Lighthouse meeting 114 – 22.5.2020

After a week of sizzling temperatures, we enjoyed a certain coolness on Friday. The shade under the pine trees was pleasant and welcomed those who chose to come as guests, meet and share coffee.
The first subject at hand was the idea of “refugee-dom”:
Rafi, participating through Zoom, spoke about his mother who had to emigrate from Austria to Palestine in the 1930s, against her will. He thinks that the state of the inhabitants of unrecognized villages in the Negev fit this definition, because even if they live where they were born, still the regime changes stole their rights and they became refugees in their own homes.
Mary, also through Zoom, sent the “UN Convention Regarding the Status of Refugees”, as signed in a special UN assembly in Geneva, June 28, 1951, and enforced since April 22, 1954.
Jaber identified himself as the only refugee sitting in our circle, as he is a Bedouin living in an unrecognized village. Roni argued that this somewhat stands out of the definition as “refugee”. One should not mix injustices – each evil has its own definition…
Roni gave her husband Ovadia as an example of a refugee – he was expelled out of Egypt as a youth because of the persecution of Jews in Arab countries following the founding of the State of Israel). He however did not bewail his fate and reconstructed his life.
Shmulik spoke about a Syrian soldier who beat up his commander and escaped, crossing the border into Israel. After spending time in an Israeli jail, it was decided to send him to a kibbutz under certain security limitations, until he would find a country to which he could emigrate. Thus he arrived at Kibbutz Nir Yitzchak (refugee?…).
Hayuta said that Roni’s words honed for her the idea of “choice” as a possibility of distinguishing between a person forced to leave their home and one who chooses to leave even if life is made worse with this choice.
Nomika spoke about her mother who was also brought to Israel against her choice, but the worse context her mother experienced regarding refugee-dom was when she served in the 1948 war as a propaganda officer and had to accompany foreign journalists in the north of the country. On their way, she received the message: “Don’t come to the Galilee, we’re cleansing the area”. This was the great expulsion of Palestinians into Lebanon and Syria.
Jaber said that acknowledge by those responsible for the injustice they caused comprises most of the solution, but a historical event that he mentioned excitedly led to an interesting discussion in the Whatsapp group. Jaber mentioned “bombs that were thrown into synagogues in order to make Jews escape to Israel”… Mary asked for clarifications, and Smadaar and Nahshi sent material about the Zionist underground in Iraq.
The second topic (brought up by Nomika), was the memory of each and every participant about the turning point in their consciousness – some event that brought about change in the way they saw reality in Israel.
Nomika began, telling about her childhood in a Hashomer Ha-Tza’ir kibbutz near a ‘developing’ town (usually populated by new immigrants from Arab countries), and her friendship with girls her age from that town who were callously chased away from the kibbutz by the kibbutzniks when they came to visit her, thus putting an end to that friendship.
Shmulik spoke about his connection with three Arab youths his age who worked in Kibbutz Ga’ash before he joined the army in the early 1960s. From them he first heard about the fate of Palestinians in the country.
Nahshai told us that his high school studies had been most selective, and that with his teachers it was decided that he would spend his time in the library rather than in class. There he was exposed to the weekly “Ha-Olam Ha-Ze” which, beside bare-breasted young women in its back cover, wrote about the injustices taking place in the country, among them occupation and military government. When Nahshi met friends from kibbutz Kerem Shalom who were fighting the injustices of Israeli occupation in Gaza, he realized the reality of the things he had read about.
Jaber told us he had wanted to become a tour guide, and someone told him to buy textbooks in Hebron, for they are cheaper there… His reading opened up for him alternative facts (to put it mildly) rather than what he had previously learnt in the Israeli school system (he had thorough Bible studies, and not a word about Palestinians…).
I spoke about the first Lebanon War, 1982, when I was exposed to false reports from the ground, and consequently began to doubt first the media and then all of the indoctrination I had absorbed in the life systems that surround us in this country.
Gili too (a first-timer) recalls entering that war as an ardent Israeli patriot, but when he was ordered to shoot to kill, he was not able to do so, and fired at the ground. A turning point.
Miri (also a first-timer) grew up in a religious-Zionist settlement, and when studying at Bar Ilan University, met a fellow student who was an Arab woman. They became friends and shared a room at the students’ dorms. Their friendship was tested both in December 1975 after a terrorist attack at Ramat Magshimim, and on Land Day in late March 1978 while they were still at university.
Roni’s turning point was when she spent time with her family on an agricultural mission in Egypt, and her daughter befriended a classmate of Palestinian origin. At first the girl’s mother boycotted the girls’ friendship, but by the end of their time there Roni and the Palestinian mother had become good friends, which naturally affected Roni’s views.
This time we finished at 4:30 p.m. That’s what happens when you enjoy what you’re doing…
Participants on the ground and by Zoom: Nomika, Shmulik, Jaber, Hayuta, Roni, Nahshi, Oded, Miri, Gil, Hagar, Mary, Rafi, Shmulike
Reported by Oded

