Politics as Usual

As soon as the war ended we returned to our staus quo. All the unity we had during the war was immediately forgotten. Bibi's government called for an investigation into how he ran the war, the others started calling for elections. Religious vs secular. Left vs right. Arabs vs Jews. The post office started a strike the moment the war ended. They strike more than they work. Egypt is threatening Israel and demanding they be given back all the wealth we took with us when we left Egypt about 3,000 years ago.

Arab workers were sent down here to build "bomb rooms" so we have somewhere to run when the missiles start pouring down on us again. The defense department signed a contract with a Jewish contractor who then gave it to an Arab sub-contractor from the north who then gave the deal over to another Arab sub-contractor from the south who brought a whole team of Arabs that have no clue what they are doing to build our "bomb rooms". But there's no one to talk to when we see the job isn't being done properly. We got a message saying to lock our houses, keep an eye on our children and hide anything we don't want stolen because these workers have been roaming freely around people's properties and taking whatever they chose.They see where things are stored so that they can come back (or send others) to steal later. They drive their trucks and tractors through anything paying no to attention to lawns, bushes or sewage/water/electricity lines. So everything is a mess around here and we've got no one to talk to because of all the sub-contracting. But the people in the defense ministry give themselves a pat on the back for having have done their jobs. Egypt offered to give all of the Sinai Peninsula to the "Palestinians" to make their country. The would move everyone over from the "West Bank" and join them to Gaza. They would have an enormous place to fill with their "refugees" and start building their paradise they so desire. But without even giving it a second thought, they turned the offer down . That would have solved their problems and they would have no more reasons to blow us up. But they must continue the "struggle" so they turned away their dream and a perfectly good offer so that they can continue blowing us up. The US and the UN, are too busy with Iran now to bother themselves with our problems. Unfortunately, we have a weak government who won't take a stand against all those calling for our destruction. We've already had a terrorist infiltration from Gaza and quite a few rockets already launched over here in the past few days. The IDF claims some were false alarms (yeah , right) and the others Hamas claims were launched from rebels who were punished for breaking the cease-fire ( yeah, right). This is the way each and every war starts. They continue to push the envelope and we continue to do nothing until the missiles can't be ignored anymore. It's the same cycle over and over that has been going on for years and years and for some reason the government is perfectly happy to keep it that way. We're going into our month of holidays starting next week. Hamas and Jihadists the world over have been threatening to blow us up in celebration . At least it's nice to know they pay attention to our calendar and our holidays.

I've traveled around the world to many different countries. Each country has it's own street signs , road maps, and billboards in it's own national language. America, Canada and England's are in English. Italy's is in Italian. Germany's is in German. But here in Israel we've got Hebrew, Arabic and English on every sign, every school book, every menu. Why? Why are we always trying so hard to make everyone happy? We need to be proud to be Jewish and stop pretending that Hebrew is not our official language. Inside Arab towns in Israel however, everything is in Arabic only. It's like stepping into another Arab country. Which is their whole point, to make us feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.

A move that must be made in Israel is to make a law requiring citizens to pledge allegiance to Israel. Whoever doesn't , should lose their voting rights. There are too many Arabs running around calling themselves "Palestinian" calling for the destruction of Israel even though they live in Israel, have Israeli citizenship and all the freedoms that entails. There are Arab members in the government who protest against Israel all the time and call themselves "Palestinians". They are not representing Arab people living in Israel, they are using their post to further their goal of making Israel into "Palestine". They are not shy. They yell it for all the world to hear. They provoke violence by Arabs against it's Jewish citizens. They are at the front of every anti-Israel movement, illegal ships carrying weapons to Gaza, and violent anti-Israel protests.

As their numbers increase and Jews become a minority, they will soon have more and more power in the government until they have enough votes to vote in an Arab "Palestinian" to be Prime Minister. All he has to do with his majority is make his Arab "Palestinian" cabinet, new laws according to their Muslim Jihad faith (Shar'ia), and make a call for a "Palestinian" state. That would be the death of Israel. By putting forth this new law, we could ensure that anyone calling for the destruction of Israel inside of Israel, would lose their voting rights and therefore keep the Jewish majority in the government.

Even when the news isn't covering our "wars", there is still a war being raged here everyday. The Arabs and the Left are always calling for the destruction of the Jewish state. This must never be allowed to happen . This is the only place the Jewish people can call home. We must do everything we can to keep it that way.

