Just as Shmulik was pouring four cups of coffee (Nahshi will come later…) the first four guests arrived to the circle. Ayelet, Mani, Ziona and Yoram. Ayelet has been several times and Ziona, who she and Yoram came from the north, is very intrigued by the phenomenon of a group of people, not young (to say the least…) sitting on elementary school chairs, around a green “classroom table”, in a remote pine grove in the Be’eri Reserve…
I present the circle and Ziona constantly interrupts me in an attempt to understand what… what… who and why… the best explanation is the circle itself…
Shmulik explains the rationale for which he is here. Asks Ziona that when she returns home, she will tell on about us. He expands a bit on Ramy (who has not yet arrived…) who as the founder of the idea and a native of the place, best tells the story of the space. Shmulik says that in the last war he stayed at home because this is home…
Hayuta tries to convince Ziona that if she listens and lets the circular speech flow, she will understand the rationale. Hayuta comes occasionally to reinforce her meaning in life.
Roni knows Gaza far beyond the popular knowledge gained in the country. It’s much easier to hate when you don’t see a face, she says. 50% of the Gaza population, under the age of 18 – have not seen or know an Israeli who is not a soldier. When Roni decided it was important to get to know, she started driving patients (“the road to recovery”). On the ride she listened. Sometimes it was unpleasant to hear. There are those she keeps in touch with. She has a friend who she helped go to school in the US. Connects between schools, artists, young people. She comes here because she wants to convey the message that it is possible. Both peoples have a historical affinity for this place. We must reconcile. It is a circle of listeners. Tells about Uri who was last week and whose statements are difficult to contain in relation to the Arabs. He told her that he came “because here, people listen to him.” It was time we stopped saying there is no one to talk to, says Roni. And the world and recently a lot of groups from preparatory schools and schools are coming.
Ayelet was born in Kiryat Bialik and until the age of 18 she knew nothing about Gaza. Got there during military service. After the army she lived in Yamit and there she also got married. She has a lot of experiences in common with Gazans. She is impressed by the perseverance of the circle… It is exciting to know that we are present every Friday.
Ziona was born in an area in a moshav near Ofakim. She moved north as a child. Gaza was a place of shopping and freedom. Great beaches and streets with the smell of fish… Now Gaza is bombs and missiles… When Roni spoke she hears hope. The idea of the “lighthouse” is great! But lacks the public effect in her opinion.
Yoram was born and raised in the valley. Has never been in contact with Gaza. Defines himself as leftist… The idea of the circle sounds great but a lot of talk and… What else? Do you have a feeling that something happened in Israel thanks to your sitting here? He asks. The situation is getting worse on both sides. Why do young people not come here? The extremist people, are the ones who set the tone in this country and this circle, far from their hearts. Good things do not happen… He does not see them (the good things…) and does not feel them.
Mani has a lot of contact with Gaza from the past, now and probably in the future as well. When he worked at Yamit, he lived in the Tel Aviv area.
Hanan, Limor, Nachashi, Maharan and Amichai arrive.
Hanan says that the last time he came to the “circle” was three weeks ago, after the ceasefire “broke out”. Since then, there have been a lot of dramas. Hanan continues to strengthen hope here and in Jerusalem on Saturday. In his opinion, the activity in Jerusalem and the bridges “persuaded” Likud members not to go to the polls. The connection to the circle is that civilian activity can change!
Limor comes because she has less hope… In this situation, dominance is dictated by violence. The last round was more violent. Limor lives under two “hats”. One “hat” is her work at the Resilience Center where she supports the victims of mental crises and treats anger and frustration, and a second “hat” are her personal opinions that she should, to some extent, keep to herself. Limor has an idea to initiate a move through which you can feel real action. She wants to ask all therapists to go through an anxiety treatment workshop. Raise funds to fund the workshop and also bring therapists from Gaza. She has a fantasy that she works hand in hand with a Gazan therapist… wants to bring a film created after a the last war and screen it in front of all the therapists.
