Encounter 116 – June 5, 2020

In our ‘mingling’ time at the start, someone asked about our arrested friends… This time, unlike the past weeks, someone else answered that they have ben seen, but their release is not yet on the horizon.
The feeling of frustration in their answer made Rami suggest that today’s topic of conversation would be “frustration”. Someone else reminded us of our resolution at the end of our last session, to continue with the topic of “land”.
The two topics very soon bonded… Since we had guests from the north of the country today, we held a real acquaintance circle. Eli, from the north, told about his activity with the “Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society” founded by the Palestinian Authority. Eli handles the encounters of young Israelis with Palestinians from the West Bank, especially Israelis of the pre-military service seminars who are met and influenced especially by people of the right-wing and political center. According to him, reinforced by what Shoshi said, also from the north of the country, these encounters have given the Israelis a perspective they had never before met among Palestinians.
I began a circle and spoke about my impressions of Meron Benbenisti’s descriptions in his book The White Prickly Pear [“sabra” in Hebrew], regarding the systemic and politically-guided erasure of the Palestinian landscape that had been filled with fruit tree groves, prickly-pear hedges and rural stone masonry and erased by the State of Israel after the 1948 war.
Micha cited poet Shaul Tchernichowsky’s “see, land, how wasteful we have been”…
Jaber complained about the denied possibility of getting to know the people living across the fence, a denial that leads to mutual demonization.
Nahshi emphasized the tremendous mass that land has. It’s a mass that reduces any obstacle trying to bring about separation.
Malki said that the topic of land directly associated with Mercedes Sosa’s “Cuando Tenga la Tierra” and had us hear it.
Rami spoke about how the world “has forgotten Gaza”, and said that just like air and water, land-earth exists on its own. The use of ideas such as “holding on to the land” or “sanctifying the land” does not define his own regard of the land. He also told us that the woods we sit in every week were planted artificially by the State of Israel over a vast area that had been farmed by Palestinians with grain fields. He calls this grove of pines, eucalypti and other trees “political trees”. Landscape-erasure erases one’s awareness, he adds in conclusion.
Micha wishes to say that this might not be relevant right now, but just at this moment in time many men and women rabbis in Jerusalem are fasting right now to commemorate George Floyd murdered by a Minneapolis policeman and Iyad Al Halaq murdered in Jerusalem by an Israeli policeman.
Roni touches us with a poem she has written commemorating Razan Al Nazar, shot to death by an Israeli sniper while caring – as a professional nurse – for the wounded during the protest demonstrations along the Gazan fence two years ago.
Bella said that land is supposed to be tied to “permanence” and “rootedness” but this is an illusion and she thinks just like Rami about the issue.
Shmulik, however, finds them wrong, thinking that land is definitely validated by humans.
Uzi related to a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, “On this Earth”, which Nomika had brought to the circle last week. Uzi examined the translation Nomika brought against other translations and found that a part of the poem emphasized by Nomika gets a different meaning in another translation. He brought this part in the original Arabic. Ghadir and Jaber approved that the translation he brought was the right one… Ghadir practically choked while telling about her forced separation from family members who cannot meet her because of the siege on Gaza. She was angered by the sign she saw near the entrance gate of Kibbutz Sa’ad calling for returning the sons home, meaning the Jewish, ignoring the two Bedouins, citizens of this state, also held hostage by the Hamas.
Just as we were finishing up, Uri and Sarit from Arad arrived. Seeing our circle they were sure they had come upon a birthday celebration. When they came closer they realized – just like all Israelis – that they know one of us and she knows them. Although we had crossed our 4 p.m. limit, they were a good excuse for another coffee round (Nahshi, who else…?) and the tasty tidbits covered against the local flies.
Finally, for all those afraid of the heat, it’s hard to share with you this pleasant place by photo or video, but it is really truly pleasant there!
Participants: Jaber, Rami, Roni, Malki, Uzi, Ghadir, Shmulik, Bella, Oded, Micha, Shoshi, Eli, Uri, Sarit
Witing: Oded