lou sleepingWhat can you do?
What can you do?
What can you do with a bed?

Paint it red!
Paint it red, yellow, blue
And paint the covers too!
Paint purple, orange, brown on it
And then jump up and down on it!

Oh, no! No! NO!
What are beds for really?

That’s right!
Good night…sleep tight!

What Can You do with a Shoe?
by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

The last page shows the darkened bedroom of the two main characters of the book who, after trying all kinds of silly things with shoes, brooms and the like, finally go to bed.

“Savta (grandma), then there is a siren and they go to the miklat (safe room).” Lou continues the story with his own narrative.

“Is that what happens at night?” I am kind of shocked by his matter-of-fact attitude.

“Yes, there are sirens and we go to the miklat (safe room).”

“Does mommy take you to the miklat?”

“Yes, mommy takes me. We have to be careful from the rockets.”

“How do you feel in the miklat?”

“Good. It is safe there. The sirens are scary. I don’t like them. I want them to stop.”

“Why are the sirens scary?”

“There are rockets. Rockets are dangerous. I want the rockets to go away.”

Lou is only just three years old and he has only heard three or four sirens. Yet the lingo of war is part of his vocabulary. He sees beds in a room at night and remembers when his parents took him from his bed at night to the miklat.

I wonder about the long term effects of this war on my kids and my grandson.

I guess I don’t need to wonder so much. The long term effects have been studied already in places like Sderot. Kids who live with uncertainty, fear, economic loss. Kids who always know where the closest shelter is and how far you can get in 15 seconds.

Luckily, where we live, we have 90 seconds. Once you see how long 90 seconds, you wonder why it is so hard to get things done in life. Ninety seconds is a long time.

It’s a topic now.  Perhaps THE topic in Israel.  I was priviledged to get an inside look at the situation in Gaza as I took a tour in February, 2014 of the Gazan crossing points. I am happy I was able to see these areas from the inside. I went into the goods crossing at Kerem Shalom and the beautiful land terminal between Gaza and Israel (for people) located at Erez. At the time, I wrote down some “Scary Gaza facts”. According to the guide, Miri Eisin, these “Scary facts” would lead to a major meltdown in Gaza in 6 months (pretty accurate).


1. Population: 1.5-2 million residents. 50% under 18 years old. 40% Unemployed. The Palestinian Authority maintains 6 different security organizations in Gaza. Hamas employs its own security organizations. Many of the working people in Gaza are employed by these two. There are many many people employed in the public sector and they are doing parallel work. Talk about bureaucracy!! And 40% unemployment means 300,000-400,000 unemployed people.

2. Refugees: 80% of Gaza’s residents are refugees. The refugees receive money from UNRWA. The United Nations now has a problem – Syria. Syria is demanding more money from the United Nations through UNHCR and there is less money for UNRWA.
Today there are 150 international organizations operating in Gaza and $500 million spent in Gaza on humanitarian aid. That’s a lot of tomatoes. But there is the threat that this money will be diverted for use in Syria which is scary for the people who are depending on it for their basic needs.

3. Resources: Almost no potable water exists in Gaza. There are 250 legal wells and 6000 illegal wells. According to Mekorot, the Israel national water authority, by 2020 there will be an irreversible loss of water from the aquifer. Gaza receives clean water from Mekorot, with the Palestinian Authority paying for a percentage.
There are only 6-8 hours of electricity a day. This is being provided by Israel and 65% being paid for by the Palestinian Authority.
Notice the trend? The Palestinian Authority pays for Hamas’s electric and water and gets nothing in return. The Palestinian Authority does not control the Gaza strip and Hamas does what it likes there.

4. Access: Gaza receives all its goods/services through Israel. Why? Doesn’t this sound unfair? EGYPT CLOSED THEIR BORDER WITH GAZA BECAUSE GAZA WAS A BAD INFLUENCE ON THE EGYPTIAN POLITICAL PROCESS. So just to put it out there – Egypt closed off their connection to Hamas because they were too unstable and extreme. Doesn’t it seem odd then, that Israel is left holding the bag, providing the only conduit for food, medicine, technology, water, electric with the very organization and the very territory which seeks to destroy her? It is one of the reasons that Egypt has a vested interest in ceasefire. They are being practical – a calm Gaza means a calmer Cairo.

What is the answer? I don’t know. I often feel that the birth of nation’s follows the path of the maturity of people. If that is the case, it is time for Gaza to shake off the adolescent “It’s not my fault” attitude and start behaving as an adult. I wonder how many ceasefires accepted unilaterally by Israel and broken by Hamas it will take before the population reaches its breaking point. How many chances do you give the young teen before you need to have some tough love?

I look forward to the day when the “parent” Gaza takes after her children and has an eye for the long term safety and security for all. I am pretty sure that it needs to start with Gaza owning up to its own issues.

Until then, I will be happy that Lou knows what to do and where to go when he hears a siren.

“What are beds for really?

That’s right!
Good night…sleep tight.”

And may we all sleep tight; peacefully dreaming of a better world where children don’t need to know about rockets and shelters.

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