Hello, shalom, ahlan –
We opened our Migdalor circle – Shmulik and myself – with hosting two couples of travelers: Avi and Shula from Alumim, and their guests Galit and Yossi from the Golan. Apparently Shmulik and Avi had known each other previously as they are both certified dairy farmers (Shmulik is an Emeritus dairy farmer…). They sat with us and had coffee, showed interest. Galit expressed her appreciation for the idea and the execution. They left without leaving behind any kind of “Gaza awareness”. As they were leaving, Roni arrived, with Anne and Steve. Steve seemed a bit surprised to see only two elderly men in a circle of empty chairs. We told him that it’s only going to get better. Anne and Steve are both Americans, so our circle proceeded in English. I mention English because it is connected to my summarizing in Hebrew…
The circle participants probably notice that I am recording the circle statements in order to summarize later on – but my English leaves something to be desired, and I have a hard time writing in Hebrew and listening in English. Therefore this summary proceeds by leaps and bounds, translating while listening, and missing out on sentences in English.
Today, I lead the circle, and mention the reasons for my activity in our Migdalor.
After me, Malki has the floor. She says that after moving to Gvulot she became much more aware of Gaza and the fate of the Gazans. Physical proximity brought her closer mentally and she became very concerned with them. That is why she comes to Migdalor every week.
Uzi, too, arrives nearly every week. He says: “My kibbutz, Gvulot, was founded in 1943, and I am proud that it happened without battle nor violence. My British birth certificate says I was born in Palestine and I like saying I am Palestinian. Over time, this has grown stronger: whenever I met Arabs in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere, I realized that Palestinians do not resemble them, they resemble us more – us Jewish Israelis. For me Gaza means very deep sorrow and a sense of loss, for which both sides are responsible.”
Ghadir is with us today, too. She is glad to be back after a Covid-19 break. She thinks Israeli Arabs have an important role to play as they are the bridge to peace. She remembers Gaza from her childhood, when she went there on family vacations. Ghadir is active in various social and inter-ethnic groups for peace. She wishes to leave behind a better world. Ghadir does not have children and for her, all the world’s children are her own. Even when she will no longer be here, she wishes to be certain that her family and friends continue to be active for reconciliation and peace.
Shmulik thinks we bear responsibility and may not ignore the situation.
Anne understands the “spirit” of Migdalor rom listening to speakers before her, and is very sympathetic.
Her partner, Steve, a journalist for the Washington Post, is here on a job… He is writing an item on bridges and ties between Israelis and Palestinians. He is glad he came here with Anne for she always exposes other and different angles that do not occur to him. Steve is writing a story about Roni’s ties with a fellow in Gaza and uses the opportunity to familiarize himself with different aspects of neighbor relations with the conflict in the background.
Uzi is concerned for the security of the Gaza fellow, and Steve answers that it is all done with coordination and agreement. Roni, who has brought Anne and Steve to the Migdalor, says she speaks with the Gazan on a daily basis. Mostly just to speak. At times about his life, his family, and the general situation in Gaza. He wants people to know and act for Gaza and emphasizes the importance of knowing and being active. His talks with Roni make him feel good. He has no work at present. He wishes to get out from Gaza for a while and come back. Roni says that the American hospital will be opened on December 21st.
In the future, a theater hall is also in the planning. Roni will be the Israeli coordinator of the hospital.
Nomika lives in Sderot and is a member of the “Other Voice” organization. She agrees with everything that has been said… She mentions to Steve and during the first Gaza war, she was interviewed by the Washington Post…
Nur too lives in Sderot. She thinks about the horrific situation on the other side, and that we live our lives as if that were normal but it is not. People on the other side are hurt and we enable this. They are on her mind all the time. Far but near. Coming here is her way to protest. She is a pacifist. She decided not to serve in the Israeli army. She does not wish to harm anyone. It was clear for her that she was not going to the army nor to jail…
Rami says he visited the Haran area in Turkey (origin of our Forefather Abraham), in the town of Urfa. Local myth there has it that Abraham was born in a cave in that area. Rami and his friends hid their Jewishness (they said they were New Zealanders) but were immediately identified as Israelis. When he said his name was Ram (sic) and mentioned that he lived near Beer Sheva, he was greatly honored. Both because his name sounded like Abraham and because Beer Sheva is tied to his name. Thanks to this they got to enter the holy cave.
Vivian identifies with Nur. She recalls that one of her sons too did not wish to enlist. She feels we must be more active. Vivian has a friend who escaped from Gaza to Ramallah when Hamas rose to power in the Gaza Strip, and feels like a refugee in Ramallah…
Towards the end of our encounter, we spoke with Mustafa (pseudonym) who lives in Gaza. He wishes to be in touch with us, work together. Positive thinking is necessary for change to take place, he says. We must find people ready to confront and act.
Finally, Ye’ela also showed up…
This time, participants were: Galit, Yossi, Avi, Shula, Uzi, Ghadir, Shmulik, Anne, Steve, Roni, Oded, Malki, Nomika, Nur, Rami, Vivian, Ye’ela
Hello, shalom, ahlan –