Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Green is My Desert

I visited Kibbutz Almog on Sunday, as part of a tour from the One Israel Fund. Only a half hour from Jerusalem on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, Kibbutz Almog is a green patch in the middle of tan rocky dunes. Established originally as a Nachal base in 1977, Almog became a kibbutz in 1979, and is part of the Megilot Regional Council.
We stopped by Almog for lunch. As we walked into the large empty dining room, I asked the manager where all the people were. She explained that the kibbutz dining room is for guests of its vacation apartments and visitors to its spa. Kibbutz members stopped eating together long ago, she said.
The kibbutz has cute little guest houses (above) that are surrounded by green spaces and loads of trees. An oasis in the desert, it's a good home base location for families exploring the Dead Sea area, Massada and the Jordan Valley. The number of kibbutznikim is small, but they supply all the services you might need for your vacation.
The fields of date trees nearby belong to Kibbutz Almog, and it seems they also have a share in the Ahava Factory.
Almog dates are exported throughout the world, our tour guide Eve Harow told us. "The kibbutz gets Jerusalem's grey water, which is used to water the date trees."
Eve noted that 78% of the water in Israel is recycled. The closest country to Israel is Spain with 18%.
Marc Provisor, One Israel Fund's director in Israel, reminded the visitors that "All the places int eh Jordan Valley forget that the world wants them to give up their land, as well [as Judea and Samaria]."
A peek across the Dead Sea revealed miles of green agricultural land and fertile soil. Why shouldn't it be? Eve explained, "Israel gives 50 million cubic meters of water to Jordan, rain or shine." If we had a little of that water, perhaps our desert would be green too.

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