Encounter 242 – 28.10.2022

Until guests arrive, Roni shares with us information she has accumulated over the past week. About those who want to enter Gaza, about those outside and those inside Gaza.
Uzi (and his dog Jimmy) and Itzik arrive. We opened a “circle”.
I begin by explaining about us and continue by referring to the “exploration” question that asks for a response from everyone who sits with us in our “Lighthouse” (after he/she has introduced himself/ herself, sipped coffee and tasted something) – “What is Gaza to you”?
For Uzi, Gaza is a frustration. He grew up close to the border with Gaza and remembers, as a child, trips he made to the border. There was a canal along the border and there was a UN hut. He would sit with his feet in the canal and exchange food with the Arab shepherds on the other side. The fires of the past few years frustrated him and brought creative ideas. He wanted, for example, to raise an inscription of fire in front of Gaza in which the word “peace” burns and even started collecting the materials for it. The concept expanded into the idea of lighting fire inscriptions along the border every month! For various reasons, the initiative remained only an idea. Today, Uzi is a retiree who is looking for people to help him carry out his ideas. Uzi is awake at night and sleeps during the day (by choice). From this, he created night meetings next to the “Black Arrow” monument, in front of Gaza. A cafe where people whose sleep wanders come. Now he has an idea of breeding pigeons. Virtual pigeons and real pigeons. For this purpose he built a Dovecote. An internet sign will display the cumulative number of pigeons that are being flown virtually (anyone can connect from anywhere in the world and fly a pigeon) and twice a month there will be actual pigeon flown. The counter will be displayed on a huge screen in the Bedouin settlement of Segev Shalom, where Uzi is active in other areas. Uzi has friends in Gaza and the situation Very frustrating for him. He maintains his friendships with them.
Nomika tells about the “bazar” project she set up in Sderot (every object/ clothing that the first hand kneads and passes to the second hand). Nomika tells about the dynamics created around the “Bazar”. Since job seekers started leaving Gaza in large numbers, many of them come to Sderot and work under difficult employment conditions. They are desperate and ready for any job in any condition, without any insurance. They come to the bazar every day and interesting interactions are created between a variety of people from Israel (who also come there), from all kinds, with the workers from Gaza. In the beginning there was problematic behavior (violent, rude, sexist) but little by little the situation is changing. There was also fear and racism. In the last three months, a special process began to emerge, a kind of parliament, talks and inclusion of each other. It is of course very complex and still very fragile, but Nomika recognizes new options for interaction, and thinks that this could be of interest to the “Lighthouse” as well, for example, dialogue with Gazans, who are not Rami.
And if we’ve already talked about Rami, here he is in front of us in zoom (as usual when switching to English, a burnt smell rises from the smoke that burns my brain and the summary pronounces “jumps” translation.)
Rami introduces himself to those in the circle who are getting to know him for the first time. Emphasizes the hope for ties with Israelis. Want to create a new generation that will communicate, on both sides. that will create mutual reconciliation and understanding. Unfortunately, there are no opportunities for physical relationships. Many Gazans want to leave it. look for a future elsewhere. Those in Gaza wish for hope but have nothing to do to promote it. Want to raise money for projects for the people. “We are not giving up” he says. Want to change the hard opinions that each side has about the other side. Tells about the history of meetings with Israelis that took place through him. He and his friends have done many demonstrations in the past against Hamas and are quite well known in Gaza, even now that some of them are outside it. What concerns Israel, the USA and Egypt is only who will rule after Abbas.
Then, in Zoom, Muhammad ascends. He is also outside Gaza. Muhammad was also active together with Rami and was previously arrested by Hamas. He is currently in a country in Europe where, he says, there are many human rights organizations but they care more about the refugees within it and less about the violation of human rights globally.
Shmulik works and pushes for the employment of Arab laborers who come to Israel and look for work. They have a great fear that they will lose their permits if they engage in something other than work. They live in substandard conditions and work in very difficult conditions. It is difficult to mobilize help for them systematically. Only on personal initiative.
Amir from Kfar Menachem arrived to deliver Meretz’s materials to Nahshi in preparation for the elections. Fell in the charm of the place (and Shmulik’s coffee) and promised to return.
Itzik, who was born in a kibbutz close to Gaza and today lives in Sderot, begins his words by saying “although not all Arabs are terrorists, most terrorists are Arabs”. Itzik deals in security training. He says that his mother, in 1954, was afraid to leave the kibbutz and go to the maternity hospital to give birth to him. As a child he sat on a sand hill in 1967 and saw the bombing of Gaza by our planes. He says that he is not so comfortable saying here in the circle, but nevertheless says that “with 2 neutron bombs we would solve all the problems in Gaza”. Then he will make a reservation and say that it was said in jest and not as a course of action. He referred to the number of residents in Gaza (I quoted the number 2.2 million in my words), he claimed that in his opinion the number is decreasing and not increasing, mainly because many leave for Egypt and about 20% of them do not return and also many women marry men from outside Gaza. In his opinion, the real number does not exceed one and a half million people in the Gaza Strip. In general, the demography is in favor of Israel and the opposite is a fake. He added that anyone who tries to do something for peace is in favor of it. He has friends from all religions and we have many more enemies around.
Uzi says it’s nice that the lighthouse exists and it’s a shame it’s not famous enough. will continue to get interested in our actions and interest us in his actions.
Mark will update the Facebook site from now on. Mark also says that Gaza is where he raised his children. During his son’s bar mitzvah, there was a helicopter flying overhead the whole time and it was very disturbing. When they came back from his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah (which took place far from the conflict line), a rocket fell in Kfar Aza and Jimmy was killed. His children do not want to return to live in the area. Over the years, he has learned a lot here from interesting people who came to the circle (Mark is one of the first of the lighthouse).
Roni says she listens to everyone’s opinion. Listening is the important thing here. But we do talk here about projects and try to do them as well.
Mark says that the “lighthouse” is the collection of opinions of the women who arrive that day. There is no “opinion of the lighthouse”.

