Encounter 132 – September 25, 2020

Reconciliation for everyone,
Last week our circle was held in its shorter version. The approaching lockdown did its job and before things actually locked down, good people came and sat together at our lighthouse, came early, for a shorter while, and Nahshi summarized.
The week that has passed since has not been easy. The pandemic, Bibi, threats of draconian new laws, uncertainty and past life that has been locked in a bubble from which it is seen only vaguely. And if you ask, naturally Palestinians’ everyday life is clearer and their stress more understandable.
In the media, the patronizing sector spoke about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the others about Mirit Harari – two women who recently passed away. Hardly anyone spoke of Meron Benbenisti… The heading of this summary – “reconciliation for everyone” is a dedication to Benbenisti who believed that “peace” is suited for a solution of two communities struggling over the same space, and “reconciliation” is what we should aspire and in which we must invest resources.
When Friday grew close I realized I’d be at the Migdalor circle. A kind of need. Not as defiance of the lockdown instructions, nor dealing the challenge – I simply have to be there. So does Shmulik…
Bu the way, Shmulik and I know practically everything about each other, even though he always knows better, always! My only advantage is “last week”… since he is without a smartphone, I always tell him what Ghadir wrote, what Roni told us, how Rami got poetic and which interesting article Nomika shared… Thus too this time – we both sat in the shade of the pine trees with a cup of coffee and argued as we always do.
In the silence around us I heard a vehicle driving away and recognized Rami’s. I called and he assured me that it was he indeed. He asked whether we are violating lockdown, and said he would be sharing a video he had just taken, right away. He won’t be coming today, he said.
Gladly, he was not true to his word and a little after 2 o’clock he called to check… 10 minutes later he arrived with Nomi. We sat 2 meters apart as required, and Nomi tried to find out why I was depressed. As usual, an interesting discussion ensued among us four about the meaning of “losing” and the hardship of “losers”, where should one draw the line between addiction to current events info and total escapism, what it means to “care” and other things… When they arrived Rami “diagnosed” me right and asked whether I was depressed.
When they had gone, I realized again how powerful encounter is.
On Friday morning I received a message from Ghadir, protesting our not having initiatied a Zoom meeting. “Too bad”, she wrote. “These are hard times. I’d like to talk and share so many things.” So right.
I’ll be at the Migdalor this coming Friday as well.


Encounter 131 – September 18, 2020

Shortly before the lockdown, we got together – Roni, Rami, Hanan, Malki, Uzi and Nahshi – to wish each other a better new year and keep the candle of hope alight, the hope of ending conflicts and oppression.
There were the traditional apple and honey, as well as wine, honey cake, bread and coffee.
After exchanging opinions about Corona in our parts as well as in Gaza, Hanan told us how the New Year is celebrated in his own kibbutz – Tamuz in the town of Beit Shemesh, and about life in general in a kibbutz that is “one-generational and one-time”.
Roni updated us about our friends across the fence, and told us about the two encouraging Zoom talks on the part of the Gisha organization, with Gazans taking part who showed initiative and are pushing projects for society and economy.
Rami told us he managed to donate to the “We are not numbers” group and even received a confirmation and thanks from the Gazans themselves.
We parted with Uzi’s New Year greeting: let it be a medium year – better than the one ending now, and less of the better one that will follow.
Happy New Year…

