Encounter 126, August 14, 2020

Women from the (Israeli) Jordan Valley are coming to our Migdalor circle today. We’re waiting…
In the meantime, two army vehicles arrive with water tanks for putting out fires. The driver-operators are invited for coffee. Some don’t stay, but continue to put out some fire. Three of them stay – Zohar, Ziv and Oron. “Operation Grandma”, the fire version… Three brothers, kibbutzniks from our area, all left and settled in various parts of the country, and now they have gotten together, and volunteered to help fight the fires… They are treated with coffee and also get Rami, who reviews for them the rationale of the phenomenon they are now witnessing – “The circle for Gaza awareness”.
Ziv tells us what he thinks is “the Left’s disease”, but a call to put out a fire break up his diagnosis too early, and they leave.
A bus arrives, with 15 women from the Jordan Valley and vicinity. The bus driver, Abed, joins the circle. Not all have visited with us before, so besides coffee, they too receive Rami’s explanation about the idea of the Migdalor – from the talks he had with Roni about the actual idea, through looking for the right place, to the verbal design that defines the idea – “hope can be navigated towards the place where a light shines”.
The group has reached us after visiting the “Black Arrow”, where the family of soldier Hadar Goldin and his army pals assemble every Friday. They spoke with Leah Goldin, Hadar’s mom. The Jordan Valley women came to us and are continuing from here to the Jerusalem demonstrations at Balfour St. (Netanyahu’s residence). The visit with us is short and they are many…
Rami concludes his opening by mentioning the wind that brings in the fragrances of Gaza, the sea, the port, the language and the history, and tells them about our friends in Gaza itself who know about us, and ask us to continue to remember and speak of their life conditions.
Tova, from the Jordan Valley, came out of curiosity. She is a member of “Women Make Peace”, demonstrates at Balfour, follows the goings-on in Gaza, writes in Facebook.
Tamar has been here several times. We are all Gaza, she says, all neighbors of Gaza. Rami attempts to “correct” her words – to say Gaza space. But the correction is not accepted. The State of Israel is not interested in those Israelis who suffer, not even Leah Goldin whom they have met. She tries to glean hope from the demonstrations. She says we have forgotten the people with all the demonstration hubbub. She misses the personal encounter with people. Solidarity that must dwell in actual encounter. At Migdalor she feels at home.
Abed comes from a bereaved family. He wants peace and security for everyone.
Untiring Roni creates ties and acquaintances with more and more Gazans. The contact began when she volunteered to transport ill patients from the checkpoints to hospitals in Israel. There is power in the personal encounter. Thinking differently does not mean the person is good or bad. She speaks of her contact with her friend Maha who lives in Gaza. They both participated in a conference in the US. Roni is helped by Maha when it comes to problems inside Gaza. Toni has a friend in Gaza who sends her a drawing of a flower every single Friday. Today he sent her a drawing of a lighthouse… She speaks of friends in Gaza who never give up and do blessed work trying to change the image of Israelis there. They wish for a normal life and want us to go on with our activity for this ‘trivial’ idea. Roni does not give up hope in spite of the difficulties. It’s easy to blame others, and responsibility should be shared by all those involved.
Rivka says that after Roni she has no words… She participated in a trip in March 2018, heard about our circle (as it was being born…) and came to check it out. She recalls being present when doctors (Arab citizens of Israel from the Physicians for Human Rights) who came out of Gaza, passed by Migdalor and told us first hand about the horrific hardships at the Gazan hospitals. Migdalor accompanies her ever since and she feels her own solidarity with the idea.
Shmulik wishes to say only three short things: It’s important to them, it’s important to him, and it will be solved.
Jaber found it so important to come, that he left a visit of a delegation from Aravah Institute who had come on a visit to his unrecognized village of Al Zarnouk.
Nahshi does not forget, and it is important that all his friends on both sides know it.
Racheli said that during Operation “Cast Lead” Israelis living near the border with Gaza evacuated and ever since they’re in contact. Gaza across the border is not on her mind in her daily routine.
Tamar says that here she feels more understood and understanding, more than elsewhere.
Esther has come “to clear her conscience”… But Rami’s optimism is contagious.
Edna did not speak but confirmed her support of what Esther said.
Roni says that wherever she sees light, there she goes.
For Noga, the encounters with people and their stories are touching, but it’s Sisyphean.
Ruti is one of Kefar Aza’s founders, she knew Gaza in the past.
Orit is here for the first time, Sarah for her fifth.
Tali says she is “sent to Gaza” (common Hebrew curse) by demonstration opposers. She was born in Beer Sheva and absorbed “much Gaza” in her childhood.
Miriam has come for the first time and wishes to continue coming, it’s enriching.
Anna too wants to continue coming. She too is here for the first time.
Moshe introduces himself only, for lack of time.
Manal speaks a bit about herself, her voice hoarse. The Jordan Valley women’s group leaves to continue their journey to Balfour, the circle empties, 4 p.m. grows near, and the refreshments from the Jordan Valley has remained on the table. Not for long… Until 4 o’clock we discuss present matters…
Participants in the circle (a bit elliptical…):
Zohar, Ziv, Oron, Rami, Tova, Roni, Oded, Shmulik, Manal, Nahshi, Jaber, Abed, Tamar, Rivka, Racheli, Tamar, Esther, Edna, Roni, Ruti, Noga, Orit, Sarah, Tali, Anna, Miriam, Malki, Moshe.
Wrote: Oded