Encounter 262 – 17.3.2023

The tourist season is over, silence has returned to the area, there are no travelers and the “lighthouse” is gathering itself.
Haim, who came for the first time two weeks ago, also came today.
Along with him, Shmulik, Roni, Mark and I also sat.
The first thing that stood out was the disappearance of about half of the chairs that were there a week ago (two weeks ago we brought another 15 chairs).
I made a wide foot walk around the sulfur factory in search of scattered chairs. There were no. They were just taken away. I vented my anger by picking up trash left by nature’s users. I don’t have a solution for this matter. Maybe it’s better for those who come to the lighthouse on purpose to bring one or two or three folding chairs, as many as possible.
As mentioned, there were five of us and the conversation naturally revolved around what was happening in Israel. What did he say and what did she answer, what does X mean and how does Y understand it, what does B mean when he says C.
We ended up in a heated debate on the issue of waving the Palestinian flag in demonstrations yes or no. Spoiler, 80% against versus 20% for. Even the 20% who are in favor do not really intend to wave a flag because they are afraid they will be beaten.
There were five of us.
Next week it will be summer time and we are planning to move to our summer residance.
And we have to talk about Gaza, don’t we?
Well Roni updated on some matters that “crossed her desk”. It is possible that soon we will be able to make contact again with tour friends over the fence…
This time we were: Roni, Mark, Haim, Shmulik, Oded.
Written by: Oded.

Encounter 261 – 10.3.2023

Arye was an army officer. A large part of his service period was in Sinai and he knew the area like the back of his hand. On the way to reserve service in Sinai, he would pass through Gaza, at least 4 times a year. During one reserve period, he was the commander of the Nahal Oz checkpoint and was responsible for the section between Nahal Oz and Sajaya. Arye established the Microsoft branch in Israel. He had an employee from Gaza and he owed him NIS 500, but the employee simply disappeared and never came. To this day it is not clear to him what happened.
Yishai was born in Tel Aviv. He was born and educated in Israel. He had a familiar experience of growing up here. He once joined an organized trip to Gaza, when it was still possible. They were secured by Palestinian Authority policemen. He got the impression that something was happening there because there was a renewal and a building boom. But the wheel turns and today Gaza has gone back. Recently in Abu Dhabi he visited a new, modern, magnificent mosque. He had the feeling that the mosque seems to embrace those who come to its gates and welcomes them. It radiates tolerance. There can also be another Islam.
Alon is a physician proffesor who served most of his military service in the north, but was also a brigade doctor in our area for a certain period of time. Participate in simulations of rescues from Gaza in case it happens. I see the Gazans as poor people who have no way out. In the hospital where he works today, he also treated Palestinian patients and knows the difficulties – sometimes the patients do not manage to come.
Shmulik has been a resident of the area since 1966. In 1993 (Oslo) there was a feeling that something was going to change for the better. Shmulik tells about the deportation of a family he knows to Gaza. Lists the British bases that were abandoned in 1948 and turned into refugee camps. Going to work is good for both parties. Hamas is a difficult story. “Under the table,” he said, there are connections. Tells about “Physicians for Human Rights” that he has been donating to them for many years.
Nahshi says that when he was managing the plantation in his kibbutz, he worked with a family from Gaza and an excellent relationship developed. Even before Oslo, they would talk to each other about ideas for a solution, ideas that were indeed realized in Oslo. At the signing in the White House, when some attacks and closures had already started, the mangoes ripened and there was pressure on our part to pick and on their part to accept, despite the closure. In the end, we picked it up, met at the checkpoint and passed it to them while we listened together on the radio to the broadcast of the signing ceremony of the Oslo agreement. Then there was a disconnection, for many years. Now a new connection is made. Gaza is people and humans. Nahshi wants to emphasize to the people who are hosted in the circle that on both sides are suffering human beings.
Arye adds a little story (he has a lot, he says): in 1998, Shimon Peres told him that they wanted to establish an industrial park in Erez. Arye met with a Gazan engineer named Jihad, son of Abu Jihad, business… In 2000, the intifada started and all the plans “went up in smoke”.
Rami says that Gaza surprises him every time. This morning he was looking for a certain picture, entered the archive and a picture of a group of Gazans, Jordanians and Israelis popped up. A group engaged in a project of marking sites that it believes has heritage ties to them. Rami says that Petra was a famous station in the world and part of the road that led from Yemen and Oman to Gaza, which was the most important city in the region. He saw a mosaic in Petra that is very reminiscent of the mosaics in Ma’on and Gaza. In Gaza, the image of King David playing the harp appears. Rami points out that the same artists made all of those mosaics. A Jordanian member of the group told him that the artists lived in Gaza. In the Petra mosaic, Gaza appears prominently. Rami shares with us more information about mosaics in the area where Gaza appears, which indicates its great importance. Gaza stands out, Gaza with gates! Now, he says, we are in a glitch in time. But in his opinion, Gaza will return to its greatness. In the First World War, the Ottomans evacuate Gaza in 1917. Gaza, at that time, is magnificent, as you can see in the pictures. The British return and rebuild Gaza and bring back residents to it. In 1948, Gaza is filled with refugees and today we hear many testimonies of families who were scattered in the area. Gaza for Rami It is a wonderful journey, it is also a home. He came today very optimistic!
Bella hopes to do something to get closer to Gaza again. This situation keeps her awake. She remember other times.
Roni tells about the tours she conducts in her moshav that literally hugs the fence of the Strip. Before the disengagement, they would communicate with the Gazan neighbors by yelling. You have to find a way around walls. She learned to drive in Rafah. When the family was on mission in Egypt, Roni had the opportunity to be exposed to other people, Palestinians. In her activity, it helps to create joint projects mainly in the fields of culture. On both sides, she says, people have no horns. She once saw on television childrens in summer camps where hatred was preached. She contacted a friend in Gaza and asked him to organize other summer camp days. With the help of donations she obtained, the friend organized reconciliation camps. Every night he would send her a video of children laughing and playing and not hating. The children come home and involve the family. They know and tell their families that there are other Israelis. Roni tries to do everything to show that fences and walls will not interfere.
It seems to Judy that the situation in Gaza is a mistake, or as Rami said, a glitch in time. How do you approach a mistake? Looking to blame or trying to fix? There is a right way and a wrong way to fix it and right now we as a country are dealing with the wrong way. But here, at the lighthouse, the way is right.
Malki has lived in the area for several years, but when she lived in the center, Gaza was far away and not on her agenda. When she moved here, to the area, she became more involved. Suddenly she realized how her freedom to live a normal life collides with the lives of the people imprisoned in Gaza. Gaza is a great despair. Malki does not believe that she will get to see a change in her life. But that’s no reason to ignore it. The thinking and reference here in the circle, is part of it and therefore comes.
Hodiya remembers the disengagement from Gaza. Gaza brings her back to her teenage years during the disengagement period, handing out orange ribbons and demonstrating against it. She has good memories of the settlements in the Gaza Strip and a lot of pain for those whose lives were shattered by the disengagement. Hodiya and Shai (her partner) lived in the north near the border and now here near the border. She studied with Rabbi Fromman. Want to make peace the way of Fromman. A sincere request for peace. The old women in the moshav where she lives today say that they went to Gaza on foot. It intrigues her to know more.
Shai Feels that he has the love for nature and peace that his grandfather instilled in him. He had cousins in Gush Katif. The youth who left there have deteriorated greatly since then. Sees the Gazans as “prisoners of war abandoned in Gaza”. Praying that they will be redeemed and be able to cultivate their fields. On the other hand, the expulsion from Gush Katif is a painful thing. The secession was a strong blow to his brothers. Those who now feel hurt by the regime changes in Isreal are also his brothers and he sympathizes with their pain as well. There are LGBT people in his family and he definitely supports their right to a normal life. The national trauma from Gush Katif is simmering under the surface. There is a feeling that what is happening now is a kind of desire to take revenge for the deportation. He has no solution, only pain for hurting his brothers every time from another side. Gaza Aimed at Jerusalem, it is the playground of religious feelings.
Today we were: Hodiya and Shai with their young children Pele (son) and Tzuri (daughter), Arye, Yishai, Alon, Mary, Roni, Judy, Mark, Nahshi, Shmulik, Rami, Oded, Malki, Bella, Tom, Yorit, Shira.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 260 – 3.3.2023

