Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Ein Gedi Botanic Garden
Seek the serenity of a Judean Desert sky in Autumn at the Ein Gedi Botanic Garden

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kipod Crossing

June 24, 2014 - Arad is the kind of town where drivers stop their vehicles for a kipod – a nondescript little Negev hedgehog you can barely spot in blinding light, let alone at dusk.

I first discovered this salient fact about five years ago while driving my friend Jennifer’s car down the main drag. It was late and I was tired, and Jen was in the passenger's seat. We were coming back from the clinic and chatting amiably until suddenly the fancy white SUV in front of us just stopped without warning.

I slammed on the brakes, giving thanks to Everything Above that we both had our seatbelts on. We both wondered what the hell possessed the driver in front of us to do that.

Peering out into the darkness, I could see nothing of interest. But the driver seemed to be waiting patiently.

Obviously, we waited too.

And then I saw it: a tiny little round grey bundle of joy with prickles sticking out all over, trundling as quickly as he could across the road.

A kipod.  Photo credit: Courtesy, http://teva.co.il 

He didn’t dawdle, after all. He didn’t stop and look around and say, like some cats seem to do, “Well, what’s your problem, buddy?” No. But due to his tiny size and the relative width of the ‘crosswalk’ he had to travel, it was quite a hike. 

For him, anyway.

I thought it was an aberration that night, but since that time I have watched time and again as drivers in Arad stop to allow cats, dogs, kittens and yes, kipods, the right of way in crossing the street. 

Uh.... oh yeah. Humans too, of course. In fact, America could take a lesson from what goes on in this town. Every driver stops for everyone and anything. Almost always.

But it’s gotten to the point that some people don’t even bother to look both ways before stepping out into the street. That’s not smart, of course. In fact, it’s downright stupid.

One young mother paid for it with her life a couple of months ago, having walked right out into the street at night wearing dark clothing -- and pushing a baby carriage, no less. It was a terrible tragedy. The baby did survive. Her grieving husband married her sister just a few weeks later, giving the baby a new mother, one with whom she felt close and familiar.

Nevertheless, it is not wise to rely on miracles and one is always cautioned to remember that it is best to cross at the crosswalk. 

Even in Arad, even at night, and even if you are a kipod.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

An Oldie But . . . 'Goodie' ???

June 17, 2014 - Every now and then I come across posts on Facebook that I just feel compelled to share, even if they are not directly related to Israel.

The video report below, from Fox News, is one of those. It is not new -- in fact, it is a report from more than a year ago, but I feel it is still relevant.

I found it quite frightening, especially given the fact that President Barack Obama currently is faced with the decision of how to handle America's foreign policy vis a vis the rapidly approaching takeover of Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) -- an Al Qaeda affiliate. Mosul and Tikrit have already fallen and Baghdad is looking very vulnerable.

Its sister chapter, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has already captured considerable territory on the other side of the border, in the country once entirely ruled by the rather ruthless dictator, President Bashar al-Assad, and now torn apart by a raging civil war.

Together, the two will probably soon form a new radical Islamist emirate which may then look to swallow Jordan as they move on to Sinai and Gaza.

But I digress. . . 

Please view the video.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Standing Up to Terror: The Heat is On

June 16, 2014 - It may take time, but Israel will prevail against terror. That was the message delivered today by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu following a security consultation at IDF Central Command HQ in Jerusalem.

The meeting -- one of many -- follows last Thursday's kidnapping of three teenage yeshiva boys by Hamas terrorists in Gush Etzion. Two of the boys are 16 years old, including a dual American-Israeli citizen; both learn at the renown Mekor Chaim Yeshiva in Kfar Etzion. The other boy is 19, also a yeshiva student. They were grabbed while hitchhiking on a road that should have been safe -- in Area C, Israeli-administered and secured territory under the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords -- in order to reach their homes in time for the Sabbath. 

They didn't make it.

Over the weekend, Palestinian Authority unity government terrorists also launched a number of rocket attacks from Gaza towards the coastal city of Ashkelon. Home Front Command moved an Iron Dome anti-missile battery to the outskirts of Ashdod, "just in case."  No one was injured in the attacks on Ashkelon, and the missiles were intercepted, but some property was damaged due to falling shrapnel. 

It's not really a way to live as a long-term situation. 

Last night (Sunday), Arab terrorists  carried out a drive-by shooting attack on the IDF checkpoint at the entrance to Jerusalem from the southern approach to Highway 60, the Gush Etzion tunnel road. That road is the main artery that leads to Efrat, the Jewish communities in the Gush Etzion bloc, Kiryat Arba-Hevron and ultimately, the southern Hevron Hills communities, Tel Arad, Arad and Be'er Sheva. Miraculously, no one was injured, but five bullet casings were later found at the site of the shooting. Obviously, the terrorists meant business.

