Encounter 124 – July 31, 2020

At last week’s Migdalor meeting, Uzi spoke of the Trump Plan, claiming it was not so bad, and that the Palestinians should accept it. Rami “challenged” Uzi and asked him to bring to our next meeting the part in the “Trump Plan” that discusses the Gaza Strip. Uzi took up the challenge, the Migdalor got together as usual the next week, and the combo of Uzi-Migdlor-Trump Plan is here for you…
Uzi opens, saying he read the plan several times. “Only” 181 pages in English, but – he reassures us – the English isn’t too “lofty”… (after all Trump needs to understand it…).
In the context of Gaza there’s an addition of two territorial blocs around the Halutza area and around Beer Milka. Which would add another 20 % to the Strip, with corridor connections. It remains unclear whether the connections are in the Egyptian or the Israeli area. Uzi holds on to his opinion that the Palestinians should accept the plan. They have something to gain (a state), which throws Israel into an internal conflict to such an extent that eventually Israel could not accept it and will look to the world as a refuser of the plan.
Hanan says he thinks that when something looks insoluble, we calm ourselves by drawing up a plan… Something we can discuss ad nauseum, but not execute… With or without a connection, Hanan tries to think about “tribalism” in the Arab world. He thinks that in the modern world of the industrial era tribalism disappeared as people left the rural countryside for the cities because that’s where work and eventually education lay. Arab society did not undergo industrialization and has remained agrarian/clannish/tribal, which can at times lead to violence because every tribe has its own rules. They need their own “Ben Gurion” to unite the tribes.
Uzi comments that they conquered the world as tribes (the Muslims) and Hanan says this happened prior to the industrial age. Hanan continues, saying this makes it easier for Israel to divide and rule. Hanan knows change will not come during his own lifetime, but he still holds on to hope. He doesn’t know how to change the tribal thing, but is not desperate.
Dina says there’s a kind of frustration because change is difficult. Change could be good for our neighbors. They are not open to progress. For example, she mentions the change that a school principal at Zarnouk wished to make and nearly cost him his life. His modernism clashed with traditional tribalism. She thinks that modernity should be combined gently with tribalism. It will take a long time. Our leaders and theirs do not try hard enough to work together… The ones from there who do come to us realize we have good things that they could integrate.
Malki has no actual ideology. For her, desperation is stronger than hope. There is an inability to deal with religion. She does not see any plan right now that could produce hope. Malki mentions the initiative of Shmulik and Nahshi who believe and act on the personal level, and make sure to reinforce encounters with Faisal and his family from Hizma. There are tiny flashes of hope, but mostly despair.
Roni is not willing to hold on to despair as a way of life, it neutralizes and does not help. She is reading a book by Gershon Baskin. She grew up on the “right-wing” side, and absorbed history strictly from the Israeli side, until she went on a mission to Egypt where she discovered that the regional ethos has a completely different side. So it with Gershon Baskin. He came from a religious Jewish family and his conscious trajectory was similar to hers. Roni emphasizes that she does not belittle the narrative with which she grew up but tries to accept the other side as it is and believes that the two narratives can be combined without confrontation. Still there is always the possibility of blaming the other side for not advancing, but that does not lead us anywhere.
Shmulik believes in historical processes that have historical depth. The past century saw processes that no one believed would take place. Here too. Shmulik believes that a single shared state will be founded here. The situation of the Gazans will have to be solved. Either by outside elements in some plan or other, or the two warring sides would do it by themselves. Shmulik has finished reading Meron Benbenisti’s book Dream of the White Sabra and like Benbenisti, he too has long since reached the same conclusion: One state!
Shmulik thinks that personal acquaintance with someone from a different world of content (like Faisal, for instance) breaks up condescendence of one over the other, for direct speech melts down prejudices. Benbenisti says that in the reality that exists between the river and the sea, no state can exist without being bi-national.
I (Oded) respond to Dina, after much reading and thought in recent years, that I try to be more aware of where I stand when I relate to the stance of the other. That’s why I do not see in myself or in my community the kind of example I should wish to emulate…
Namely, there is no community or person who is more or less “advanced”… There is difference! Differences can confront each other but if there is the will to understand, they can complement each other and even create partnership.
Rami thanks Uzi for the importance of precise information (the Trump Plan). We have very little knowledge about Gaza, says Rami, and it is very partial. Rami does not nurture hopes. Every week he takes with him from the circle new and interesting things. He also says this in regard to the encounter with Ashraf ‘Ajarmi who will join us next week. The circle will host him “as the circle does”. The situation in Gaza must change! Rami concludes.
Roni updates us on the state of our friends in Gaza. No news…
A bit before Manal and Salah arrive. They have been coming for three weeks now! They did not wish to speak, just say hello and drink coffee. It’s their holiday today, Eid Al Adha. Our heartiest holiday wishes.
Participants rounding the corners of the conflict…:
Hana, Dina, Malki, Uzi, Roni, Rami, Shmulik, Oded, Manal, Salah.
Wrote: Oded