Encounter 169 – 11.6.2021

Just as Shmulik was pouring four cups of coffee (Nahshi will come later…) the first four guests arrived to the circle. Ayelet, Mani, Ziona and Yoram. Ayelet has been several times and Ziona, who she and Yoram came from the north, is very intrigued by the phenomenon of a group of people, not young (to say the least…) sitting on elementary school chairs, around a green “classroom table”, in a remote pine grove in the Be’eri Reserve…

I present the circle and Ziona constantly interrupts me in an attempt to understand what… what… who and why… the best explanation is the circle itself…
Shmulik explains the rationale for which he is here. Asks Ziona that when she returns home, she will tell on about us. He expands a bit on Ramy (who has not yet arrived…) who as the founder of the idea and a native of the place, best tells the story of the space. Shmulik says that in the last war he stayed at home because this is home…
Hayuta tries to convince Ziona that if she listens and lets the circular speech flow, she will understand the rationale. Hayuta comes occasionally to reinforce her meaning in life.
Roni knows Gaza far beyond the popular knowledge gained in the country. It’s much easier to hate when you don’t see a face, she says. 50% of the Gaza population, under the age of 18 – have not seen or know an Israeli who is not a soldier. When Roni decided it was important to get to know, she started driving patients (“the road to recovery”). On the ride she listened. Sometimes it was unpleasant to hear. There are those she keeps in touch with. She has a friend who she helped go to school in the US. Connects between schools, artists, young people. She comes here because she wants to convey the message that it is possible. Both peoples have a historical affinity for this place. We must reconcile. It is a circle of listeners. Tells about Uri who was last week and whose statements are difficult to contain in relation to the Arabs. He told her that he came “because here, people listen to him.” It was time we stopped saying there is no one to talk to, says Roni. And the world and recently a lot of groups from preparatory schools and schools are coming.
Ayelet was born in Kiryat Bialik and until the age of 18 she knew nothing about Gaza. Got there during military service. After the army she lived in Yamit and there she also got married. She has a lot of experiences in common with Gazans. She is impressed by the perseverance of the circle… It is exciting to know that we are present every Friday.
Ziona was born in an area in a moshav near Ofakim. She moved north as a child. Gaza was a place of shopping and freedom. Great beaches and streets with the smell of fish… Now Gaza is bombs and missiles… When Roni spoke she hears hope. The idea of ​​the “lighthouse” is great! But lacks the public effect in her opinion.
Yoram was born and raised in the valley. Has never been in contact with Gaza. Defines himself as leftist… The idea of ​​the circle sounds great but a lot of talk and… What else? Do you have a feeling that something happened in Israel thanks to your sitting here? He asks. The situation is getting worse on both sides. Why do young people not come here? The extremist people, are the ones who set the tone in this country and this circle, far from their hearts. Good things do not happen… He does not see them (the good things…) and does not feel them.
Mani has a lot of contact with Gaza from the past, now and probably in the future as well. When he worked at Yamit, he lived in the Tel Aviv area.
Hanan, Limor, Nachashi, Maharan and Amichai arrive.
Hanan says that the last time he came to the “circle” was three weeks ago, after the ceasefire “broke out”. Since then, there have been a lot of dramas. Hanan continues to strengthen hope here and in Jerusalem on Saturday. In his opinion, the activity in Jerusalem and the bridges “persuaded” Likud members not to go to the polls. The connection to the circle is that civilian activity can change!
Limor comes because she has less hope… In this situation, dominance is dictated by violence. The last round was more violent. Limor lives under two “hats”. One “hat” is her work at the Resilience Center where she supports the victims of mental crises and treats anger and frustration, and a second “hat” are her personal opinions that she should, to some extent, keep to herself. Limor has an idea to initiate a move through which you can feel real action. She wants to ask all therapists to go through an anxiety treatment workshop. Raise funds to fund the workshop and also bring therapists from Gaza. She has a fantasy that she works hand in hand with a Gazan therapist… wants to bring a film created after a the last war and screen it in front of all the therapists.
Amichai came because of Nahshi… he’s a lawyer. Came today with Maharan with whom he met a lot in court. As a teenager he worked a lot with Gazans that his uncles, Earthworks contractors, employed. There are colleagues in the profession for whom he knows that the Gazans are Damon… He has a friend from the moshav in whose house a Gazan worked who actually raised him as a mother. He too had strong friends, on other days, who were really a part of his life. He tells his friends that it is possible. Hope the circles grow.
Maharan saw this morning the coalition agreement with the “Ra’am” party. The agreement benefits the Arabs in the long run. Israeli Arabs will continue to “observe” what is happening in Gaza. Mansour Abbas told Sinuar that he “will not cause problems” until they form a government. In the war, everyone loses. Read in the Egyptian press that al-Sisi brings heavy equipment for the reconstruction of Gaza and it will bring Egypt 500 million $. Biden wants Gaza Egyptian and not Qatari. No longer free from the noise of the Middle East because the Chinese are at the gate and need to be valued in front of them.
Jaber, who is known to all of us from al-Zarnok, says that “an unrecognized village” is worth a trash can in the corner of the country… he came because he feels missing us… the first time he participated in “circle”, he felt that . Some light inside the black… We must continue to operate through the lighthouse. In Gaza, the situation is bad and it is a human act to worry about friends and neighbors. Who started or who was before it does not matter. Let’s work for both of us together.
Calling from Gaza, to Roni’s cell phone. Ramy takes the mobile from Roni and makes a round between everyone and everyone says a few words of greeting and sympathy.

Rami says that last night he was in a tent on the beach in Ashdod. Find a quiet place, but ATVs got there… heard they speak Arabic and all at once, all the “work” he does with himself “disappears”. Thoughts began to surface about the clashes that took place in the cities during the war. Although the Arabic language is so beloved by him, he was “frozen.” He told himself that it was sad that the statements, that if we persisted in fences and separations we would not be able to contain the hostility, would come true. His soul is tired. Here in the pine grove, near his house, where the tanks have traveled and the planes have passed, near Gaza which does not go out of his mind, he finds little refuge. Gaza is a clear knowledge that everything is shattered. The political change is causing a shock to many people. And the mental load only increases. Suddenly the demons come from the past and defeat it. The mind is exhausted. Finds some comfort in the fact that there is no longer any energy for hostility either… The war in Gaza tried to ignite hostility in the streets, but in his opinion it did not really work. The earth is not really burning and maybe this will lead to a new way. For that it’s worth every second he sits here. Gaza is not going anywhere and people are not disappearing. It is a joy mixed with sadness. Very soon we will see something else, he says.
Radir says Gaza is a big prison and any of the leaders who want to make “shofuni” use Gaza. Gaza is present here (in the “circle”…) because we are here. Even the media ignores. Killing children in war is the worst thing. Participates in the “Peace Square” (of the Bereaved Families Forum) in Zoom, and someone said there that because the Gazans responded, they deserve all the respect. This radius caused mental anguish, hoping for a more containing discourse. When she saw her family’s assessments in Acre in the face of the violence, in the clashes that took place in the streets, she was horrified. A friend from Lod told her that her neighbor, with his weapon, protected the neighborhood and now it is difficult for her to ask for the obvious, that it is to collect the illegal weapon…
Nahshi comes as he can… it is the anchor of the things he does to feel that he relates to what is being done around it. Gets to know more and more people and learns. This is the practical thing he can do to realize even a little of the potential for an encounter with the Gazans. Know every Friday that this is the first important thing to do. Maybe maybe maybe now we can say that there is some shift in a better direction…
This is for today… Next week we are supposed to host teachers from the “Herzliya Gymnasium” school in Tel Aviv…

We were: Hayuta, Shmulik, Oded, Roni, Ayelet, Mani, Ziona, Yoram, Rami, Rami, Hanan, Limor, Nahashi, Maharan, Jaber, Amichai, Radir.