This evening -- Monday -- Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the nation: 

"Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and GOC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon, we are here in the midst of a complex operation (<http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Issues/Pages/Behind-the-Headlines-The-Hamas-kidnapping-of-three-Israeli-teens-15-Jun-2014.aspx>). 

"We need to be prepared for the possibility that it may take time. This is a serious event and there will be serious consequences. We are working together in a considered, responsible and very determined manner.

"We are currently focused on one mission – bringing the boys, our boys who were abducted, home. We are also operating against Hamas. We have arrested over 100 Hamas activists (<http://www.idfblog.com/2014/06/15/idf-searches-hamas-kidnappers/>). We are also carrying out additional actions but I will not say any more.

"In recent days we have also seen an attempt to open an additional front in the Gaza Strip (<http://www.idfblog.com/2014/06/14/response-rocket-fire-idf-targets-gaza-terror-sites/>). We have taken strong action in response to this firing. If need be, we will take even stronger action. I promise that those who try to attack Israeli citizens will be hit.

"The IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) personnel and the police are doing very good work in the field and for this they have my gratitude and that of all Israelis. I would like to speak to the dear and splendid families of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. I have spoken with people who have visited you and I have also been impressed by my conversations with you, by your strength in this time of trial. I and all Israelis support you at this time. We are making every effort to bring the boys home.

"In conclusion, I would like to say something to the international community: I have just spoken with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. I told him that I appreciate the important and cogent thing he said, both in condemnation of this reprehensible act (<http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/06/227599.htm>) and regarding Israel's right to defend itself. 

"I have also heard from other elements who spoke out yesterday and this is important. But I expect all responsible elements in the international community – some of whom rush to condemn us for any construction in this place or for enclosing a balcony in Gilo – to strongly condemn this reprehensible and deplorable act of abducting three youths. 

"Whoever opposes terrorism needs to condemn terrorism wherever it is perpetrated. I expect other countries to join in these condemnations and to support the State of Israel's legitimate and necessary acts of self-defense."

It seems that we are once again gearing up for a military operation. hundreds of soldiers abruptly terminated their training exercised in the Golan Heights yesterday and were ordered to deploy to Hevron. A limited call-up of reservists was initiated as well, with some 2,500 soldiers expected to seal off the area around Hevron and other selected cities in Judea and Samaria.

The heat is on.


Sunday, June 01, 2014

'Altered Consciousness'

June 1, 2014 - It’s a fine state of affairs when a grown woman reaches the stage that her own children begin to clamor for her to smoke marijuana, and worse when it is a tradition begun by her husband’s sly suggestions.

This began years ago with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia; an opportunity to be seized upon, one might believe, without a second’s thought. 

Medical marijuana had just been introduced to the market as a legitimate option for pain relief in the United States. Never one to let the grass grow under his feet (forgive the pun) my husband – an old hippie – immediately began researching the latest information on this new remedy.

Medical marijuana grown at home.  Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/rollorollo69

I wanted nothing to do with it, of course. I was raised in a pretty conservative blue collar working-class home in southern Connecticut and knew the last thing I needed as an adult was to learn how to inhale a blunt. I had already been there and done that in high school and failed miserably. Nightmares of holding smoke in my mouth while trying to look like I was having a good time rose up in my mind and every fiber of my being rebelled.


A relative who had a real reason to use this stuff, meanwhile, who actually ended up having to at least try it in pill form, was given a prescription – and hated it. That relative handed the rest of the “precious” material to us, and my husband was overjoyed. At last! Pain-free nights for his wife and smiles perhaps for him too?

No. Zero response after swallowing one in the morning – and overnight, the most psychotic nightmares I had experienced since my pregnancies. Forget it. 

“One more try?” Okay. One more, for G-d and my husband. But it ended the same, with a few bloodthirsty demons thrown in for good measure. I chucked the package at my husband and figured he could have them, and the matter was put to rest.

Until we came to the Holy Land, and my children grew into their teens. Now they, too, have become aware of the “benefits” of medical marijuana, and now they are picking up where their father left off. Having recounted the failure of pills to do the job, my 16-year-old son reassured me last week, “Aw, Ma, that stuff, no good. You need to use the REAL thing. You need to SMOKE it, or use it in cookies or brownies. You don’t know what you’re talking about, Ma.”  (Nooooo. My B-12 injections -- courtesy of our genius Israeli family doctor, are doing fine, thank you. I am a happy camper.)

Visions of my husband and that doctor trying to teach me to suck in medication from an asthma inhaler when I had pneumonia still wander through my mind periodically. Both worked very hard, trying to 'remind' me of my high school years, hoping I could 'relearn' the skills needed to get the medication into my lungs. But no such luck. Comical as it was, the lesson still remains: 'inhaling' just wasn’t for me. Cigarettes or weed, legal or otherwise.

Are my kids disappointed?  You bet. Just like their father. Oh well. 

Perhaps they will be happier with the latest ICD diagnosis I recently happened to stumble upon in my travels:  ‘Consciousness Alterations.’