Posted by Chava Dagan at 8:21 PM No comments:

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Monday, September 1, 2014

How to have a garden and eat it too

We are heading into a Shnat Shmitta, which means here in Israel we give the land to rest once every 7 years. No planting or tilling the soil or harvesting to sell. But many people plant in buckets or bags so as not to disturb the land. But it's always good to be prepared for the next planting season. Starting a garden can be overwhelming for the first time just thinking of all it entails but really it's pretty easy. It's an inexact science and experience comes from just doing it. We have to water and the plants do the rest. I've tried to break down the whole process into simple steps, but once you start it all just comes naturally and you'll know what to do and when to do it. Besides that it's fun, gardening fulfills the desire to plant and grow your own vegetables for your health, budget and it's an excuse to play outside and get dirty. When I first started gardening I bought seeds online from an organic heirloom seed catalogue in the USA. Since then I've saved seeds from my own gardens so that I will always have for the next year. I am trying to start a Seed Savers group here in Israel so that we can all benefit from eachother's gardens. You can also save seeds from the vegetables you buy. They need to be separated from the vegetable, dried and stored safe from bugs and mice and mold. Some vegetables have their own seeds inside the vegetable, others need to produce flowers in order to get seeds, and still others like peas , beans, grains, nuts and seeds and potatoes are the seeds that need to be saved. Many vegetables that you buy can be cut and regrown by putting their pieces into water until they grow roots then planted in dirt. First of all there's 2 planting seasons: Summer garden: Planting most of the vegetables around Pesach and harvesting all of July and August. This is the time for the majority of the vegetables to be grown. These are some of the summer vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, corn, pumpkin, peppers, okra, carrots, peas, beans, melons, potatoes, celery,beets, basil, onions , zucchini, squash. Then there's the winter season. We plant around Rosh Hashanna. these plants include leaves, lettuces, broccoli, artichoke, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus. They can handle the cold weather and give us the protein and vitamins we need during the cold months . The first step in gardening is deciding where you will plant. Some people have land and they can plant a large garden. Others have no land so they choose to plant in boxes, bags, or buckets. Some plant on rooftops and still others join community gardens. Your space determines how many seeds to start and how much you will plant . If it's in the ground you need to clear a spot. The dirt needs to be soft and free from weeds. So a hoe works well to mix up the dirt in the area Weeds will always come up, we just have to be dilligent and pick them out. Many of them you can eat or put in smoothies and salads, but you have to know how to recognize them so you know which are good to eat and which to avoid. If it's in a bucket or bag , it should be filled most of the way with dirt and kept moist and free of weeds. If you have compost (see below), that should be mixed in with the dirt to give the plants all they need to be healthy. If the plants are healthy, bugs won't bother them and they can withstand disease etc. The second step is planting the seeds. Seeds are best planted in cups, styrofoam or paper, or plastic or plastic planting cups bought from the plant nursery. Some people use egg cartons to plant seeds, some use egg shell halves, some use toilet paper rolls with one end folded to close it from the bottom. Be creative! Some vegetable plants can be bought from the nursery, but starting from seed is the best. You get more variety and you know there was never pesticide used.Seeds are put 2 or 3 into each cup that has been filled at least half way with compost/dirt and has a hole in the bottom for drainage. They need to be watered many times a day (some say every hour) until they sprout . The dirt should never be allowed to dry out. It should always be moist to the touch. Keep them in a spot that's warm, but without direct sun so it doesn't dry out the dirt. You will see tiny leaves coming up within 2 weeks. They should have good indirect sunlight. It's a good idea to plant in secession rather than all at once. Plant a few plants of each kind , then 1 or 2 weeks later plant a few more, then again one more time. This makes your harvest last longer . The third step: Once the plant has become big and strong, it can be moved outside on a porch or window sill to be come accustomed to the outside weather. I have planted directly into the soil and it works too, but it is risky. Bugs attack the little sprouts and it is very affected by weather. So by taking the precaution of planting inside , just increases the chances that the plants will survive and be happy. If you are planting directly in the dirt, make the spaces between plants about a foot and a half or two feet apart so they won't be crowed when they get big . The hole should be deep enough to cover the dirt the plant is already sitting in. No roots should be sticking out. If you plant in a bucket or bag, each plant getis it's