one by one they gathered at the “lighthouse” this week and talked about Gaza and “the situation”.
Chaim, for example, “lived Gaza” for a long time, troubled, looking for something to do. That’s why he’s here. The pogrom in Hawara made him shed a tear. He compares it to Kristallnacht. His soul is turbulent. Gaza is part of an occupation. In his opinion, in 2023 there should be no place on earth where people will live without hope. We have a responsibility. Gaza is part of the conflict, not “we gave it back and thankfully we got rid of it” but it is part of us.
Hayuta lives close to the Gaza Strip. She sees the neighbors, hears the muezzin and it is part of the landscape regardless of her will or unwillingness. She met a Gaza worker who told about his family. He has 9 children, all grown up. 3 of his daughters are unemployed teachers. Do your best, study, but there is nowhere to move forward.
Shmulik says Yusuf is a friend. Yusuf dreamed for 16 years to return and meet Shmulik and work in Israel. They have no options in Gaza and live on donations. The family was deported in 1948 from Israel. Today they live in Nusirat – Gaza. Shmulik is here out of identification with them. We, here at the Lighthouse, are occasionally rescued by a fund-raising operation, he says.
Ilan says that as of today, the state of the country does not allow to be interested in them, in Gaza, too much. According to him, unlike the West Bank, Gaza should not be at the top of our minds. He no longer has contact with people there. May the Muslims of the world take care of them. Sadat was smarter than Begin and pushed Gaza to us.
Riki remembers Gaza in the 70’s, her family had an engine repair factory and there were workers from Gaza, real friends. She misses this relationship.
Eli tells about friends from Gaza who call to congratulate on the holidays. If the “big ones” don’t have a solution, what will he say? Loved traveling in Gaza and remembers many good things. He has nothing bad to say about them. External influences caused radicalization. In the past he took care of the children of the Gazan family he knew and was in contact with.
Efrat grew up in the Jordan Valley and served in Sinai. A family of “swamp drainers”. She also knows the less good stories, dating back to 1910-20. Arabs were deported to the other side of Jordan even though they had good relations. There is no connection between them today. On a human level, whether it is joy or sadness, she will lend a hand, but the just solution is to help them go and settle in Sinai with the help of Israeli knowledge. Israel left, closed the border and she, Efrat, no longer feels that we have any responsibility. The Egyptians should have given them the Sinai Peninsula, that’s the solution.
Nahshi guess there is no solution and he didn’t come here because of the solution. But such encounters, with different people, is the creation of a reality of consciousness and dialogue. He supports any initiative that will make people understand each other. Prefer to be considered naive and believe that something good can be created. You can find a starting point in conversations here from which you can move forward.
Yaron is a young man. He was there in 2014 “it wasn’t fun”. Heard that the beach in Gaza is wonderful.
Alon, Yaron’s friend. They hurry to continue their trip. He asks us not to think that they are avoiding comment because they think bad things about Gaza. They actually think that what we do here is very impressive.
Eliezer says that most of his years worked in the medical system. He was a department manager in a hospital. Defines himself as “right-wing” and points out that in 1967 a miracle happened and the IDF decided the campaign. Then he and his friends toured Gaza and Arish and he was not particularly impressed. Then he encountered clashes with the Palestinians through the operating rooms. It will take time for conditions to be created for negotiations. It will take time Until both sides understand. Now he is more concerned about what is happening in Israel, even though he is right-wing.
Miki remembers that after 1967 she went with a friend to El Arish and they had a flat tire. It seemed very natural to her that the locals helped them. Begin wanted to transfer Gaza to Egypt and they refused. They knew why. In Tel Aviv she met a charming foreman from Gaza. Suddenly everything stopped. Miki also remembers the redemption period. She too, like Eliezer, is worried about what is happening in Israel. The situation is very difficult. There has to be a political solution. We have our pyromaniacs and they have theirs. She has friends in a kibbutz close to Gaza and she knows the hardships.
Jeff has arrived! The “lighthouse” is his temple. He came quite a bit at the beginning (“in the eighth week”) and has continued to come ever since. His life is conducted between New York, Michigan and Be’ery. In 1967 he was in diapers and in 1973 he was 8 years old. Last Tuesday he participated in a demonstration in Tel Aviv, came to raise his voice: democracy is impossible without equality. Tells about “Stars of Hope” a project he founded with his friends from New York after they were impressed by the support they received after the twin attacks. Their project demonstrates how disaster (the Twin Towers) can be turned into hope (painted stars to raise support for disaster victims). Tells about the joint paintings of Arabs and Jews. They also operated in Gaza when it was still possible. He came to give a hug to his friends who are on the Titanic. Came to check where to look for hope. Previously worked in the USA in the Reagan administration. Knows people who knew Bibi. Two days ago he participated in a demonstration in Tel Aviv and spoke on Orli Bar Lev’s broadcast. Jeff is conservative and a Republican, but thinks that what is happening here, in Israel, is terrible.
Helen, Ornit, Ella, Noa (there were two more that I didn’t catch their names) – a group that has been traveling together for decades and are very excited about what is happening here, but sit for too little time to participate in Gaza consciousness.
Zvi is traveling with 3 small children and accepted our invitation. Gaza is the Land of Israel, he said. We need to return to Gaza because that’s the only way salvation will come. He is 100% certain that we are on the way to return to all the territories of the Land of Israel in order to control them. It is not a negative thing to encourage voluntary migration from Gaza, he adds.
Nitzan grew up and lives in the area. still in the army Gaza was for her, in her childhood, the greatest enemy. When she grew up she started to understand what was going on there and now she doesn’t know what the solution is. We insist on things that prevent a future solution. It intrigues her to try to understand. Right now she is quite embarrassed.
Nitzan’s friend Shai says she doesn’t have that much of an opinion.
Nitzan says that Gaza is not something that is thought about that much. But she got interested and entered the social networks. She saw how people live there. But it confuses her more.
Zvi says that he is looking at the redemption of the people of Israel as it is written in the Torah and it is getting closer. When there will be a temple and a Sanhedrin here, the people of Israel will be able to fulfill their mission, to be a light to the Gentiles. Zvi speaks quietly with eloquence and absolute faith. His words create reactions.
Haim, for example, tells Tzvi that if he wants to annex Gaza he will create a federation.
Zvi says again that he doesn’t understand why they don’t talk openly and clearly about encouraging voluntary immigration. This is a correct and appropriate solution for him. Zvi thinks that the idea of faith and its fulfillment needs effort and perseverance.

