Near the end of our meeting, Nomika called and said that a nice German journalist named Phyllis from “Stern” magazine was on his way with a French photographer named Aude. We welcomed them – they are writing an article about the “contemporary split in Israeli society” – and we were happy to tell them about our activityes. We talked about the history of the Gaza region and whether we are optimistic about its future (yes, most of us are optimistic without factual basis), the story of the sulfur plant, who are the people we meet here, the protest in Israel, the climate crisis and much more. This time we were: Shmulik, Malki, Bella, Moshe, Phyllis, Aude, Nahshi. Written by: Nahshi.
The lighthouse sits on the hill, a soft breeze in the hot afternoon, and in the background the boiling news: crowds are coming to Jerusalem, trying to stop the coup d’état. The intimate circle, on the hill, with the open view of the Gaza area, invites a different discourse about the place and the period, and an attempt to look beyond this day and the times of rage, as befits lighthouses facing a stormy sea. Well, in summary: it is possible that the meetings in the future (in a decade, maybe even sooner) will pose new, different challenging questions: the wars of today, the conflicts between nations and religions, will be a thing of the past and other hardships will cause cooperation (or, God forbid, more wars) between the people who share our space, and in general, all regions of the world. Global warming is not a trend: it is an actual, irreversible reality on Earth. Have we sailed far? Perhaps, but already today, the basic human need for water, simply water, even before the water of food, healing, clothing, shelter, outweighs the hold on the beliefs that marked the struggles throughout the centuries. Did we agree on the diagnosis? Five friends in a circle, and a beehive of different opinions washes over the place, like the spirit of the beehive that recently lived here. Hayuta pulls out a book of poems and Amir Gilboa adds his words to the conversation. And suddenly it’s already four o’clock. This time we were: Rami, the Tzur brothers (Hayota and Shmolik), Oded, Moshe. Written by: Moshe
Rami was at a conference this week along with another 1,500 participants from all over the world. He explained the insights in front of us in the first hour of the meeting, and the gist of it as it was preserved in my memory: The earth provides resources for sustaining life on it. Humans live on and near these resources. The resources in a certain area need to sustain the community living near them. The distribution of resources should not be by countries but by regional communities. For example, here, in the area where we live, there are large areas of land, there is groundwater, there is rainfall, there is the sea. These are resources that all residents of the area have to live off of without state border lines. Rami adds and says that it is possible (with a legal procedure, some of which can already be implemented) to establish here, in the compound where we sit, an environmental research station that will conduct research on subsistence in the environment’s resources. Rami stated in advance that he came today for a short time and we did not discuss too much understanding or development of the idea. A little before Rami’s departure, Jaber arrived. After Rami left, it was Jaber’s turn for insight: he is currently working as an bus driver, he does not intend to continue doing so for a long time. He finished the tours operators course with mixed feelings. On the one hand, he studied a lot and on the other hand, he had difficulty in the final exam, according to him, due to internal resistance to basic assumptions that contradict his knowledge and understanding of territorial and historical facts and processes on which he grew up (I tried to phrase it gently…). Jaber’s son finished his medical studies in Romania, returned to Israel and needs to complete exams to start working. applause! Today Jaber was quite upset and spoke excitedly about his attitude as an Israeli-Arab-Muslim to the protest. Shmulik Nahshi and I are already traveling as usual to Be’er Sheva for demonstrations on Saturdays. We invited him to demonstrate with us, and he gave us an emotional speech about why he doesn’t see any benefit in these demonstrations and even said that if the government succeeds in its plot, we might finally feel a little of what he goes through in his daily routine as a citizen. He of course understands that his situation will also get worse, but he is intrigued to see the reaction of the privileged when their privileges are harmed. We parted as friends because four o’clock had come. And Gaza, what about it? Maybe this is the place to tell that a few days ago we were present at an artistic event where we met Gaza with whom we communicated until about a year ago… We were: Moshe, Rami, Jaber, Nahshi, Shmulik, Oded. Written by: Oded