own. They should be watered at least 3 times a day, but out in the desert where I live I have to water almost every 2 or 3 hours during the day. You just have to make sure the dirt never dries out. It should always be moist. Once the plants are in the ground (or bucket or bag), mulching helps protect the plant and keep it happy. Layers of straw or shredded newspaper and compost bunched around each plant help keep the dirt moist and slow down weeds. You might see mushrooms growing in these conditions and that's a good sign. They grow when the soil is healthy and help by bringing lots of great things with them to help the plants. Mulch can be added layer over layer once a week or so. As the plants grow, some will want to climb so it's good to make sure they have something to climb on such as sticks formed into a tee-pee shape, or a string or frame. It gives the plants air which they need, leaves lots of space for the leaves to get the sunlight they need and makes sure the vegetables grow off the ground so bugs can't attack them. Plus it makes it easier to see and pick the fruit. That's it! Within two months you'll start to see fruit and when it's ready you pick it! The weeds have to be kept in check so they don't take space, water and nutrients from your plants. When it's time to pick, it's best to pick once a day , every morning. This way you have some ready every day and we get out there to pick what's ready before the birds and bugs have a chance to eat it first. I always bring a basket or some way to carry in the harvest . I also like to bring a notebook to keep a diary of what's ready and when, problems, mold , disease (if any), and anything I did or what needs to be done in the garden . It helps for the next season to look back and be ready the next time. I try to remember to bring a camera sometimes too, to record how things are progressing, or to take pictures of different vegetables or the kids helping and playing in the garden. Herbs: Herbs can be grown in the ground, in flower buckets or in wall gardens. We used old pallets and hung them on the wall outside near the house for easy access when I am cooking. We nailed flower boxes to the pallet one on top of the other all the way up with water drippers. We grow basil, oregano, thyme, parsely, cilantro, chives, mint and others so that we can pick a sprig at a time to use in cooking. Lavender, rosemary ,bay leaf ,lemongrass and others grow really big so I have them planted right in the ground near my house so I can get to them when I need them. You can organize your garden according to how you use the herbs. Some have a medicinal garden growing aloe vera, yarrow, comfry, camomile etc to be used for healing. You can have a kitchen garden with herbs used for cooking. A flower garden attracts bees and butterflies and excites the senses. All of these can be grown in the ground or in buckets, bags , or flower boxes on the ground or stacked vertically. Sprouts: In addition to vegetables, sprouts are very easy to grow indoors all year long. Alfalfa, buckwheat, wheat,radish, sunflower, broccoli sprouts, etc can be grown and added to salads, sandwiches, soups etc. The seeds need to be soaked for at least a few hours or as many as 8 hours depending on the seed, then placed in a glass jar. I like to turn it upside down with a cloth covering to let air pass through and moisture pass out. But some peole just put the seeds into a bowl with a mesh cover to keep bugs out. There are also sprouting trays that are sold in health food stores and other places used for just the purpose of sprouting.The very small seeds can be placed on a paper towel or damp cloth. They will sprout very quickly. Once they are the length you want , you put them in the refridgerator and they will last a few days. In the summer we even sprout them in the fridge to avoid molding. Compost: It's easy to make your own compost from kitchen scraps. Instead of throwing vegetable scraps into the garbage, put them in a separate bucket and once a day you empty it into a designated spot outside. Some people build wooden boxes, some make tumblers that can be turned, some just dig a hole in the ground and let the bugs and worms do the work. A compost pile will create it's own heat . It should be moist and warm. Bugs and worms eat and churn through the vegetables tuning it into a nutrient rich compost. Feasting from your garden: The great thing about a garden is how it will continue to feed us all year long. When in season , a garden gives and gives. So besides eating fresh vegetables everyday, we save the extra to be eaten the rest of the year. I blend and freeze tomatoes herbs, zucchini, pumpkin, etc be used later in salsa, soup, stews, tomato sauce, etc. Every vegetable can be frozen, dried or fermented (pickled). Herbs can be made into dips and frozen or dried as they are. We also dehydrate tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, etc make great dehydrated treats or can be stored and added later into dishes. Many people cook and can in airtight sealed glass jars to be used all year. All of these ideas can be found on the internet. Organic Gardening Magazine has great ideas and recipies. There are many books, but my all time favorite book is "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" by Barbara Kingsolver . It's part guide, part story and all inspiration. It motivates me every year to go out and just get started. .