Lighthouse 113 – May 15, 2020

On the way to the Lighthouse we pass by Kibbutz Beeri’s sunflower field. These days they are in full bloom and the magnificent sight is reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting from his stay in the Provence. It is beautiful here, and the sunflowers will be with us for several other Fridays.
We too, as in the Provence… sit in the shade of pine trees, that with some clouds filters the sunlight for us and offers us a nice breeze in spite of the day’s heat.
This date, May 15, commemorates the tragedy that befell the Palestinians expelled in 1948 and is observed by them and their various descendants. They call it the Nakba. We too, a few descendants of the expellers, wished to commemorate this day in common with them. Our parents and grandparents themselves also experienced human evil in their time.
Throughout the week preceding May 15, Nomika thought and suggested that Nakba would be a main topic for discussion in our circle. Ghadir backed up the idea and we met at the Lighthouse today.
Mary was there earlier. She came to check whether the heat was not too extreme for her. It didn’t pass the test and Mary returned home in her air-conditioned car.
Shmulik, Nahshi, Rami and I arranged the circle of chairs, and were soon joined by Roni, Mark, Jaber, Ghadir, Nomika, Shmulik, Micha and Hanan. Malki and Uzi also came after beginning the encounter through Zoom.
At 2 p.m. Nahshi opened the Zoom procedure and at the same time insisted on making and serving coffee… Through Zoom we were joined by Marwan (who is with us every week through Jaber’s translation), Moshe, Julia, Smadar, Vivian, Uri, Shelly, Arik and some new faces: Martin, Dalia, Rachel and Mohammad (who visited the circle once in the past).
After our getting-acquainted round we began listening to the participants. The idea today was to speak about the Nakba, and more specifically, when people had first heard the term. As in a polyphonic piece of music, the stories, views and feelings intertwined around the main theme (“polyphony” is a musical texture that contains several independence voices moving simultaneously and non-hierarchically).
At first we listened to our Zoom partners. After listening to them, they were offered to remain and listen to the physically present in the circle, so that whenever one began to speak, the laptop would be held close enough to hear and see them.
It seems rather difficult to transmit the listening experience in the circle over the computer screen, so that gradually the Zoom partners dropped out. This time it would be a mean task to summarize the participants’ words (25 people!), so we can simply suggest watching and listening to the recording that Nahshai mailed.
I believe that beyond empathy for the state and destiny of people who experienced the disaster, we shared the fact that all of us had reached a relatively late point in life when the term entered our mind and changed it. It is amazing to what extent the collective consciousness can be shaped through ruling apparatuses, and how difficult it is to contest or even simply consider it.
The ironic moment in this encounter for me was when Marwan, in his turn to speak, had to tell us when he first heard about the Nakba… Rami spoke of refugee-dom in general, and I thought this was definitely a topic to be discussed and contemplated in our next meeting or the one after it, or in general…
Some of the books, pictures and objects brought to our meeting will appear on our website.
The lovely sunflower field charmed us on our way home too.
Participants: Jaber, Shmulik, Nomika, Shmulik, Mark, Micha, Ghadir, Roni, Oded, Rami, Nahshai, Hanan, Malki, Uzi, Martin, Julia, Vivian, Marwan, Smadar, Rachel, Uri, Dalia, Mohammad, Shelly, Arik.


