These Covid-19 lockdown times have made us turn to Zoom rather than meeting live. We meant mostly to see and hear one another and get slightly updated about each other and the state of our Gazan neighbors. After about 15 minutes of waiting for joiners, we began talking.
Roni is connected best with the goings on in Gaza. In the civilian sense of course… She updated us on the situation there in general, and about our friends in particular. Not much news. The subject has been brought to the attention of international bodies, and even comes up once and again in international media. There is some kind of hope here, but it has not yet had its effect on the ground. Corona virus stats: according to the information Roni has, the pandemic has not struck there as mightily as it has in our parts, but it’s hard to assess is extent. Judging by aid requests she gets from Gaza, people have a hard time affording even the minimal basics. Roni is hesitant about our ability to help with donations. Not “if to do so” but “how to…” How to make sure the money gets to those who really need it. She turns to us for ideas. As for her personal situation, she says that in her community there are many people ill and isolated, and it’s rather depressing. But Roni – as Roni – immediately connects this state of affairs to her Gaza consciousness and speaks about the decline in the willingness of Israeli hospitals to take in Gazan patients because of Corona suspicions. According to her, “there are good people who help” and small successes are noted…
I spoke after Roni, saying that the Israeli public’s awakening against our evil regime is definitely impressive, but after the demonstration dust settles, energy sufficient to create a new reality vis a vis the Palestinians will not be harnessed – on the contrary: the Jewish public will pull in the ranks, ignoring its situation at best, and greedy for Palestinian real estate in the worst case.
Tal adds to what Roni recounted, saying that a propos harassing human beings, Hamas has had great teachers in Israel’s methods, especially towards non-Jews… She talks about her experiences in Tel Aviv’s large protests in summer 2011, when she sat with some Arabs, and a delegation of Jewish Israelis asked them to leave because speaking about the sources of Arab citizens’ situation in the Jewish state is a political matter, and only talking about “social justice” is important and “unites the people” (and that’s not “political”… ?) That case helped her understand that hatred/fear of Arabs is right there under the skin of Jewish Israelis across the political map, and even a common “enemy” (such as our present government and the person heading it) would not uproot it. Talking with her mates in Machsomwatch (women monitoring Israeli military occupation in the Territories), they mentioned that Israelis are now learning “new” terms such as “closure”, “fragmentation”, “breathing closure”, “curfew” that until now were reserved for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Now we are getting to know these ideas, but hey – how did this come about!…
Ghadir is very worried about decisions that the Israeli government has taken in the past 2 days. She spends her protest time more in the economic-social-health areas, in an attempt to provide all citizens with more reasonable living conditions. Ghadir is also very worried about the pandemic spreading in Gaza. As for the donations, she suggests getting help from organizations that are allowed contacts with Gaza (Physicians for Human Rights, for example…) She misses our encounters and tries not to lose hope…
Personally, Malki too feels well and works from home, but – she says – the physical and political pandemic pollutes all air around us at the moment and does not leave air room for other matters, like the suffering of Gaza for example… But this will not disappear, it will float anew. She thinks it’s better to get organized together for aid, not each on their own.
Mari is in on the emergency teams of her community and of the regional council. She has access to widespread health information, including the graph of the pandemic spread in the Gaza Strip. Surprisingly, the graph (of September 29) shows a decline in the spread in Gaza… This began several days earlier, and Roni assumes that it is a result of strict lockdown (literal curfew begins at 7 p.m.!), wearing face masks in public spaces, and severe personal discipline! Mari summarizes, saying that she is busy with this right now, in general, and follows up the goings on in Gaza as well.
After hearing Mari, we turned to Rosie who has been living in Sweden in recent years. Anyone who reads the paper (Haaretz – the rest are tabloids…) or is otherwise connected to the media, knows that Sweden is a model for dealing with the pandemic. Rosie says this without any hesitation. She follows up on the goings on in Israel. She wishes to know whether the protest demonstrations are because of Bibi, or the economic situation, whether people are really out for solutions…
Tal answers her that compared with summer 2011, then as now the demonstrations cross lines of background, cultural differences, socio-economic status etc, but at the end of the day the protest belongs to Jews only. Emphasizing the segregationist policy vis a vis the Palestinians she tells us about a facility that was being constructed at the entrance to Hebron, financed by private Palestinians and international bodies, to medically isolate Palestinian workers returning to Hebron and the area from work in Israel. The Israeli authorities watched this project being built, let it be completed, and 2 days before it was first operated, the army came and totally destroyed it.
Ghadir remembers this and wonders about the rationale in such demolition. Tal says that irrationality has become the modus operandi of the Israeli army regarding Palestinians (this is not new) and mentions other examples.
Rami began this Migdalor talk by coming to the site itself, but was not connected an we could not hear him. When he returned home so he could be heard, he told us (against the background of an aerial photo of the geographical space taken 85 years ago…) that he sat there physically, listening to that space, feeling its breezes and smelling its scents as he drank his coffee. He experienced all of this in a conscious sharing with us and our friends who live in this shared space. He then talked with us about his idea, which came to him bringing the voices and scents of Gaza into the space, spiced by the hum of drones and the sound of explosions. The idea is to create “crowd funding” for Gaza consciousness! Instead of raising funds in return for “the writer’s personal autograph” he offers an “in kind” that we could offer anyone who is willing to join us and “donate” their consciousness. This “in kind” could be for example a tour of the area, a historical review plus coffee and pastry, or a visit to sties etc… Rami says of himself that he feels fine and looks forward to board the train at Rashidiya train station near Gaza City, a station appearing in the aerial photo behind him, from there to the whole world.
Before our Zoom session, Jaber sent me a message that he is coming to meet us at the Migdalor site. I answered that we’re in isolation and will not be three. He, already on his way, turned back and went home. Last week he wrote us a Whatsapp message saying we’re “eating our own brew”, adding in brackets that the brew was meant for Gaza alone… Now he explains that we are experiencing a tiny example of what they have been going through over there. What is a two week lockdown versus a 14-years long closure? We miss friends we haven’t seen for two weeks, but in Gaza there are ill people who have not received treatment for months and years… He does not want to sound desperate, but he is a little… He gains strength from us, his friends, and prefers a physical encounter (with the required distancing…) rather than a virtual one.
From here on, for another 25 minutes, the conversation is held around Rami’s idea of “crowd funding” of Gaza consciousness. Some of us wondered about the ways nad means. Tal said that this is in fact the idea behind all the organizations she knows, and they all crash against the concrete wall of the “Zionist ethos”.
Rami answers, saying that – on the contrary – he, who has taken part in so many demonstrations, has become more and more optimistic the harder things became. He thinks one should constantly be looking for new ideas how to generate change.
Malki thinks for herself and with us all whether we have any room these days to discuss this complex idea.
Roni says we mustn’t let go of Gaza consciousness as a place that needs attention even in days when our attention is directed mostly to things that are practically “existential”.
Rami explains that Migdalor – a lighthouse – as a structure has no consciousness. It is there to be present in the consciousness of anyone who needs it right now, or will need it sometime. It exists in the consciousness of its operator as well. Jaber speaks again and confirms to himself and to us the power of a common consciousness (today I have broken a record in the number of times using this word…) around the same idea.
So that’s it – each of us at home, but in a circle: Jaber, Rami, Mari, Roni, Ghadir, Nahschi, Moshe, Tal, Rosie, Malki, Oded
I discovered these lines in a Leonard Cohen song called “Anthem”. I’m not an expert on English, but it seemed appropriate:
ring the bells that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in