encouner 120 – July 3, 2020

Most of the participants today are our “regulars”. Two new ones joined us for the first time. One of them does not speak Hebrew so today’s circle took place partly in English and partly in Hebrew, translated into English.
For the sake of our new guests, we spoke about ourselves and our motivation to gather every Friday since mid-March, 2018.
Rami spoke of his childhood recollections, experiencing Gaza first as a threat. After the 1967 war, it became a routine of shared life and ended up with various initiatives. He spoke of his belief in a shared space and touched upon the reasons that led him to initiate “Migdalor” (lighthouse).
Shmulik came to this space in 1964, and ever since he has worked with cattle, worked with Gazan workers, contractors and merchants for many years. Like Rami, he too believes in shared space.
Hanan brings hope and meets hope at the circle. He draws strength from it. Hanan feels that the participants speak sincerely, do not fake it and are not afraid to express their feelings. He is exposed to new knowledge at every single meeting, trying to overcome the despair that reality holds, and bringing strength and optimism.
Mark spoke in English and here’s what I gathered: Over half his life he has already lived here in Israel. He is not optimistic, and thinks he is not doing enough for Gaza. At times he feels that the language we use about reality in Gaza is not strong enough. He hopes a peace movement will arise, aspiring for equality for all, and thinks that we Israelis must change ourselves, and not that Palestinians can change us.
For Jaber, living in an unrecognized village in the Negev under touch conditions, coming to the circle every Friday means reminding himself that there are people who suffer more. Gaza for him is also family, and he feels it his human duty not to forget the suffering that Gazans are living with.
Oded speaks of the moral duty to see and hear the hardships that our neighbors in Gaza are undergoing, and especially when we, their neighbors, enjoy far better conditions of life and are to a great extent responsible for their dire situation.
Ghadir comes from Beer Sheva. She was born in Acre and recalls frequent visits to Gaza in her childhood. She thinks Arab citizens of Israel should be the bridge that connects their fellow Palestinians and the Jewish Israelis. Everyone must understand that there are other people living in this space, and not just think of their own people.
Dor was born in L.A. to Israeli parents. She has grandparents in Kibbutz Zikim, as well as in Netiv Ha-Asara. As a child she came on frequent visits and remembers the sabra fruit (prickly pear) and working in the greenhouses with her grandfather. In the US she studied for her BA at UC Berkeley, and came to further her studies in Israel at the institute for environmental studies where she is now. In Berkeley she learned about indigenous struggles worldwide, and felt that in order to get to know the local conflict better, she should come back and check her own origins. “Generating change in the world necessitates self-examination”, she says. During her visits here as a child she saw her grandfather speaking Arabic with the workers in the greenhouses and couldn’t understand why there is so much hostility and victimhood. When she left home and went to college she was exposed to other sides and complexities of the conflict, not only on the Israeli side but on the Palestinianone as well. It’s not hope that drives her, but rather tradition and values that necessitate attention to what is going on here. She is often challenged by her Israeli cousins and accused for “not being from here”… So she feels a tremendous need to learn about “Israeli-ness” without giving up her “American-ness”, and bridge her own dual identity when discussing the conflict.
Dina, who has lived in the area over 40 years now, feels it is important not to be indifferent to the situation. She is peeved by the fact that many people don’t feel a need to do something to change it for the better! She hopes that in spite of all the difficulties and the dim horizon, voices like ours will grow. Coming to the circle is a bonus for learning something new that can be contributed by every person.
Marin from Azerbaijan (for who we spoke English…) thinks it is important for people who suffer to know that someone is thinking about them. He too, like Dor, studies in Israel at the institute of environmental and nature studies. Azerbaijan for him is everything – home, family, memories, depth of feelings.
Malki who has lived in Gvulot for the past five years is physically gloser to Gaza. She comes with despair and frustration, not hope. The leaderships are not providing any reasons for optimism. Living in our region does not enable one to ignore this, and she comes here to meet good people who give her hope and goes home feeling better. The circle sows a seed and is certain of its success. Gaza for her does not mean memories and experiences, but something that needs to be solved. She emphasizes, saying “Migdal-or” (“or” in Hebrew means light…)
Rami summarizes, saying that the fact that a place exists which is sought after to be helped – this in itself is a worthy cause. Whoever is in the midst of a storm, and knows there is a light to be aspired to, feels he can continue and believe and reach that light. Rami emphasizes our commitment to go on and define our circle with the purpose of raising “Gaza awareness”!
Participants: Ghadir, Dor, Dina, Marin, Malki, Rami, Shmulik, Hanan, Mark, Jaber, Oded.
Wrote: Oded