Lighthouse 112- 8.5.2020

We missed our Lighthouse, so we came to the open space near Gaza. We came to listen again to the voices criss-crossing in the wind. But we also wished to keep those who had been our partners in the virtual circles we held by Zoom in the past two months.
Shmulik, Nahshi and Oded unsuccessfully tried to take a shortcut to the Migdalor site, an attempt that cost us getting stuck in the mud ‘prepared ahead of time’ by the Kibbutz Be’eri irrigation system, and luckily we were unstuck by Rami and all four of us arrived at the sulfur plant. We were welcomed there by Roni and Jaber who had already prepared a circle of chairs.
In the pine clump next to the building we found a spot with reception and moved our circle to it.
We connected to Zoom and discovered Noga, Marwan, Leora, Rosie, Malki and Uzi. There was also a face we had only now met, named Tal, our volunteer translator into English. Her translations are posted on the Gaza-Lighthouse Facebook page.
While holding an improvised acquaintance circle among all the participants, at home and on the ground, Mary arrived, well protected against evil viruses. She too as we all did, lets go of the protective gear and soon lets the pleasant wind – and atmosphere – do their stuff.
One by one we introduce ourselves to Tal who is new to all of us except Nahshi, our contact with her.
Leora tells us, before leaving for her Friday cooking, that she has found work at a hostel for the mentally ill, where she has met a patient who teacher her Arabic. A win-win situation…
Malki and Uzi, driving, stay with us by Zoom and listen until they arrive at their destination.
When I mention that today, May 8, 2020, marks 75 years since the end of World War Two and the Nazi surrender, that for some reason stretches over three days, Rosie comments that in England and the rest of the world today is the day.
Noga, who must have understood that combining with Zoom is difficult, has taken her leave.
Marwan, with translations by Jaber stayed, as did Tal.
At 15:30 we part with Zoom and with them as well.
Roni shows a letter from 1938 received by her grandfather, Dr. Emanuel Olsberger (poet, translator, researcher of folklore, Zionist activist, Esperantist, orator and linguist. He translated classical literature into Hebrew from various languages. He initiated the bringing of the Cochin Jews of India to Israel, and until he died was active on behalf of this community). The letter was from Jawaharlal Nehru (leader of the moderate socialist faction in India’s National Congress Party during the struggle for independence from the British empire. He later became India’s Prime Minister and served in this office for about 17 years, until he died). In his letter, Nehru achingly related to the goings on in Palestine and recommended that the Jews rely less on the British in their attempts to constitute a state, and negotiate directly with the Arab inhabitants of the land – as this was fairer and more sustainable… The letter is a sobering document in its wisdom and relevance, to this day.
Jaber tells about two brothers who were in bitter conflict and had dug a deep water ditch to separate them. The older brother brought a contractor and asked him to build a wall too, while he – the brother – goes away for a while. The contractor gets the picture, builds, and instead of a wall, a bridge over the ditch is created. When the older brother returns, he is surprised to find his younger brother embracing him and thanking him for the brave measure he took…
Roni tells us about the worldwide efforts made to free our detained acquaintances in the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, there is no news.
Rami tells us about a fascinating encounter he had while staying in Tamera (Portugal), with Jurgen, a German whose life and his father’s had been tied with Israel’s wars. Eventually they founded a plant dealing with solar energy, and Jurgen has taken upon himself to do good in the world.
We spoke of our will to continue and combine Migdalor circles by Zoom. We shall try to improve this and suggestions are more than welcome.
Our last topic was collaboration with “Another Voice” organization. This is a positive direction of action, but because of the different character of the groups rules will be very difficult to implement. We could definitely maximize every organization’s advantages for various types of action. The circle this time ended not with exiting Zoom but with entering our cars…
Participants: Rosie, Rami, Roni, Mary, Malki, Marwan, Nahshi, Noga, Jaber, Shulik, Leora, Uzi, Oded and Tal.

