Monday, May 19, 2008

Blogging away on

Already have 3 posts down, so I guess it's official now! Please do join me at and read about the last holiday (with some pictures) and the next one!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Moving to a new domain name

It's almost two years since I started this blog, and I feel that it's time to move forward and move to my own domain name and hosting. I just bought (the .com is taken, although not in use, and the current owner doesn't want to sell it :( ). I am excited about the move, as it means I'll be able to use Wordpress with a bunch of plug-ins which I like. Nothing against blogger/blogspot - I think it's a wonderful free platform and highly recommend it to anyone seeking a free blogging service.

Lots to post about, but I prefer to wait till we're at the new place. Hopefully will be up and running within a few days! I'll still post here every now and again to refer folks to the new place. Hope to see everyone there!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Some more Thoughts about the Conflict

Warning - another long post ahead! I have these thoughts running through my head, resonating and developing, and I'd like to share them here.

I truly believe that in order to change things and arrive at a solid foundation for peace, we have to learn to accept each other narratives. A narrative isn't necessarily "historical truth" if there is even such a thing. Yes, many events are documented, and I have a lot of respect for history as a discipline, but in the end of the day, we can go on arguing forever, because each side will pick the events that best suit their narrative, emphasize some events, and ignore or play down others. It's not an unimportant debate, the historical one, but it has to be done with a mind to reach the other side, teach them about our narrative, and learn theirs, with an aim of reaching a stage where we can acknowledge and respect the other side's narrative.

I respect the Palestinian narrative of the Naqbe. Yes, those villages were destroyed in the war, and it was a national tragedy of huge proportions. In the Palestinian narrative, they were driven away from their land by force by the Zionists. It's a narrative of pain and longing and one which I acknowledge and would like to work with in the future.

The Zionist narrative of the very same events is a different one. It's not myths to be put down and erased, IMO. It deserves its place in the joint space we're trying to build here, just as much as the Palestinian narrative deserves its own space. It's a narrative of a people who were (in their own feelings, as legitimate as those of any others) on the verge of extinction. Of people who lived under the fear of being slaughtered by their Palestinian neighbors (as has happened to Jews living in Hebron for example, and in other places). It's a narrative of a group of people dedicated to establishing a free national home for their people, just like the Palestinians are looking to do for themselves now. People dedicated, at least on the ideological level, to concepts of democracy, socialism and development of the land, along their neighbors (talking about the mainstream Zionism of that time, and to some extent up until now). I could go on, but I'll stop here. My point is that both sides should try and see both sides of the story, or we'll never get anywhere. I am opening my mind and my heart to the story of the Naqbe, to the Palestinian narrative. I think it should be taught in Israeli schools and hopefully that will happen someday. I agree that mainstream Zionists are not familiar enough with it, and thus many do not empathize enough with the pain of it. We have a lot to work on (not much of a surprise, eh? ;) ).

At the same time, I think Palestinians, those living inside of Israel, those living in the territories, and just anyone who right now is anti-Zionists, should maybe take the time to open their own minds and hearts too to the Zionist narrative. Get to know it, get to know us, because unless we do that, war will continue.

I'll end with something from the seminar in Givat Haviva (long post, I know - don't shoot me please!). We were fortunate to have a Palestinian older gentleman tell us his personal story of the Naqbe. His name was Adnan, or Abu Hussam, and he told the story of his village of Lajun in what we know today as Emek Yizrael. As it happens, they were never actually driven out per se, but ran away as refugees in the middle of the night after the Arab armies withdrew from their area. What touched me the most, was his story of this then 6-7 years old boy, scared out of his wits, riding a donkey in the middle of the night, and hearing the bullets flying over his head. I have a son who's the same age now, and it broke my heart. I think more Israelis should hear stories like this more often. At the same time, it made me think of my grandmother, who lived in the town of Holon, pregnant with my dad in her belly, and taking care of a 2 years old baby (my aunt), and being fired at every night, by Arabs in nearby villages. Just as scary, just as tragic, just as real. It also made me think of my other grandfather, at the same age, running through the markets of Tunisia, with his injured mother, slashed in her leg by Arabs in an outbreak of riots against Jews. Again, just as scary, just as tragic, just as real.