This time we were: Haim, Nahshi, Hayuta, Shmulik, Oded, Mark, Ilan, Efrat, Eli, Ricky, Yaron, Alon, Jeff, Vivian, Helen, Ornit, Noa, Ella, two anonymous, Nitzan, Shai Zvi and his three children.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 259 – 24.2.2023

Apparently there are days like that too: all our attempts to manage a circle as usual were shattered in the face of an extraordinary verbal storm from one of the guests, a theater actor by training. To his credit, he was alternately funny and dramatic, with an impressive ability to imitate which he wove into his stories. When he stopped to breathe and I managed to get a word in, he had to say what is his Gaza consciousness.
Ofer begins by quoting from the sources, “Strong like the death the love.” Then he says that if it is about Gaza, “Gaza is like the death of hate” and adds that if he is Gazan, he hates Israel. But feels that he knows nothing, everything is being hidden from us, he states.
Meanwhile between coffee and talking, his partner Tali also manages to say something.
Tali: The solution is educational, on both sides. For her, with the level of knowledge she possesses, there is no one to talk to there. Defines herself as “less humane than Ofer”. The little person controlled by forces stronger than him is quite poor, she says and asks the circle, what is the solution?
Nahshi agrees that the solution is education. Our partners in Gaza, are trying to do it through the “Youth Committees”, an understanding that an alternative to violence can be created. We want to tell them that they have partners in non-violence here, says Nahshi. In his opinion, the main positive change that Gantz created is the permits for entering workers.
Tali says that her right-wing friends say that hatred is inherent in the Palestinians personality. Ending with a question/idea, perhaps it is possible to organize there, in Gaza, adults who remember Israel well, to explain Israel to young people.
After that, Ofer played alone on the entire field and mainly described anecdotes from the joint show of him and his brother Dekel, who has Down syndrome, from decades of performances throughout the world.
When it got a little colder, Ofer and Tali got on their bikes and rode to another horizon.
We remained only the “regulars”.
In the remaining time I raised the question of whether it was right to come to the demonstrations with the Palestinian flag.
The answers were divided and ranged from a complete negative, mainly for the reason that it could divide the consensus that prevails in the demonstrations and disintegrate the impressive mass. Those in favor of raising the Palestinian flag argued mainly that the regime change would harm many groups in the population and perhaps most of all the Palestinian community under Israeli control would be harmed. That is why it is the right and even the duty of every community to represent itself in a demonstration as part of a whole opposing the regime change.
There was also one who said that flags don’t speak to him and he doesn’t care who waves what.
This week we were: Shmulik, Nahshi, Mary, Bella, Malki, Dina, Oded, Tali, Ofer, Nur, Farhan, Mark and a few others who passed by, listened to Ofer and continued on.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 258 – 17.2.2023