Posted by Chava Dagan at 12:38 AM No comments:

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to school blues (greens, reds, oranges, and yellows- depending on the currency used)

The ceasefire was announced after 50 days of war. Bibi called the ceasefire himself without the votes of his cabinet. We were all shocked towards the end that the government wasn't doing almost anything about the hundreds of missiles being launched into Israel. Then all of a sudden, at the same time we figured Bibi was just waiting for the moment to really hit Hamas hard, he agreed to the terms of ceasefire and the fighting ended just like that. Almost no one agrees with his decision, nor do we understand how he could just let the terrorists go without dismantling them. But it was obvious that none of the border communities or cities were going to let the schools open with the war still going strong, so Bibi's hasty decision comes at least partly from wanting to start school on schedule. Now that the war is behind us (for now), we are allowed to go back to voicing our complaints about the way things are done around here. My pet peeve lies with the way schools are run in our neck of the woods. We are homeschoolers. We always have been since my first son was born. When he turned 11 he decided that he wanted to go to school. Since then the rule in our house is once the kids turn 10 they are allowed to decide if they want to go to school or not. We've only got one grade school and one high school out here. So you either go or you don't. There's no choices available, no options to consider. The schools are lacking in education and good teachers, I won't get to into all that here. The problem lies with the way they are run. It has become less about education and preparing children for the future and more about how much money the school and other businesses can make off the students and their parents. It has always been like this, and after the war they haven't softened up at all . There is a law that every parent has to pay for insurance to cover their child in case something happens at school. Fair enough. But we are required to pay 200x that amount for all kinds of things but no one really knows where the money goes. If a parent doesn't pay the "required " amount, the child is ostracized by the teachers. And they threaten to refuse them their certificate of graduation at the end of each year, not to mention that they are separated from the rest of the class for field trips etc. ( I do not pay anything beyond the insurance and the books, but for the entire rest of the year we are hounded and threatened by the school. The debt then carries on to the following year on and on until it is paid. The only reason I allow the kids to continue attending these schools is because they want to be there . I figure at the age of 10 they are old enough to know themselves and make their own decisions about such things. The reason I wrote this, is just to point out what is going on with the schools out here where we live.) I called the school the other day to ask a question about my son starting there and before even asking me who I was or who my son was, the person on the other end asked me at least 3 times if I'd received the booklet in the mail explaining all the payments we were required to make. I said yes over and over and she kept pressing the point that if we don't pay in time, the child will not receive the books he needs . Then she finally bothered to ask me who I was. It has become a big business. For some reason we have to pay a lot of money for books which were used by previous students and which will be returned and used again for future students. Why then are we required to pay such a large amount for "renting" the books? And what do the rest of the unidentified costs have to do with the child receiving his/her books? When the ceasefire was announced, we knew we needed to get ready for the school year. That entails shopping for school shirts with the school's logo on them (required attire) , replacing whatever they grew out of last year and school supplies. We reuse, play hand-me-down and take used clothes and shoes as much as we can to budget, but no one will let us off the hook when it comes to the school . They charge over and above and they never stay within their budget. It never fails ,during the school year after we've paid this enormous amount of money to cover all their demands, they always ask for more for each field trip or holiday party. My son graduated last year from the elementary school and they have an annual end-of-the-year party for the graduating class. Besides the tuition we paid in the beginning of the year which supposedly covered the cost of the party, they had a running race in the middle of the year to raise more money for the party. It was a huge hit. People came from all over to run and the class made tons of money. During the year they had two more bake sales to raise money. But still this wasn't enough. Right at the end of the year the teachers asked for another amount from each child because they needed more money. Never once was there an explanation of where all this money was going. With all of this, it still wasn't enough and they took money from the school's funds (how does the school have extra money to be giving out?) They reached 40,000 shekels but were complaining that they needed 70,000 shekels . In the end the party was held at a local swimming pool which was donated to them for 3 hours for their party. They used a DJ who was a brother of one of the students who did the job for free. They had a Bar-B-Que with a few hamburgers and drinks. The children were asked to provide the drinks, snack foods, cakes and coffee for the adults. So where did all this money go? My guess is that the mothers on the committee took a nice all-expense-paid trip to Paris or somewhere. When we tried to contact them to find out how the money was spent, the school year was over and there was no one to talk to anymore. During the school year, no effort was made to bring someone to give an interesting talk or presentation, no field trip to a museum or national park. The field trips are mostly planned to fill the requirement with no feeling or reason behind them. They are boring and the kids learn nothing from them. But the effort and money raised all year long to make a 3 hour party for 5th graders went above and beyond any kind of rationale. Lockers here are not an integral part of the school even thought they were installed when the school was built and will remain there until the end. The students are required to purchase them each year as if they are buying them. There is an extra charge if we would like service to the locker. We did the math and came up with an insane amount of money that this locker company is making at each school year after year. The question isn't whether or not the kids need them, They are in school all day sometimes until 4 or 5 pm dragging books, notebooks etc from one class to the other . My question is why isn't the school being subsidized for such things? Why can't they buy the lockers from the company, pay a one time fee and leave the kids out of it? The janitor or the school handyman can be in charge of fixing the lockers when the need arises, he works there anyway. We are expected to call the locker company and give them our credit card number every year for each student . If we can't pay, our children don't have lockers. Instead , they have to carry a 10 lb backpack around all day everyday back and forth to school. My kids bring their own lunches, however there is no cafeteria on campus. There is a guy nearby selling sandwiches, french fries and soft drinks just outside the fence. Kids illegally crawl under or over this fence to go buy junk food for lunch. They either pay cash on the spot for whatever they want or their parents pay ahead of time per month or per year so they are free to go and eat according to the credit they have with this guy selling cheap food . The school has never taken action to remove this guy from the premises . In fact many parents support his shifty business by paying for him to feed lunch to their children. Why is the school selling itself out to every carpetbagger who comes along? They don't seem to care about the welfare (nor the health) of their students , nor the potential financial difficulty of the parents. So it seems the Ministry of Education either plays a part in this or has abandoned the schools and let them go unchecked to make poor decisions, hire unqualified staff, and make due with little or no budget to invest in the children and their most basic educational needs. They have put money in front of education, making the school grounds a new place for business and profit, rather investing in our children's future.