We were this time: Roni, Itzik, Nahshi, Mark, Oded, Shmulik, Uzi (with Jimmy the dog), Nomika, Amir, Rami, Muhammad, Uzi, Malki, Samdar, Uri (last 6 in Zoom).
Written by: Oded

Encounter 241 – 21.10.2022

At night it rained lightly throughout the area. Shmulik promises that in two weeks everything around will be painted green.
The crowds of visitors did not come this time (they preferred to continue to Indinegev).
With those who did come, we talked about freedom of speech in Gaza and Israel.
On the 40th anniversary celebrations for Nativ Ha’asara after the evacuation from Sinay.
On the difficulty of getting answers from the people of the Directorate of Coordination and Liaison with Gaza.
About the upcoming elections in Israel, the split and the minority vote.
About Osa’s film and whether it will be screened at Sderot Cinematheque.
On helping the Palestinians to harvest olives in the West Bank, the violence of the settlers and the position of the army that both enables the violence and suffers from it.
On the phone with Rami we talked about joint projects, for example Nisrin’s cosmetics and perfume store in Gaza, which has already received goods from Hebron with our help, started selling and looking for ways to increase the selection.
And also about the Machiavellianism of Hamas – two years ago they accused Bashar Assad of genocide and now they are going to cut alliances with him. And in the same way they attack Israel but send tens of thousands of Gazans to build it.

This time we were: Roni, Mark, Shmulik, Hanan, Rami on the phone and Nahshi.
Written by: Nahshi