You see, war is always a tragedy, and no side has a monopoly on heartache. Let's listen to both stories, with respect, with empathy and with a willingness to change the future (the near future too), so that these stories don't repeat as often.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Naqbe-Independece Day Seminar - First Impressions

It's the 60th Independence Day in Israel today. Been a bit of a strange one for me this year, having attended the joint Israeli-Palestinian, or Arab-Jewish, or whatever you'd like to call it, meeting/seminar or whatever you'd like to call that...

It will take some time for me to digest what I've seen and heard, I think. So, these are just first impressions, really. In fact, I'll focus on just describing what went on, I think, just tell what I experienced.

We arrived at Givat Haviva yesterday, my parents-in-law and myself, yesterday at 2PM. A quiet day, Memorial Day in Israel, a day when Israelis take time to remember those who have lost their lives in our many wars. It's always a quiet sad day, with sad songs on the radio and nothing but Memorial programs on TV (not that I dare watch any of them - way too painful). So, four hours are the sirens were blowing for two minutes in memory of the fallen soldiers, we arrived at the Kibbutz.

People were hanging around one of the main halls there (they have quite a few places there, since the Kibbutz specializes in courses and seminars). People of all ages, Arabs, Jews and others too. Some children running around too. We signed up at the entrance and went into the hall, where there were mattresses and pillows on the floor, and plastic chairs all around. A musician was playing sad and beautiful music on a clarinet.

After a while, people entered the room and the first session begun. It was led by two people, an Arab man, Jamal, and a Jewish woman, Michal. The whole event was in Hebrew, by the way, with speakers in Arabic translated into Hebrew. They did apologize for that, sort of, and explained that it was a technical thing.

There was quite a long opening talk, where the organizers thanked us all profusely for coming, and took time to emphasize how difficult it is for people of both sides to make this step, this hugely unpopular step for many outside the room, and try to spend the Naqbe Day/Independence Day together, sharing our experiences.

The main theme of the whole seminar, as explained by the speakers, was to listen to each other's pain, to listen to each other's stories, without judging and without guilt too. I really liked that approach, as expressed there and then. The idea was to listen and not to argue. Not to focus on historical fact, and argue about which event was real and which was not, but just show empathy and make room for the other side's narrative. Solutions were not to be discussed either - a rather feminine outlook, I guess, of solving conflict by listening and showing empathy.

I liked that notion a lot, and it was actually why I came in the first place. I will say here and now that I feel that the seminar did not fully achieve its goal, at least not during the time I was there (I did not stay till the end). I felt that while the Palestinian narrative, the personal, emotional one, was well delivered, no room was given for the Zionist narrative of the same events. I am not talking about historical facts either, just about emotions and human experiences from the time. I think a Palestinian acceptance, not in the sense of agreement, just as acknowledgment, of the Zionist narrative is just as crucial as a Zionist acceptance of the Palestinian narrative.

The next session was a lecture by an Israeli left-wing historian, Dr. Yair Boimel, about the Zionist-Palestinian conflict (his definition btw, which I really liked). It was absolutely fascinating and delivered in a very professional, well balanced way, and with some humor too (more on that later). His lecture went by the premise that history is shaped by decisions made by human beings. Be them politicians or ordinary people, it's actions which people chose to make that shaped our history.

Dr. Boimel then went on to review the various points of disputes and dilemmas through out the history of the Zionist-Palestinian conflict from 1800 till today, reviewing decisions on both sides and essentially pointing out how they were decisions, and not something forced on any side. I liked both the thesis presented and the wealth of solid information provided during the lecture. It was an eye opener on some points, even.

Next on the evening's agenda was a joint Memorial Service, which turned out to be pretty much a Memorial Service for the Naqbe. Now, having grown up in a mainstream Zionist environment, the Naqbe, as a concept, was something we learned about fairly recently, about a decade ago. In that sense, I have a lot to learn, and it's what I came to experience too. To listen and show empathy to a national trauma experienced by "the other side".

I had no problem with that part of the evening. My problem was with the lack of balance. The evening was made up of two personal stories. The first was a moving tale of an elderly Palestinian gentleman, whose family ran away from their village in the Galille, lost their homes and became refugees because of the war. It was told in Arabic (and I was surprised to see that I could understand at least half of what he said without the translation), and brought a very personal childhood story of one person. Highly effective and moving, and the kind of story I would like to see more Israelis exposed to.