The first episode will tell how Hayuta, Nahshi and Moshe arrived at the old Sulphur factory and even before the coffee was ready…
Hayuta invited a group of travelers, people of the North and they, motorcyclists, are all equally sure which way the wind is blowing. They believe that the solution, in space and in general, is very simple: a gun.
Politely say thank you for the coffee, both bitter and sweet.
And there was also a second and even a third episode…
With Guy, a photographer from the Modi’in area, who managed to taste coffee but not participate in the circle, compared to Oded and Shmulik who happened to come back from the Modi’in area and did not give up the circle, the cake and the coffee, and Malki and Uzi from Gvulot, and Tami and Doron from Tel Aviv.
Tami finds it hard to understand how people live there with all the poverty and hardship. She has an image she once saw in a movie about Gaza. In the film we see a tiger walking in a cage back and forth.
Doron says that there is a change in Gaza’s treatment of us in recent times, they don’t shoot at us! There is an organized mechanism against the Egyptians and the Qataris. They decided to maintain the status quo. They are not under our boot, they have independence, don’t they? (He says and puts a question mark on his own words) They don’t get up in the morning and see Jews.
Hayuta tells about Palestinians from Gaza that she knew. Three of his daughters are teachers and another son is a hospital male nurse. What they all have in common – they don’t have a job. He told her that before he came to work here, they sometimes suffered from hunger. Suddenly she understands the terrible predicament. He told her that all his children studied and yet could not find work. He does not want to leave Gaza, it is my home, he says and adds that now it is impossible to go to work even in Abu Dhabi.
Nahshi tells about a Palestinian he knows. His brother established a factory for building blocks. In an explosion of a gas tank used by a neighboring bakery, the factory was destroyed and a brother was killed. They tried to rebuild the business, but people don’t have money and don’t buy. Even if they receive goods, it is difficult to charge for them.
Malki says that she had two good encounters with Gaza recently: one is a film made by Gazans about what a wedding in Gaza looks like. The one who interviewed the group that made the film asked them why they made such a film and they said that they wanted to show that people still live there. The second meeting is her participation in the peace conference in Arava. There were many Arabs and Druze. Daliat El Carmel, Usafia, Ramallah, Nablus and more. There were also a father and son who came from Gaza. The 22-year-old son left Gaza for the first time! He was shocked by the encounter with Israelis who are different from the image he has known all his life. The father and son toured the country and it changed his view of Israel. In two months the son is going to study in Germany. Malki finishes by saying that she came to the lighthouse for the sake of the soul and for the meeting.
Shmulik says that in the permits that the Palestinians receive to work in Israel, it is written that they must return to Gaza every day. But that’s a white lie. Everyone knows it’s impossible and lets the possible exist. They are very careful not to take steps that would endanger their license to work in Israel. Shmulik talks about the UNRA agency. Gaza is closed, he says, and depends on the will or unwillingness of the Israelis. His first encounter with Gazans was when he arrived in the mid-sixties, to the Kibutz where he lives to this day. They would walk to the border. There were Swap cigarettes with the UN men. Later he was a dairy farmer and worked with Palestinian family members.
Shoshi says that everyone wants the best. You (she turns to me, Oded) are going through the experience of life on the Gaza side, you want things to go back to normal (well, not exactly what I said, but the rules of the circle “forbid” me to interrupt her speech). There, the common man on the street is a victim. I want to get up and earn a living. Every person is born to do good. She (on the other hand) first wants to help her people if she has free time. wants to help her family first. But, at the same time, she understands their plight.
Amnon agrees with his wife. We are in a difficult reality and there are no solutions at the moment. The reality is hard and sad and requires patience. He greatly appreciates our meeting here and the task we have undertaken. He defines it (the mission) as pioneers and Zionists.
Moshe tells about the meeting that started the circle today, a meeting with a northern group. What bothered him in this meeting was that things were presented as facts and not as opinions. We are the good ones and those beyond the fence cannot be trusted. We, at the Lighthouse, have partners there, says Moshe, we know that there is also a way of thinking that is a mirror image of thinking in Israel, and this makes Moshe very sad.
This time we were: Hayuta, Nahshi, Moshe, Guy, Oded, Shmulik, Malki, Uzi, Tami, Doron, Shoshi, Amnon and a group of bikers without names but with solutions.
Written by: Moshe, Oded and Nahshi.
Photo: Nahshi and Jaber.

Encounter 257 – 10.2.2023

The “Lighthouse”, at the British Sulfur factory, Be’eri Reserve, Friday one o’clock in the afternoon.
Nahshi, Moshe, Hayuta, Oded and Mary are sitting. The crowds of Beit Israel are concentrated near the entrance to Kibbutz Be’eri. Nachbir (Old Be’eri) is visited much less now. To us, to the ” Lighthouse”, even less…
And yet, three young men who rented bicycles stopped for coffee. They are on a time limit, have to return the bike on time.
Eyal says that Gaza is a place he cannot understand. In the army he served in the area, in front of Gaza, in the Iron Dome. And so naturally he is more connected to the need to protect against Gaza and does not have much other knowledge.
Yonatan is still in service and dealing with threats from Gaza. There is a humanitarian disaster there, he knows to say. He will be if glad we could do something good there too. The other side, Hamas, does not help. I don’t know where their motivation is directed. We all need protection.
Rif says that for him Gaza is a singular point in the Middle East around which volcanoes form and the area is always bubbling and hot. There is anger on both sides. Riff lays the blame mostly on their upbringing and the hostility they display on social media. He has no solution to offer. Both sides need to talk.
Nahshi says that we are in a bad time. He has no outline for exit and solution. Hope for a change because there are many good things here. Met people from Gaza. Education on both sides does not lead to a solution. He is in contact with people from a parallel group in Gaza.
Mary is drawn to complexity and Aza is a “piece of complexity”. The comparison made by Riff to a volcano is correct. But like a volcano, there is constant underground activity and a process of change. We try to follow the change.
Hayuta – the descriptions here fit her and she is here to do better.
Moshe says there are at least 4 stories that deserve reference: 1. What we think about ourselves 2. What we think about Gaza 3. What the Gazans think about themselves 4. What the Gazans think about us. Both sides treat themselves as victims. The Gazans say that the Israelis feel as if they have left Gaza, but in practice continue to strangle it. There is a kernel of truth in all four stories.
Jonathan says it’s good that this conversation is happening. Right now it’s between us and I wish it would also happen between other people on both sides.
The three get on their bikes and go for a ride.
Time passes.
Around three thirty, a guy with sunglasses on his head and a rolled up map in his hand entered.
We – you look like a group guide
The guide – correct
We – according to the sunglasses on the head
The guide – the glasses because that’s how it conveys professionalism
Nahshi immediately turns to make coffee. By the time the group arrives, the guide says that they are a group of new immigrants from Russia. Their Hebrew is not good, he says. They continue towards the well and when they return the coffee is ready and it’s almost four o’clock. Some are sitting, some are standing. Make a quick circle. It turns out that there are 2 guides and both of them are called Michael. I explain briefly, they translate into Russian and in the end it turns out that they all also speak English.
Michael (first) refers to Gaza. A humanitarian catastrophe, he says, does not see a solution in the near future, a great pity.
Michael (the second) expands a bit. He says that as a Tel Avivian he feels like a neighbor of Gaza. An hour drive is nothing. Mentally he feels that he is part of the area.
Vera came because of the war in Ukraine. She is indeed Russian, but there is also fear in Russia. For her, Gaza is war, pain, fear.
Roman says that Gaza is a difficult question. There is religious fanaticism there. No answer now. At the moment nothing can be done.
The facilitator did not follow the rules of the circle mainly because they were interested in what we were thinking and they were constantly bursting with questions. In the discussion that unfolded, the question of military service also came up, and Vera said with astonishment that this is the first time in Israel that she has heard talk against military service.
At a quarter past four + piercing cold we dispersed.
This time we were: Nahshi, Moshe, Hayuta, Oded, Mary, Rif, Yonatan, Eyal, Michael (the first), Michael (the second), Vera, Roman and 8 other silent ones.
Written by: Oded.