Amichai came because of Nahshi… he’s a lawyer. Came today with Maharan with whom he met a lot in court. As a teenager he worked a lot with Gazans that his uncles, Earthworks contractors, employed. There are colleagues in the profession for whom he knows that the Gazans are Damon… He has a friend from the moshav in whose house a Gazan worked who actually raised him as a mother. He too had strong friends, on other days, who were really a part of his life. He tells his friends that it is possible. Hope the circles grow.
Maharan saw this morning the coalition agreement with the “Ra’am” party. The agreement benefits the Arabs in the long run. Israeli Arabs will continue to “observe” what is happening in Gaza. Mansour Abbas told Sinuar that he “will not cause problems” until they form a government. In the war, everyone loses. Read in the Egyptian press that al-Sisi brings heavy equipment for the reconstruction of Gaza and it will bring Egypt 500 million $. Biden wants Gaza Egyptian and not Qatari. No longer free from the noise of the Middle East because the Chinese are at the gate and need to be valued in front of them.
Jaber, who is known to all of us from al-Zarnok, says that “an unrecognized village” is worth a trash can in the corner of the country… he came because he feels missing us… the first time he participated in “circle”, he felt that . Some light inside the black… We must continue to operate through the lighthouse. In Gaza, the situation is bad and it is a human act to worry about friends and neighbors. Who started or who was before it does not matter. Let’s work for both of us together.
Calling from Gaza, to Roni’s cell phone. Ramy takes the mobile from Roni and makes a round between everyone and everyone says a few words of greeting and sympathy.
Rami says that last night he was in a tent on the beach in Ashdod. Find a quiet place, but ATVs got there… heard they speak Arabic and all at once, all the “work” he does with himself “disappears”. Thoughts began to surface about the clashes that took place in the cities during the war. Although the Arabic language is so beloved by him, he was “frozen.” He told himself that it was sad that the statements, that if we persisted in fences and separations we would not be able to contain the hostility, would come true. His soul is tired. Here in the pine grove, near his house, where the tanks have traveled and the planes have passed, near Gaza which does not go out of his mind, he finds little refuge. Gaza is a clear knowledge that everything is shattered. The political change is causing a shock to many people. And the mental load only increases. Suddenly the demons come from the past and defeat it. The mind is exhausted. Finds some comfort in the fact that there is no longer any energy for hostility either… The war in Gaza tried to ignite hostility in the streets, but in his opinion it did not really work. The earth is not really burning and maybe this will lead to a new way. For that it’s worth every second he sits here. Gaza is not going anywhere and people are not disappearing. It is a joy mixed with sadness. Very soon we will see something else, he says.
Radir says Gaza is a big prison and any of the leaders who want to make “shofuni” use Gaza. Gaza is present here (in the “circle”…) because we are here. Even the media ignores. Killing children in war is the worst thing. Participates in the “Peace Square” (of the Bereaved Families Forum) in Zoom, and someone said there that because the Gazans responded, they deserve all the respect. This radius caused mental anguish, hoping for a more containing discourse. When she saw her family’s assessments in Acre in the face of the violence, in the clashes that took place in the streets, she was horrified. A friend from Lod told her that her neighbor, with his weapon, protected the neighborhood and now it is difficult for her to ask for the obvious, that it is to collect the illegal weapon…
Nahshi comes as he can… it is the anchor of the things he does to feel that he relates to what is being done around it. Gets to know more and more people and learns. This is the practical thing he can do to realize even a little of the potential for an encounter with the Gazans. Know every Friday that this is the first important thing to do. Maybe maybe maybe now we can say that there is some shift in a better direction…
This is for today… Next week we are supposed to host teachers from the “Herzliya Gymnasium” school in Tel Aviv…
We were: Hayuta, Shmulik, Oded, Roni, Ayelet, Mani, Ziona, Yoram, Rami, Rami, Hanan, Limor, Nahashi, Maharan, Jaber, Amichai, Radir.