The second story, I expected to be the story of an Israeli/Jewish person who lived through the same war, and would come to tell about the fear of annihilation, about refugees from the holocaust facing destruction again, about fighting and losing your friends and dear ones to the war, and then the joy of being saved and gaining independence. Instead, we had a Jewish-Israeli person of the right age, who came to tell us again about the Naqbe experienced by the Palestinians. Basically, telling us how he had witnessed the bulldozers destroying the empty villages near where he had lived and building new neighborhoods there, and then talking about the denial the Israelis live in, and the guilt we should be feeling. Not very constructive, I felt, and definitely not a story to evoke emotions of empathy and sharing.

Next was a peaceful and quite moving ceremony. The clarinet was playing a sad tune, and a circle of unlit candles was placed in the middle of the room. People were invited to come forward and light a candle in memory of someone who was killed, or a community destroyed or anything else that they wanted to bring up. It was again, personal and a place of empathy and joint sorrow. Palestinians lit candles for people they knew who were killed in war, of their late parents who became refugees. Jews lit candles for people killed in wars and terror attacks, and also for family members who died in the holocaust. The children of Gaza were mentioned more than once, by both sides (unfortunately, the children of Sderot killed by Kassams were not mentioned...).

I think this post is getting long enough, so I'll describe the next day in another post. Time to get back to earth, clean the house, clean the kids, feed them and tuck them into bed. Back to the normal life of a mom - in the hope for normal lives for moms, dads, kids and everyone else in our region.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A few more pictures from Passover

A quick post today, just uploading a few more pictures from our Passover holiday to share with family and friends.

From a short hike we took near Zikhron Ya'acov's Hanadiv Gardens. I posted more pictures from the gardens themselves here. That's me and Ron there, resting near the ancient Roman Villa (great location for a villa btw, right on top of the Carmel Mt. with a great view of the Mediterranean!)

Next two pictures are from the Air Force museum near Be'er Sheva. It was a hot day, but the kids enjoyed the planes.

I really like this picture of the boys with the pelicans. It was taken in the Monkey Forest Park in Yodfat in the Galillee. The boys decided that the Pelicans were brothers, so they posed next to them.

So much for the pictures. In a about ten minutes from now the sirens are going to go off marking the beginning of the Memorial Day. Tomorrow is the Memorial Day itself, and then tomorrow evening, the country switches into celebration mode and the Independence Day celebrations begin. Mega celebrations this year, since it's the 60th Independence Day.

As if the mixture of grief and celebrations tomorrow wasn't enough, things will be even more complicated tomorrow, as I'll be going to the Arab-Jewish seminar that will discuss those events along with the Palestinian Naqba. I wonder what it will be like, keeping an open mind for now. I will definitely report when I'm back.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Holocaust Day - Some Thoughts

It's the Holocaust Memorial Day here today. The sirens went off about an hour ago, to mark two minutes of silence in memory of those who died in the Holocaust. I can't stand listening to any more holocaust stories, so my radio is tuned on Galgalatz where they only serve music. Sad music, Hebrew songs only, but still better than those stories.

Like most people of my generation, third generation to the Holocaust, I think we've been handed down our own version of post traumatic stress syndrome from the Holocaust. We've been exposed to so many survivor stories at school, some directly, some through movies. I recall one particularly traumatic seminar, in high school, where they sent us for three days away from home in some holocaust research institute where we got lecture after lecture, movie after movie, about the subject. Lots of Nazi propaganda too, to the extent that I distinctly recall how I felt disgusted by all these Jews in the movies. Felt awfully weird, knowing I belong to that minority - that effective those movies were.

I think only in recent years, since having children of my own, did I realize just how traumatizing this exposure to the horrors of the holocaust was. I don't even want to get into the historical uniqueness of the holocaust, I don't think it really matters on the personal level. In the end of the day, people exposed to such conditions get scarred, mentally. It's what post traumatic stress is all about. The experience of the holocaust is just a very very extreme form of that stress, but it's essentially the same type of stress in every war, of any situation where you and your family are facing mortal peril, really. It's been burnt into our mental retinas, in a way, growing up in Israel. And it keeps coming back, in various ways. That underlying sense, that your world could come apart, and you'll be thrown, helpless, into a storm of war that will wipe off your children, yourself, anyone dear to you.

Sigh. Not much more to say. For myself, I try to shelter my kids from those stories, for as long as I can. Not an easy task here, but they do spare the kindergarten kids, so they're safe for now. I think I won't let them go to any holocaust seminar when they grow up though.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In between Holidays and Memorial Days

I swear, there's not a week without some festivity, holiday or memorial day in this country. The long Passover vacation has finally ended, whew! We survived! And even managed to have some fun with the kids too. I have quite a bunch of pictures to post too, and will start with that today.

