Encounter 175 – 23.7.2021

As usual, another Friday at the Lighthouse. We started four and the discussion was around the positions and opinions on historical and contemporary issues relating to the region and its population.

For a brief moment, we were visited by Golan, Keren, Ziv, Maayan and Ella: a father who travels with four girls, two of them his daughters and two of their friends. Golan had a coffee and the girls were interested in a “star-kite” created by Hanan, who got the inspiration for its construction from the kites that “starred” in ours (before the balloons…) combined with a photo taken in Gaza with a girl holding a “star of hope” from the project Of a group of Americans for strengthening populations in the world affected by wars or natural disasters. The girls asked, we answered and they continued on their way.

We’re in the historic debate… Shula and Danny arrived. A retired couple from the center of the country who decided to visit friends in the area. With them we dealt with one of the most popular sports in Israel: finding common friends that are not here at the moment… Shula and Danny stayed for two cups of coffee and went on to other commitments.
Nahshi signed for a lone ATV touring near us. Two 18-year-olds from a local community, Yinon and Gilad, arrived.
Rami, chooses the “circle” intriduction version for 18-year-olds before enlistment in the army and presents us as part of the region population. He will return at the end of the circle…
Nahshi, as one who grew up on the Gaza Strip border, says Gaza is acquaintances and friends. Maintain some telephone contact. He remembers good days. Learns and is interested every day in what is happening to them. Believes that the great days of Gaza will return. Maybe the meetings here at our Lighthouse will contribute.
Shmulik recites God-style Gaza to Moses, “You will see her from the other side and you will not come to her”… Hope the future will be different. A discourse of everyone’s attention is created here in the “circle”. The ability to see the other side is limited.
For me, Oded, Gaza is frustration, anger and mental reckoning. Frustration that I can not really help people who live a life of suffering in the neighborhood to me. Anger that the country where I live manages to create repression and build a wall (literally…) and actually make 2 million people disappear. A mental account of any process I go through in re-learning all this complex of man and earth in the region in which we walk.
Yinon: Gaza is an enemy place. Do not approach. They want to destroy our country. He adds that he was never there. For the situation to work out it has to come from their side. If they wanted to stop the violence, they could. Evacuating Gush Katif is the beginning of hatred.
Gilad: I hear a lot from my father and grandfather about Gaza. The grandfather told him that he cried twice in his life – once for his father and once for a Gazan soulmate who was killed. There are good people there. While there are few who hate us, they are the decision makers. Once they reach out they will get two hands back. If they do not stop with all the hostility, it will not end.
Rami: Gaza is a mystery. As a tour guide a lot to deal with history: Many years ago, Gaza was the center of the world !. Here, (he gestures around with his hands) Abraham grazes his flock and here he meets Avimelech. More than half of the world’s population sees Abraham as a father and his life is conducted here! There is a sea road that crosses east-west and it passes through Gaza. Moving in it between the two great kingdoms. Gaza at the seam between the blowing land and the desert. Something in this whole process, which is happening with Gaza now is a malfunction and we have a part in it. Not enough consideration, not enough we darsd to look, maybe we tried to reach out an unanswered hand… Anyway, one day Gaza and 3 other towns remained imprisoned. Children grow up and are born there without a horizon and without hope. Gaza has been forgotten by the world. There is no reason why Gaza should not be a glorious part of the world. Change will not come by one party. He had a teacher who said that if we have not yet found (peace…) it only means that we have not found… Rami tells the young people that we all have a responsibility and says that people from Gaza ask him if there are those in Israel who care about the Gazans? Recalls the excitement of Marwan who visited us here in the circle and asked that we continue to mention and speak Gaza at our meetings.
Like the girls at the beginning of the meeting, Gilad also asks about the kite that Hanan built and we tell…

We were: Keren, Ziv, Maayan, Ella, Golan, Shula, Danny, Rami, Nahshi, Shmulik, Oded, Yinon, Gilad.