Wrote: Oded.

Encounter 168 – 4.6.2021

Both the “circle” of the day and that of last week, were characterized by “sitting on the edge of the chair” … that is, those who do not agree with the speaker’s words, slide to the edge of the chair impatiently to respond immediately … Luckily for us, there is still respect for the speaking procedure used in the circle and we let the speaker finish his / her words …
It opens with a discussion around the chapter “Hagar” in Shelly Eshkoli’s book, “Postcards”. Shelley joined the circle today. In her book, Shelley illuminates women who accompany the biblical story. Reading the chapter on Hagar, clarified to me elements in the story that I did not give my opinion on.
Then a discussion began on the issue of regulating the unrecognized villages against the background of the formation of the government of change.
Uri: is it interesting to know how many Arabs of Israel think it is good to be citizens of the State of Israel under Jewish rule? And does it give them a better standard of living …
Roni says that both peoples see this space as a homeland and the Palestinian’s right to see his homeland here does not fall short of the Jew’s right.
I ask the participants, if each of us had the exclusive right to decide who they “share” in the country, who would they join and on what background? Uri responds quickly and says he would not share Arabs, but Druze did.
Jaber moves to the “end of the chair” and responds immediately when Uri finishes … He says that from his acquaintance with the Druze, those who live in the Golan Heights, are determined to remain Syrians. He also says that Ben-Gurion did not agree that the Bedouin would be in the army because then he would have to give them equal citizenship conditions…
From here we connect to the matter for which we have gathered, “a circle for the Gaza consciousness.” Jaber is already in the run and he continues to tell about his village El-Zarnouk, but repeatedly emphasizes that he keeps coming because of the unbearable situation in Gaza. Gaza is neighbors, he says. If they thrive the whole area will thrive. They are an organ from the spatial body. If part of the body is sick, the whole body suffers.
Nahshi found on his way to come here an opportunity to remind himself that there are sufferers in the area. In our meetings he learned that Gaza had a glorious past. The future can be good, too. The presence here is the little grain of sand that it can contribute to tilting the scales in the direction of speech and reconciliation. Calls on everyone on his side to come and say it out loud. He has cautious hope in the new government. The difference is that now there are expectations and from the previous government were not.
Uri thinks that Gaza has a role that not everyone accepts. A role assigned to it by the other Arab countries in the destruction of Israel. In his opinion, they are not interested in peace but receive money from Arab countries to expel the Jews from here. The Palestinian state is not in the forefront of their minds. If anyone in Gaza thinks otherwise, he can not even say that to his child, because then they will kill him. If someone had thought otherwise he would have already found a way to say it. But as long as they are paid they must perform their job because for that they get the money.
Roni takes care of the neighbors and discovers new friends every day. There are partners and there are those to talk to. In Gaza, there are partners in her opinion who do, speak and initiate for the sake of speech and meeting. There are those who are afraid to speak and there are those who are willing to speak. During the war, they called and asked how she was. She did not want to compare pain and suffering with Gazan friends during the war, but was also unwilling to apologize for being well protected and having no casualties on her side. They have the same right as us with the same arguments. We both have a right to this place. There are solutions. Roni appeals to Hamas to allow dialogue in any way possible.
Mark has very little to do with Gaza. He comes here to remind himself of the situation and is aware that he is to blame for their situation: his national aspirations have caused their problems. Neighborhood does not push him into action. Does not feel he has much to do. Checking his opinions with himself every day. Engaging in academic discussion is an escape from responsibility. Here in the “circle” is among people who understand it. Today, it deals mainly with climatic issues.
Brian has been teaching debate in schools for 5 years. What draws him here is the ability to respect the other’s mind. Restrain judgment and for a short time listen. He comes because he believes in something whose essence is to sit and listen. When you listen, you give value to a person regardless of his opinion. The politics are less interesting. Donates according to his ability. The only Gazan I met was Rami on the phone. It is good to keep hope.
Salameh remembers from childhood trips to Gaza. Everyone is at sea and the fun is great. In recent years everything has turned upside down. In his workplace he cannot express an opinion that everyone will attack him. Glad to hear different opinions here while maintaining listening.
Mahran is somewhat optimistic. After 73 years people realized that coexistence was urgently needed. He once attended a conference of Yesh Atid and talked to Yair Lapid. The change now sets a precedent and creates a new situation under the Israeli flag. The leaders decided yes, it is necessary to unite despite the difficulties they tried to outwit them. Hopefully this government will be good for Gaza as well. It is hard for him to believe that changes will be made. Too many contrasts. But yes maybe under the influence of the RAAM political party there will be relief. Even under occupation, if there is a good economic situation there is no rebellion. Two scenarios. Or war again, or a long-standing hudna which is a global interest. We want the economic interest in the reconstruction of Gaza. If there is peace here, it is essential for the region.
When it is Shmulik’s turn to speak, he first responds to the question I asked at the beginning of the discussion … yes, he is willing to accept within his political framework any person as a person. In the context of the new government, he says that even in other countries, despite the contradictions in the various political systems, they knew how to reach agreements. Believes that the political issue will be resolved in our region as well. Every destruction of a house hurts him as if his house had been destroyed. The current situation is solvable.
At the end, when everyone had got up from their seats and we started to settle down, contact was made with Gaza and Roni passed between us all with the cell phone and greeted them.
P.S.
Two “big” events in the planning (initiated by Nomika). One – meeting with the principal, teachers, students and parents from the Herzliya Gymnasium in two weeks – 18/6
The second – a meeting with Ashraf al-Ajrami, head of the committee for interaction with Israeli society on 2/7.

We were today:
Shmulik, Shelly, Brian, Mark, Roni, Oded, Uri, Nahashi, Eviatar (Neria-child …), Jaber, Salma, Maharan.
Rote: Oded.

