Encounter 209 – 11.3.2022

Since the outbreak of anemone blossoms and the waves of hikers who visited the reserve (and of course the sulfur plant site), we have witnessed extensive use of the chairs we have brought in favor of the “circle”. This in itself is not problematic, also leaving the chairs scattered inside the factory space is not problematic… The “problem” begins when we have to collect those who are taken and left far away. Herds of sheep were also brought in during this period to lick the green grass before it would turn yellow and dry up (and there would be combustible material in the fires). The loving shepherds take the chairs under a tree and sit with the herd. Then they “forget” to return the chairs. This time, in addition to all this, the braces of the table disappeared and only the “legs” were left… We searched and searched but in vain (at least we collected dirt during the scans).
So we arranged the refreshments on four chairs. We did not have high expectations on this cold rainy day.
As usual in the last three months, Ofek comes first. Shmulik and I collect Hayuta and come and Roni arrives too.
After we finished collecting chairs in the area, we sat down with coffee and talked about this and that and the world immersed in its wars.
When Amit, Ido and Rossana arrived, we opened a circle.
Later, Mark, Nomika, Rami and Naomi will join, and just before the final, a group of 40 Jerusalem retirees.
Amit recounts a visit to Gaza in 1998 with Meron Benvenisti and General Nasser Yosef to promote the idea of a binational state. A call from Arafat to Nasser Yusuf took him out of the meeting and it ended in nothing. Amit remembers the people in Gaza better and warmer than the people in the West Bank. They have an “internal heat,” she says. Wrong decisions in the management of the conflict and especially in the decision to hold elections in Gaza and the West Bank at 2006 have, in her opinion, led to an escalation. There were those who said that the Palestinians are unfamiliar with the democratic system and that it is too sharp a transition in the process of running such a scattered community and without real territory and rule. There were elections anyway and Hamas received permission to participate even though it did not accept the Oslo Accords.
Ronny talked about the conference we held at Sderot last week. She got excited at the conference and kept thinking about it even after that. Suddenly the Palestinian Jewish connection seems very natural and true. It was so normal! Yes you can get along and you can feel normal.
As usual, she talked to Rami this week. He is waiting to meet with us. In the meantime he met with others.
Mark, when he came to Israel 40 years ago, was first and foremost engaged in “placing” himself in Israel. From the moment he arrived he settled in this area. He then began to engage in socio-political activity. Driven more by feelings and less by information. “We live in a time of very tough politics,” he states. There is no empathy so it is difficult for him to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is hard for him to get excited about good deeds here and there because the despair is great. Regarding Gaza – he has lived by her side since arriving in Israel. His children, who were born here, will not return to live here, in this area. They also have a hard time hearing him speak out against Zionism. In the last five years he can already clearly say that he is not a Zionist. It’s hard for him to say his opinion inside the house, not wanting to hear it. Now that everything is quiet, it is easy to forget the fact that the silence is tense. He has reading problems and therefore has difficulty acquiring information and communication is unreliable. He has a hard time with the fact that the world is excited about Ukrainian refugees and not African or Middle Eastern refugees.
Rossana, coming from the center. She has not had any contact with Gazans in the past. In general, Gaza is a painful wound, and when a part of the body hurts, the whole body hurts. As long as there are people under our occupation and control, it hurts with us too. Pain is not always treated and that is why she came here today, to the “lighthouse”. Not a Zionist and did not served the army. She has an activist past. Did an alternate service. She had an unsuccessful attempt with a group of people, Jews and Arabs, to build a life together. Traveled to Tamera (Portugal) to learn about how to do it right. They returned to Israel, lived together and were supposed to move to a farm in the south, but the group disbanded. She had a Palestinian partner who returned to Portugal for Tamera, he does not want to be here. Currently less active in peace and more in the climate crisis. Feels she has no enemies and she is not afraid. Do not want to be an occupier even with that means maybe she is not from this nation.
Ido comes here and admits to his shame that he came because of what is happening in Europe. Ramy once said in our circle that the greater the darkness, the brighter the light of the lighthouse. Ido should see the darkness in his eyes. At the conference he sat and listened with tears in his eyes. Was excited to hear people who are able to see evil and face it. Met Rossana in Portugal. Ido is a second and third generation Holocaust survivor and lives in a sense of disaster all the time. He wants to live a normal life, it’s a daily struggle for him. Come here to connect. Looking at Gaza and trying to get into their shoes, hearing evidence. Under a tyrannical regime, even democracy fails to function. We have some rest from Netanyahu’s rule of darkness, they do not have it with Hamas.
Hayuta sympathizes with Rossana’s words about the pain in the body. That is why our democracy is sick. She lives here mainly to strengthen her life and give them meaning.
Ofek says “Gaza is curiosity.” To him, Gaza is a box of cookies on a high shelf and he, the little boy, wants cookies but can not come. When he hears in a circle the “old men” tell of the experience of getting to know the Gaza of yesteryear he is jealous. “It’s not fair,” he says, “that you won and I did not.”
Nomika connects to Mark’s pessimism. She, too, like Roni, witnessed the euphoria that prevailed at the conference. Brotherhood and solidarity. Needless to say (I am allowed …) that Nomika was the main organizer and leader of the conference! Unfortunately, due to high translation costs, the conference “spoke” Hebrew only. Next time we will get better. Glad the “Desert Stars” arrived and also a bus with women from Eilabun. Jaber was also amazing in what he said and in helping during the conference. Nomika is in other groups and is exposed to difficult and oppressive daily information about the events of the occupation.
She wants to read a song by Yehuda Amichai, “The third song is about Dickie”, but a tour guide with 40 Jerusalem pensioners appears in the doorway. Since it’s a quarter to four and the cold is starting to bother me, Ramy signals for me to “take” the team. The guide (Zohar) gathers the group and tells them something like “We do have a plan, but we came across an interesting phenomenon of a group of residents here and we should listen to them. Please encourage.”
I explain the factory and its history, the buildings next to it and continue with an explanation of the “lighthouse”, the idea and the deed. Answers questions and the guide concludes and invites everyone back to the bus. We also fold equipment and disperse.
It should be noted the role of Shmulik who successfully filled Nahshi’s place in the preparation of coffee and tea.
We were: Roni, Shmulik, Hayuta, Oded, Ofek, Mark, Nomika, Ido, Amit, Rossana, Rami, Naomi, Zohar and the 40 pensioners.
Photographer: Ofek. Wrote: Oded.