Today, as well as on all Fridays since the end of March 2018, we met at “The Lighthouse”. The beehives, along with the bees, were transported from here. The shade of the pine trees, cooled by the pleasant wind, finally cleared, and we were able to move to our “summer residence”. Nahshi, Shmulik, Moshe, and Oded participated in establishing the gathering. Rami later joined, initiating a discussion (which is actually relevant these days) about “resistance,” fascism, democracy, and more. Later, Maharan also arrived, completing the male presence in the circle. And Gaza? As usual, she is here next to us, waiting for something good to happend. This time we were: Shmulik, Moshe, Nahshi, Rami, Maharan, and Oded. Written by: Oded
The discussion started while driving to the lighthouse: Talking about books, that Shmulik likes Meir Shalev more than Agnon. Friday afternoon in the Gaza area. There is a pleasant breeze, and the bees are satisfied with the water near the hive. Shmulik makes sure to serve coffee, and to mention that on the other side of the fence next to the sulfur factory, today they celebrate the holiday of the sacrifice, Eid-al-Adha. Hayuta, always armed with a book, pulls out another work of Meir Shalev, “Fontanela”. She reads from the book and for a moment we move from the Gaza area to a courtyard with the views of the Israel valley. With our return to the here and now, Shmulik raises his concern about the political situation and the future of the Jewish-Arab partnership, for example in the Israeli Communist Party. A party that was founded about a century ago, and has produced generations of leaders and activists. Shmulik misses Dov Hanin. Today there are no hikers in the area, not even shepherds around. So what did we have today? We sailed to the Israel Valley, traveled to other times, returned to the Gaza Strip… This time we were: the Tzur brothers (Hayuta and Shmulik), Moshe. Written by: Moshe
A day before General Prigozhin began the march of the rebels towards Moscow, four loyalists of the lighthouse had already taken positions at the sulfur factory. While Oded prepares a table, Shmulik promises coffee. Haim receives an update on the meetings that have taken place in recent times, and welcomes the activity with the youth of the preparatory schools. The question of the identity of the “lighthouse” arises again. Mark arrives at the right moment to try and answer the question. There are already five of us, and naturally there are seven opinions regarding the purpose of the activity and the ways of spreading and realizing the basic idea of the lighthouse: awareness of Gaza and concern for the situation on both sides of the fence. This time the bees took pity on us, probably as a result of placing barrels of water near the hives, which allows not only to sip Shmulik’s coffee but also to enjoy a cake, a homemade pastry that Chaim placed on the discussion table. As for the question of the possible tasks, there was talk of creating a pool of workers from the Gaza Strip seeking work and of agricultural and industrial farms in the region who could show interest – and above all, goodwill – to provide a living for workers and ease the plight of many families. The first part (list of job seekers) is absolutely possible. The supplementary chapter, it is regrettably said, is more difficult to operate: business owners are needed with a willingness to accept Gazans and take care of entry permits, stay in the country, work as required by the regulations, and if necessary also permits for lodging and a place accordingly. Well, what will we do if a bus full of travelers arrives now, as happened two weeks ago? Here we return to the beginning of the story (remember: rebels, Russia) since this is exactly what Lenin was talking about (“What is to be done?”, 1901). So we return to the question of the road, and Chaim suggests looking into the possibility of handing out notes (“What is Gaza to you”) and pencils. Each guest will be invited to write down a sentence or two. Before returning to the bus, hand back the note. This, over a period of time, allows tracking of the answers and changes in trends. This time we were not visited by any bus, but the question of visitors is always on the agenda. At this moment of dilemmas and struggles, Malki appeared, and with her updates on her blessed activities: demonstrations, meetings of the Lands Committee in the Negev and a host of issues concerning the “Question of the Bedouins”. At the end, a lawyer joins the circle: Maharan doesn’t give up a watermelon slice and the circle doesn’t give up on Maharan’s report on the Bar Association elections. Maharan not only reports, he also sails to other times, but we are already at four in the afternoon, the time for collecting the cups, closing the circle, shaking hands and descending from the former Sulfur Hill, today’s Hill of Vision. Present: Oded, Shmulik, Haim, Mark, Malki, Maharan, Moshe. Written by: Moshe
