Encounter 201 – 21.1.2022

Winter peak, penetrating cold and lying sun. On the way to the sulfur plant, we stop to photograph flowering anemones. Nahshi edits the photo for the invitation to the “Lighthouse”. Then he will also make coffee.
Ofek is already here, the chairs and table have already been arranged before he arrived, it is not clear by whom … even two garbage bags were left.
Ofek is interested and I took him on a tour: I showed him the caption in the parking lot, the private parking lot of the British commander, the tennis court, the olive tree brought by the Tibetan nun along with the seeds of peace on the guru’s mission, and finally we returned to the factory building.
Mark, Roni, Shmulik and Nahshi are already sitting in the circle. First news arrives about what is happening in the village of Burin. Jewish activists who came to plant olive trees together with the local Palestinians are attacked by masked men descending from the top of the mountain. A discussion begins in the circle. I bring some insights (interpretations? …) from the past about the roots of the present conflict and the debate focuses on whether a past discussion is relevant or whether we should direct the energy to a future solution.
During the discussion, Mary, and Dina and Malki, and Omer and Yogev arrived.
But the circle begins with a real procedure when Tal and Hagar arrive, two innocent hikers who came because of the trip and stayed because of the coffee. I introduce us to them and try to moderate their astonishment. After all, one can understand that encountering a phenomenon like ours is a bit surprising and strange.
Mary speaks: she came for the first time in an attempt to understand the complexity of the inter-communal problem in our region, and kept coming because of the respectful and interesting discourse.
Roni has known Palestinians since she was in Egypt. It’s easy to hate something abstract. There are partners, she says, a lot. Need to get to know and create encounters and platforms for human connection. Women and men from Gaza are neighbors and friends. Her tireless connections and humanitarian activities, sometimes bring success and sometimes pain and disappointment.
Ofek is the last one whos “captured”. He is still a high school student and he keeps coming because he has not yet formed opinions. What he hears here he has not heard anywhere else, certainly not in his hometown. Today, after several consecutive times, he can finally say what Gaza is for him: On the one hand, he has the image that all of Gaza is a Hamas outpost that is being bombed, but at the same time, Gaza for him is a kind of legend …
Dina was born in Alexandria and came to Israel at the age of a few months. In her adulthood she worked for someone who was the Military Governor of Gaza and later the governor of Nablus. In her opinion, Gaza should be on the agenda all the time and everyone should work all the time in order to raise awareness in Gaza. She does it all the time and not just in the “Lighthouse.”
Nahshi was born, raised and still lives near Gaza. For him, Gaza is people he knew. Huge potential that if it were otherwise would change the harsh reality. Coming here is the least he does for a change in reality.
Tal, who came with Hagar, says that on the way they “discovered” that they were approaching Gaza and there was some concern. She lives in Jerusalem whose complexity is not simple and she is more aware of it. Gaza is something distant …
Hagar, also from Jerusalem. She served in Military Intelligence and went out to “deal” with Gaza. It’s a heartache. Do not know what to do with it.
Yogev has been coming in a row for quite some time. Still a high school student and still listening … At this point, he still has no opinion on Gaza …
Omer says that today he has nothing to say, a sentence that he repeats every week …
Shmulik, introduces himself as a communist “I am enveloping Gaza,” he says. “I have a daughter in Netiv Ha’asara, I have a son in Kfar Aza, I have a sister in Nir Oz, and I, another son and another daughter live in Nir Itzhak” A real siege. Anyone who watches from here from where we are currently sitting, sees Al Bureij, he says. Collaboration can be fruitful. We have partners for hopes beyond the fence. The “lighthouse”, for Shmulik, is a “conscientious laundry.” The ability to influence is very poor. You have to listen to them. The “circle” is an attention circle that lasts almost 4 years.
Mark started arriving during the return marches (end of March 2018, in fact from the beginning of the “lighthouse”) … Mark is not a native of the country. Even abroad, before he immigrated, he thought he would come to a kibbutz, for some reason … He read abroad about members of Kerem Shalom who help in Gaza to build houses for Gazans and he liked it. In the end, he actually arrived to Kibbutz Gvulot and not to Kerem Shalom, but since then, Gaza has been in his head. His thoughts thanks to his South African background (his father was born in South Africa) and the awareness of the apartheid regime there, are directed to the poor of the region. Injustice everywhere discourages him. Doing symbolic steps is what is left. It’s almost “therapeutic” for him to come and be here. Active in “Extinction Rebellion” and working to “save the world” …
The first time Malki arrived (somewhere in 2019) she was initially excited about the place … then she was impressed by the company of people who sit together and learn something new every week and she keeps coming (almost) every week. This is also the place for her, to remind herself every week of Gaza and its misery. It’s still discouraging. Our lives are good and next to us are people with no horizon and no hope. Reminds us that we talked a lot about the importance of being present here. Even if it does not work in the foreseeable future, it will probably not hurt. The people here are doing more things. The meeting gives strength.
After everyone had spoken, Malki mentioned the question that Omer raised a week ago (a question from a questionnaire he had to fill out as a pre-military preparatory exam) regarding leaving the country in exchange for another, stable and safe place to live. She asked Omer if his presence and the things he was exposed to here in the “lighthouse” influenced his answer … Omer extended his answer and said “no” …
Shmulik, who responded to the question, used the term “homeland landscape.” Malki asks him if the “landscape of his homeland” could be elsewhere. Shmulik says he was born and lives and is in a certain setting and that is his home. A house that is not abandoned either for his own safety. He has no intention of substituting for an ideal utopia either!
Mark says he has been in the country half his life. It was not in his plans to come. But decided to come check … from the first night, he knew he had to stay here. It is irrational and has no explanation. He was looking for a place to live in Israel, from which no Palestinians had been deported. He has a problem with his son’s decision to live in Germany. Every left-wing Jew should be here to stand up to Messianism.
We then returned to the debate as to whether to discuss the past or focus on the future. Meanwhile time has passed, the cold has penetrated and the future at home looks warmer.
We were: Mark, Omer, Yogev, Shmulik, Oded, Mary, Malki, Roni, Ofek, Dina, Nahshi, Tal, Hagar.
Wrote: Oded.