Encounter 256 – 3.2.2023

Shmulik, Nahshi, Shelly and I arrived to our “Lighthouse” today after participating in a ceremony of planting olive trees in the Bedouin village “El Karinat”.
Advocate Maharan also arrived at the same time as us.
While I start collecting chairs from the area (“Oh, I don’t understand why they don’t return the chairs to the place” grumbles Shmulik) and already Harel and Sylvi join us.
Minutes later, so did Chaya and Zion.
The circle starts as usual with my presentation and after – Maharan.
Maharan says that the State of Israel needs to make a change because the situation in Gaza is close to an explosion. Poverty is the mother of all trouble. Going to work is relaxing. Everywhere in the world, economic improvement benefits peace. Gaza will be a problem if the situation does not improve. It’s hard to live on the sword. The peace that comes after the wars is important. Maharan is pessimistic. The situation there is critical. Israel is turning to the wrong places. The authority is not the address. Peace is made with the powerful (Hamas). They have dangerous capabilities and Israel ignores them.
Nahshi says that Gaza is neighbors, it is human beings. Here everyone is suffering. I don’t want to get into the discussion of who is to blame. There is no lead to a solution on either side. These are people, not monsters. He doesn’t have a magic formula either. He came here out of an urge to do something, listen to people and talk about change.
Shelly has never been to Gaza. She got to talk to people from there a little, not much. As a child, her first bicycle was bought in Gaza. She wish she could visit. As a “leftist” she often hears the call “Go to Gaza” – I wish that would happen someday, she thinks to herself.
Harel says that Gaza’s beach is truly amazing. But Gaza is a threat and a tragedy. People enter into fear when they are in a state of helplessness or uncertainty. The fact that Gazans are allowed to come to work improves the situation a little. There is an understanding that outside of the conflict people should also be given a livelihood. Any solution that enables a better life for both parties is welcome. We need to increase the interval between wars and save human lives.
Sylvi says that generations of post-traumatic children and adults are growing up here and there. There are 2 million there who suffer because of a handful of fanatics. Closing your eyes is not a method. They don’t have privileges like us (immigration, political choice of government, etc.). The fanatical handful creates reality. The silent majority there needs to act if they want change. She cannot tell them who will rule them. Sylvi is annoyed by the indifference to the rounds in the south. Only when the missiles reach the north of Gan Yavne (where she used to live) is the government shocked.
Shmulik says that the rounds of talks here create thinking. In Israel there is a reference to Gaza separately and the West Bank separately, as a separation tactic. He has no doubt that this suffering there in Gaza must stop. People may not know, but the rule of Hamas is possible today, and was possible in the past, under the auspices of Israel. Israel chose Hamas as someone who can generate opposition to the PLO. There is tremendous significance in going to work in Israel as a way to reduce tensions. Israel has a political trend of separation. Under the auspices of the Egyptians. You need to learn and get to know Hamas. They started in the mosques as a social movement. These millions have no horizon. A desperate situation of no way out.
Haya, grew up ultra-Orthodox. Throughout her life she knew that the Arabs were an enemy. She dosn’t see an option to think otherwise because of her faith.
Zion, a bus driver. Every society has the fringes that seep into the center. If there is a dot on white paper, it attracts the eye even if it is a tiny part of the page. Wants to provide for his family like any other person, like them. It is a pity that there is no direct communication with them, only through intermediaries. This is the wrong way, you need to speak directly.
Maharan asks Haya and wants to understand if it is the religion that defines the Arabs as the enemy or if it is her opinion. Haya answers him that this is also her personal opinion.
Nahshi asks Haya if not with the enemy, with whom will we make peace?
Haya replies that they try and try and it doesn’t work out.
Rami has arrived.
Rami says he came from a memorial for an IDF officer who was killed here in the area. It’s exciting to see people still coming to the memorial 9 years after the officer’s death. What is our attitude, as a nation, to bereavement, he asks. The officer’s mother said she lost the most precious thing of all but gained a huge family. Here he came to remind himself that we live in an age that is faster than ours and everyone is trying to hold on to their edge. The home and the family is what also connects him to the circle here. In all this corruption there is a movement to repair. The knowledge that it will be good, came through the discourse. We put here in a circle, a statement, “What is Gaza for you”. For him, Gaza is home and family and people who have been displaced from their homes. He came to tell himself that Gaza for him is not giving up. Not giving up the knowledge that we as people, something broke for us, but we know how to fix it. In the memorial, he looked at the grove that burned down a few years ago and today is blooming. He tells about his grandfather and his passport, which is written in three languages and has signatures from all the countries of the region. His grandfather traveled all over the region. There was a transportation system open to everyone. He traveled on trains, trading apples. Also Rami wants all these signatures in the passport and slowly it comes true. There is a lot of frustration and bereavement but Rami refuses to accept it as a decree of fate. Still dreaming of traveling through the train station in Gaza all over the Levant. Tells about a mosaic found near Kisufim: A mosaic from the time of Alexander the Great. A mosaic that shows abundance. The ancient Ma’on synagogue has the menorah symbol. Ma’on and the whole area was an open space without walls and the Jewish “neighborhood” Ma’on, sits within a very large Byzantine community. We see that Jewish communities live in peace in the region.
Jaber introduces himself. Explains the difficult life in an unrecognized settlement. Says you can’t close your eyes. It is impossible for one child to sit on the computer and another child to have nothing to eat.
Hanan came because of the kites (angry that they are used as instruments of destruction) met us and connected. That was almost 3 years ago. On the website he founded, “Irrelevant”, he separates his opinions from the facts in what he publishes on the website. When referring to the facts, the starting point is feelings and the society in which you live. Not sure that arguing about facts will change anyone’s mind. It is a fantasy to think so, even if the debate is online. People who are in a position of questioning or hesitation will take on a firm opinion. Regarding Gaza, Hanan is worried. There were falls this week, “oh what’s 9 falls” people ask disdainfully… those who haven’t experienced it right next to them, treat with indifference. When they say that the IDF returned fire, it is at all worrisome.
Uri, in response to Jaber, tries to clarify the concept of unrecognized settlements. The word “scattered” clarifies the situation there very well. Then he explains to Sylvi how he changed from a leftist, to a Likud supporter. Harel sighs in relief and says that in his surroundings he is considered “leftist” and here, in the circle, his words are treated as “rightist” and here comes Uri and rescues him from his “rightist extremism”.
Uri says that he recently met a Gazan friend who he knew as a child and now he has returned to work in Israel. Many years have not met. In Uri’s opinion it is good that he can come to work in Israel. Uri remembers that when he was young, he used to pick up potatoes from our fields, arriving at the checkpoint and deliver to them. Now, he points out, the friend from Gaza tells him strange and terrible things that happen there.
That’s it, the cold is coming, Maharan, Rami, Chaya and Zion have long gone and now we too.
This time we were: Maharan, Nahshi, Shelly, Harel, Sylvi, Shmulik, Jaber, Chaya, Zion, Rami, Uri, Oded, Hanan. We also talked a little with Rami through Nahshi’s mobile phone.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 255 – 27.1.2023