Encounter 240 -14.10.2022

These days Ose Oyamendan’s film ” Aswat-Acherim” (Other Voices) is being screened in Tel aviv and Jerusalem Cinematheques. Ose and Ito (his partner) and their other friends came to us today to the lighthouse.
Rami also arrived and he leads the circle.
Rami opens with an explanation of the “Lighthouse”. There are guests from America, so the circuit is conducted in English (something that causes the writer of the summary severe vertigo).
Rami says that we see ourselves in our area as one community and not “us and them”. It’s a home for everyone. We don’t ignore the conflict and what it implies, but in the circle we try to accommodate. Not defined politically. Focus on the relationship between people. Presents the lighthouse as an idea that stems from the phrase “to a place where a light is lit, hope can be steered”.
Uzi was born in 1947 (the period of the British Mandate) his birth certificate is written in English. “I’m Palestinian” he says. Indicates the fact that Kibbutz Gvulot was established without the need for occupation. He arrived to Gvulot in 1965. He remembers contacts and good relations with Gaza after 1967. In the last thirty years, he says, something unfortunate has happened – a loss on both sides. But our side is the stronger one and therefore has the responsibility for the solution. Uzi comes to the circle, according to him, rarely. But he is part of the idea. This week he was at the screening of Ose’s film at Jerusalem and was impressed.
For Roni Gaza it means friends and people who need her help. Roni has learned a lot over the years and understands that it is a home for both parties. Blaming each other is easy, but you have to think about how you live together and that is her motivation for action.
Ito lives with Ose in California. Gaza is an example of how politics interferes and divides. We are all human, she says.
Ose thanks everyone for coming to experience the project with him, the documentary film “Aswat-Acherim “. Osa had previously visited the lighthouse several times. The challenge for him is to give hope. In Gaza, the challenge is to literally “push” the people to hope. He wants to share with the people the hope in him.
For Mary, the situation in front of Gaza is not easy. This complexity intrigues her. We sit here and wait for the Messiah of peace and justice.
Malki wants to continue the line of thought of “hope”, because the opposite is despair. She sees no immediate solution. Maybe the young people will get to live a different life. Her life is good and she came here to remind herself that there is another life, people there are suffering. and hope for the best,
Dina says that Kibbutz Gvulot is part of the shared space with Gaza. You should always think positively to see what can be done to improve, for example small steps like coming here. Doing her best to be active and promote her cause.
Vivian says that for her Gaza is mostly a tragedy. She has been to Gaza many times in the past, as part of her activities in various organizations. Since 2007 it has become dangerous to operate physically inside Gaza. She moved to activity in Ramallah. But the Palestinians there feel they are different from the Gazans and this made it difficult for her.
Cassie was born in America and grew up in Israel. The roots of her family go back to the first Aliya, to Zichron Ya’akov. Appreciate the work of Roni and Ose. Maybe something we can share is hope. She met Ose, was impressed and worked with him on the distribution of the film.
Niv did not know where Gaza was for most of his life. Today he, together with Cassie, are partners in promoting the film. In the past, he heard a lot of talk about peace when he traveled around the country. Now the “peace” is almost no longer heard. There is a small group here, at the lighthouse, that what they are trying to do is indeed difficult, but we have to do what our heart tells us.
Eric is a Jew from New York who did not care that much about the conflict in our region until he met Ose at the university 30 years ago. An African-American, Catholic student who opened his eyes. Through their joint work, he got to know people on both sides of the barrier and got closer to the project matter-of-factly and emotionally. It really moves him that people sit here at the lighthouse every week, believing and discussing a common future for the two peoples in this country.
I had a little trouble understanding Lauren. What I (maybe) understood, is that she has been here in Israel for a week, following the movie, she is from New York but lives in California and they categorize you according to where you come from.
Mark says that every time he walks around this area, he thinks about all the people who once lived there and are now missing from the landscape. They are as refugees on the other side of the fence without the ability to return to the home or village of their parents or grandparents. He also thinks about the Israeli Arabs who recently come less often, their presence in the circle is essential and they are missing. In addition, he thinks of other people whose absence is very noticeable. People who take their worries one step further, don’t “hope” that it will be alright, but get up and work to make it alright, like Martin Luther King. He wants to take advantage of the presence of African Americans in the circle so that they tell us their personal experiences about the question of when not to be satisfied with just talking about hope, but to get up and be active. To produce civil change through direct and non-violent action. The left in Israel is much more passive than the right.
For Bela, Gaza is neighbors near and far. Close, but can’t reach us and we can’t reach them. therefore also far away. You find a feeling of power here in the lighthouse. Living between hope and despair. Visited Kibbutz Kerem Shalom this week. There is a wall separating it from the Gaza Strip. A wall where you can peek at the neighbors. This gave her a bad feeling and she asked God to break down the walls between us.
Ruti lives close to Gaza and sees it from the window. From her residence she hears a lot of war noises. Sometimes it’s scary to walk around the kibbutz. For her, they are not only neighbors, they are also suffering human beings. I don’t agree with many things said here, some are too naive.
17 year-old Mikey will soon enlist in the army. Gaza for him is suffering as he hears. Life there is not good under Hamas rule. It’s hard to help even if you want to. Heard a lot about the issue and also heard ideas for a solution. The people here see Gaza every day. During operations there are bombs and sounds of war. Those who live in the center think it is everyday.
Shmulik says that he is currently focusing on only one Gazan. Yusuf is his name. Helps him look for and find a job, makes sure he receives a salary as he deserves, takes care of transportation and also lodges him in his home. This is his contribution, to one person from Gaza.
I didn’t quite understand the things I said in English, so Mary translated and sent it to me to add to the summary. Here they are for you: For Oded, Gaza is a mirror that reflects shame, guilt and rage. The lie he grew up with since he was born 69 years ago. A lie denial and concealment. In recent years he has been researching the situation and the conflict, but finds that it distances him from other Israeli people who do not want to know. Therefore knowing more does not help. Just takes away from people and family.
Rami concludes and asks what “hope” means and replies that it is something you strive for and hope for. Every morning we get up and hope for the best. Tells about his grandfather’s passport that came from Russia in 1892. The grandfather was an Ottoman and later a British citizen. was an exporter of agricultural produce from Palestine throughout the empire. He was allowed to go anywhere in space. Rami is happy that in his life he was able to visit Egypt and Jordan, and hopes in his days to get stamps in his passport from Syria, Iraq and more.
This time we were: Ruti, Mary, Mark, Oded, Shmulik, Rami, Mikey, Bella, Dina, Malki, Uzi, Ose, Ito, Eric, Roni, Vivian, Cassie, Niv, Lauren.
Written by: Oded
Photografed by: Malki and Mary.