Posted by Chava Dagan at 1:47 PM No comments:

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A post I wrote July 7, 2014

I'm not sure where I live anymore. The Arabs are attacking the Jews. The Jewish government is practically ignoring the murders, attacks, kidnappings, bombs, missiles, robberies, stone throwing etc etc. Who are they supposed to be protecting? Them or us? The kids are on summer vacation, but we can't do almost anything outside because of missiles smashing into anything and everything without warnin...g all day and all night? We've got all 5 children sleeping at night in the "safe room" , but there's no room for me and my husband and the baby so we lay awake all night in our room listening to the booming all around us, knowing that one of them will eventually land on the house or a neighbor's. This has been going on for 2 weeks already.(Not to mention the "quiet times" in between intifadas when they lob one over every once in awhile just so we don't forget that they are there).The Arabs inside of Israel (they still call themselves "Palestinians" even though they hold Israeli citizenship and have the same rights as anyone else.) Aren't they supposed to pledge allegiance to the country they choose to live in? If not why are they here? Because they plan on ripping the country apart from within while their brothers tear it apart from the outside . I don't know all the secret backroom talks but it seems to me there is more to this story than we know. We have an army we have firepower. We have technology. We have the buttons to disconnect their water and electricity. They are thugs. They've got nothing on us . Yet we never end this thing . It's a continuous war without any hope of an ending in sight. Why? Would any other country in the whole entire world allow this terror to continue? Small children are traumatized for life from the endless bombings in the South.. Yet we don't do anything. We send in countless trucks filled to the brim with bags of cement knowing full well they use it to build tunnels into Israel for bringing in terrorists and weapons to kill us. Yet the trucks keep coming. So does the water and electricity. We don't need one retaliation in terms of firepower. Turn off the essentials, they will stop the bombings. How hard could it be to move the terrorist hot tub out of Gaza? Easy, but it seems that our government isn't willing to make the move. Just let them continue on slow burner for awhile until things boil over every once in awhile . My guess is that as much as we know the "Palestinians" like the money they get from all over the world to continue their fight, I think the Israeli politicians are thinking the same thing. The US gives us money for our army. If we just turn off electricity and water, we don't need much firepower for that. We have to show that we are using it and are in need of it. We do need it perhaps to use it to defend our borders. But will someone please tell me where are distinct borders that we are supposed to be defending? When I think about it, I'm not so sure, which means we haven't even defined them to ourselves and therefore to the world . To the west we've got Gaza which for some reason is supposed to be ours although "Palestinians" claim it to be theirs.. To the North, we've got the Golan which we claim to be ours but Syria claims it to be theirs. In the East we've got the "West Bank" which seems to be ours but it is once again claimed by the "Palestinians". In the South, we've got the Bedouin who claim to be "Palestinians" and that it is all their land stolen from them. The "Palestinians" (Israeli Arabs) claim Jerusalem to be theirs and we keep giving over to all these claims,.but there is no Palestine. It's all Israel .Voted on by the UN back in 1948. So we've given up border after border to appease the Arab terrorists which only makes them hungry for more. If we don't have clear borders how can we know what we're defending and when the terrorism has "crossed the line"? So far our only retaliation comes when the missiles fall on Tel Aviv. So that's all that's left of Israel proper? Jews are being arrested for protecting themselves from armed Arabs, who are becoming increasingly confident in their terrorist acts all over Israel. When thugs are allowed free reign to do as they wish they take it. These thugs are now calling the shots. They decide when we sleep, when we play, when we work. We are supposed to beg for a ceasefire? They decide this too , temporary as it may be. After Nazi Germany we vowed "never again". But here it is. These are the warnings and no one, not even our own Israeli government, is doing anything about it. They think they are safe with they're penthouses in Tel Aviv? The Israeli media doesn't report the uprising throughout Israel unless there is a casualty. So it makes it look like things are quiet and there's nothing to worry about. There are so many cover ups and lies told by our own officials about what is really happening here. I for one am not fooled. If this whole unending war is just a game and we are all pawns, then god help us. I love this country but we've got to get our act together and decide who is the enemy, where are our un-negotiable borders, and what the government is willing to do to protect our citizens This is our Jewish home and we need to feel safe here. We've got no where else to run.