Lighthouse 111 Zoom – May 1, 2020

Today’s circle revolved around the idea of “neighbors”.
It was facilitated by Jaber from his home in the unrecognized village Al Zarnouk. Since the place is not recognized by the State of Israel, it has no regular connection to internet infrastructure, so this Zoom meeting suffered much technical trouble. Still we held our circle properly, with Jaber facilitating and shortly translating everything that was said into Arabic so that Marwan could understand and take part.
Most of us are old hands at this circle, and we keep sharing our various feelings towards our neighbors in the Gaza Strip. Still, there is always someone saying something new, or reminding us, such as Smadar who spoke of the colored pencils she bought in Gaza as a child, which reminded Rami of a poem about a color box that Tali Shorer wrote many years ago, when she was 13. He read us all this charming poem.
It was interesting to hear Maya Segal (mother of Mir, who spoke before her), who had arrived from Russia to Israel 30 years ago, and notices that all of us, inhabitants of the region, are victims of cynical rulers.
Vivian spoke about a picture of a hotel she stayed in while visiting Gaza, about her activity to bring hearts together, and the initiative that was interrupted when the Second Intifada broke out.
Mary showed a video she took of two miniature olive trees she once bought – the one planted outdoors didn’t know it was supposed to be miniature, and grew up as a large, beautiful tree. The one that stayed in a flower pot indoors wilted and died. So here we have a live image of freedom vs. closure…
Bella reminded us that this was Mayday, and that we used to demonstrate for a better world. “I don’t think we were that successful…” said Bella, sadly.
I was helped by the popular Italian song “Avanti Popolo” sung and played by a young Italian woman from the porch of her home to raise the spirits of her neighbors, sunken in the Corona-virus crisis. “Brotherhood of hardship” shared by people under lockdown…
Julia proudly showed a photo of her grandchildren celebrating May 1 in Tel Aviv. Julia has been working on a research study for a year-and-a-half now. One of the issues at hand is Israeli people’s attitude towards the Gazans. Most of her interviewees, left and right wingers alike, use the word “miserable” to describe the state of the Palestinian Gaza Strip residents.
Uri has told us more than once about father, the physician who in the 1960s saw giving health services to Negev Bedouins as his life calling. This time Uri brought a video that he and Naomi had made about his father (whom the Bedouins named “Abu Asa”) and his life work. Even the award granted his father in 1966 by the Albert Schweitzer Foundation was donated by him to create a medical infrastructure for Bedouins in Jordan, and raised hell in Israel.
And speaking of Jordan… Rami, using a photo as well, spoke about the delegations that reconstructed the nomads travelling the “perfume route” on the backs of camels loaded with myrrh and other good-smelling stuff on their way from the Dead Sea or the Timna copper mines to the city of Gaza and its port. Rami participated in the reconstruction of these journeys, shared by people and camels from the entire region, from Jordan to Gaza. He had slept in the hotel shown in Vivian’s picture…
Mention of the perfumes raised Nahshi’s memory of some medication he had once taken made of one of them…
Towards the end, ‘Atawa spoke. His family bears the 1948 tragedy in actual physical fact after being separated and divided between Israel, Jordan and the Gaza Strip, when the borders were finalized at the end of the war. He expresses sorrow about Israel’s past and present treatment of the tragedy of people who do not belong to the “right” camp.
Rami concluded with thoughts and hints about renewing our physical encounters at the Migdalor (Hebrew for lighthouse…). Mere thoughts and insinuations… Jaber stayed on for a few minutes to translate everything for Marwan who showed impressive patience listening to a language he does not understand.
Present were Roni, Shmulik, Jaber, Rosie (from Sweden), Nahshi, Limor, Mary, Mir, Maya, Uri, Oded, Smadar, Vivian, Julia, Bella, Mirale, Malki, Marwan, Ghadir, ‘Atawa.