Wrote: Oded

Encounter 174 – 16.7.2021

There was shade of the pine trees and there was a pleasant breeze and there was coffee. For a brief moment there was a rumble of SUVs debating at the crossroads where to turn and finally turning in the opposite direction. The silence dropped to Good Friday afternoon in the summer heat. And there we were Shmulik, Hayuta and I talking in matters of Dumas.
At a quarter past three, when we were already thinking of shortening a bit in the lighthouse, Maharan and Ibrahim appeared. After coffee and blessings, Maharan offered to lead a “circle” and asked Ibrahim to say what Gaza is for him.
Ibrahim earns his living by operating a concrete sawing machine, a childhood friend of Maharan. He accepted his invitation to come to the lighthouse. Gaza, says Ibrahim, is a narrow place for 1.5 million people. A large prison. Need peace to solve the problem. The problem is between governments. That is, short and to the point.
Maharan opens and says that this week he was in Nablus. Went to buy a suit at an upscale store. There, an officer from the PA met and a conversation ensued. Ask him about Gaza. The officer said they are two separate entities and he does not even know what is going on there. He added that for some time there has been no contact with Gaza and they will not return there. Mahran adds his own insights and says that Abbas traveled to Turkey to promote gas drilling in front of Gaza. If Hamas takes over the West Bank, he says, that is the end of the PA and therefore Abbas with the Turks, to build support. Gaza is becoming more and more crowded and Lebanon is also an explosive barrel…
Shmulik tells about a tour we (he and I) did in the city of Lod. An initiative of the “Zochrot” organization. They are handing out maps of the Palestinian settlements that were destroyed in the 48th war. The young people are “warriors” and declare that they will fight for their homes and rights.
A woman whose mother was 8 at the time of deportation told us about her family history and past trauma. A student points in the direction of her home and says that in order to reach it now, she must pass by the yeshiva established by young Jews and they “make troubles”. Shmulik concludes, the atmosphere in Lod is not calm yet and there is a lot of anger.
Hayutal declares that she is not “politically eager” like Shmulik and Oded… she sometimes comes to give power… In her opinion, the current Israeli government is changing the atmosphere a bit and she seems to be coming to do the work. But that does not change about Gaza…
I was “caught” this week by two subjects. One is the refusal of the Israeli authorities to allow political activist Khaleda Jarrar to accompany her daughter Suha, who died suddenly at the age of 30. The refusal was mainly based on reasons of permit and bureaucracy. Who exacly has a legal possibility to initiate such a move…

The second issue was the already serious water situation in the Gaza Strip, when since the military “round” of May the situation has worsened because Israel does not allow the introduction of equipment for repairing water and sewage pipes. The security system defines as “humanitarian” only what enters Gaza Strip and equipment for repairing pipes does not fall under this definition. The result is polluted water and not even suitable for a shower. I hung this moral failure on a particular person, but because politics is not talking in a circle, I will not expand…

We were: Hayuta, Ibrahim, Shmulik, Maharan and Oded.

Rote: Oded

Encounter 173 – 9.7.2021

After the last few weeks when many people came to the circle, today was a more family event (in the Ashkenazi interpretation of family…). Shmulik Nahshi and I in the first hour, (with the renovated kite repaired by Hanan) and Malki, Bella and Dina who joined later.
There was a conversation. Nahshi and I have been saying that for a long time, we have been trying to find someone to translate into Arabic. Recently, the name of a professional translator from East Jerusalem came up and we talked about the connection with her.
This week, at the Dokaviv Festival, Michal Weitz’s documentary, “Blue Box,” was screened. The work on the film took 14 years! And the film revolves around the character of her great-grandfather, Joseph Weitz, who was one of the leaders of the JNF since the 1930s and pushed for a full Jewish takeover of the area. Michal Weitz recounts in the film his actions, dilemmas and also his (unsuccessful) attempts to help refugees recover in the places they were deported to. The history-study in the country, even though his detailed diaries (5,000 pages in handwriting!) Were visible and visible to all.

This introduction was to say that in the film and in the interview, elements come up that directly relate to our sitting at the lighthouse and they certainly filled a respectable place in the conversation.
This is, short this time…

Present: Bella, Shmulik, Dina, Nahshi, Malki, Oded.