On the way we try to guess what will be the effect of the difficult event in Jenin and the reaction from Gaza to the arrival of travelers when in front of the temptation of green nature dotted with red anemones.
We were surprised to see at first sight the car park near Be’eri full of vehicles.
At second glance, the majority are transport vehicles in the service of the army…
On the winding road to the sulfur plant, there are few vehicles, mainly on their way out, as well as a group of cyclists. The Nachbir parking lot is empty, both the sulfur factory area and the “storage” of the chairs… Three chairs were thrown from the ramp and fell apart, and about ten more are in a semi-circle around the remains of a campfire about a hundred meters from the building.
When we finished collecting the chairs, the coffee was already ready and two guests were sitting: friends of Ofek. They have been before. ATV travelers. They stayed a little, didn’t drink or eat and left.
Jalal, who came with six of his children, also stopped out of curiosity, but the shyness of his children made him continue. Was invited in the following days, but replied that Fridays are dedicated to children.
Malki and Bella arrived at the same time as a group of young people who are staying in a kibbutz in the area for a year of service. I open a circle and Malki continues.
Malki: You can dig into a bubble at home or try to influence. Living close to Gaza raises awareness of it, there is more need to know, even if nothing can be done. There are people there who live near me and they are suffering when I can do what I want. The situation is unbearable, Malki adds, and out of desperation, she chooses to come here. If everyone does a little maybe something good will happen.
Shmulik, a communist, has lived here since the mid-1960s. He knows all the upheavals since then. Gaza is a hybrid creature. The Egyptians, the Gazans themselves and Israel, are complicit in the situation there. The fence is massive and hermetically sealed. For some people there, it’s literally a prison. The response from Gaza to yesterday’s events is minor due to the workers going to work. Shmulik tells the young people about the 11 points (settlements established in one night, Yom Kippur 1946 under the noses and against the will of the British), about the sulfur factory and the use of sulfur. Shmulik considers the closure of Gaza an international crime, the exposure to the strength of the Israeli army is intolerable. The area was different and then personal relationships were also formed.
Roy says that Gaza is the biggest prison in the world. A lot of helpless people. Dependent on the State of Israel which restricts them and controlled by Hamas.
Omer says that for her Gaza is a complex. don’t know enough – Want to know.
Lotem sees Gaza as people who were born into a sad reality. In the bubble she lives in, Gaza is considered a burden.
Mika points out that a few days ago she entered Instagram and was interested in Rafah. She didn’t understand anything, but she saw that there was some kind of normality there too. In reality the situation is horrifying. It shouldn’t be like this.
Moshe came to the conclusion that he does not know Gaza that well even though he has lived close to it for many years. Now he is learning about the conflict at the university and realizes how much he doesn’t know… to quote in one sentence, he says, everything is close in this country and the situation is a mirror image. Each group sees the same thing but in reverse. As we were privileged to meet with Gazans in the past, we will be able to increase the circle of meetings today and in the future. For him, precisely the disagreements make the dialogue interesting. Tell your friends to come, he asks the young people.
Dandan thinks that they, in Gaza, are very poor. He doesn’t have enough knowledge. A solution is needed, he says. The people there, got into a situation against their will.
Uri can’t find another word except ghetto. A cruel and violent rule inside. suffocated from the outside. And they have no choice. Watch a podcast about life in Gaza and realize that they are very limited.
Gaia thinks a bit like Omer… doesn’t feel like she knows enough. great sadness Gaza is “different” and not good.
For Noa, the image of “ghetto” comes to mind. But it’s not like the Holocaust. And yet it’s sad because it happens really physically, and with that, far from consciousness. They don’t talk about it at school and it’s sad.
Bella went through the Holocaust and survived. Proud of building the generations it has endured. She didn’t think that the country she built would behave like this to her neighbors. She made a vow as a child that she would never close her eyes in the face of injustice.
Nahshi knew Gaza as a child as a place of infiltrators and hostages. One day his father took him to an observation tower in the kibbutz and he showed him Gaza through binoculars: people riding bicycles and normal lives. Then there was a war and suddenly, Gaza is here. In 2006 – disconnection and again disconnection and distance. When he reached the lighthouse he realized that it was close to us again and only a thin line separated. Sees fields and farmers like him and yet, these are two different worlds. The feeling that something was wrong and wrong grew stronger in him. He does know how we ended up in this situation, but the episodes sharpened for him the injustice and illogicality of the situation. That’s why he comes here. On the way you meet people and meet interesting points of view.
Na’ama: Gaza is something that is mixed with fear, guilt and survival. It is a place that has always been present to her and she grew up with the stories. She didn’t go there because of her father’s ideology and her mother’s fear.
Dan says that he hardly gets to think about Gaza. Now he is in a state of service near it. Sad for them for living in such a reality. But there is a desire on both sides to live well. If Dan is in the army and has to go in, he will go in with all his might. And, it is important to understand more.
Giora – a photographer – came later. There is a plan to come next week with a group of amateur photographers that he is a guide.
This time we were: Meitav, Uri, Jalal (with 6 children), Giora, Malki, Bela, Moshe, Nahshi, Shmulik, Michal, Shelli, Roy, Omer, Lotem, Mika, Dandan, Uri, Gaya, Noa, Na’ama, Oded.
Written by: Oded.