This week we'll be marking the Holocaust Memorial Day, and next week it's the Memorial Day for those killed during their military service, followed right away by our 60th Independence Day. Never a dull moment! I'm going to have a different kind of Independence Day though. There's a joint seminar of Arabs and Jews taking place on that day, where participants will be talking about the events of 1948 from their very different perspectives.

This is about Israeli citizens, not Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, but those Palestinians/Arabs (not sure how they wish to define themselves) who live with us and form 20% of the population of the State of Israel. I realize they have a very different angle on what happened back then, not celebrating the Independence Day, but rather having their own Memorial Day for the Naqba. I am curious about that, actually, and I want to learn more. I have never been to such a seminar before, and I'm both curious and apprehensive. I will write a separate post about it, I hope, before I leave, with my own thoughts and expectations. Should be interesting to compare afterwards.

Ok, I mentioned Passover pictures, so I'll start with the first batch of pictures from the Seder itself -

We celebrated the Seder at my brother-in-law's place in Neta'im. It's just about over an hour away from here, and we were afraid it might take double the time with the Seder traffic, but we got lucky, and it didn't take that long after all. Still, Dan napped on the way, which was a good idea. Grandpa Amos didn't mind being his pillow either -

We actually arrived early, so could enjoy my SIL's table decor for a while.

Can't have a Seder without Matzh -

Wouldn't that be a weird plate to be having as one of the guests? Good thing it's the central Seder plate, with the six elements of the Seder Plate. I found a link explaining it all on Wikipedia -

Just because it's kosher and you can't have any dough, doesn't mean you don't get fabulous cakes!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy Passover!

Just a quick note to officially say Happy Passover! We've had the Seder night last night, and I'll post some pictures soon. Looks like a busy day ahead of us, with bringing my 6 yo son back home from my Mom's, along with my niece, and then possibly heading out to visit family in the Lower Galilee. Hey, the camera is back from China, so there will be pictures posted!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Four Glasses of Whine for Passover

On the Eve of the Seder, when families get together to celebrate Passover, everyone shares four small glasses of wine, as part of the detailed and rather structured evening routine. You have to read the story of Moses and co. and how he got the Israelites out of Egypt, and while at it, there are certain breaks in the reading where you add a special blessing and have a glass of wine along with it.

Well, I'm in a whining mood today, with the Seder approaching, so I here are my Passover Whines -

1. Why on earth do teachers need time off an entire week before the holiday itself? We end up with two and a half weeks of spring holiday here which is way too much for kids aged 4 and 6. What's more it's way way way too much for their mothers!

2. How come dads still get to go to work during those weeks? Not everyone has a holiday, but us work-from-home-moms don't have much of a choice.

3. What's up with driving in traffic jams for hours on end for the Passover feast? IsraeliDad and myself announced that we'll be staying home this year, celebrating in peace with our kids here. You won't imagine how many phone calls we've had pleading with us to spare the children and let them enjoy a real Passover feast with the family. We turned down my mom, my dad (they're divorced) and a brother-in-law and felt very proud of ourselves... only to be dragged to the furthest Seder in the family, as my much loved parents-in-law want to go there but prefer not to do the driving themselves. So, wish us luck on Saturday, and let's hope it'll be less than 5 hours on the road.

And a fourth whine? Well, only three from me today. I'm in a desperate housewife mood, but let's face it, all is well here and other than a bunch of hyperactive kids driving me a bit crazy this afternoon (hey, friends come over!), I'm ok.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Too Many Holidays in This Country

I guess you have to be a parent to fully appreciate just how bad it is. Hardly any work time left, with life moving along from one long school vacation to another... It's Passover this time, with two and a half weeks of having to entertain the kids.

The religious holiday is next week, but apparently school teachers need more time off work to do their spring cleaning or something. With IsraeliDad still working this week, at least on some days, I am left with not too much available work time. Good thing my parents-in-law came back from their trip to China yesterday, so they take the kids over to their place for some of the day (or rather, the kids go there on their own, since we share the same backyard).