Lighthouse 110 Zoom – April 24, 2020

To write up today’s circle, I waited for Nahshi to send the recording. I thought I would hop from one speaker to another and listen only to their opening remarks in order to get into the feel of things… I found myself listening and being moved from the stories and their tellers time and again, and listening to the whole thing without ‘hopping’…
At the end of last week’s circle, we took upon ourselves to tell something personal about Gaza. We decided Nomika would facilitate and we would try to bring in new participants. During the circle, facilitated very well by Nomika, I felt that most of us preferred to relay their negative experiences of Gaza – a place that arouses memories lying between “unpleasant” and actually traumatic. Still, there were even some good experiences being told, and even – in Roni’s case – hope.
From Uri and Rafi we heard horrible things about their military service, Julia told us about her conversation with a journalist in wartime, Nomi about the difficulty to ‘become accustomed’ to violent rounds, Nomika about Israelis condescending towards Gazans, Rami about his childhood memories of the 1967 war and the horrors of war in Gaza and in his kibbutz, and Jaber about a “visit” at the Khan Yunes detention facility.
Shmulik brought a poem he wrote following one of the cruel war-actions against Gaza. In general, poems played an important part in today’s circle. Rami too, like Shmulik, read a poem he had written, Nomi wished to have us hear a Mercedes Sosa song called “Solo lo pido dios” (I only ask this of God), Nomika brought a poem by Mahmoud Darwish titled “On this Earth”, and Ravit gave us Dalia Rabikovitch’s poem “Pride” (‘Even rocks break’).
Hanan and Moshe preferred to take part in the circle by sending videos, not be present physically. Noga shared with us a video she is working on with and about the youngsters dancing in Sderot and building up ties of brotherhood and cooperation with the youngsters across the line, Uri shared with us a video (one of many, I take it) he has been making with his partner, which for me was a pleasing artistic pause.
So our circle this time was varied in its expressive ways, interesting and moving.
Finally we danced, led by Liora. I remind everyone that we are still only half a team, and are waiting to collaborate with our other half, across the line.
Participants: Roni, Nomika, Julia, Ye’ela, Hagar, Ravit, Nahshi, Limor, Rami, Uri, Rafi, Oded, Mir, Maya, Malki, Shmulik and his granddaughter Mori, Nomi, Yirmi, Bella, Liora, Noga, Micha, Pnina, Hanan and Moshe (in spirit).