Encounter 167 – 28.5.2021

Today, 25 people spoke at the lighthouse. At the beginning of the “circle” presences Dina, Shmulik, Roni, Nomika, Nahshi, Mir and Oded.
The war we went through and it’s gliding to the streets of the mixed cities, is still present in the discourse.
Dina says that if the Arab citizens of Israel felt good they would not switch to Palestinian flags instead of Israeli flags on balconies. This is an extreme act in her opinion.
Shmulik says that if you want a partnership, you need to expand the socio-political range and not just focus on Zionism, the JNF and more.
Dina thinks it is important to give Arabs the good feeling they share. This is where the behavior comes from. Supports working with young people.
Salim arrives and with him Dor. Followed by Jaber and Ramy.
Salim tells a little about himself and the period of his studies in Israel. A story about his family that he cannot visit. If he visits, it’s a risk that he may not be able to return. His family stayed away from the bombings. The family dispersed to reduce the risk … electricity was problematic. The food was enough for a few days. The feelings were mostly anger. Now there is some kind of relaxation. There is some hope. There was no safe place.
Rami says that during the war he was not in the area (working in the Arava) and even shut himself off from hearing. Because he was out of place he could find an inner voice for himself. Deep inner sadness. The only thing that interested him in the context of the war was what was happening to humans. Wants to embrace the suffering. In his inner sense, there is no limit, we are all together. It is difficult for him to define in words, the feelings. The circle gives him strength now, when he is in distress.
Nomika brings a song by Leah Goldberg. “denial”. Tells of a friend who also traveled to the Arava and preferred to seal himself, like Rami …
Mir says Gaza is an interesting place that has good people like us. Hope to visit there.
Nahshi comes because it’s the little he does to keep a voice inside him that recognizes the suffering on the other side. They suffer from what we do.
According to Shmulik, the fence imprisons both sides. Expects a day for the fence to fall and sees itself as a partner in activities for the fall of the fence.
Dina- Gaza is a forgotten place from the hearts of the people. You can ignore and you can do. Everyone is supposed to do the least for a better world. She works with the feeling that she is doing something for a better world. Calls on all of us to do together with her.
Roni does everything she can for the people of Gaza, those who are in contact with her. It is everywhere where the voice of Gaza can be heard. We blame each other and need to stop and let everyone live. There is a speaking partner and we let the extremists run us. She had a hard time in the war. She was afraid to leave the shelter and at the same time thought about her comrades in Gaza. It is an internal rift. But she continues to be a bridge to the Gazans. It also helps to reach the media in Israel.
Eyal and Boaz arrive.
Jaber feels an inner need to come into the circle and that is really part of it. It is a strong sense of satisfaction that does him good. Gaza is a family, neighbors, the Gaza Strip is his natural area, not Tel Aviv. Their situation is terrible and unbearable. Hamas found an excuse and used what was happening in Jerusalem to erupt.
Eyal – connects to maintain hope and light. On a day-to-day basis he engages a lot in politics in his various roles (the Meretz party and Mate Asher regional council) but, he says, he will try to keep the rules of the “circle”. History has taught us what hatred is, he says. He chooses not hatred but hope. Initiate a meeting at a school in an Arab village with educators to talk about the incidents of violence, not to lose the togethernes and what can be done. In addition, he met with coordinators at the Arab Society in Givat Haviva. Conversation with Arab female leadership. He also met with heads of authorities in the Galilee. One of the heads of the Arab councils in the Galilee told him about dealing with what the young people see on the Arab social networks (Al Jazeera) and how he physically prevented teenagers from going wild. Eyal believes in living together despite what we see around. No need to accept it. Need to fight over dismantling settings. Today, the word “peace” is less used even in encounters between a person and his friend. There were a lot of intersections in the protest and that’s important, but to make an impact, space movements need to connect to a political system.
Comes maharan.
Ramy says national symbols are meant to separate communities. Since the dawn of history. The one up the creek sets the rules for the one down. When he arrives, he has a lot of happiness. The simplicity with which the “circle” takes place, school chairs, coffee … when he saw Salim, he was moved. The naturalness with which Salim feels with us to be here, it’s exciting. This gives Ramy hope that change can happen soon. Thanks to a circle that allows near / far voices to be heard. Knowing that there is such a place does him good.
Dor Tells about herself. Came because she wanted to ask herself questions of identity. Recently, the conflict between the urge to be here and feel at home (even though she was not born here) and the fear of shock at the base of our society. Need to create a displacement. Infrastructure needs to be built for the day after.
Salim lost friends in the wars that were. The people, are the ones who make the place where they are home. For the first time experience the war from the other side: see the difference in the way of thinking. To feel at home, you need to have confidence. Physical, economic, national and more. It’s fascinating for him to hear how people here see the other side. Where he is here in the country, people who are far from where he was born speak differently from people who are close to where he was born. As close as those in the circle.
A group of motorcyclists arrive: Roy, Dror, Yoram, Yavin, Yogev and Roi. Uzi, Malki, Radir Yaela and Talila.
Rami introduces the residents of the circle to the “lighthouse”.
Salim continues: It is difficult for him to enjoy his studies because he cannot visit his family. Takes care of the lives of the people who live next door to his family. During the war many questions came to his mind. The answers helped him understand himself more. Glad he’s here at the lighthouse.
Talila has memories of trips to Gaza. Glad to meet and get to know Salim. Works as a filmmaker and dermatherapist. Works with children. Sometimes it is hard for them to believe that she has Arab friends. A girl told her that if people quarreled a lot over something unimportant, it will not be.
Maharan begins with a historical fact … Many peoples lived here. In the last war he took care of friends who live here in the area. During the war, he informed his wife that she was getting ready to host … that was a real concern. He said he knew before everyone else that there would be a war. According to the helicopters that passed over his place of residence … and yet, when the war began, he felt lost, defenseless. There are no police and no one to protect. There was chaos. The police were in chaos. This war, gives indications for the future …
Uzi met many Arabs as an Orientalist. In Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and various conferences. Once, in a lecture to educated people in Egypt, they asked him who the Palestinians were like … he said that most of all the peoples in the region are similar to us, the Jews … In his opinion, Gaza could be Singapore of the Middle East. Both sides are to blame but we are strong so we need to initiate the solution.
Malki – happy to come today. Identifies with the lighthouse sentence that says “to the place where light is lit one can navigate hope.”
Roy: Gaza is a thorn in the side of the world. A half pin that hurts the whole world. Represents the rift between the Arab world and the Western world. All the terrorist attacks in the world are linked there. But need to get to know each other and he’s glad he knew Salim. The personal acquaintance between human beings, this is the solution to world peace.
Dror opens and tells us that “there is a lack of understanding here.” He explains. All the problems come from there. They need to get organized on their own. They choose the option that is convenient for them. His knowledge of Gaza is from the media. Human beings live in Gaza. The question is why do they choose the way they choose …
Yoram opens with “Congratulations to those who are willing to live here.” Yoram worked and served in Gaza without fear and without weapons. In his opinion education is the problem. He does not know who is responsible for education there but the name of the problem. We and they educate differently. When shooting, you react, no matter who started. Funds that do not go to education are transferred there. Hope it will be okay and that the education there will change.
Yavin- he does not have much knowledge. For him, Gaza is a topic that is talked about among friends. It all starts and ends with education and does not know how to change it. He has never met Gazans and never heard of Gaza in the education system in the country.
Yogev – connects to the issue of education as an element that can create closeness between the two sides. The circles that allow listening are the way to the solution. The State of Israel is here to stay and they have to come to terms with it. He asks Salim if such a circle can exist in the place where he was born, and if so, is it possible to speak freely?
Salim answers yes, that in conversations between friends you can say everything, but not in public …
Yogev goes on to say that the discussion should take place at eye level. Turns to Salim again and tells him I wish he could speak to him in his own language.
Roi: Peace between leaders is not peace. It comes voluntarily for political gain. Gaza is human and it is difficult to see the bodies of children coming out of the rubble. Tells of a study he read. A Japanese scientist spoke for a month only nice words to the plants in his house and they grew. Then he spoke to them for a month in harsh words and the plants withered. Brings from the words of “Pirkei Avot” that jealousy is a difficult emotion. They, he says, envy us for our success. Lust for the other’s garden is also a motivation for confrontation. Once you give a horizon of livelihood and prosperity you create hope. In favor of dialogue from a place where both sides do not lower their hands to each other.
Radir states that peace happens between peoples. She tells of the riots in Acre, her hometown. Her family lives there. At her parents home, they prepared to defend themselves against violence by force, in contrast to the education they received. Gaza is an easy place to burn and the leaders use it. Believes in discourse at eye level. Understood the need to speak and began peace and reconciliation activities. She’s tired of definitions. It hurts her to see children suffering and burnt fields.
Yaela: She left Kissufim at war. Opposite Kissufim, a few hundred meters away, is the city of Khan Yunis. Yaela sees the neighbors from her home and cannot ignore their daily life with the suffering and the good. Tells the guests (the bikers …) that it is important to her that they came and wants to say that the neighborhood is desirable to us.
Roni asked to summarize and addressed the issue of “education” which was repeated in the guests words. It tells of collaborations between young people between the two sides that are not published and do not reach the public.
We were – Mir, Nahshi, Shmulik, Dina, Roni, Rami, Nomika, Dor, Salim, Oded, Jaber, Boaz, Eyal, Malki, Radir, Uzi, Yaela, Talila, Maharan, Roy, Dror, Yoram, Yavin, Yogev and Roi.
Wrote – Oded.