Holiday plans are still vague. One of the major problems is that there are way too many Israelis in an overcrowded country. That means every possible place will be packed full of families and kids. It's starting already, as we noticed trying to find a parking place in a busy shopping center on Friday. I am not sure how come there are so many people in all places at all times. You'd think if everyone goes to one place, then surely some place has to be empty at the same place? Not like they're all in the country even. I bet Turkey is full of Israelis this time of year and Cyprus as well. Not to mention the hordes of Israelis always traveling in India, the Far East and South America. Europe too. I know some people can't believe there are only 7 million of us. I guess Israelis occupy a large space wherever they are?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Major Drill in Two Days

Had I known this was going to be such big news, I'd have posted about the drill last week... I'm sorry, but when I heard that Lebanon's army and the HA are ordered into full alert, I had to laugh. I double checked the date to make sure it's not April's Fool still. It wasn't. And on the news, I just heard Olmert trying to reassure Syria and Lebanon that Israeli is not planning a full attack and this is just a civilian drill.

Well, let me add my own reassurance. Being as my son is in the drill, I ought to know. I had to brief Ron about this, as the kindergarten teachers asked us to do so in a letter. See, the drill is for my six year old son and his friends. It's for them to practice hearing the sirens and going into the sheltered room in their kindergarten. Trust me, Ron isn't about to cross the border into any neighboring country. He's not even allowed to cross the street where we live without parental supervision, so there.

We've always had such drills too, when I was a kid. I think lots of people have been through them, all over the world, nothing too spectacular about them, really. I'm not sure how this turned into an attack on Syria or Lebanon exactly, but honestly, the very thought is just ridiculous. April's Fool Day is supposed to be just a day, not an entire month, right?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Purim!

The days of Purim are upon us once more. With two boys here at home, it's most definitely Super Heroes days!

Dan's kindergarten went with a Native American theme, but at home, he was all over the Power Rangers. Ron actually wanted the very same Spiderman costume that he had last year. It still fit him, surprisingly enough!

We had another cause for celebration, with my brother and his lovely wife and two daughters arriving from England yesterday. We all met at our place today for lunch. In our crowded little house, that means hanging out outdoors, in the patio and on the lawn. It was very hot, but we opened up the inflatable pool and the kids had a blast in there. Not too many pictures from today, I'm afraid. My in-laws left the country last night, traveling to China for 3 weeks and they took the camera with them. I did manage to catch a few from my brother's camera and upload them here, and just had to share this one -

It's my youngest niece, Noah in the arms of her proud dad. Isn't she simply irresitable? I am so lucky to have four totally gorgeous nieces and I wish I had pictures of them all for this post!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring Time in Israel Pictures

It is most certainly Spring here! And IsraeliDad prepared himself with a sharp and very short crew cut. Good thing Ron was around and up for the task!

He absolutely loved cutting his dad's hair, as you can see. And don't worry, we did, ummm, fix the results a bit later.

Our backyard is all green these days. Lots of sunny days to enjoy it too and it's definitely not too hot yet. You actually do need a long-sleeve sweater most days to enjoy the outdoors. The lawn bounced back from the frostbite and Dan is enjoying it right here -

And this is what it looks like beyond the lawn. All green, the oak trees blooming and spring is all around! Not a well groomed backyard, and that is an understatement, but for myself, I like the natural look.

All over Israel, everything is in bloom and looking absolutely fabulous. We try to make the most of each sunny day and get out with the kids. Here are some pics from yesterday, when we had a nice picnic and a walk in a small forest near Megido (the Biblical Armageddon).

Ron sure was enjoying himself!

Back home... tired and happy!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

America, Here We Come!

Hey, what do you know, two posts in one week! Is IsraeliMom coming out of her winter hibernation period? Only time will tell ;)

All is well here, working away on projects and taking care of family matters. My father went through a heart procedure yesterday and had 3 arteries unblocked by the doctors. They said he was very close to a heart attack. We are so grateful for our wonderful public health system. He was treated by the best professor in the country, his appointment was scheduled withing days of the initial checkup, and it was all for free and covered by the national health insurance program!

The other latest exciting news is that we have ourselves a VISA to the US! We've been in touch with an American company for the past several weeks over some business matters. Since the option of us traveling was raised, we figured it was time to get a VISA. Getting a traveler's VISA to the US isn't that easy anymore. We started the process two months ago and paid a total of over $200 per person for it. Here's what our morning looked like yesterday -

We arrived in Tel Aviv early in the morning, since we had an appointment scheduled in the embassy for an interview at 10 am. We had to get ID picture ready first. That is not as simple as you may think, since the US embassy requires 5cm by 5cm pictures that are not the standard size here in Israel. There are other rules to the pictures too. The white background, I can see why. The fact that they want you to have your ears showing in the picture was a bit baffling, but the most surprising thing for me was that you're not allowed to smile for the picture... I guess they like serious people only in America?

