Encounter 140 – November 20, 2020

We meet, have coffee, hallah, and make small talk about everyday trivia.
The important things begin to come up when Roni tells us about her Zoom encounter with 11th and 12th graders. They listen most interestedly, she says. It’s rather surprising and thrilling. One teacher asks/says that “I – unlike you – think we’re giving and not getting anything in return”. Roni says, “It’s important how one gives, not just what…” I ask her if facts would not have mattered a bit, and Roni says that dialogue is more important than confrontation, and anyway some facts did sink in and eventually, from every Zoom ‘window’ nearly all students said it really interested them, and even the teacher said to Roni that “she had given him food for thought.”…
Hanan speaks about Uri who joined us last week and challenged the (would be) “consensus” with a different opinion. Hanan thought about what Uri had said on his way home and summarized for himself that we’re here to preserve hope, not to solve the problem. On another matter, Hanan met someone who knows Rami and when he mentioned Rami, his conversant said “Oh, Rami from Migdalor…” For Rami this was proof that Migdalor has more publicity “than we are aware of, in fact”.
Brian arrives. He came as a traveler last week, was invited for coffee and came back today (do not underestimate Nahshi’s coffee-making powers😊).
We do an acquaintance circle so that we all get to know Brian and he gets to know us.
Brian came from the US about 10 years ago, and teaches ‘debate’ in several venues. The Hebrew for this concept is debatable, and Roni tells us that the Hebrew Language Academy set the word ma’amat as the official Hebrew translation of the English ‘debate’.
Afterwards, Malki introduces herself, saying she comes to refresh herself in the company of good people and not forget the condition of our neighbors’ lives.
Jaber emphasizes the problematics of his village Al Zarnouk and says that although he comes from a place that suffers harsh discrimination by the state institutions, he cannot forget that in Gaza suffering and despair are much greater. Here with us he feels good, it calms his spirit.
I say that one of the reasons I come is the fact that those “fence events” began parallel to the founding of our circle. I thought, so I said, that people from the area would arrive with a different mode of thinking and would find listeners for it here in our Migdalor circle. As for the shooting at the Palestinians that took place in those events, I said that “shooting was performed by our moral soldiers”, which had one of the circle participants remark “no to cross lines…”
Anyway we stopped our acquaintance circle because a friend from Gaza just called.
At the moment he is home in Gaza, but plans to get out as soon as he can. He wants to leave as a private person, not as a “representative” of a political or social organization. Jaber speaks with him in Arabic and translates. The friend says that at the moment it is very limited, and politically one must let time do its job. It’s a hard period for him right now. In the past he made his living as a journalist, and can get back to it, but the social activism he had been involved in is now a problem. He is less concerned with himself, and more afraid that his work would be hampered. Nomika asks where he would like to go? He does not mention a specific destination. He just wants to do it at first possible moment. He mentions his will to come back to Gaza stronger (perhaps with an added – citizenship – my own interpretation), perhaps with a different status that is not subject to the regime’s caprices. He is known publicly, and cannot or doesn’t want to become anonymous again. He does not want to be prevented from expressing his opinions or acting for the sake of the community as he believes should be the case. The thought that he is harassed because of his opinions and activity is a source of despair. His family, too, is pressured by its surroundings. He has an idea to enter business with a relative, vis a vis Israel. At some point he suggests that Jaber “keep his place in the circle” because he is sitting with good and honest people (we?)… He says that the “project” he set up is rather strong, and he thinks that his leaving will strengthen it further. Rami tells him we all think about him and let everyone have a round with his cell phone. We all greet him and are greeted.
Rami dwells on Nur with his cell phone, and Jaber tells him that Nur managed not to be drafted into the Israeli army on grounds of conscientious objection. He appreciates this very much. We take leave of our Gazan friend.
Rami asks if there was anything new this week in connection with Gaza. I told him that the coordination with the PA following the change of power in the US has been renewed, and it is helpful for ill patients’ transfer through Israel.
Roni says she heard that the Gazan health authorities have run out of funds to pay for patients going to Israel for treatment, and perhaps they will only get out to hospitals in the West Bank. This is really not good news.
That’s it. There must have been more important things. Whoever can think of any is invited to add them…
Today’s circle included Hana, Brian, Nahshi, Shmulik, Roni, Oded, Jaber, Mari, Nur, Nomika, Malki, Rami 1, Rami 2.
Wrote: Oded