Encounter 165 – May 14, 2021

In ‘regular’ times between denial and forgetting, we sit in Migdalor’s circle, meet ourselves and travelers happening to pass by, speak about ‘Gaza consciousness’, try to extricate from our circle mates’ consciousness memory, emotion and discovery of this space. We listen to people who, all of a sudden, without previous planning, while being served with coffee, have to relate to Gaza and say what it means for them – sometimes this is surprising, at times obvious and expected, and always making up a human puzzle that constitutes the larger picture of our living space.
Today, for the time in a long time, we could not physically reach the sulfur plant. The Israeli army spread barriers on access toads and prevented our entering the Migdalor site (we tried).
But consciousness cannot be blocked. For a short while, the awareness of Gaza’s space blows up for the whole world to see and hear, a big bang. For a short while only. Then Gaza will be forgotten again in a dark corner of one’s mind.
In this short interim, denial and forgetting blow up in our face in blood and fire, destruction and bereavement, rage and revenge. Humans who received a definite and timed lifetime, lose their lives. The criminals pad themselves in rights that were supposedly given to them by god and history.
On ‘regular’ days I add the list of participants in the circle. Today I wish to name the victims of this round of the Gaza wars. A very partial list, out of the Israeli press:
Ido, Omar, Amira, Abed, Bara, Nabil, Osmat, Raed, Zakariya, Moussa, Bashir, Mustafa, Saber, Mohammad, Moammad, Ibrahim, Yousef/Yosef, Rahaf, Yazin, Hussein, Ahamad, Salim, Sahumiya, Leah, Khaleel, Nadine, Nella.
Wrote: Oded