With pictures in hand, receipts for the money we paid and pre-filled forms, we arrived at the embassy on time. The forms are fascinating in their own right. They actually ask you directly if you happen to be a terrorist and intend to carry our terror activities in the US. Well, fortunately, we're not terrorist and don't intend to blow up America, so that part was easy enough.

So, at the embassy we arrived, awaiting our interview with the consul, imagining some nice fancy office where we would be seated promptly, perhaps offered some refreshments even, and chat with the consul about our lives. As per the recommendations on the embassy's website, we brought papers and documents about our lives and our business. It sounded like the USA was taking a genuine interest in us, which I guess can be considered flattering.

Well, welcome to the real world. On the pavement, outside the embassy's walls, we meet the first representative, a nice Israeli security guy, telling us that you're not allowed to bring anything inside. Not even your cell phone or a pen. There's a service where you can deposit your belongings (yes, another small fee goes into the American treasury - I am pretty sure I paid any outstanding debts Israel has to America yesterday). Once ready, forms in hand, we were told to stand on a queue. Outside, in the sun, no shade, on the pavement. At least it wasn't raining! You stand there waiting, and when you finally reach the head of the line, you are asked to move forward, in groups of five, to the next queue, where something weird happens - a different security guy wants to see your palms and then touches them with some piece of paper. No explanations given, and it is a rather weird procedure. I can only guess they're checking for traces of explosives? Well, anything to make the waiting time more interesting!

Finally, it's time for us to enter the gates of the embassy! We walk inside and are asked to take off any metal objects, belts, jewelry, anything and go through the metal detector. From there, no line in the middle, we move on to another room where our belongings now go through their own routine of detectors and we receive them on the other end of the machine. Finally, we're all done and go into the next gate, hoping this is finally where we get to see the consul. Wrong. We're not even within the building yet and we just moved on into another queue! A longer queue this time, and finally we're in the shade.

20 minutes later, after being entertained by yet another embassy guy explaining more about the forms and checking to see that we all have the right ones, we finally walk into the building.... right into the mega-queue... A much longer one this one, and less ordered, since people stop on the way to fix things with their forms and attach their pictures to them, but at least we're indoors and it's air conditioned.

After another half an hour or so, it's finally our turn and we go to booth number 7, where a rather impatient and rude man takes our fingerprints. He wasn't very happy with mine, for some reason or other, and I had to follow his instructions carefully and have some substance sprayed on my hands to get the fingerprints right. Well, finally, that small torture is over and, yup, we're back on another queue! A shorter one now, which brings us to a nice American lady who is there to verify that the finger prints that had been taken minutes before are really ours. No idea why this extra step, but I guess those fingerprints are very important.

Finally, we're on the last queue, this one for the much awaited interview with the consul! So much for fancy chairs and refreshments lol. The interview is held with us standing in front of yet another booth. Apparently there are several consuls and they just chain-interview applicants. Our consul lady was very nice and friendly, and our application was approved within minutes and finally, after paying yet one more small fee, we were out of there!

If you haven't fallen asleep by now, reading my lengthy description, I admire you. It was long to go through and made us think of what the Palestinians have to go through daily in their dealings with the Israeli soldiers at various bureaucratic intersections, or just making their way from one roadblock to another. Obviously, what they go through is 100 times worse. No air condition and no kind American consuls at any point. Instead, they have to face some bored and often scared kid in uniform, who hates being there, and couldn't care less about showing any manners. Honestly, if I had to go through the same, I would start an Intifada myself quickly enough. Nothing is more annoying to me than standing in lines and being treated rudely by some jerk on the other side. I can't imagine what it's like being treated like the Palestinians are, in such rough conditions and on a daily basis too. Sigh. The word humiliating only begins to describe what it must feel like.

Ok, I am straying into politics again and this post is getting way way too long as it is. Time to wrap things up and get back to work!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Spring is Here!