Lighthouse 109- April 17, 2020

Another Lighthouse circle by Zoom – for the 5th time
We speak of arrests in Gaza, mention the pandemic, talk about the day after. The day after the detainees are released, the day after the pandemic, the day present rulers slip into the past, the day a new dawn will rise, the sun will shine, the day that will bring the fulfillment of hope, when… when something good will finally take place.
In the meantime, before that day comes, we should keep our heads low, beware of noisy media, express ourselves with caution, responsibility, secrecy, hinting, a slight nod of the head, shift of the eyes, silence… We pose a danger group for the detainees for we are too Israeli, we pose a group at risk for the pandemic because we are too old, we pose a threat to rulers because we are… wait a minute – some of the “we” are in fact they. Brave people who suffer. So in order to them to suffer less we must keep quiet, not interfere, not come close, not call up, not talk, just listen. Quietly, without publicity, without declarations, without shouting, without saying anything precarious, provocative, disconcerting, inciting.
That’s what John says, and Dubi and Roni and Arik and Ghadir, and we all understand. We are well-versed in understanding such feelings. We have been through several rounds of understanding. And still we devote words and listen to what lies in between the lines when they repeat and emphasize the obvious.
After we said it all, and understood and kept silent and listened, the question arises – what next?
In those days before the pandemic, when we still sat facing each other on school chairs and coffee cups changed hands without fear of viruses, and were filled time and again, the circle was open to the four tribes that our leader had counted, and anyone was invited to join. Perhaps we shall open it again.
Now that each and every one of us sits in their precise chair at home and sips the precise coffee of their choice, perhaps this is the time to invite them to join the Zoom circle… Apparently there is an agreement on this direction.
Hanan adds that perhaps the spirit of the circle should be resuscitated.
Rami suggests we post short videos, personal, to deepen our acquaintance. Inspiration for this idea comes from the video of Julia’s lovely garden, implanted in her art works.
Before finishing, Rami brings up an anecdote: did we know that the origin of the familiar “gauze” bandage/ fabric is the name “Gaza”? No, we didn’t. Now we know. Interesting. Anyone interested in delving into the subject, please turn to Google…
Next week we shall bring others, see videos, and Nomika will facilitate.
Take care.
Participating: Roni, Rami, John, Dubi, Liora, Oded, Jaber, Hanan, Shmulik, Julida, Nomika, Ghadir, Arik, Noga, Mary, Nahshi, Marwan, Micha (and Pnina?), Uzi, Malk, Mir, Uri, Noa and Shirin.

Lighthouse 108 Zoom – April 10, 2020

It’s Saturday already, and the report is still not completed. For some reason, I’m having difficulties summing it up. As it were, the information is open and out there in the media. Arrest of a journalist and social activists in the Gaza Strip. They are accused of normalization with the Zionist enemy. Activity for normalization is considered “treason, a crime, and wrong on religious, national and moral grounds”. As it were. In fact, the people under arrest are known, their activity open, and the claims against them do not suggest any ‘security’ accusation. On the basis of this information, a Zoom meeting of several worried Israelis is being held… Is the Zoom talk of worried Israelis endangering the security of the Gaza activists (who are not hiding their activity)? Will writing the names of the Israelis and Palestinians who are united in their worry about the arrestees harm, or benefit them, or not change their situation? I don’t know. It’s hard… Unlike the previous Zoom talks, in this one the pandemic is pushed to the margins. The arrest of our Gaza friends takes up most of the circle time. Against the background of information coming from Gaza we try to explain the situation to ourselves, and realize our own possibilities for action. The claims raised against Rami are outrageous. In times of pandemic, this whole heel-digging in pathetic “patriotism” seems irrelevant. Rami has a direction, a horizon, a plan of action. He is active and an initiator. Among us are many who understand the Palestinian position and are willing to meet it. Rami’s actions are geared so that Palestinians too will understand Israelis.
About an hour and a half after our Zoom begins, Liora speaks, and in charming nonchalance tells about her talk with Manar. “We spoke for several hours”, she says… Two young women speaking about trouble that one of them has been subjected to against the background of conflict between the two nations. Each of these women belongs to a different nationality. They talk. They do not argue, do not confront each other, do not make accusations. They talk. How relaxed that word is, “talking”. How simple. And if that whole madness is “cleared”
up around it, how natural, how normal. True, it’s not only Liora, it’s Roni and Nahshai and Rami and Arik and Julia and many others who talk with our friends in this split up space, but the simplicity with which Liora describes their talk has a different kind of normal feel to it. Within the existence of the ongoing conflict to which the pandemic has now been added, we are all trying to reach that same simplicity of conversation. In the background, the conflict and the pandemic are two curtains that wrap all of us, a kind of setting for a play we all take part in whether we like it or not, refusing to be extras and trying to rewrite the dark plot and turn it into an optimistic text. All the talkers on Zoom are very focused on the arrest of our activist friends. Various directions of action are suggested. They all pass through all of our sieves. Some of us were present in the large Zoom talk of April 6, as a result of which, apparently, the activists were arrested. There is no clear way, we must wait and see how things turn out for the Palestinians and hope for good news, light our lighthouse and speak with another voice. Light and voice, vision and sound, observation and listening.
Participants were Hanan, Jaber, Roni, Nomika, Arik, Rami, Oded, Noga, Malki, Liora, Nahshi, Shmulik, Ghadir, Marwan, Mary, Julia, Neta