Encounter 164 – May 7, 2021

It’s already 3 p.m. I try to think how to summarize a circle where only the regulars were sitting. Perhaps I’ll write that about 100 meters from us there was still a piece of wood lightly smoking (Shmulike put it out with a single liter of water…), perhaps about my collecting chairs as I looked for those taken and not returned (it already turned 3:20 p.m.). Perhaps…
A group of travelers disembarks and enters the sulfur plant (we are already seated in our summer residence, outside). Nahshi yells at them to “come have some coffee” and gesticulates his invitation. They stare at us and glide inside. As they exit, they approach hesitantly, but our determined invitation won out. They sit with us. Rami arrives too. Nice! We have a circle!
I open it by telling them about us, the “migdalor” (lighthouse in Heb.), about ‘Gaza consciousness’ and the reasons for which I have been here every Friday for over 3 years.
Nahshi who kept his word and served them coffee, tells about his pals in Gaza, how for a long time he suppressed it, and then came sobering. How things came together and ‘woke him up’ to action, and how he tries to ‘fix’ things through the Migdalor meetings and though them also meets and hears interesting people.
Maharan says that until he was 14 years old he was in Gaza every week. His uncle worked in with the governate there. He was there again 5 years ago, saw a lot of destruction because of the Israeli bombings. The governor’s building still stands… Here’s no steady supply of electricity. He saw how generators and other means were used instead. Yesterday he was in Hebron with the family. In the evening when everyone goes out after the iftar (the dinner that breaks the fast) Hebron looks vibrant and sated. The Gaza matter must be solved before it blows up in our face. He says that the coming government in Israel will be even worse than the present one!
Malki says that as soon as she came to the circle for the first time, she was captivated in this island of sanity. People come out different from how they entered. There are phone talks with Gazans, and it gives them strength.
Uzi is short in words, there are still many speakers and it’s already 4 o’clock. “Gaza is deep sorrow and a horrific miss”. Both sides are responsible but we are the stronger side and must be the first fixers.
Rami speaks about his family and its history which is the story of this space. Gaza is home for him. He was born and grew up in this area and the space is the story of his life. In recent years he has been discovering the narrative that is different from what he was told and told himself. So he listens to other voices. Gaza is love. Loving the voices, the winds, its glorious history. It’s a space of junctions. When he meets people and tells the story again and again it reinforces his feeling that we are stuck in a failure that can and should be fixed. Change consciousness. His Gaza and The Gazans’ Gaza is a shared space. It’ll be over, he says, sprout anew as after the fires.
Shoshi is from the north. For her Gaza is what she hears in the media. She feels empathy for the Israelis living near the fence. As a mother she does not want her son to serve in the army opposite Gaza. She wishes to empower us. For her in the north it’s like living opposite Suria and Lebanon. Perhaps a new government holds hope.
For Yifat this is a trip to get to know the area, the people who experience the bomb alerts. Gaza scares her. A place that produces evil. She wishes to believe that there are such circles on the other side, but does not believe it. She has demonstrated a lot this year, against Netanyahu and his government. The great question mark arises, whether anything could happen here…
Dina has been affected by all the confrontations ever since she immigrated to Israel. She cannot understand the hostility. She tries to understand why people wish to hurt each other and do wrong. She thinks of us, not of them. She saw what happened to her daughter in the 2nd Lebanon War. After this visit with us, she will try to help benevolence proliferate.
Tzlila remembers Gaza from her 10th grade, when she came to pick tomatoes at Kibbutz Holit (then one of the settler-colonies in the Gaza Strip). During the First Intifada her life partner was in Gaza and she was worried. She went to visit there with her kids because he was serving as an officer at HQ. Lately her son served in the southern Israeli division. She has love-hate relations with Gaza but ‘their’ extremism has the upper hand.
Ofer says we surprised them in a big way… “we didn’t plan to have coffee in the middle of our trip, and suddenly out of nowhere comes the invitation to sit and sip coffee with us…” It’s been their second traveling day around here. It would be nice if the other side could show openness like ours… This could be an economic and touristic paradise. There is no hope. The real obstacles live in the minds. He feels we have an extraordinary circle here…
Nitzan served years in the Israeli defense system. Hope is important. Gaza tells a complex story. There is a very challenging religious and national friction. Sinwar of the Hamas was discussed. He thinks deals could be closed with him. Gaza is a security and propaganda challenge. A mechanism could be created that would lift Gaza our of the deep hole it is in now. We cannot help much, this depends mainly on their conduct. Good will and passing goods through is simply not enough. Leadership is needed on both sides. Someone should take it upon themselves. It’s a longevity project, for it will take much time…
For Akiva Gaza is a source of sorrow. He remembers it from his army-reserves duty although he tries to escape his memories. He hopes that circles such as ours would help improve people’s consciousness of Gaza.
Raviv says he is pragmatic in his worldview. Our side does a lot, no other country would. He waits for the day when their side would grow a leadership that would industrialize them, initiate economy projects, where the infrastructure should be democracy and industry. That’s how it works in this world. If they don’t undergo this industrialization process, their situation will not chance. He is ready to send them consulting help. If they don’t become such factors, nothing will change and everything will continue till the end of time. He speaks of the Angola model in which he was involved, and learned that industrialization and international entrepreneurship raised the country.
Shmulik is optimistic, because history shows that conflicts find resolutions and things that seemed irresolvable did resolve. There is indirect communication with other side. The fence lies between two suffering sides. He knows Gazans who worked with him and remained friends.
Jaber tells of himself and about the unrecognized community in which he lives. His life is ‘garbage’ but he comes to our circle because he has connected to the people and to compassion. He feels that the Gazans are living in a worse situation than his. The State of Israel has targeted their most important infrastructures and the Israeli authorities don’t want us to know this. The rulers of both sides do not care about the citizens. The people on each side don’t know about the others. He feels that in the ‘Migdalor’ everyone is considered. We need to be with him, with the same interests.
Nitzan claims from personal knowledge, of talks in which he took part, that the Gazans did not want to build power stations, did not want to bear responsibility. They do not want it, and that is the reason for the chaos that reigns.
Rami tells him that his absolute talk is difficult to hear. He speaks of a single chapter out of a continuum. We try to be less knowledgeable and less ‘right’. Complexity arrives to places that we don’t know and need to check and learn the whole time. A border drawn in 1949 is a new line in history. We need to re-examine the perspective on which we grew up. Things should be looked at differently, and less righteously.
We could have spoken on for hours, but evening was near and 4 p.m. was long gone. Naturally we invite all our myriad readers and ‘rememberers’ to come early, between
1 and 4 p.m. every Friday.
Participants: Shmulik, Nahshi, Oded, Maharan, Rami, Jaber, Malki, Uzi, Shoshi, Yifat, Dina, Tzlila, Ofer, Nitzan, Akiva and Raviv.
Wrote: Oded. Translation from Hebrew: Tal Haran.