Encounter 254 – 20.1.2023

Apparently, stormy days, winter in full swing, demonstrations in the face of political/legal/social chaos, crazy communication, a sense of the end. in fact, everything is “for now”. The winter days are warm, the demonstrations are only on the weekend and the chaos is brewing and will be served in February. Communication? The majority say that they no longer connect to the frequency…
and us? Here we are an island of stability. We position ourselves every Friday like a cuckoo clock that Gaza appears in the window and announces our disgrace and the disgrace of the world. Here There is actually a feeling of no end. Positively and negatively. Positively, because we are here every Friday and negatively, because the human anomaly occurring in Gaza has no end.
A lot of people arrived today. The list below will reflect maybe a fifth of the actual participants.
At first we were Nahshi, Moshe, Shmulik, Mark and myself, then a couple from the area arrived and at two o’clock about 40 travelers flocked to their guide and microphone. They were sure that we were some kind of surprise that the guide had prepared for them. At the same time Malki, Rami, Mirale, Uzi, Deganit, Bella, Ovadia and Roni also arrived! Yes yes our friends Roni took a cane, Ovadia and a matching chair and came back to be with us after (so and so) a long time.
The guide told the group (from the Avshalom Institute) about sulfur and history, I told about us and Rami continued and talked about history, about grandparents, Rotenberg and Tel Hai (respectively) childhood near the border fence and about hope. The group was intrigued and wanted to sit more, they had many more questions, but the guide… they left.
The immediate family remained and Rami feels that the situation “requires” Gaza awareness.
Nahshi told about his friend who is a documentary filmmaker. Yesterday they met for coffee. In 2005, the friend made a film about Gaza with Haim Yavin. They were interviewing some leaders and Chaim Yavin wanted to go talk to people in the market. The security guards were stressed. Chaim Yavin calmed down and said they would introduce themselves as a German TV crew (he knows German). The security guards agreed. They went to the market and all the merchants said “Oh, Chaim Yavin has arrived!”.
Bella doesn’t know how much is known about us. The silence scares her. I don’t know how to predict our future. I always think about them. I take care for them like I take care for us.
Moshe says that his concern is no longer focused only on our space. Now, the country is in danger. The dominant language is violence. It is tangible and sharp, something existential, really physical. What is happening now is not temporary. A struggle is needed.
Mirale wants to maintain her mental health and therefore does not watch/listen to the media, “a bit playing the ostrich” according to her. She is aware and talks about the absurdity of the surrounding pastoralism compared to the reality in the territories.
Roni thinks that sometimes it might be better to disconnect, but she can’t, she is constantly interacting with people and needs to know. To ease the mental burden a little, she focuses on knowledge about Gaza. Mainly with the help of her friends there. updating Who left Gaza and moved to the big world and who stayed. She feels she has to help them. There are many changes. Laborers are coming out and this is a big change for the better in Gaza and it is also expressed quietly here. She gets a lot of requests for help getting out. She met with the director of the border terminal in Erez and found there a great willingness to help. She is in contact with a Dutch psychologist who enters Gaza and meets with psychologists and sociologists for workshops and support.
Ovadia says that Gaza reminds him how unwise we are. In the past he walked there alone in many places and was treated with great respect. What is happening today is because of us because we did not understand what was happening there and spoiled it for several generations. When some whispering embers appeared we could put them out before they started a big fire and we did the opposite, we lit them instead of putting them out. A sense of greatness and arrogance brought us to the current situation. We would free them from the burden of Egypt. Here we can still demonstrate against evil and crime. There are those who suppress such demonstrations.
Daganit says she doesn’t know Gaza like we do. She is here because of Rami and it moves her to support the idea. She is not one who often goes to demonstrations, to say the least. And if she was at a demonstration and in the pouring rain, that means all the summers are over! I really relate to the things said here. I remember that as a child she rode a bicycle in Gaza and it was fun.
Uzi precedes and says that he is very happy to come and see Rami enthusiastic and lecturing – a sign that he is healthy! Also happy to see Roni and Ovadia. Read last week the book “The Conspiracy Against America” written by Philip Roth. Didn’t know the book. A dystopia, a novel that simulates an alternate history of America with Charles Lindbergh supposedly defeating Roosevelt in the 1940 election. Lindbergh was a glorified pilot, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, Nazi sympathizer. In the book there are Jews who (supposedly) collaborate with him and he has plans to “treat” the Jews. In the book there is a description of a reality that is similar to what is happening around us today.
Malki ponders aloud and asks what has changed in her since she came here the first time. Is her look different? “No” she says, this place gave expression to the feeling she came with. Sometimes it’s nice to be an ostrich. But if there were no demonstrations and everyone would continue as usual? The demonstration gives a feeling that many people think like her, it gives hope even if nothing changes and Gaza continues to be a great despair. Our place gives her strength.
Shmulik says that what he can do in the personal sphere, he does. From conversations with a friend from Gaza, he knows that the situation there is dire. Today’s peace is thanks to those who pass and work. Things need to be resolved.
Suddenly, about 15 curious young people peek out from all the openings. They are invited for coffee (even though it is already a quarter to four). They came from Tarabin near Gvaot Bar. Some are shy, some accept the offer of coffee. Rami tries to get them to talk about Gaza. Only a Abed is willing to say that his mother is from there and that he has a family there, but he himself has no connection. A little more talk about (lack of) employment opportunities in their settlement.
There was also Amos who was walking with his grandchildren and said that at the age of five and a half he went down with another boy older than him to the bottom of the well in the sulfur factory! 51 meters!
He added that the current appearance of the building was caused by the departure of the British when anyone who could get their hands on something of value and sell it, did so.
At a rough estimate there were 60-70 people at the lighthouse today
Who was? A very, very partial list: Mirale, Roni, Ovadia, Daganit, Uzi, Malki, Shmulik, Rami, Oded, Nahshi, Bela, Moshe, Mark, Salman, Abed.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 253 – 13.1.2023

