Encounter 157 – March 19, 2021

This was one of those days when we sit among ourselves and no one else shows up, and then, towards the end, comes the big “story” and the usual finishing time goes by without notice…
“No one” isn’t quite right, since as soon as we got there – Shmulik, Nahshi, Hayuta and myself – four bicycle riders came by to our circle. Since they rented their bikes for a set time and had to ride them back to Beeri to return them on time, they preferred to hear us while having coffee, and when their turn came to talk about their own “Gaza consciousness” they already did this standing up and putting on their bike helmets. Each of them voiced a single short sentence more or less saying “I know that people in Gaza are suffering, and obviously want peace, we all do, but we can do nothing until they get rid of Hamas”… This is what Asaf, Ariel, Lior and Gal from the central part of the country said, traveling in the Beeri nature reserve. Thus they spoke and rode off to the horizon.
Then came Mari and Ilan, Uzi and Malki and… Nomi, spouse of Rami, the founder and ‘publisher’ of Migdalor.
Our talk moved between our coming elections and those of the Palestinians, each with the personal knowledge they received at home… At some point a family crossed our circle, some of whose children carried colorful plastic rifles. They did not accept our invitation saying they were filming, but after a half hour, on their way back, they passed by again. This time the parents chose to accept our invitation to coffee and the children continued playing outside the plant.
Immediately following came another couple and we opened the usual circle. I spoke in praise of our action since around us were posted pictures representing the organization “Stars of Hope” as well as an advertisement of “The Road to Recovery” – volunteers driving Palestinians to hospitals in Israel. I explained about those too. Interest was aroused and I was asked whether there is any communication with the patients on the way, and whether they realize that their drivers are volunteers. I explained.
About communication, I spoke of the language difficulties, and this connected to Michaela’s work as a midwife in Soroka Hospital, needing to communicate with Bedouin women giving birth without a common language. She went on to say that in Gaza live people in a desperate situation but she herself doesn’t think she can do anything to change this.
Her partner Tzvi said that Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip was a “crime against humanity”. Since then they have been suffering more and everything is solved by military force. They also chose Hamas to rule which definitely contributed to their suffering. He thinks we are a mere “comma in time”, and should see who will survive all of this in a hundred years’ time.
Rinat says that as sad as it is to say it, Gaza is transparent. She pities its inhabitants but is not especially empathic to their situation. “You are the heroes”, she tells us, “you who live close suffer”. Rinat is skeptical about solutions. Now that she is aware of the Migdalor’s activity, she emphasizes that it is important.
Uzi, born and living in Jerusalem, divides his words into three periods: the first is childhood. As a child he remembers going to a Bar Mitzva celebration in Yamit (former Israeli settler-colony in the Gaza Strip). They cross Gaza. As a Jerusalemite child Gaza reminds Uzi of the Old City of Jerusalem. Second period is his time as an officer in the Israeli army. Uzi speaks Arabic, and is “loaned” to a force taking care of “riots” as they were called, during the First Intifada. The army would arrest children and youth in demonstrations and wait for their parents to come get them. When the parents come their ID is taken and they are summoned to a talk/trial. Some children’s parents don’t come and Uzi’s job was to bring those children home. Sometimes Uzi and his pals had to take the child back with them because the boy’s father would beat up his son when he was brought home. For Uzi this is a memory that return to this day in his dreams. Now – third period, Uzi belongs to a group trying to promote the idea of building an island opposite the Gaza shores. He says there are economic and tourism possibilities for the project, and developers who would like to invest in it. It is Israel’s interest no less than the Palestinians’. It should be implemented in the coming years. He doesn’t see Israel returning to rule there. Hamas has not dismissed the idea. The State of Israel is able to make it happen. The Americans can invest.
Tzvi remarks that we should go back and rule Gaza, and Uzi says “Only as tourists”…
Shmulik hopes the fence would disappear and cooperation return. At eye level, one-on-one on much simpler issues. The potential in Gaza is huge, if only we could know how to use it.
Uzi (not the Jerusalem guy) says Gaza is “a deep sorrow and a huge miss”. He is ready to wait the century that Tzvi suggested. He thinks like Tzvi that the main guilt for their situation is theirs, but thinks that because we are the stronger side most of the solution lies with us.
Nahshi comes to remember that the present state of affairs is bad for everyone, and to hope that we shall get out of this stuck-ness with ideas like that of Jerusalem-Uzi. He wants to remember that things could be different. There’s great potential.
For Hayuta, her presence here is a sort of “demonstration”. The island idea gives her great hope.
Malki comes to become more hopeful, not to be depressed. Even though Migdalor doesn’t physically change things, something happens and continues. We should initiate more. On the other side people are living in a terrible state, and it is awful to think that we sit here and cannot do anything to help. There are people over there knowing about us and this cheers them up. We need shared interests.
Jerusalem Uzi asks us what happens when “security events” take place. How do we react as human beings. The answers number as many as the participants, and 4:30 p.m. is already here. We’ll continue next week, after the elections…
Participants: Shmulik, Nahshi, Hayuta, Oded, Asaf, Ariel, Lior, Gal, Naomi Haruvi, Mari, Ilan Uzi, Malki, Michaela, Tzvi, Rinat, Uzi
Wrote: Oded