Encounter 130 September 11, 2020

The topic we discussed this week was the “neighborly Sukkah” (arbor, tabernacle) like (or different) the one we held last year. At the end of this report I’ll summarize briefly.
The circle today was different (at least for me) – it was “tired”. Perhaps some would blame the heat. Indeed, not as hot as last week (today temperatures reached 35 degrees compared to last week’s 43), but it was still hot. It didn’t bother me. Nahshi’s usual coffee was acceptable as always.
Even the conversation that Nahshi and Shmulik had with Gazan Ibrahim (one of the brothers who used to work in their kibbutz, Nir Yitzhak, in the past…) did not energize the circle and remained among those three.
The feeling was that the circle is “heavy”, that it needs some power to move it and even that works only for a short while, after which fatigue reigns again.
We began the circle with Hayuta, Rami, Shmulik, Nahshi and myself. We knew that Ghadir and Jaber were on their way. I hoped they would arrive and “arouse” the circle. Ghadir tried, and Jaber also yielded to the general tired feeling.
On the way home I thought that in fact, in the past half-year, we were disconnected from the two “life lines” that energized our meetings: one was the talks with our Gazan friends, that ceased after they were arrested, and second was the anticipation of meeting, inviting and talking with random travelers, which had challenged our discourse. We continue to come and meet every week, and it still instills in us the sense that we do something, but the lack of encountering different voices has a cumulative effect. The lack of those “life lines” over time has flattened the encounters and slowly created a condition where we might “fall” into listlessness once in a while. It happened today, and I believe we should think of ways to refresh these meetings.
As for the “neighborly sukkah”…

  1. If we are going into lockdown (which is really happening) clearly nothing can be done.
  2. If there is no lockdown, several suggestions were made. If I understood correctly, the suggestion that sounded right for now was to concentrate on two Fridays (the eve of Sukkot holiday, and the last day – Simhat Torah) and direct our efforts to those times. Extend the encounter and publicize it. Organize a Zoom meeting with many participants at the end of Yom Kippur, including especially people with special ties to Gaza. Since during the Sukkot week (if there is no lockdown, of course) members of “Women Making Peace” are planning to travel around here, and wish to have some guidance about the area, we would take it upon ourselves, including a circle and coffee at the end of the tour, at the Migdalor.

Other ideas, such as repeating what we did last year, were heard very indifferently, especially because even if no lockdown is announced, people are not traveling much and the logistics are not simple.
If anyone has a different new idea, naturally we’d be glad to hear.
That’s it. That was our talk…

Participants: Shmulik, Rami, Nahshi, Hayuta, Ghadir, Jaber, and myself

Encounter 129 – September 4, 2020

Today’s meeting took place under the present extreme heat wave.
Rami felt responsible for the participants’ health and notified them that “it’s better to stay home today”… but, (I allow myself to quote singer Sanderson…) – “We still made it”.
The place we usually sit in our circle is a few degrees cooler thanks to the wind, the shade of the trees and the spot’s altitude compared to its surroundings. But come on, 43 degrees centigrade in the shade…
Rami and I took off our shirts… Not a very attractive sight, but when it’s so hot and no women guests arrive, we take them off…
After going over the “angry” whatapp messges about our coming anyway, we began talking about old books, especially Rami and Shmulik.
Nahshi and I were more interested in the bread and olive paste that Nahshi brought long. And the coffee.
Shmulik spoke about old book stores in Tel Aviv and Rami about the book collection of the late Meir Buchsweiler who had been a member of Kibbutz Be’eri.
Suddenly, as some desert mirage, a car passed by with a man and a woman. Like survivors on some desert island we waved our arms, all four of us, but they didn’t even open a window to ask what… The heat had beat even curiosity.
Rami brought a subject that was put more or less as follows: since the 1880s, namely about 140 years, Zionism exists. It can be either totally justified, or totally negated. But if each of us had the chance to mark the point during that time when s/he began to doubt the justification of Zionism, where does this point lie on the timeline amidst the historic events… Fascinating! We all spoke and brought up emotion versus knowledge, books and facts, world history events versus local ones, and more.
Coming to our spot, we had thought the hot weather would shorten our meeting and we’d leave after maximum 2 hours. However, the talk became interesting and a breeze coming from Gaza’s beach improved things.
At 15:15 Uri came after Nahshi assured him we’re still there. He joined Shmulik, Rami, Nahshi and Oded.
As I wrote, we filled the weekly time quota of our circle, and finally got into our cars and turned on the air conditioning…
That’s it.
Wrote: Oded