Posted by Chava Dagan at 12:53 PM No comments:

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The day after..........How can we help?

Wow. One day we're in the middle of this crazy war with no end in sight. Then all of a sudden , it's quiet. The difference is night and day. Even though I wasn't aware of how dark everything was, it became light all around , like the sun finally broke through after being hidden for 2 months. We felt light too.The next day, we immediately wanted to go do something, to travel, sing along with the songs on the radio, laugh. We felt light and free. Of course one missile would take all that away, and we know it will start again soon, but it is great to not feel like a sitting duck, even for a little while. The first thing the kids did was ride their bikes down to the play ground/ soccer field. They haven't been their since the last"cease fire". The little ones followed me down to the garden for the first time in a long time. Once again as I was picking, I heard, "Hello, Mr. Butterfly!" and "Good morning , Cherry Tomato!" as they were fluttering around amongst the rows of vegetation. It is actually fun to be outside now, so we're out there soaking up the last of the summer sun we had to do so long without. We can finally have meals without rushing through them or having to get up and run to the "safe room" in the middle of them. We have also moved back into our own rooms. It was fun all snuggling together for two months, but after awhile we started feeling a bit squished. Ever since the cease fire was declared, I've gotten numerous calls from people asking how they can help . Many people have an application on their phone announcing in real time every location of incoming sirens. They were blown away with the amount of missiles we were having to run from and how many areas out here were affected. I guess they had no idea before of the level of terrorism we were dealing with . But now they do and they were filled with helplessness and a great desire to help. To do anything they could, although they weren't sure of what. After talking to my kids to see what they thought, we came up with a plan. The one of the hardest things of this war was the inability to work. All the businesses were affected financially. No one could come to visit, no one was out shopping, Many closed up because it was just too dangerous to work, whether it was in a store or out in the fields. So the first thing people should do is come to visit. Come and spend time in our area. Spend money in local businesses. We've got stores, small farms, small businesses like a chocolate maker, a bakery , a blacksmith who turns rockets into pieces of art, ceramists, a sheep farm, horse back riding school, art galleries, petting zoos, theater, pubs, bird watching, occasional festivals, poppie fields, picnic areas and more. Each moatza has a website and a directory with information on local businesses and what to do in the area. If anyone would like to buy from our farm, we sell lemons and olive oil from our organic orchards, my book, "Mother's Pearls" on natural parenting ,can be found on in English or can be bought from me in Hebrew. I also sell beautiful Baby Hawk baby carriers that can be worn on the front or back. My husband has a skipper's license and he can take groups out on a boat for a few hours for birthdays, bar mitzvas or any occasion. Another idea would be to plan a visit to a moshav or kibbutz in the area and do something special with the kids. Some people sponser or take part in bringing these children, families or groups out to visit other areas for a day or two. By visiting and investing in our local businesses and communities, people are giving the greatest gift: Supporting the families of those living along the border.

Posted by Chava Dagan at 9:04 AM No comments:

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Monday, August 25, 2014

You've Got to be Kidding Me

For all those who were or are still screaming "free Gaza", please explain to me, if they are being held captive, why are we feeling jailed by them? My family of 8 still sleeps together in one room because of continued rockets to our area. The kids haven't played outside for 2 months. We can't work because it's too dangerous outside. The summer-vacation-that-never-was is ending and now we can't send our kids to school because of continued rocket fire. (Although the same government who won't end this war, is telling us we are supposed to start school as scheduled , despite the dangers). There are no sports, no means of excercise, to outlet to let off some steam (and we've got plenty!). I've got little boys who need to release their energy but can't, I've got teenage boys who have no social life, nowhere to just be teenagers , no privacy, no where to get rid of pent up energy. We can't travel, we haven't had a reason to laugh for 2 months, we are stressed , traumatized, scared, and we've been pushed to our limits, to the end of our ropes. If Israel is not a nice place to live, why continue? Why isn't our government doing anything about this? Why aren't there any words from our Prime Minister? Why isn't he out there explaining? When will this end? What is our goal (if there is one)? Why are we negotiating with terrorists? Maybe I'm old school, but from what I've been taught, negotiating with terrorists just brings more terror as we've seen over and over and over again. Why have we let Gaza have complete control of our lives (or deaths) in Israel? The death toll and the injuries from missiles are rising, yet nothing is changing with the government's tactics. We are willing to give up our lives for our country, send our children into the army, live near the borders. But if our government is just using it's soldiers and it's citizens as decoys waiting for the slaughter, then the sacrifice doesn't hold such honor or appeal . We've lost 64 soldiers in this war so far. Yes, we got many tunnels, but there are countless others left, we didn't bring Hamas to it's knees, they are still armed and dangerous and the missiles are still flying. So all those deaths were for what? How many of these wars will we have to fight? Will there still be an Israel to fight for when my children grow up ? The way this war, and the others previous, are being fought, we're starting to wonder. In our area, 7 kilometers from Gaza, we haven't , for all these years had the Iron Dome and we don't have "bomb rooms". But now they've finally started building them for us . The ironic thing is, they are being built by "Palestinian" Arabs. Have you ever heard of such utter foolishness? The government is paying them to build bomb rooms for us, but I'm not sure I could take my family into the room when the sirens go off many times a day and night. Who has a declared enemy build "safe rooms" from their own (or their brother's) missiles (and during a war with them, at that)? A little 4 year old boy was buried yesterday because he was killed by a missile at his home. How many little kids (or any one for that matter) are supposed to die before the government says "enough"? That little boy was running to a safe room because of a siren. His family lives 5 minutes from us. He could be anyone's little boy. That family will never be the same. If running to the "safe room" isn't good enough to protect ourselves, what is? We are raising a generation of traumatized children that no amount of counseling can fix. How can we let Gaza rockets tear our lives apart while our government does nothing? I say nothing because although we shoot back, after almost 50 days of "war" they are still shooting almost 200 rockets into Israel everyday. Their terror infrastructure is everywhere. In the middle floors of high rise buildings (so they are protected from the bottom and the top), under schools, hospitals and mosques. They have underground tunnels built like a second city, weapons stashed, computers, bunkers, food, everything they need to continue the fight for a long time hidden amongst their citizens. So although we shoot back, we give the citizens a 10 minute warning to leave first (which gives the terrorists an advantage) , we usually don't shoot at these public places (which saves the terrorists the trouble of having to leave) , and we are very precise on our targets. They know all of this which gives them the advantage. They, on the other hand don't play by the same rules. Their's is pure terror for the sake of terror. At least 40 Gazans have been shot by Hamas in the town square in broad daylight for the whole of Gaza to see . They were accused of giving information to Israel. There was no trial, to custody, no one phone call. They were just rounded up and killed while the others celebrated. Where were the TV cameras? Where are all the so-called humanitarians who care so much for Gazans? Little Gazan kids are being hung on fence posts by their shirts to act as shields for buildings where Hamas is shooting rockets. Where are the children's rights groups protesting this? Are they silent because Israel isn't to blame or are they just trying to think of a way to blame it on us? We have been getting missiles now from Syria in the north. They are looking for the opportunity to attack us while we're being attacked from Gaza in the south. And today Abu Mazen announced he's going to the UN to change the map. The borders of Israel will be moved. There are maybe a million Jews living out there. If they draw new borders we will have to displace that many people and find a place to put them. Our army is taxed from all sides and a "safe place to be" is shrinking away. We will no longer have defensible borders to protect citizens from hostile enemies. Just one step closer to turning Israel into "Palestine". In other news: Today we saw in a magazine an ad for a motorcycle. On the motorcycle sat the "Ofnobank' . He was a bank robber who robbed many many banks while getting away on a motorcycle before he was caught and put in jail. Now he's out and being paid by motorcycle companies to advertise their motorcycles. There is even a caption saying who he is just in case our children wanted to know. What a role model. So I decided to write to the company and complain. New children's toys have come out: an Iron Dome with missiles and Kassam missiles so the little kiddies can play real life bad guys vs good guys. What a nice birthday gift! Like we don't have enough of the real ones throught the day. As if guns weren't enough, now we can indoctrine our children with toy missiles. I'm wondering how Disney could fit those into Toy Story 4? An American Marine originally from Israel came to visit his brother who is serving in the Israeli army. The moment he landed at the airport, the Israelis arrested him. He has been held in jail for a month so far. He left Israel before his draft into the army. Now that he has returned, they arrest him for draft-dodging. Why is he still locked up? Where are his people working to get him out? Will he be used in a terrorist swap for peace? Is it just me, or Has the World Gone Mad?