Wrote: Oded

Encounter 172 – 2.7.2021

Today, for one session, we changed the concept of the circle. The “circle” sanctifies the right of each and every one of his / her participants to express his / her opinions in an orderly and uninterrupted manner. Every opinion is heard and listened to and everyone is equal in front of the “circle”. The reference is to each person’s personal, private, human consciousness regarding Gaza and what it represents for him / her. A discourse of human beings talking about the plight of other human beings. Many times when people go into “political” diagnoses and such and such suggestions for resolving the conflict, we try to get them back to focusing on the personal, human aspect.
Today, two members of the Palestinian Authority came to the circle. Therefore and in accordance with the one-time opportunity to know more about what is happening inside, the circle briefly changed the concept, listened to their words and asked questions.
Rami, who led the circle, tried as much as possible to steer the meeting to focus on Gaza and what its residents are going through, but they expanded their words to conflict at all levels: history, Jews vs. Palestinians, Palestinians vs. Palestinians, West Bank and Gaza, PLO and Hamas, Israeli politics ets.
They talked about the process that the Palestinians went through in the various negotiations with Israel. About the long journey that the Palestinians have made in concessions with Israel. They said that the leaderships in Israel have no continuity in negotiations and every leader wants to start negotiations again … Olmert wanted to move forward This “game” strengthened Hamas in Gaza.
In their opinion, if workers went to work in Israel, it would weaken Hamas. In order to separate the Hamas leadership from the citizens of the Gaza Strip, they must be allowed to work in Israel.
Hamas is willing to make deals with Israel to maintain its rule and if in any way, there is a way to weaken Hamas Israel intervenes and interferes.
Hamas should be part of a Palestinian unity government, they say, it will weaken it. In 2017, Hamas accepted the principle of a Palestinian state within the borders of 1967. Sinwar said after the last war that they were ready to accept UN resolutions and join a non-violent popular struggle. If they were part of the government they would have an interest in keeping the agreements.
Israel, according to them, is not behaving properly towards the residents of Gaza.
One of the two is a native of Gaza and occasionally enters the Strip to visit his family. Hamas, in his opinion, is weakened in the face of Gazan public opinion and also religiously it is unable to force its opinion.
The world needs to “help” Hamas behave differently. And the authority needs to get it into the leadership. The Hamas leadership is drawn to different directions. Some are in favor of Turkey and Qatar, some are in favor of Iran and some are in favor of Egypt. But Israel is the main influencer on what is happening in Gaza. Many Palestinians in the West Bank do not know what is happening in Gaza … There are people in Gaza who burn themselves out of desperation. 54% Unemployment. They define UN aid as “nonsense.” Students who stop studying after a course or two, who can’t get married and many get divorced. There is no money. They need a livelihood and not donations. If there is a livelihood, it will also weaken Hamas.
The sons and daughters of Hamas leaders live in wealth.