Lighthouse 107 – April 3, 2020 – by Zoom

Hello friends,
Another Zoom meeting of the Lighthouse circle ha ended. Another encounter in which the pandemic occupies most of the participants’ thoughts and words. Apparently we don’t really understand the new reality imposed on us now.
I was glad when Rami decided to run the encounter along the guidelines we had before the pandemic broke out.
We met again, Rami, Shmulik and myself, before the Zoom circle, in the open space near the sulfur plant, both to “feel” our physical closeness (still maintaining the proper “social distancing” restrictions….) and – at least on my part – spend time in the open and imagine unrestricted space.
Rami hurried home to facilitate the Zoom circle. Shmulik and I returned to Nir Yitzchak, while Shmulike took part via my cell phone in the circle while I drove. Once in Nir Yitzchak, Shmulik went home and was partaking only in some of the circle-time.
I enjoyed hearing and seeing everyone. I was glad to see some of the new faces who now take part in the Zoom meetings, such as Alaa, Abu Ahmad, Mohammad, Elisheva, Eden and Avi.
It was so touching to watch the video shared by Liora and Alaa. How sad it was to hear Jeff describe the situation in New York and his family’s escape from the pandemic threat. How ironic to suddenly discover with what speed we give up our ideal of freedom, and how we don’t only understand but actually feel the meaning of closure! Closure which, to our sorrow and shame, is such a routine matter for our neighbors.
Most of the time I try to cope with the instructions, orders and regulations landing on us from all sides, and the basic fear of becoming ill, and how all of this affects my mind. I seek a hold on this new entity and discover that what I miss most is physical contact, suffering the lack of trust in the most trivial physical touch of a kiss, an embrace, a caress, sitting close together, being near. I miss the actual circle!
It is not obvious that inside the pandemic panic around us there are people actually caring for neighbors and maintaining a daily or weekly routine of meetings. Although we repeat the same words and phrases time and again, and even if we are a droplet of human simplicity in an ocean of hostility, this persistence will see its rewards. When we finally meet our friends from Gaza and hug them, we shall – for a moment – be the happiest people in the world.
Present were: Nweta, Mirale, Vivian, Jaber, Nahshi, Julia, Rami, Avi, Adi, Mohammad, Rami, Alaa, Abu Ahmad, Shmulik, Rami, Manar, Malki, Elisheva, Mary, Marwan, Ghadir, Adir, Liora, Noga, Jeff, Roni, and I –