Posted by Chava Dagan at 4:02 PM No comments:

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Gardening near Gaza

We believe in eating local and organic, both for the health benefits as well as helping to make the world a nice place to live. but that can be a daunting expensive task. Organic is expensive and not really organic in the sense that we want to support. Local is difficult to find because where we live , I think my family is one of the only families with a vegetable garden or animals raised on a small scale where everything is grown organic, naturally, non GMO and with love. Most farmers out here are big business and mostly non organic. So our answer to finding what we're looking for is to grow/raise it ourselves. As soon as we got here, we got to work raising kids, planting trees, and starting a herd of goats. We've planted orchards of lemon and olive trees. We've got almost every fruit bearing tree we could grow in the desert. We also planted a vegetable garden from seeds. We've got a garden, goats, chickens , bees, orchards and many fruit bearing trees. In quiet times we prosper and our harvests provide our family with plenty. But this requires a lot of time outside spent clearing land, putting up shade cloth, planting, milking, taking care of/treating the animals,pruning, weeding, mulching, digging, pasturing,composting, creating water systems, and of course harvesting and milking. When we've got missiles smashing down all around, it is almost impossible to do any tending to animals or plants, so it goes undone and they suffer for it. So do we. The whole point of all of this is to feed our family the best, most important way we can: healthy, whole, fresh, inexpensive, local, truly organic and with love. The stress is felt by all of us (my family,plants and animals ). There is no where to hide from missiles when we're outside on the farm. We've got less than 15 seconds to find shelter, so many times I go out by myself to do the minimum for everyone. The reason we're here in the south is because we wanted land. It is the only place we could afford land: to keep animals, farm and give our kids room to play outside. There aren't many choices when looking for land in the south. This led us to the area we are in now which was a farming community built for the families pulled out of Yammit in the Sinai peninsula in 1982. Our community borders both Egypt and Gaza. Everything in the periphery in Israel was built to settle land to protect and fortify it's borders. So we're here with many other moshavim and kibbutzim. We are free from traffic and Arab communities (big plus) and we're in the middle of lots of farm lands. In the beginning everyone farmed here, but slowly many people closed their farms and found other things to do or moved away to other areas. But as time passed people moved in and today farming is still the norm here along with yoga instructors, ceramicists and other small businesses. When it's quiet we spend our days outside, but when Gaza starts shooting missiles, we have to be close to our "safe rooms" in order to get there before the missile lands. So gardening is out. Farming is out. Tending to plants or animals is out. Playing or doing anything outside is out. So that leaves us inside the house rather than being outside in the sunshine and fresh air. Which is the whole reason we came here in the first place. There have been more "cease fires" in this war than any other. And each one has been violated by Hamas. So that now when there's a declared "cease fire" , we're not sure what to do. What if we go travel and then they start shooting and we're stuck (it's happened before) somewhere far from home? Even letting the kids go play soccer at the field is nerve racking.Some people here rely on tourism, but not many come anymore. Farmers need to continue to farm the big farms. The public pools are closed and it's too risky to swim in our own pool. Knowing that at any moment they can open fire- whenever they feel like it. There is no end to this insanity and it's making us all crazy. Many people left the area during the war . During a cease fire when Israel went to Egypt to discuss terms for a long "cease fire" the government called everyone back, saying it was safe to return and continue normal life. That means families return with children, farmers to their fields, summer activities to resume, work, tourism, etc. The day many came back, the missiles started again. So this is it. The government's way of getting rid of terror is to pretend it doesn't exist. We're expected to build our lives around the terror from Gaza. When it's quiet we sow our seeds and go about our lives, but with apprehension about what could happen everyday. School? Travel? Work? Weddings? Picnics? Everything we do with foreboding. For everything we do , we need to think a hundred times before we do it. Every time we move forward with one step, the uncertainty keeps us from going beyond that. Every missile (or tunnel) keeps our area from developing the way it should (not to mention the entire country). Many people are scared to live here. Others are scared to visit. This is not how a developed country deals with terror. We are expected to build our lives around terror. We still plant seeds, harvest, learn, work and have somewhat normal lives , but with that underlying feeling that terror can intrude at anytime. Our children grow up not knowing anything else. It creates a heightened sense of awareness, stress, confusion, fears and many other consequences of living with terrorism.It's like living in slow motion and breakneck speed at the same time. Many things are put off while we're trying to get everything done before the next round. Our garden on the other hand provides a kind of safe haven (in quiet times). To us our garden is a grocery store, ph(f)armacy, meeting place, playground, baby sitter, therapy session, work out club (no membership required), yoga class, meditation retreat, science class, menu planner, biology class, stress reliever, family together time, oxygen tank and seed catalogue all rolled up into one. Our garden not only feeds our family, it also feeds our animals. All the left over corn husks and stalks, weeds, old or extra vegetation all goes to our 4 legged friends. We use the garden's produce as gifts from the heart to give to friends and family. I think if the Palestinians spent more time planting gardens with their families, they would spend less time trying to blow us up. So although we live not far from the border with Gaza, we continue our lives the best we can. I keep planting seeds to grow my garden to feed my family and harvest the crops under sirens warning of incoming missiles. What else can we do? We confront terror the only way we know how: We continue.


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