We still have time… Ramy asks for “questions” and not “lectures” … We all have opinions and a desire to be heard, but today, as mentioned, it is different. Nevertheless, every questioner “avoids” a small lecture before the question comes …
Ya’ala says that Hamas today agrees to things it did not agree with in the past. She asks about the American hospital that is ready and not working … They say that because the hospital was built under the auspices of the American army in cooperation with the Israeli army, there are suspicions … The Qataris also built a hospital in Deir al-Balah.
Mark asks that they put a finger on one, precise point, which is the one that will make a change in the direction of peace.
They confidently state that once there is a government in Israel that will make the UN decisions, it will “break the plug.” The whole agreement is written and Israel must make a decision to implement it.
Hayuta wants to know how a teenage child feels in Gaza.
Guests say a young man, at any age in Gaza, does not know what his future holds. When they finished their matriculation it seemed that the whole world was spread out before them, today there is nothing. Parents have no certainty about what they can do to help their children and the children internalize the parents’ weakness and understand that in fact the decisions are theirs alone.
Jaber asks / slaps them and asks them to see some project that the PA did for the Gazans as it did for the people of the West Bank?
They answer that although the PA has done more projects in the West Bank, but also what still exists in Gaza, was established by the PA until 2007. The PA is limited because it does not control Area C. The economic investments need to be directed there. If you do not control your territory yourself, you can do nothing. they admits that disagreements within the PA also prevent project options.
Hanan asks whether the missiles fired by Hamas during the war gave the residents of Gaza satisfaction?
They say that because of Jerusalem, the last war was different. It united the people because of the shooting at Jerusalem. Finally, the “problem” was not only that of the Gazans. Not only are they suffering and the rest are not interested. This gave Hamas an advantage over the PA.
Dina asks why no more voices of peace are heard from the Palestinians towards the world and towards Israel.
They reply that they are working in every possible media to convey the “Voice of Peace”. Founded the “Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society” in 2012 after the UN recognized a Palestinian state. The Israeli government does not want to listen to these voices and only talks about aggression. The Israelis have created a wall that blocks the possibility of knowing. As a result, Israelis are not interested.
It is also difficult for them, in the Palestinian Authority, to act because the peace process (Oslo) has collapsed and this has severely damaged the credibility of the PA leadership. The power shown by Hamas brings more achievements …
Ya’ala says she heard that there was a plan to expand Gaza towards northern Sinai and some of Israel.
Answer: This is a program by Giora Island. But, in the whole Palestinian people, from end to end, there is agreement on the dividing lines of the Green Line with an exchange of territories of only a few percent. They do not agree to accept Egyptian territory nor will Egypt agree to give its territory.
Malki asks what happened in the unopposed elections and read that the percentage of support for the PA is zero compared to Hamas.
Guests say public opinion is constantly shifting. Hamas is still strong because Fatah is divided into three lists. But these results are temporary and if the PA succeeds in improving its achievements, it will be reversed.
Maharan asks about the position of a bi-national state or the transfer of the West Bank to Jordan and the creation of Gaza as a Palestinian state.
Their answer is that there are a lot of ideas. Gaza should be the model for reconstruction. There is no situation in which Jordan, with its internal problems, will return and take control of the West Bank. “We have received a country from the world and we will not give it up,” they say. The only other solution besides “two states”, is one state with equal rights for all. This is also the original PLO plan from 1969! But the Jews want a Jewish majority …
Nomika asks who is responsible for rebuilding Gaza?
They answer that Israel is the sole ruler of Gaza and the Egyptians also ask permission from Israel to open the border between them and the Gaza Strip. Egypt has very strict criteria for accepting Palestinians to move to its territory. Everything that happens in Gaza is an Israeli decision! They emphasize.
Ramy asks if they have any questions for us …
There is one question … “Are you willing to accept workers from Gaza to your communities despite the state of hostility and suspicion created today”?
Jaber answers first and says that this is an irrelevant question to the forum convened today in the circle, because it is a forum that will in any case support any fair initiative that will bring peace.
Uzi says “yes without a doubt”! Mainly for agriculture …
Shmulik: “Unequivocally yes. We live in a common space and we all need to share a livelihood”!
Nomika says that in the past she wrote to the heads of the regional councils in the area around Gaza, and begged them to accept workers from Gaza.
Rami tells the guests that he has great appreciation for the task they have taken on because they are operating in difficult conditions both with Israel and with the Palestinians. Here, in the “circle”, do not give up discourse and action for a better future. We are all similar in the desire to share and reflect ourselves. He asks, “You too will be our emissaries. If you have ever been in a circle you are partners. Tell the Palestinians you meet abut us.” Gaza, he continues, must not fall under the cynicism and struggles of the greed for power and power. There are a lot of people without horizons and hope and it is our and yours task to make the voice heard.
Hanan says that each side does not believe that the other side wants peace. “Please tell the people in Gaza,” he asks, “that for more than three years now a group has been sitting here talking and talking about Gaza.”
The guests say that they tell their people a lot about the desire for cooperation on the part of Israelis they meet. In Gaza, they are surprising, there is a greater desire for cooperation than in the West Bank and there are ideas.

In the shade of the pine tree, in a circle of school chairs, we sat with the guests:
Hayuta, Bella, Mark, Mark, Smadar, Malki, Dina, Roni, Yaela, Rami, Jaber, Shmulik, Oded, Yossi, Brian, Eli, Naamika, Hanan, Moshe, Uzi, Maharan, Nachashi, Shoshi, Nurit.
Rote: Oded