The “lighthouse” idea created a community. When no visitors come, the community meets itself. What did we talk about? This week Rami found an article about a demonstration by the refugees of the village of Lajoon in front of Kibbutz Megido which sits on the land where the village sat until 1948. Most of the residents of the village were deported to Umm El Fahm. Now they are protesting demanding that the mosque be excluded from the kibbutz (the mosque is still standing) and allow them to pray in it and maintain it. The issue of Zionism came up again… I get the impression that the main debate on the issue of “Zionism” takes place around the definition of the term itself. As the term “Gaza” creates a different context for everyone, so does the term “Zionism”. As a result of this discussion, the matter of Palestinian flags in demonstrations also came up for a moment… We celebrated Bella’s birthday, 85!! She came with Malki and a basket with cake and wine. Roni told what was “renewed” in Gaza. Rami, who took on the issue of the beehives that were placed near the factory, said that he spoke with the beekeeper (who is a scion of a family from Nes Ziona who were the first beekeepers in the Land of Israel) who said that in two weeks he would take the beehives away from here. When that happens, we can move to the “summer residence”. More topics, coffee, cookies and watermelon flowed under and over the table. The rotation of the earth caused the sun’s rays to penetrate through the building’s openings, harassing the crowd of people sitting and finally scattering them. In the summer residence the shade is guaranteed even if the earth continues to move. This time we were: Moshe, Hayuta, Shmulik, Roni, Rami, Malki, Bela, Oded, Hanan. Written by: Oded
The growl of the engine heralded a large vehicle parked in the square above us. A few people enter. There are free chairs, there is an invitation for coffee, there is curiosity. The guide invites them to continue towards the well. “There are bees”, we warn. Another reason to sit down and not continue to the well… Shmulik hurries with a teapot on the gas. I begin to tell who we are. The guide stops me, “That sounds interesting, I’ll go call those who stayed on the bus.” At the end, about 30 travelers, aged 55 plus, sit with us – a group from Haifa area. They travel all weekend and sleep in Gvulot. During my explanation Rami also arrives. As usual, I tell about us and to emphasize my personal connection with Gaza, I tell that I transport patients in the “Road to Recovery” association. This provokes anger in one of the female travelers, “charity begins at home” she slaps me. I assure her that she will get her own right to speak, but she stands up defiantly and walks back to the bus. I pass the right to speak to a guy named Gidi. Gidi says that Gaza is a bloody demographic problem. You need to understand the Arab mentality. We are meant to live on our sword. There are good people among us who care about the society in which they live. Barak offered Arafat 93 percent and he said in a closed call that he would not agree to even 100 percent, because he needs the struggle to continue. Nahshi begins to speak. Someone else from the group also expresses some anger at the things that are said. Even the promise that it will soon be his turn to speak does not calm him down. Other voices from the group try to calm him down but in vain, he also angrily goes to the bus. At this point, the guide stops the meeting, “But”, he says, “Rami was my guide in the geography of Israel studies, let’s hear him and then we’ll go” Rami recently returned from the Biennale in Venice where he participated in the presentation of a joint project with Jordan on water issues. Next to them was a Palestinian pavilion with a map of the Nakba. Rami introduced himself as Israeli and the manager of the Palestinian pavilion said “You are Palestinian”. The parents of the Palestinian pavilion manager were born in Jaffa. Rami showed him the old Be’eri area on the map, the sulfur factory and marked where the Abu Mualik family lived “I’m from there” he says to the Palestinian. Had excellent relations with Abu Mualik, until he was deported to Gaza in 1948. The Palestinian said: You expelled Abu Mualik. Rami said “I’m not arguing about facts, I’m expressing sorrow” and adds that he respects the narrative. Today, Rami is engaged in regional joint planning. The climatic and environmental problems are common to all. The entire space behaves according to different codes according to its rulers, including Gaza. Today everything is going on with anger, everyone is in post-trauma. In today’s behavior we are not getting to a good place. We need to think in combination of regional forces. Rami learned in life not to make assumptions, you have to look at reality. The assumption that there is no one to talk to is incorrect. We see how easy it is to start a war. Sometimes a small landing, like the meeting here at the lighthouse, can open a different way of thinking. After the group leaves, a conversation develops between us about how to present things given that the environmental conditions do not facilitate patience. Perhaps there is no value at all to sitting here if the weather conditions do not allow comfortable conversation and listening. Perhaps we should speak much more briefly and when a large group comes, leave room for more people to express themselves. To notice that the listeners understand that we are “the lighthouse” and even if some of us are partners in other ventures (like Other voice, Road to recovery, etc.) – we, in this place and time, are the lighthouse and nothing else. Interesting and important discussion. It would be easier for me personally if others also introduce and guide the circle in the future. We were: Nahshi, Shmulik, Rami, Moshe, Oded and about 30 other travelers Written by: Oded