 pm