Encounter 245 – 18.11.2022

The first guests to arrive were Orit (my sister) and Oren. Both were born at Moshe’s, Nahshi and mine kibutz. At this stage there is no need for a circle of acquaintances, so the conversation turns to the history of the region and the space where we live and work.
When Uzi and Aryeh arrived, we started a circle. And as is our custom, I begin by explaining about us and our “Lighthouse”.
Uzi says he “still wonders about us” (coming for the third time already), he appreciates our persistence. When he heard about the fire in Gaza last night, in which 22 people died, he called friends in Gaza to go see for themselves and tell him. Uzi runs a kind of night meeting in a cafe in the “Black Arrow” park. He was looking for an outlet for the frustration he felt because of the situation, and this caused him to leave the house and establish the night meeting. Today a dovecote is already there and next week pigeons will nest. It’s all part of the idea of the release of the pigeons that we already wrote about in previous summaries. As a pensioner he has time, he has ideas and plans.
Aryeh worked with at-risk youth. He managed the community center and education in Shaar HaNegev and moved to the same position in Segev Shalom. He established a conservatory, a nursery and more there. He says that together with the staff there, they do a lot of activities with at-risk youth. Preparatory students from Sde Boker also come to work with him. It works well beyond expectations. Aryeh came to our Lighthouse because Uzi told him. He has a dream for a project – a peace tent inside Segev Shalom where the issues of the day and peace will be discussed. Also there, in Segev Shalom as in Gaza, the median age is 18. Of the workforce over the age of 18, 60 percent are unemployed According to Aryeh, the intersection of Route 232 with the Gaza Strip is the axis of suffering for both sides. He still serve the army reserves and during a round of violence he helps guide the forces in the area. The residents on both sides are a game tool over which they do not have control. This is a situation that has been forced upon us. A difficult situation for both the parties.
Uzi really wants to add to Aryeh’s work. The moderator protests and asks to keep the rules, but Uzi says that if he waits, he will forget what he wants to say and gets permission. He says that he visited the community center that Arya manages. Segev Shalom is a place far from civilization, but the community center is amazing and he had to say that even though it violates the rules of the circle.
Moshe does not like to define himself and points out that he has many definitions (Zionist, socialist, kibbutznik, Israeli, etc.). A week ago he was traveling with a friend from Gaza who works in a kibbutz, the friend returned to Gaza for the weekend and they drove him to the Erez checkpoint. In the car, the friend showed him pictures of his children and grandchildren and Moshe was moved. It is important for Moshe to tell why we are sitting here: the sulfur plant was built and operated by Jewish workers and Arabs and is evidence of a shared life.
Nahshi comes because it’s something he can do. Something is wrong and improper in the reality we live in. The past is glorious and the future is also glorious in his opinion, but the present is discouraging. From the fields touching the fence you can see the neighbors but you can’t reach them, there is a fence. He felt futility in the cycles of violence that create hatred. It will end sometime. It may take years but he knows it will happen. Nahshi is happy for the opportunity to come and hold the “Lighthouse”. Every time he comes back from here, he blesses that it exists.
Malki arrived at the lighthouse close to the start of the activity and “lighted up”. She has been here ever since. The proximity of her current residence to Gaza makes her more involved. She comes from desperation. But here it is a kind of escape. Gaza is a great despair. We sit here and do what we want and they are locked up. She was in Segev Shalom in the last election when she volunteered to drive women to the polls. Gather and wait at the “Sustainability Center” in Segev Shalom. She didn’t know the place before and was surprised to see that it was more of an urban settlement than a rural one.
Bela arrived in the area in 1956. All her life she advocated coexistence. When she lived with her family in Ramla (before she came here) everyone around them spoke Yiddish, including the Arabs. When she was in the army and her core members were taken to Bedouin evacuation activities, Bella wondered why this violence. Sometimes she is really desperate. She came because of Malki and found here a friend who understands her and understands the situation as she does. In the past she was in Gaza and sat in cafes. Sometimes she is asked if sitting at the lighthouse, drinking coffee and talking about Gaza, can help in anything. She replies that sitting at home and doing nothing will probably not help. Maybe the lighthouse does.
Hanan came because of the kites. He was bothered as a kite builder that they use to burn fields. He came to see the phenomenon, met us and has been coming ever since. We are here, he says, to preserve hope. When the opening for change appears, we need people to be ready for it. His life, says Hanan, takes place on the Internet. Tells about Elon Musk breaking up Twitter. Twitter is a place where everyone is, but it’s also a toxic place. Twitter has vicious attacks on distinct population groups. In recent years, a parallel network has been established that allows more freedom of decision. It arose in 2016 and Hanan already knew them in 2017, “Mesodon”. Hanan relates this story to our case through the fact that there were people who prepared for the crisis and prepared an alternative way. Now that Twitter is breaking up there is a replacement, and we are also preparing an alternative way for the day when reconciliation comes. We are the infrastructure for hope here. Hanan tells about us to everyone he meets who wants to hear.
Mary came to this place through Hanan’s blog. Gaza is complexity and Mary is drawn to complexity. Stayed because of the people. We save here an end of a thread that we can connect to the thread opposite.
Ofek is a soldier. He will soon finish his apprenticeship. Came here by chance with friends when they were walking on a rainy day last winter. They were students in the twelfth grade. Since then he came regularly until the draft. Now, because of the military service, he rarely comes. He just returned from an education series in the army. The series dealt with dilemmas: Let’s say, a little girl throws stones at you, and in the background there is a big commotion (“disturbance” in army parlance) what do you do? Yes, these are the dilemmas of the Israel Defense Forces. Gaza is also a dilemma for Ofek, today.
Another round of coffee prepared by Nahshi (Mulik is absent today) and some more mingling and scattering.
This time we were: Oded, Nahshi, Moshe, Orit, Oren, Uzi, Aryeh, Mary, Hanan, Ofek, Malki, Bella.
Written by: Oded