Encounter 139 November 13, 2020

All because of a little coffee pot.
When it seemed that we were a motley few, we spread our gear and found out that our coffee pot was forgotten at home… What’s to be done?
Nahshi, whom Shmulik had caused grave guilt feelings, was assertively sent to the storeroom at Kibbutz Be’eri. When he took his time and our throats were crying out in desperation, he finally showed up with an Arabic coffee pot, but our disappointment grew as it turned out to be full of holes.
While we were still wondering what to do, two youngsters arrived on a handsome buggy. They saved us from social death. Non-chalantly they treated us to coffee in their state-of-the art pot. Thus we began our hospitality circle with Ron and David, both from Netivot. Ron is headed for office training in the Giv’ati infantry corps, both are cadets of the military academy at Reali High School in Haifa. They spoke of themselves as listeners, hearing a different kind of music they usually hear at home. They did admit that they have been hearing the other voice at school.
Another guest followed – Brian from the US, with multiple interests in work, who at this point in life is busy teaching debate at a Hura high school and in the Bedouin communities. Brian picked up our talk easily and certainly blended in, claiming that the conflict is derived mostly from hatred.
With time, Rami arrived, who began sorting out his books but felt in strong need of caffein so came to have coffee with us.
It is important to mention that Shmulik was our country guide specializing in the Be’eri area. Last of our guests was Uri Utin who came to say that he does not agree with peace through mere dialogue.
Present, having coffee, eating and debating were Shmulik, Nahshi, Roni, Hanan, Brian, Mark, Ron, David, Mari, Uri.
Wrote: Hayuta

Encounter 138 November 6, 2020

Two and a half years of Migdalor activity. A kind of routine… Routine normally does away with the excitement of “big beginnings”.
The usual disadvantages of routine are exacerbated by the Corona pandemic that cut down the main branch on which we sat, namely our chance encounter with Israelis who come out to hike in nature and find themselves in a discussion circle about Gaza consciousness… People stopped traveling – Corona!
Another central branch on which we leaned were our talks with friends and neighbors whose misfortune had locked them in an insulated area, surrounded by fences and armies. And here’s our good Friday… today!
We opened our circle with Itay and Shiran, a young couple traveling at their leisure, who welcomed our invitation for coffee, listened and was heard, too. They sat and listened to the “circle”, and when their turn came they said that in fact they had never really considered what was going on beyond the fence, and that the information they had was what Israeli media deliver… Hopefully their encounter with us will generate some change in their awareness.
But the climax of our ‘lighthouse’ this time was undoubtedly our meeting with an ‘old’ friend who for the past months had been prevented from contacting us. The thrilling words that follow are Roni’s: “we had a very thrilling encounter, the possibility to see and talk with a dear friend from Gaza after months of separation during which we had no contact. He told us what he underwent all that time. The strength he gained from the mere fact that we are here for him.
His smile and thrill were inspiring and gave us hope for the future.
We did not let communication difficulties deny us this important contact which reinforced in all of us the belief that we are all a part of a single space, sharing a single texture, hearing and seeing one another, loving one and another and believing in one another. We passed on information, updates and good tidings.
We shall do everything in our power to make this contact grow and expand, and light will remove darkness. We hope that with time clear words with names and faces will be spoken, so that more and more people will know that we and they have partners, working tirelessly.” So far, Roni.
And I add that from the moment contact was renewed, he asked that we be his very first contact! Of all the many friends who waited to hear from him! We realized he is aware of our concern and that we hold the lighthouse shining for him as well.
16 participants joined our circle physically, another 6 shared it in Zoom for part of the encounter.
Between different thrills, we were happy to hear from Julia about the end of the important research she conducted about inhabitants of the area in the shadow of the conflict, and raised a toast for some significant birthdays and new retirees. We drank to the health of our renewed contact with the neighbors (there was also talk about Biden – teaser to Jeff Parnas…).
To everyone’s health!
Present: Maharan, Rami, Nahshi, Limor, Mari, Shmulik, Roni, Arik, Bella, Oded, Uzi, Malki, Mark, Julia, Itay, Shiran. Zoom: Rami, Hanan, Uri Ben Asa, Rosie, Jaber, and for a moment – Liora.
Wrote: Oded

Encounter 137 – October 30, 2020

We met, no questions asked about who is still expected and how many we’d be.
We began – Roni, Shmulik, Nahshi and myself.
Nahshi made coffee. Obviously…
Roni tells us in detail about our Gazan friend who just got out of jail.
Hanan arrives, Roni repeats… How he was released, what he look like now, what he said. She goes on to tell about the musician who needs to complete his studies but has no money, and how she transferred some. Also about the woman who got out of the Gaza Strip and met her father. Human stories about the hardships met by a person whose fate has hurled him into a cruel reality.
Jaber arrives, Roni repeats a third time. Well, in outline…
We proceed with a “free” discussion.
Hanan leaves, Mari arrives. Weather permits her to do so at long last. Roni has a fourth go. We Mari – we hadn’t met for a long time (Zoom is just make believe) so she has to provide answers. Questions about Corona in her community, and family ties, so common an item in Israeli get-togethers.
Mari is a member of her community’s emergency team. As a Ministry of Health retiree, she has access to information. The pandemic plays with us, she says – it attacks again some of those who have recovered, has various expressions, no one has a clear answer. Scientists are at a loss.
Then she says that as she drove to our site she wondered – how do we mediate our activity to our children? Are they at all interested?
Some question… The “circle” re-organizes for a discussion of this interesting question. It breaks up in different directions, and we must focus among the speakers.
First travelers of the season have already been spotted around here, none joined us. Perhaps they will, after the first rains.
We’re already close to finishing time and it gets dark early now that we’re on winter schedule. Mari’s question will keep us busy next week too, I guess, when we shall also light our lighthouse to enable hopeful navigation…
Wrote: Oded