Encounter 204 – 4.2.2022

When we arrived at our regular shelter, אhree walkers were already sitting there, eating a fine meal on a blanket spread out on the floor. We tilted our circle beside them and when they finished the meal join us for coffee. Come on “circle”.
I opened with an explanation of us and Ofek after me.
Ofek, who has been coming regularly for several months, said that at first, when he first arrived, he felt opposition to what was said, but also curiosity. It was curiosity that led him to come again and again.
For Hadar, Gaza is a mystery and curiosity.
It is also a source of trauma, anger and causes problems in her life. Hadar is a resident of the area. Wants to know more, thinks the division into “they want to kill us and we them”, is not true for both parties.
Elior says that Gaza is a place where fears arise. Agrees with Hadar.
For Hadas, Gaza is a place of threat, a partner in the views of its members. Gaza is a difficult place to live in but also a threatening place.
For Nahshi, Gaza is a place next to which he grew up and lived all his life. People, neighbors he knows. He has a great desire to cross the fence, to enter as before. Looking at a map of Google and it looks really really close and interesting. The fucked-up situation we are in does not allow for a face-to-face meeting. Came to remind himself that it does not have to be this way. Came to hold the candle of hope.
Shmulik in the area since 1967. He knew those who worked with him from Gaza. There was a cowherd. Looks from here and sees the Al Bureij camp to which the ’48 refugees were deported and other places. This anomaly cannot continue. To hold this prison without a horizon is impossible. Hopefully one day the fence will fall and it will be possible to cooperate to exist with dignity. Giving workers the opportunity to work in Israel is the right step. Shmulik is sitting here with friends trying to make something happen in that direction. People from all walks of life are sitting here and it is a circle of attention, without fuss.
Mary came following Hanan Cohen’s “irrelevant” website. Gaza is a complexity that attracts it. She says that Ramy said in one of the meetings, that a whole generation grew up on both sides that knew nothing but hostility, and the gap grew. Everyone feels threatened and walks away. We are sitting here to be ready that when a new situation comes, we will be ready for it.
Roni says that from the “lighthouse” comes a slightly different voice, a voice that is not heard. She has the right to meet people in Gaza. In 2014, during the round of violence, there was an appearance in the moshav (in a shelter …) and in the process, she received a call from a friend in Gaza who was interested in her safety because she heard that a missile had fallen in the moshav. Ronny heard the helicopters preparing for the “response” and feared for her friend’s life. She cried. A TV reporter went with her to her house and from there they called and talked to the friend in Gaza, and from that came an report for TV. Her friend said, “I know you are there and you will not go anywhere, but I am like that too, look at me too.” Where does the hatred come from? Roni asks, it is clear that there is a conflict here, but there is a situation to resolve. Just need to be resolved. In Gaza there are people like us. For them to speak with us is a danger and it is impossible to wait for them to act, we must act! Their life are without hope. Every exit request needs endless approvals. Going to school, health, business, etc. Ronny talks to them. Hosts groups and talks about it with her guests. Living together it’s possible, she says and she knows!
Hadar asks Roni about the events of May 2021. Suddenly it was dangerous even in places that seemingly had peace and coexistence, she says, one cannot want to burn and kill the neighboring Jews. My Jewish brothers, says Hadar, are more important to me. She has a hard time with the situation.
Roni replies that after many years of experience, she can see things differently. It does not negate the feeling of Hadar. There is a deep pain here that we do not address. We will always find reasons and proof for our victims and tell ourselves that we are terribly right … no one is going anywhere, neither we nor they.
Hadar is determined. She grew up in a humane home she says, but they, or their rulers, want to oust us and they never wanted less from all over the country and without Jews.
To illustrate the state of “consciousness”, Shmulik tells Hadar about the events of the Great Mosque in Lod in the 1948 war (the Palmach fired a shell into it while hundreds of people found refuge in it) is a memory that remains in consciousness. Gaza is an anomaly that will explode inside us. So.
Ilan and Ziva arrive and the three girls leave not before they say they have food for thought…
We start a new round with Ilan and Ziva.
Roni tells of Marwan who made a peace event in Gaza and after that was taken for questioning by Hamas. He fled the Strip. On one occasion, when he went out for medical treatment, he was sitting in our “lighthouse” on the way back to Gaza. And he asked everyone who heard him to tell about Gaza to five others … Roni talks about her connections and insights about Gaza. On the history of her personal connection to suffering in Gaza. Having a partner, she says, needs to strengthen it and do it together!
Malki addresses the purpose of our joint meeting each week. We can not really change, she says, but just sitting and raising awareness is important. It’s hard for her to sit in her comfortable place and ignore what’s going on there. We are sowing a small seed here in the hope that it will bear fruit.
Ilan says that on the one hand they are human beings like us, and on the other hand they want to kill us and it is difficult for him to think of them as partners. Hear things here, information he needs to process …
Ziva is surprised by the encounter. They left the house without planning a route and fate led them to us … It has nothing to do with the thought of Gaza. Gaza is not present in her life, “at all, at all, at all.” She has a left-wing girlfriend and sometimes it comes up and there is another photographer girlfriend who did a project on Arab women. The first girlfriend talked about her desire to go out to accompany shepherds and to Ziva it seemed delusional. Yes there are probably amazing people on the other side and she understands that and it is important to help. Our perseverance, of the “lighthouse”, for someone else impresses her.