Encounter 163 – April 30, 2021

Last weekend and early this week we had another ‘round’ of fire. And the Meron Mt. disaster occurred that last night. These two events were discussed during our first hour at the Migdalor circle by its present veterans (Shmulik, Nahshi, Rami, Hayuta, Bella, Malki and Oded). We spoke about ‘responsibility’, ‘authority’, ‘procedures’, ‘the acquitted and the guilty’ etc., as is wont by people who are right…
A bit past 14:00 we had a turnover. First came Hanan, then Noga and Shaul, and then Ayelet, Haran and Uzi. We ‘hunted’ 5 travelers who stopped at our Migdalor on their way to a wedding.
Here Rami put on his facilitator expression and we began a real ‘circle’.
This week, for Rami Gaza means ‘questions’. His mother says he must be part of the planning for rounds of rockets, because every time these are launched, he happens not to be present at Beeri. Rami asks who loves him that much in Gaza and takes care to launch those rockets when he is gone… The quiet is slippery, he says, and surprising.
Shaul says that these past few years he feels he can himself an Israeli Arab. He is part of the classical Israeli track, but something lately feels as if he embodies this combination and it is unique for him. Shaul suggests we begin with hudna, a kind of temporary armistice, at least for some time. Gaza is an opportunity that has been passed over. “Peace” is a bit much, let’s begin with hudna.
Noga tells us about a project she shares with Liora and their friends in Gaza. Noga likes to be here, at the Migdalor, it inspires her. Even if it doesn’t suggest immediate solutions.
Rami says that the place attracts artists who wish to express themselves. There is something optimistic about a film. He sat with the young group at Sderot and watched a first projection of a film. Much excitement in the air.
Noga adds information about the project Liora and Adir are engaged in with Gazan artists. There are lost of stories around this work, some of which are still confidential.
Bella is confused this week. She was in Elat when the area was on fire. She says opportunities are passed over when there is quiet. Yesterday she watched the broadcast of Women Making Peace at Nahal Oz and was thrilled. They were speaking about the inhabitants’ suffering. We have developed a siren complex. On TV’s trivia show, someone asked since when has the Gaza Strip existed… No one wanted to “take” it (really, not on TV…) Bella wonders whether the Women Making Peace organization could affect anything? Is there a parallel group in Gaza? How shall we make peace?
Ayelet spoke. Her encounter with Gaza was in 1978-9 when she was an instructor at the Yamit (settler-colony) field school. She and a friend would drive to the Ali Montar hill and wait for a group to come. They were very calm with this. She remembers the potters’ quarter underground, a mosaic floor, other sites. She says that in her opinion it is possible to renew such relations between us and the Gazans. She recalls trips by Kibbutz Beeri to Gaza that Viviane organized. There were wonderful relations, and in Beeri people even considered helping to support a refugee camp. When she was in the army she never knew that one day she would live in Beeri… Suddenly she noticed that she has become accustomed to life here in the shadow of ongoing tension. But this process is not right. Memories of her time in the field school, her confidence in relations with Gazans, these are the things that should be leading us.
Malki come to ‘an island of sanity’ – that’s how she sees the Migdalor circle. She connects to things said before her turn came. A while ago she listened to the speech new Knesset Member Ibtisam Mra’ana gave at the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and was very moved. Mra’ana told a children’s story, about girls laughing at the beauty of the world, and the king who thinks they are laughing at him and prohibits laughter in the entire kingdom. Everyone obeys except the girls…
Gaza for Hana is us… He was worried about us during the latest “round”. Following the Meron disaster, someone wrote about the Arabs in the area who mobilized to help, how Tel Aviv residents were donating blood, and how a grocer was giving out food free of charge to the families of the victims. Hana says it’s odd that someone posted this as news, as though this humane reaction was extraordinary…
Shmulik considers himself responsible for us being able to gather here every Friday! Knowing the Gazans has made him feel uneasy about everything going on there, and he comes to our circle to ‘launder’ his conscience. Our encounter helps him understand the people with whom he lives. It’s significant because people believe a settlement can be reached. Our greatest friend in Europe is Germany. If that is possible, then it’s possible with Palestinians as well.
Hayuta is not too curious to find out where the conflict is rooted. She comes for the human experience. Even in the latest “round” she did not regard Gazans as enemies. She knows their struggle is true and just.
Nahshi agrees with most of the things already said. He has friends and they and he wish to meet and have a good time as in the old days.
Maharan has met racism everywhere. In Europe as well as in Israel. He cannot understand the tagging of someone as Arab or Jew. When there is distress, it’s not race that is discussed but the distress, survival. A week ago in the circle, he spoke about another ‘round’ soon, and this happened that very night. Maharan says his uncle was a senior officer of the military government and as children they spent much time in Gaza.
People arrive, Rami speaks about us, about the kite that decorates the circle and Hanan who built it inspired by the kites that came from the Gaza Strip, and the illustration of a Gazan girl that showed on “Star of Hope”. We hold a quick acquaintance circle.
Uzi defines himself as a “farmer, son of a farmer”. However, at some point in his life, he was involved in Middle East studies and toured Egypt and Jordan, and in different circumstances spent time in Lebanon as well… At an encounter with Egyptian intellectuals, they asked him what the Palestinians are like. He answered that they resemble mainly ourselves, Israelis. He himself, as he says, is a “proud and sad Zionist”. Maharan gives another historical talk about the Saudis, the British and Palestine, before we listen to the group that arrived (after they listened to us).
Fanny says they came to the area because of a wedding. They came from afar, took a zimmer and decided to travel a bit. We are so close to Gaza, she says, if they could only be released of the vice that holds them, we could make a paradise out of this place. Only their leaders and ours must understand this. Fanny was in Egypt right after the signing of the peace treaty, “we were as in a dream”, she says. Finally, it was possible, and she hopes this would happen with Gaza too.
Ofira, her daughter, is the one getting married. She organized her wedding here and that’s why they came. Minutes before they met us, Ofira said she feels like having coffee, and a few minutes later the miracle took place and they arrived. Leaders want wars, she says, because they serve their interests. People wish to live a normal life. Her brother served in the army in Gaza and told horror stories about what Arik Sharon did. She too served in Gaza and has good memories. She is moved by our circle. There are people who actually do “peace”. Ofira knows Fanny and her opinions, and knows how difficult it is for her to speak the way she did, but at the end of the day she loves people.
Leah also came for the wedding. It’s sad, this ongoing tension with Gaza. There was even a part of the group that deliberated whether to come to the area.
Yaron is retired from the Ministry of Defense. He worked for years in the Israeli arms industry and contributed to the security of Israelis in this area. He recalls his youth, working picking fruit at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, when there was peace and quiet. Then he recalls, the ‘hotspot’ was near Syria, and it’s all reversed. He and Ofira belong to a group of hikers who do not reach our area because of the security situation. They live in the north and hear about it in the media. Their hike today, here opposite Gaza, shows a possible normalcy even when the media says otherwise. A part of their pleasure in hiking is running into ‘surprises’. But such a ‘surprise’ as ours they haven’t met yet. “Go on”, he concludes.
When the son of Zohar and Fanny studied at the Sapeer College (in the south), they as northern residents found this frightening. But their son, who lives in Sderot, was not moved. He thinks that hatred is created as a process over time and brings people money… The question is whether there is a way to cut it off before it seeps down to people. Otherwise, it will last forever. There were good times. What was wrong with that?
Rami concludes the encounter today with a story about his family, his parents and grandparents on both sides, whose way of life in this area symbolizes the relations between humans who lived here.
Participants this time: Nahshi, Maharan, Hayuta, Shmulik, Hana, Malki, Bella, Oded, Noga, Shaul, Rami, Ayelet, Uzi, Fanny, Ofira, Leah, Yaron, Zohar.
Wrote: Oded

Encounter 162 – April 23, 2021

The “Circle” awaiting its guests work to life as four soldiers, equipped and armed, accepted the invitation and came for coffee and listening.
We were already seated – Roni, Maharan, Hagar, Jaber, Oded and Shmulike who was making a pot of coffee.
I opened and explained about Migdalor, about us and myself…
After me, Hagar spoke, saying that when she came to our area it was good. Now, with things as they are vis-à-vis Gaza, it’s worse. Regarding Gaza feelings are mixed – ambivalence, anger, fear, pity.
Maharan speaks to the soldiers about the power divisions inside Gaza: the population suffers and no one can disconnect that from Israel’s responsibility. Economic troubles affect one’s thinking. In the Circle – says Maharan – we also relate to the complex economic contexts between them and us. Then Maharan says that in one of the military “operations”, a Qassam rocket laded next to his home and realized that targets have no ethno-nationality… We must arrive at some agreement, first with Gaza, even before the West Bank, because it will all blow up in our faces. We need to gather various elements in order for something good to happen.
Roni says that one is connected to the other. As long as their situation is not good, ours will not get better. She helps Gazans in every humane aspect, and this is how acquaintances are made that direct to her more and more people for help in things that for us seem simple and trivial but for them involve plenty of red tape on both sides of the fence. We try to encourage and give them hope, as well as to ourselves, she concludes.
Talk reaches the soldiers who have so far sat and listened, sipping coffee. They mince words…
For Ido, Gaza was always another country, distant and not in his awareness.
For Gil, too, Gaza is distant in every way.
As for Nehorai: He is from Atzmona originally, a settler-colony that used to be located inside the Gaza Strip and was dismantled in the “expulsion” (the term he used). He remembers lots of Qassam rockets in his childhood. His father was the colony’s security official. He recalls the expulsion. He does not deal with feelings about Gaza. Jaber asks him to try and remember one positive thing. Nehorai connects with his memory of the sea, to which they hitch-hiked as kids. Then he recalls that one day, before they left, their relations with the Arabs who worked for them turned around and they were no longer allowed to communicate with them.
Yaniv says that many mistakes were made in Gaza. He does not specify.
Shmulik believes that the two populations in this area could live together. If the Jews and the Germans could normalize their lives, we and the Palestinians can too.
I didn’t really hear Jaber because a phone call drew me away.
Just as I returned, the soldiers decided to leave.
After another round of coffee, Jaber wishes to share something with us. “I don’t know whether what I am about to tell you is relevant to what we normally speak about” he says, and adds: “I think it is, but let each decide for themselves. In 1979 my cousin Sliman fell in love with Nehama (Jewish woman’s name). Some months later, with money collected by his family, Sliman went to Germany to study medicine. After half a year, he notified his family that if Nehama does not come to be with him in Germany, he will stop studying there and return to Israel. Nehama did not come to Germany and Sliman returned and did not study medicine. He lived with Nehama in Beer Sheva. The families did not favor this union, but while Sliman’s family turned Nehama a “cold shoulder”, Nehama’s family responded with real violence, and more than once that couple, beaten and bleeding, came to the village for shelter, after Nehama’s brothers beat them up. Twice they tried to have a child and this ended up with miscarriages. The families kept wondering which nation the child would belong to… Jaber says he tried to convince Sliman to try and have a child in a different way (didn’t specify) and Sliman rejected the idea and said that ‘Nehama was even more important to him than children…’ About 15 years ago Nehama’s family finally agreed to “accept” Sliman as her husband. Now, says Jaber, I must got to the Migdalor from a funeral. We buried Nehama who passed away after a serious illness. “My world is shattered” Sliman said to him before they took leave at the end of the funeral.
Participants: Shmulik, Roni, Jaber, Oded, Hagar, Maharan, Ido, Gil Nehorai, Yaniv
Wrote:” Oded