Lighthouse 106 (Zoom) – March 27, 2020

Ghadir: When we speak of solidarity, it’s not just people in the neighborhood or community, or solidarity with large states in the world. There is one very small place inhabited by 2 million people, our neighbors in the Gaza Strip, the largest prison in the world.
These days we are mostly busy with ourselves, our families, a few of us with their work, and many people and organizations contributing to the community and volunteering in various ways, but the political situation too is ominous.
We may have forgotten what is going on in Gaza, in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, but we in Migdalor and in “Another Voice” have not forgotten. We are, after all, neighbors, often sharing similar experiences. Because gatherings are no longer allowed, and we cannot come to the “lighthouse” (Migdalor), last week we began to hold virtual circles through Zoom. In our Zoom talk today about 7 friends from Gaza joined us, as well as Hanin from Portugal and Marwan from Cyprus. There is much light and hope on this day, in spite of the difficult situation and politics.
And here is Rami Haruvi who has come especially to Migdalor to speak with us from there and not abandon it even in these dark days.
Roni: Ironically, it is the youngsters of Gaza who have now given us some optimism, hope. The conversation began with despair, hopelessness, sadness over the place where we are now both politically and socially. Over our inability to generate real change. It’s not enough to identify with our neighbors, not enough that we regard people as people regardless of religion, race or gender. It’s not enough for us to hold out our hand to them. We must do something so that this message gets across and echoes. Otherwise nothing will change. Said by a member of our circle.
Then the young people from Gaza joined, and changed the atmosphere, I think. Perhaps it’s this Corona virus that placed them where the whole world is now. The connection, their smile and laughter changed the atmosphere in our circle and I thank them for this. Thank you Rami and Manar, Alaa, Ahmad and Mohammad, Marwan and Hanin. And thanks to everyone who joined us, whom we heard and who heard us. Let us hope for the best and do things to make it happen. Stay healthy, big hug to all.
Present: Roni, Ghadir, Oded, Shmulik, Rami, Rami, Manar, Mohammad, Alaa, Ahmad, Marwan, Hanin, Leora, Rosie, Rotem, Noga, Mary, Mahara, Mark, Vivian, Julia, Or, Shani, Rachel, Avi, Malki, Uzi, Shelly, Smadar, Yael, Judy, Ariella, Nahshi, and another 3-4 friends from Gaza who did not speak and whose names were missed.

lighthouse (Zoom) 105 – March 20, 2020

Nahshi sits, one coffee cup after another, under a pandemic cloud and darkening dictatorship mode, and ponders: how do we continue to shed light with our migdalor (Hebrew for “lighthouse”)?
How do we continue to meet without fear of disease, arrest, surveillance, checkpoints, death…?
How will Mohammad get to the mountain? How will Moses speak to his People at Mount Sinai? Will Jesus continue to bear his Cross until all suffering disappears from the world?…
Well, okay – the mountain will come to Mohammad, and along with Moses and Jesus they will Zoom!
Thus, at Friday, 2 p.m., instead of inviting the public to light the lighthouse at the sulfur plant as we are wont, Nahshi initiates a zoom session and invites the public to a virtual lighthouse.
Three languages (Arab, English and Hebrew), six lands (Palestine, Israel, Sweden, Cyprus, Portugal and Switzerland), no borders and one Big Brother listening in as is now the law of the land…
36 participants join our Zoom talk, in small squares on the screen. Some visually and orally, some only visually, and some just with their names. Nahshi reports there were others who tried to connect…
This whole Zoom thing is facilitated by the one and only Roni.
Most of our talk is about the pandemic’s effect on our lives, about the world outside Gaza. A world used to freedom and open space, and suddenly finds itself under lockdown, in real or imaginary fear, swamped with frightening, paralyzing or fake information.
The Israelis among us are also addressing a democracy that has turned into a Coronacracy and is on the best way to becoming a bullshitocracy. We now not only “understand” Gazans, we feel too. We feel the heavy hands of the sovereign. We feel what it is like to run our lives under edicts and laws, which like with Gazans, impact our personal and communal freedom.
Something personal: in spite of the restrictions on the one hand, and the possibility of joining the circle from home on the other, I felt the need to be present at the sulfur plant and address my private depression by talking with Rami and Shmulik over a cup of coffee. We climbed up to a high spot (near the water tank) to get reception and be able to participate in the Zoom talk.
I’m not sure my depression went away – after all the pandemic is getting worse – but the coffee was still good.
On my way back I thought that the Hebrew words for stupidity and naivete sound similar (timtum and tmimut)…I’m still trying to figure out why I thought of myself when relating to these two).
Participants: R:oni, Rami, Manar, Mohammad, Noa, Mark, Hanan, Arik, Julia, Ghadir, Mark, Rami, Oded, Shmulik, Jaber, Malki, Uzi, Nomika, Moshe, Liora, Leora, Micha, Mahera, Rachel, Marwan, Noga, Vivian, Neta, Avi, Daniel, Hanin, Rosie and her husband, Adir, Limor and Nahshi. In total the camera caught 36, and several others were present a well.