Encounter 153 – February 19, 2021

This has never happened before. We were our own guests… Yes, just like that. When we arrived at our usual Migdalor site, Shmulik, Nahshi, Hayuta and myself, a family was already sitting there, from Rahat (Bedouin town). Fatma, Seif, and their four children – Fadel, Malak, Baker and little Mohammad. They were sitting on the school chairs we had brought, the school table in the middle, covered by a plastic sheet. Seif was busy over a small barbecue, Fatma with an eggplant-garlic salad. The children were around them, ready to help with anything. We greeted them, lay down our boxes, and Nahshi began to prepare coffee… We held an acquaintance talk, joined with the food-stuffs we had brought – halla and Nahshi-bread, spreads, pastries and cookies. It’s cold, sometimes raining.
Rami arrives, Roni arrives. We are invited to share the barbecue and offer tea, coffee and bread. We all crowd around the table. The children are not fluent in Hebrew. Fine eaters. It’s the setting for an encounter.
In order not to write too much here, I’m not reporting the talks – at times quite interesting, about plenty of topics unrelated to “Gaza”. So as usual, first of all – Gaza.
Only after an hour-and-a-half of mingling, Rami in his special way gently “threads in” the topic of Gaza…
Mari arrives.
Fatma, a teacher in a Rahat school, tells us her grandparents lived in Absan village, in the Gaza Strip. This already feels like close-neighbors talk. The village lies across the fence, up to which spread the fields in which I sometimes work myself. She visited there as a child. Today it seems like something she had dreamt… The sea, the market, grandma’s food and other little things that children do while visiting their grandparents. Memory-dream. Her mother maintains phone contact with the family there, not Fatma. The grandmother remained in the village until she died. The grandfather died in Jordan in the arms of another woman.
Rami expands and talks about us and the reason for our being here week after week. The world has forgotten Gaza, he says. We are here in order to remember it. The connection created today among the circle participants is symbolic of our purpose here. An encounter of people with each other. He explains the symbolism of the idea of “Migdalor” – lighthouse.
Seif says that most people want to live without dealing with the past. If Jews and Arabs can live together, it could be so marvelous that people from the whole world would come to see it with their own eyes!
Rami asks Fatma to bring her mother to the Migdalor. (72 years old…)
Fatma says her mom would be moved to tears!
Shmulik speaks about the Abu Al Qian family from Gaza. When he visited them with his family, many years ago, when it was still possible, his daughter played with the children there and they were all touching her hair to see whether her blond was real…
Nahshi wishes to speak with the neighboring Absan villagers.
Hayuta says she sees the villages of the Gaza Strip when she takes walks at the outskirts of her kibbutz.
Roni is afraid, but is active on a daily basis so there won’t be reasons to be afraid… She’s very up to date on the goings on in Gaza because of her ties with many Gazans who have her helping them. She spoke with an activist in Gaza who is certain that they will be changing their regime in the elections to be held there in May. She speaks about a field hospital founded there where everyone works on a voluntary basis. The Hamas is not allowing patients to get there. It’s inside the Gaza area but beyond the Hamas guard post… The hospital needs patients in order to be fully active but at the moment it is still facing trouble with the Hamas. She speaks about a social activist who is now at a crossroads about his activity, and about a woman-activist who is staying in touch with an Israeli friend even though she is no longer in Gaza. Roni says she heard a talk with Martin Indik who said that as long as Netanyahu and Abas are in charge it will be very difficult. He considers federation as a possible solution. But first each nation has to recognize the nationhood of the other.
Seif thinks that world should not blame an entire people because of a specific gang… There are good and bad people everywhere. Everyone wants to live. To meet on the beach, in the market, with the good life. Whoever’s “inside” is good cannot do harm. When the leaders “calm down” we could build a life of humans in cooperation and peace. The children are not to blame, we must bring them up on human values.
That’s it, now we all put back the chairs, table and barbecue…
Before we disperse, Hayuta asks Fatma for a big hug and gets it.
Participants: Seif, Fatma, Baker, Malak, Fadel, Mohammad, Shmulik, Hayuta, Rami, Nahshi, Oded Roni Mari.
Wrote: Oded