Uri has a hard time connecting to the positive things he hears… he tells about a post he saw on YouTube (please watch the link) about British bankers transferring money in a round trip, ostensibly to help suffering countries in Africa, but in practice the money goes to rich and corrupt people connected to the bank. He says the crime against Gaza is global and not Israeli. The money donated to them comes indirectly back to England. The officers’ neighborhood in Gaza is nurtured and prosperous thanks to the corrupt money. They are not like us, neither genetically nor in any other way.
Ofek explains about us to Tal, who just arrive (they both in twelfth grade), a new friend he invited today. Then he tells about the first meeting here: he was an antagonist but intrigued and kept coming. Since he came, he has learned more and things are constantly spinning in his head. The Skype conversation with Rami is deeply ingrained in him. He realized that he was in the statistics of the “unfamiliar” on both sides.
Tal: Ofek told him and he came. Want to learn more. Gaza’ns are neighbors.
Mahran talks about the Bedouins’ struggle against the JNF. Mahran wants everyone to come and support. Was engaged in legal battles (Mahran is a lawyer) against the authorities in the release of the fictitious detainees arrested in the demonstrations and so he wasn’t here for long time at the “lighthouse”. He traveled a lot in Gaza as a child. 6 years ago he was in Gaza for the last time. There is no hatred for Israel, he says, they have fond memories of the time Israel ruled within Gaza, and Gaza was part of Israeli culture. Maharan hopes at least for economic peace.
A large group of hikers arrives.
David says Gaza is an open wound that refuses to heal. There will be peace when we understand that we (Isrealis) are shit like everyone else. No longer talking about peace but only about ways to numb the conflict.
Eli talks about factors that cushion processes. There is a layer that takes care of itself. A clutter that does not lead to a solution. The factors that want a solution are too weak.
Orit tries not to think about Gaza. Repulsive because it’s bad.
Judith has a hard time with the life of the population in Gaza, her “knowledge” is mainly what she sees on television.
Eitan is less familiar with the culture of Gaza. It does not speak to him. It is clear to him that Gaza is like a mirror for us. Mutual fear that reinforces the fears on both sides. Another way of thinking will make it empowering, but in a positive direction. Therefore the perception needs to be changed, this is the solution. The person who manages the perception needs to change. Hamas began as a social force and became a military resistance. The rulers mediate the fear to the public and a herd effect is created.
Ilana identifies with the speakers before her. A population suffers with a leadership that gives no future. She hopes the solution for the future will grow from below but it is hard for her to see that happening. Economic peace is a powerful lever in her opinion.
For Ruthie, Gaza is a poor place in every possible way. You can not live like this. Her feeling is that if there is a chance for change, he will come with permits to go to work in Israel. The economic interests are strong and she also hopes that the change will come from below.
Liora says Gaza is a sad case of misunderstanding and blasts. Both sides continue to cling to clichés. The Gazans have long wanted something different. Ohad Hemo says (in TV) we are under a misconception about Gaza. Young people just want to live, free as we are and with us. There are factors that interfere. She, too, thinks the change will come from below.
For Ruby, Gaza is a sequence of memories. Grew up in Ashkelon and traveled a lot in Gaza. He knew it as a soldier and knew how to knock on doors at night and say what was necessary in Arabic … In his youth he cut down trees for the JNF and sold in Gaza. He walked around Gaza alone and sold wood without fear. Like Maharan he believes in an economic solution. It will take years and generational change until the solution of peace, but in our time we need an economic solution and humanitarian actions
Amit says that in 1921 his grandfather graduated in Beirut and his brothers were waiting for him in Alexandria to come work with them but he insisted on coming to Safed, because of Zionism. We are in trouble with the Palestinian population, says Amit, there is a deep debate. Does not believe in economic peace. Everyone came out against us in the intifada, the whole population from young to old. The economic gaps are huge. Both they and we are right and the controversy is between “right”. Everyone wants to destroy everyone. Even on a trip to Rahat, the local guide did not want them to wander around certain places because it was “dangerous”.
Tali said that the speakers expressed her opinion … In her head is the picture of the enormous destruction from the wars in Gaza. Missing a common language. Offers to open courses in spoken Arabic.
Noam says of Gaza “closing and forgetting it does not work.” Today he has nothing to do with them and has no idea what’s going on there … and if he, who considers himself interested, knows nothing, then, he assumes, the majority in the country also does not know… In the fantasy of the end of days Gaza can be Singapore. But a solution to Gaza is still part of all our problems and that of space.
Avi says that in the memorial plaque at the Old Be’erot Yitzhak site there is a plaque with the names of the dead who had a dream. It is not only the Palestinians who are dreaming. Everyone dreams, everyone “holds keys,” throughout the ages. There is a struggle here that started as a struggle for the same piece of land and has become a struggle between religions that will never end. The only solution is to cause a lack of motivation to fight, for both sides. We need to be strong, the other side needs to understand this and the solution will be a status quo.
Already after four o’clock and it is important for Uri to say that for him, even if it was difficult for him to hear certain things, he wants to point out that just listening in a “circle” is a kind of victory!
I asked Roni to summarize the spectacular discourse that has been going on here for the past three hours. There is nothing like the human words, which contain such a simple and natural hope that Roni says, at every meeting, tirelessly, to sum up.
Here is the list of participants:
Nahshi, Ofek, Mary, Shmulik, Roni, Malki, Oded, Maharan, Hadar, Elior, Hadas, Ilan, Ziva, Tal, Uri, David, Eli, Orit, Yehudit, Eitan, Ruthi, Liora, Ilana, Ruby, Amit, Tali, Noam, Avi.
Wrote: Oded