Encounter 161 – April 16, 2021

It’s hot. The landscape in the nature reserve here is drying up which means – less travelers. They must have done their thing yesterday, on the official holiday… in fact, our ‘lighthouse’ circle today hosts only us ‘regulars’.
Rami must leave early and leaves us to think about his holiday experiences. He defines himself as suffering from PTSD and there, says he, used to simply not be in the country from before Passover until after the Memorial/Independence Days (Zionism’s ‘national’ month). This period is difficult for him. In the past two years, because of the pandemic, there is escape… To our Migdalor today he came because of missing it. He said “missing it’, and left to take care of his aching body and soul.
He leaves and others arrive: Malki, Bella, Dina, Maharan and Brian join Hayuta, Roni, Shmulik, Nahshi and Oded.
Most of our talk right now is about the Holocaust Memorial and the Israeli Memorial and Independence Days, and the insights they bear. We decide to do this in our usual circle mode.
For Malki, Independence Day has changed. She has issues with it now. She does not celebrate it wholeheartedly. On Memorial Day it’s different. Her identification with bereavement is clearer. On Independence Day she asks various questions: What does it mean, that the state belongs to us? Since when? And other such upsetting issues. True, what’s in the past remains in the past and were here, but there is this contradiction, even vis-à-vis Zionism. On Memorial Day eve she watched the ceremony held by the Forum of Palestinian and Israeli Bereaved Families. On the holiday itself she was glad to meet family, but nothing else.
Roni says there are things we used to feel more comfortable with in the past. She used to be proud to be a Jewish Israeli. Today this feeling is nearly gone. Memorial Day is different, but on Independence Day she feels uneasy with her friends’ views. She thinks that if we’re here, it’s our right to think of ourselves. She has a problem with those who absolutely and exclusively blame our side. ‘They’ don’t want to leave, and if so, it means that even from their point of view we are also right. We must cut things and begin to live here together. We’re all here. Let’s make life out of this.
For Dina, in the past Independence Day means only joy. Lately there are many question marks and things that make us doubt. She read an essay by Avishai Grossman, who says that the strong win, but in other wars – after the fighting is over, the winners help the vanquished recover. She was called upon to light a torch on her kibbutz. She felt honored but that the texts read there are debasing. She says that the term “exhausted” (which appeared on her speech and she omitted) is not suitable. Must we not be weak? She asks. What’s going on lately? Everything beginning anew? Everything called into question? What is happening to us? Frustration.
Bella has trouble with the fact that Memorial Day and Independence Day are sequel dates. Every year more and more of her acquaintances disappear. She has a hard time being gay. Suddenly “a Jew’s soul is aroused” (translated words from Israel’s national anthem) does not feel right. Lucy Aharish (TV celebrity of Palestinian Arab nationality married to a Jewish Israeli) said her son has an aroused Jewish soul but she cannot sing it. Bella is a Holocaust survivor. She had no home until she was 16. She asks, how can those who have no home feel at home anywhere? How come no reparations are being agreed on to those whose homes were taken away?
Hayuta worked in the school system most of her life. She educated Israelis with Zionist values. For her Independence Day is the most meaningful of holidays. She worked in Ofakim and invested much in ceremonies. She says that on the Holocaust Memorial she had a hard time making the children listen, but on the Israeli Memorial Day they were very attentive. Ceremonies are important to her. She was also responsible for ceremonies in Nir Oz.
Shmulik, responsible for the Memorial Day ceremonies in his kibbutz, reads out a poem he worte.
Nahshi also feels that the nationalist use of the memorials and holiday is exaggerated. He is glad and proud of the state he has. He feels that there are those who wish to exclude entire part of the public from the festive occasions. It should be everyone’s holiday. It is a date that for some is a kind of disaster, and for others – joy, and things should be found that are shared, in common. He works on himself to remain optimistic. Memorial Day is closer to him because of his personal ties with bereaved families or people he knew who died. There should be a way found to share this with the neighbors. It will come.
Marahan: this sequel of dates – between the Memorial and Independence – is bad. For Palestinians this is Nakba, catastrophe. They have a hard time accepting it, as well as the national anthem Hatikvah (Hebrew for hope). It’s like putting salt on their wounds. In a discussion he held with friends they concluded that first of all the anthem should be replaced. One needs an anthem that connects, not excludes. From there, from the connecting anthem, all inhabitants of this country could be united. He talks about his great-grandfather who in 1948 helped members of Kibbutz Shoval who were surrounded by the Egyptians. According to the moves of that war, the man wished to connect to the Jews. After the war Israel’s governments wished to expel the Bedouins, who were forced to collaborate and demonstrate their joy with Independence Day. It’s time for a constitution to be drawn, and have equality. Not populism that raises nationalists to positions of power.
Brian is thrilled with Israeli Memorial Day. He compares it to Memorial Day in the US which he finds measly… He is thrilled to hear the siren and see people stand and bow their heads. He think Independence Day is when all discrepancies should be put aside and people unite for that one day.
Raising this subject in the circle, I thought speakers would link Migdalor’s influence on their positions. Gaza consciousness in the context of independence or bereavement… I wish to believe that contestation and thought of most speakers, especially about the ostentatious celebrations of Independence Day were also the consequence of our talking circles in Migdalor.
Participants: Rami, Shmulik, Nahshi, Roni, Oded, Brian, Malki, Hayuta, Dina, Bella, Maharan.
Wrote: Oded