A week ago a lot of people came and we felt that we are at the beginning of a wonderful friendship with the migration season of the people in the Be’eri reserve. Even today, a beautiful day without rain, the area is covered with green. Here and there begins some red marks of flowers. However, despite the promise contained in the above description, many travelers in the area are not predicted.
Those who did come (to walk) were Lital and Eyal who were captured by Nahshi’s charismatic invitation and came for coffee and teasing.
Lital has memories. She was born in a kibbutz on the Gaza border. She remembers the 1967 war, 3 days in the shelter. Father is a cotton man and was also involved in the security field. She was 7 years old. Someone from the kibbutz was killed at the very beginning. The Kibutz organized the children to prepare a reception for soldiers returning from the battles in Sinai. Convoys of buses arrived, but with Egyptian prisoners – there were no Israeli soldiers. She cried because she was waiting for soldiers and not prisoners. Father said that’s how it is in war, there are prisoners, nothing will be done to them and they will return home. Then workers began to arrive and people began to travel in Gaza. Lital remembers being overwhelmed by the friendly reception they received in Gaza. I remember the pots alley and Ali Monter. In her military service she came again to Ali Monter and remembered. Now she lives in Tel Aviv and everything is far away, the childhood, the memories, Gaza too. We do not know what is happening with those who worked for us, I only know that they were not allowed to return to work. Today she went for a walk with her brother in the area and suddenly realized that “she can be seen from there” and maybe it is a bit dangerous. (This is how it is when you get too used to Tel Aviv). People live here and people live there, she concludes and asks, how will all this end? She wants to ask us if we are actively doing something in the area? How can you influence? Who cares?
Eyal says that for him Gaza is… “I don’t want to define it”. He knows it well, he is Lital’s older brother and still lives in the kibbutz where they were born. Claims that he is so radical to the left that he reached Ben Gvir. (Lital is horrified. “Don’t write it” she says). Eyal says that he helped someone from the Gaza village hang a joint photo exhibition of her and artists from Gaza and we all remember that Batya (the photographer) sat in a circle with us and told about the exhibition, small world. After that, Eyal turns to Kai (we’ll get to know him soon) and tells him that he hosted two guests from Norway and took them to the “Black Arrow” to look over Gaza and also emphasized to them that only from here can you see and understand what Gaza really is and that you don’t have to believe the “brainwashing” that the Palestinians do to the Europeans in the media abroad.
Kai has been in Israel for several years, a musician plays double bass, lives in Jerusalem and trying to become an Israeli citizen (his father is Israeli). Kai was born in the USA, grew up and lived in Norway, until he came to study and play in Israel. Kai says that Gaza is an interesting place. But more interesting is the ability of people in Israel to ignore their neighbors. He himself lives in Abu Tor – a mixed neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Rami calls and the conversation with Kai is cut off, unfortunately non-renewable
Rami wishes a happy new year and hopes for new beginnings. He wants to have coffee with us. The conversation with him is also blurring until it is disconnected.
Hayuta feels that Lital’s questions were not answered. She tells Lital that she herself did not come here with a plan to change anything, she has no ambitions to influence, just to add her little toothpick to the fire of hope.
Nahshi continues the line of Hayuta and says that he came here to keep himself from changing and to remind himself that close to him are people who are suffering. He has no idea what the solution will be. If there is any contribution to the hospitality of people here, it is to make it clear that there are people there and here. They are indeed led by a powerful body (“soon with us” he says) but still, people are people and they have rights and desires to exercise.
Lital works at the Haaretz Museum and organized a tour for the workers committee. They arrived at Alumim and the people were a bit in shock from the proximity to the border. Until then, they didn’t really understand the situation of being near Gaza.
4 young women and men pass, two+two. They try to slip away and continue, but Nahshi’s charisma and Shmulik’s promise to go through the production line for tea instead of coffee sat them down. They want to know the history of the place and I tell. At the end of the historical description, I tie in the theme of the “Lighthouse” and ask them to share with us “What is Gaza for them?”. silence. After a few seconds one mumbles that he has no interest in politics. Neither do we, I say, only humans. He says he also saw someone taking pictures of them and he asks not to publish. Well, says Nahshi, I deleted. They are suspicious and refuse to even say their names, except that they are from Jerusalem. But the tea is served, so one of them opens with a short speech and this is what I managed to write down:
give me peace get peace I considered coming to live in the south. Is it worth it for me to come and live in the south? If it’s quiet, sure, but leaving the house every time when something happens? Do not want. I don’t deal with politics. I have friends of all religions and I have visited Arab friends in their homes, but if you come to stab me I will cut off contact. Israel is attacked by Gaza and that’s where politics starts and it’s none of my business. Obviously, as people, they suffer, but we have no solution.
One of the boys also briefly and quickly says the following (not before his friends emphasize that he is a bereaved brother):
I don’t trust them. I will not turn my back on them because they will stick a knife in me. They killed my friend’s father when he went to the market. Give them a finger and they will want the whole hand. Terrorism in Gaza. Don’t trust them.
After these things they get up and go – they have to return to Jerusalem before Shabbat.
Mahran, who arrived in the meantime and listened to the conversation, says that his instinct says that “the two” are policemen and that is why they were so reserved and that his instinct is not wrong. Maybe.
For me, in any case, a feeling of discomfort from this quartet remained for a while, a feeling that continued even after they left.
We were: Hayuta, Shmulik, Nahshi, Moshe, Kai, Oded, Lital, Eyal, Maor, Mir, Mahran, 4 Jerusalemites who did not want to say their names.
Written by: Oded