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