Encounter 160, April 9, 2021

There were once 40 chairs: every time the chairs were replaced at the local elementary school, we’d get the old ones. First, we fastened them to the wall with a chain and lock. Once in a while anonymous people would cut the chain and take it. Then the lock. At some point we changed our approach – we stopped locking and wrote a sign in 3 languages: “You’re welcome to enjoy the chairs, remember to return them when done”. It worked well, but occasionally their number would dwindle and the school would supplement them. Lately a strange thing has begun to happen: what is taken away and not returned are the signs… We shall keep you updated.
So today we arrived and found a group of 7 nice young folks who were hiking from Nahbir (old Beeri). As they had coffee and we got organized, we sat in a circle and after introducing ourselves and our activity, they told us they were all from Ramat HaSharon, all employed in hi-tec (each of them also has a name, but as we got going they all escaped documentation…).
In the meantime, Mari and Roni joined us. The group heard our stories, asked questions, complimented us, supported us, and continued on their way.
Gali Mesha arrived, who used to join us and took stars, now returning them colored. She was glad to discover we persist, and listened carefully.
Idit from Sde Nitzan came to visit. Sometime in the past she was responsible for the encounters that bore the contact between Rami and Oded (and the rest is history). She too was glad to support our persistence and came to check on more possibilities for action.
Hanan arrived eventually (with the kite that returned from repair) and the three fighters from Gvulot: Bella, Malki and Dina.
Our friend from Gaza called, reminding us that exactly today was a year since our large zoom talk, following which our Gazan friends were arrested by the Hamas. We congratulate him within our communication restraints, and wish for improvements, and he continues his talk with Roni.
Rami arrives, as well as Maharan and Brian.
Niva from Beeri was also a veteran of our circle. She volunteers on “The Way to Recovery”, reminds and remembers our friends from Gaza.
Atar comes from En Shemer (northern kibbutz) – he wishes to shoot a film here about a trip beyond time in a ghost ship… For him Gaza is the land of unlimited opportunity…
Noa from Pardes Hana arrives with him – she is a camerawoman working with Atar and remembers the bags of sweets her bus-driver dad used to receive from his friends in the Gaza Strip.
What did we talk about?
• The importance of everyone’s little deed, the drops that we all contribute to the large stream that is sure to come…
• Beautiful initiatives that began here and are still running.
• Ideas and plans for more activity.
Participants: the 7 from Ramat HaSharon, Mari, Roni, Rami, Gali, Idit, Hanan, Bella, Malki, Dina, Rami, Maharan, Brian, Niva, Atar, Noa, Shmulik and Nahshai – 24 in all.
Wrote: Nahshi

Encounter 159 April 2, 2021

I skip the “we came, chairs, coffee, Rami and Shmulik” part…
Sitting with us are Eti, Adir, Gal Liat, Judy and Asaf (“with us” – meaning Rami, Roni, Oded, Shmulik, Jaber and Hana, the “usuals”…).
Rami tells us a story about a girl who in 1917 was evacuated from Gaza by the Turks and became a refugee. She was returned to Gaza by the British who conquered Gaza from the Turks. In 1948, she was already a mother and had to absorb hundreds of thousands of refugees who need to raise their tents in the British army bases that were now deserted. The Egyptians (unintentionally…) are the sovereign, and they promise the refugees that they would be returned to their Palestine homes and therefore, do not invest in civil development. In 1967 our girl is already a grandmother – and becomes a subject of Israeli occupation rule, after in 1956 she undergoes another round of violence courtesy of Israel, encouraged by Britain and France. If she were alive today, she would be imprisoned in the large open-air jail called “the Gaza Strip”.
Eti raises the usual mainstream Israeli arguments, that “they voted for Hamas”, “true, they are to be pitied but we are not the guilty party”, “we gave them everything back and they chose the path of violence” etc. etc.
Roni gently tries a different kind of knowledge – she tells her own personal story about spending time along with her family in Egypt on an agricultural mission, and meeting a Palestinian family whose daughter made friends with Roni’s daughter in school, consequently realizing how little she knows about the narrative of Palestinians who became refugees in 1948. She tells about collaborations that take place today and get no voice in the media, and about the thirst for normal ties and cooperation. She also talks about her own everyday involvement in helping and supporting people living in Gaza.
Asaf says that the question is to what extent we are involved in the goings-on in Gaza in order to change the regime there.
Rami says that looking for the guilty party right now does not help anyone. There are 2 million human beings living under extremely crowded conditions, with no hope on the horizon.

Eti tries once more with the mantra about “religious-fundamentalist Gaza”, Rami gently responds, saying it’s somewhat of a “myth”.
Roni says that in our circle we listen to other voices. Once someone came to the circle who opened by saying that Gaza should be destroyed. After he continued to sit and listen to others, he told Roni as he was leaving that she had left him with “food for thought”.
Adir who was born in the area says that at home talk had always been against Arabs, even though the latter worked for the family. But since he met his wife and they moved to her community, overlooking the Gaza Strip, his views have changed a bit.
Judy lives in the north. We live in a bubble, working and living, she says, and she knows about Gaza only what the media publicizes. It’s significant for her to be here today, and that’s what she will remember from this trip.
Asaf says that the question is one’s awareness of the other. In this sense, what people experience there is still a riddle. We know more about other places in the world than we do about Gaza which is really close but still a mystery for him.
Roni receives a phone call from Gaza. Skype. She shows the caller the empty seats in the circle saved especially for them. She makes the “rounds” with her cell phone and we all wave in greeting, even our guests! We have no loudspeaker and the call is short. We take leave of those who sat with us until now, and other guests arrive.
Adir (another one), Esti, Yael and Hanan. “Our” Maharan joins us too.
Adir is a local. He is curious meeting such a circle… The conflict has intensified in recent years, he says, but we here all need to find ways to live with Gaza in peace. From his parent he has heard stories about the past and hopes that the situation will change.
Esti says that we must find ways to share this place, there is no other choice. It could save us from the present situation. At the end of the day, everyone wants their own quiet corner.
Maharan says that the West Bank Palestinians call the Palestinian citizens of Israel “Cream Arabs”… There is a difference between those living in the West Bank and those in Israel. The ones thinking more “progressively” will assimilate with Israel, and Gaza will be more “Palestine”. When the economy blooms, war stays far. People are interested in their immediate existence, their “food on the table”. Everyone knows that Gaza is an explosive keg, if no regime change takes place there. He doesn’t see where a regime change comes first – in Israel or in Gaza. Only this can change the situation.
Jaber says that the Gazans are the area’s future partners. They will be good neighbors if the media sow less conflict. The moment this happens, it will be strong! One must look each other in the eye. It will benefit both sides economically when Gaza is a partner.
Hanan prefers to share his experiences from election day. As in every election, he helped transport Al Zarnouk (unrecognized Bedouin village) to the voting urns. He drove Jaber’s mother… There were interesting talks and they said they were voting for Ra’am (the Islamic party) because the Joint List does not take care of them. Some blamed Hanan for helping Ra’am, helping Bibi… He said that his preference is to help without minding anyone else’s business. Including about Gaza…
Yael and Hanan only listened and told a bit about themselves, but finishing time and the cold wind dispersed the circle without our hearing about their “Gaza consciousness”…
Participants this time: Judy Asaf, Eti, Adir, Gal, Liat, Rami, Roni, Shmulik, Oded, Hanan, Jaber, Haan, Yael, Maharan, Adir, Esti.
Wrote: Oded