We've planted Paulownia trees just before winter time. They shed their leaves petty quickly, and we've had to remind people that those sticks are actually trees, so please not to break them down. I wasn't even sure if they're still alive or not, but a couple of them are beginning to show the tips of new buds! And the oak trees, oh my - some of them are covered with fresh green buds - absolutely gorgeous! And yes, I will be taking some pictures ;)

I wish the people of this region will take a deep breath and take a few minutes to look around. For me, the eternal cycle of nature is a sign of our own transience as human beings, and as peoples as well. I was thinking the other day about what it means for me to be Jewish. I am not religious, even an atheist, but I belong to the Jewish people. Being Jewish is more than a religion, it's more than an ethnic group too. Above all, for me, it's a matter of belonging to a cultural group with a joint national awareness that has existed for literally thousands of years. And still, looking at nature around me, I am reminded how thousands of years aren't really that much in the overall earth timetable. Trees and insects around me have been around for much longer, and I suspect they will be for much longer after the human race is gone. Isn't it a shame that people get so busy with killing each other that they fail to see that?

A bit of a silly post today, I know. Just a flitting thought running through my mind, having just walked inside from a glorious sunny day. Wishing peace to the people of the region.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Is it March already?

Where did the time fly? Ok, quite a lot of if was literally eaten by bugs. Seems like there's a world epidemic, judging by my online friends and acquaintances and it has hit our household too! The kids started it early February, and the past couple of weeks it was parents time, ack.

Not too many family outings to report this time, alas. We were operating on survival mode pretty much... I think we're doing better though, so looking forward to the next few weeks. It's spring time here, pretty much, and everything is absolutely beautiful, green and dotted with flowers. I promise to take lots of pictures. Hey, even our backyard looks gorgeous in the wild garden part of it!

On the national level, things aren't as good. With the rockets from Gaza moving in some more, the town of Ashkelon is now within range, so we have a few more tens of thousands of people living in fear now. This time, we have family in the line of fire, so we're keeping our fingers crossed for you, Oren and Leslie!

And yes, I'm only too aware of Israel's activities against the Palestinians, and the casualties on the other side. Can I say that to this mom, the whole situation is beyond absurd by now? People shooting at each other like crazy, for no apparent reason, as far as I can tell. Well, sure, they have a long list of reasons, mainly stating that "they started it! we're just retaliating/defending ourselves/trying to make them stop etc etc". Meanwhile, so many children on both sides have been hurt, killed or maimed, or lost their dads in this stupid war. Sigh.

Anyway, I still try not to listen to the news too much. It's become way too frustrating. I try to focus on working on my online projects, you can join me for some of them at my new forums - so check in when you can ;)

Friday, February 01, 2008

I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since my last post here - even more than that! I really do mean to post more often, but life just takes over and other things hog up my time. Now is a good example, as I have to be outta here in 5 minutes. It's being snowing in some parts of Israel and we're taking the kids up to the Golan Heights to see some snow.

Wanted to share a few pics from our excursion from last week. It was a lovely day, despite the forecast predicting a storm ahead, so we canceled kindergarten for the day, packed up the kids and headed out.

First stop was in the Museum of the Armor Corps. Very militaristic, I know, but hey, I got two boys aged 4 and 6 here and they're going through the super heros and soldiers phase. They were thrilled, especially since we had an older boy with us who has actually driven and fired tanks like that before (he's 37 years old btw and their dad, in case anyone was wondering).

After that we went to see a very special carstic cave with stalagmites and stalactites. A very special place, one of a kind in Israe. Gotta rush out of here within seconds, so just let me throw the pics up. Enjoy!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Freezing Over Here

Sorry, can't think of a better title for today, or for this entire week. My memory was never very good, I admit, but I find it hard to recall a much colder week. I believe it's some sort of a freak weather front from Russia? that's what I heard anyway. Just very very cold air hitting the country. No rain, clear sunny sky, just cold. Our lawn was covered in frost several times already this week, and it's making it turn yellow :(

Here's a picture of our frost covered lawn. Keep in mind we're talking dry days and nights, so it's not a lot of frost but it's cold frost.

Anyway, cold as it is, we do get out and about and I have a couple of movies to share today. Edited by IsraeliDad (quickly edited, I might add, with no proofreading done on the subtitles...), the first one is a bit embarrassing...

If you're done laughing at my bovine adventures, here's a nice short clip of our visit to the edge of Israel. The Western North tip, on the border between Israel, Lebanon and the Mediterranean -