Encounter 239 – 7.10.2022

Today we talked about Osa’s film “Aswat-Acherim” which will be screened in the coming week at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and once also at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on 10/13. The film was shot over 10 years and is attended by friends we know from Gaza and Sderot.
After the festive screenings, Osa and his team plan to come to us for the upcoming lighthouse meeting.
Ahead of the olives picking season with the Palestinians in the West Bank, I tried to convey my impressions of last year’s picking in a hope that…
We talked to Rami and realized that despite his current location, he is not silent on the yeast and continues to try to cultivate relationships.
A mini-discussion developed on the (philosophical?) question of the concept of a “democratic Jewish state”. Interesting, but the discussion arose near the time of dispersal and faded with it.
We also talked about the upcoming elections, about agendas, about who votes and who doesn’t.
And how is it possible without a few words about the new “All Citizens party” (if you will “Voice of all Citizens”) and the insights, mainly from Roni and me who are in it’s WhatsApp group. This organization, if anyone was wondering, was indeed registered as a party, but will not participate in the upcoming elections.
Surely more topics came up, but due to my forgetfulness and advanced age, they did not make it to print.
When Mary arrived after hot summer months, we noticed how much we miss our friends Jaber, Mehran, Rami, Radir and all the other Aswat-Acherim.
This time we were: Nahshi, Moshe, Roni, Mark, Malki, Bella, Hanan, Mary, Oded.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 238 – 30.9.2022

Another Friday.
Shmulik, Moshe, Oded, Roni and Nachshi who also brought his puppies Yefet and Nina. All three left after an hour or so.
There are four of us left.
Roni told the stories of our friends in Gaza. The human spirit, it turns out, aspires not only for freedom, love and hope, it also weaves into these lofty aspirations, twisted and surprising telenovelas.
Then we talked… The framework of speech is always related to conflict through history, fear, literature, cinema, encounters, true or false information and more.
Just when we wanted to disperse, arrived… no one came and we dispersed.
This time we were: Moshe, Roni, Shmulik, Oded, Nachshi (+ Nina and Yefet)
Written by: Oded