Encounter 162 – April 23, 2021

The “Circle” awaiting its guests work to life as four soldiers, equipped and armed, accepted the invitation and came for coffee and listening.
We were already seated – Roni, Maharan, Hagar, Jaber, Oded and Shmulike who was making a pot of coffee.
I opened and explained about Migdalor, about us and myself…
After me, Hagar spoke, saying that when she came to our area it was good. Now, with things as they are vis-à-vis Gaza, it’s worse. Regarding Gaza feelings are mixed – ambivalence, anger, fear, pity.
Maharan speaks to the soldiers about the power divisions inside Gaza: the population suffers and no one can disconnect that from Israel’s responsibility. Economic troubles affect one’s thinking. In the Circle – says Maharan – we also relate to the complex economic contexts between them and us. Then Maharan says that in one of the military “operations”, a Qassam rocket laded next to his home and realized that targets have no ethno-nationality… We must arrive at some agreement, first with Gaza, even before the West Bank, because it will all blow up in our faces. We need to gather various elements in order for something good to happen.
Roni says that one is connected to the other. As long as their situation is not good, ours will not get better. She helps Gazans in every humane aspect, and this is how acquaintances are made that direct to her more and more people for help in things that for us seem simple and trivial but for them involve plenty of red tape on both sides of the fence. We try to encourage and give them hope, as well as to ourselves, she concludes.
Talk reaches the soldiers who have so far sat and listened, sipping coffee. They mince words…
For Ido, Gaza was always another country, distant and not in his awareness.
For Gil, too, Gaza is distant in every way.
As for Nehorai: He is from Atzmona originally, a settler-colony that used to be located inside the Gaza Strip and was dismantled in the “expulsion” (the term he used). He remembers lots of Qassam rockets in his childhood. His father was the colony’s security official. He recalls the expulsion. He does not deal with feelings about Gaza. Jaber asks him to try and remember one positive thing. Nehorai connects with his memory of the sea, to which they hitch-hiked as kids. Then he recalls that one day, before they left, their relations with the Arabs who worked for them turned around and they were no longer allowed to communicate with them.
Yaniv says that many mistakes were made in Gaza. He does not specify.
Shmulik believes that the two populations in this area could live together. If the Jews and the Germans could normalize their lives, we and the Palestinians can too.
I didn’t really hear Jaber because a phone call drew me away.
Just as I returned, the soldiers decided to leave.
After another round of coffee, Jaber wishes to share something with us. “I don’t know whether what I am about to tell you is relevant to what we normally speak about” he says, and adds: “I think it is, but let each decide for themselves. In 1979 my cousin Sliman fell in love with Nehama (Jewish woman’s name). Some months later, with money collected by his family, Sliman went to Germany to study medicine. After half a year, he notified his family that if Nehama does not come to be with him in Germany, he will stop studying there and return to Israel. Nehama did not come to Germany and Sliman returned and did not study medicine. He lived with Nehama in Beer Sheva. The families did not favor this union, but while Sliman’s family turned Nehama a “cold shoulder”, Nehama’s family responded with real violence, and more than once that couple, beaten and bleeding, came to the village for shelter, after Nehama’s brothers beat them up. Twice they tried to have a child and this ended up with miscarriages. The families kept wondering which nation the child would belong to… Jaber says he tried to convince Sliman to try and have a child in a different way (didn’t specify) and Sliman rejected the idea and said that ‘Nehama was even more important to him than children…’ About 15 years ago Nehama’s family finally agreed to “accept” Sliman as her husband. Now, says Jaber, I must got to the Migdalor from a funeral. We buried Nehama who passed away after a serious illness. “My world is shattered” Sliman said to him before they took leave at the end of the funeral.
Participants: Shmulik, Roni, Jaber, Oded, Hagar, Maharan, Ido, Gil Nehorai, Yaniv
Wrote:” Oded