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This report is taken from PN Review 171, Volume 33 Number 1, September - October 2006.

Israel 2006: Worlds, People Daniel Weissbort

 Recently I have translated myself here andthere, and translation has kept tabs on me, so to speak. But while I should like to describe places, I find myself always remembering people. A poem by Yehuda Amichai, whose wife Hana we visited in Jerusalem and who showed us some of the places in the Old City that Yehuda had cared about, comes to mind. It is called ‘Tourists’ and it ends with a passage of prose, which itself ends: ‘You see that arch from the Roman period? It’s not important, but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.’

 Few of my friends were encouraging about our going to Israel at this time. It was my third visit and I was less taken aback than before by the brusqueness of Israelis – perhaps somewhat less brusque now as they adjust to the demands of international tourism. Nor was I, under the circumstances, shocked at the visibility of military, particularly in the Old City, though the youthfulness of the soldiers surprised me; but then the youthfulness of most people surprises me now…

 In 1998, I had attended an international poetry festival in Jerusalem, at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the official guest-house of the City of Jerusalem. Organised by a former doctoral student of mine at Iowa, Vivian Eden, this festival featured Hebrew and Arabic poets, and I published an issue of MPT dedicated to it titled ...

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