We moved, we returned to the winter residence. Gather in the center of the sulfur factory building.
Seven men are sitting and discussing what happens to them after the first of November. The discussion leads to the question, “Why are we sitting here?” We decide to discuss it in a circular order as has been the custom at our “Lighthouse” for 4 years and 8 months.
Moshe, who is honored to be the first in the round, admits that he is still a little shocked. He says that perhaps the others in the circle do not take, like him, seriously, the title that Ben Gvir receives in the position of Minister of “National Security”. Moshe, who has already experienced Argentina in the seventies, takes the addition of “national” seriously and anxiously. It is difficult for him with the movement of the (Jewish?) people to such a bad place. All the humanism of Agnon and Buber was erased. He has a suffocating feeling.
Nahshi says that he has nothing to add, but Rami doesn’t give up and Nahshi adds and adds! His first reaction after the election results was “Okay, we’ll manage in our corner, adapt, and let them screw up the business.” But maybe on second thought, he says, a state should be established elsewhere. Nahshi doesn’t feel comfortable just because his life is good. Interacting with people and feeling part of something bigger, gives a better feeling. Today his feeling is that he has nothing more to contribute at the state level. At the regional level closest to it (Gaza region) there is perhaps something to contribute, even if we are not at the center of public interest and the relationship with Gaza is local. The meetings here give him the opportunity to do something small that may have a little impact. Hope the Gaza issue will change. Perhaps, over time their current suffering will be eased with the processes of change in the region. As part of his dreams, he wants to establish a state in Gaza separate from Israel and also to live in it, but this will crowd Gaza even more… He has hope and faith in a better future for Gaza, but at the moment, he has no levers to hang his optimism on.
Shmulik says that there is definitely a reason as well as a result for our sitting here. Personally he will do what is in his power to do. Whether it’s helping with olive harvest, sitting at the lighthouse, donating to the Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) or helping people privately. In the general dimension, the more extreme the polarization, the more chance there is of an uprising. This is true throughout all social changes in history. This can happen with the help of external intervention (an asteroid in the case of the dinosaurs) Or wars. The polarization will lead to action. On a personal level, he says, he is doing things morally right.
I (Oded), who since my retirement often read and flaunt my new knowledge of old phenomena, cite two examples of how the combination of the emergence of a charismatic leader connected to the elite, into a polarized (class) situation caused powerful change processes. The first – Moses who grew up in the bosom of the Egiptian government and created a process of people’s migration (mass migration) that changed the reality of that people. The second – Theodore Herzl who, like Moses, also belonged to a local political elite and created a powerful process (whose results, for better or for worse, we still experience today). The context for the discussion is that the class polarization is deepening and the appearance of a charismatic leader (perhaps like Ben Gvir but the other way around) can cause a process of change. Shmulik throws aside that Hitler was also such a leader and I agree with him.
Rami cites as an example two events from the last few days. One is the incident of the stabbing to death of a man because he warned another person for crossing the crosswalk with his motorcycle at a red light and stabbed him and the second incident, a few days earlier when he and Naomi were returning at night from the north. They were driving on the highway and heavy truck drivers rioted on the road. Rami remembers that when he was younger, in his role as an Inspector with policing power, he used to stop drivers and warn them about dangerous driving or littering. Today he doesn’t anymore, he doesn’t dare. He prefers to ignore or stay away.
This week, Rami had to deal with a problem in his house. He contact a contractor. Two workers arrived, One from Ashkelon and one from Hebron. The balance of power quickly became clear. Talks started. Rami asked the Hebron man about his home and life and realized that the man was intelligent and learned. The Ashkelon man said there are no arguments between them and the Arab understands his place. Drink coffee and the conversation continued. The Ashkelon told the Hebronites that his daughter (of the Hebronites) had to learn Hebrew in order to survive in the region. Rami could claim that Arabic is important in order to survive in the space, but today’s Rami “does not encourage conflicts”. He also avoided going to certain places out of fear. Both in his home and anywhere in the country he feels unprotected and not at home. For him, he is ready to live anywhere in the world. The state distanced itself from him to the point of feeling of not belonging. He does not have a community with which it is possible to create change. In his work, he is involved in large initiatives and thinks that it may no longer be worth doing them in Israel. The West Bank and Gaza will not change in terms of status and maybe they, the world and we, will get used to it.
Mark says that the easiest thing is to say that he came here to meet friends. Mark arrived in Israel at an old age and did not have the opportunity to form friendships in settings that Israelis, the natives, are familiar with (school, army). The stage we reached, he says, was expected. The change was linear and not surprising in light of the last 20 years. His arrival here, in Israel, also required him to (mentally) join the Jewish people and not just change his place of residence. Realized that the Jews in Israel see themselves as a “light to the Gentiles.” He thought that he would not have to think about Judaism because it is normal, Judaism is the reality. Abroad, one had to make an effort to be Jewish and even mark oneself outwardly. Over the years, one began to wonder if this was the nation that survived and recovered from the near annihilation of the Holocaust? Mark does not wave flags, but if the new government begins to treat the Bedouins (for example), he will join the protests even if it puts him at risk himself. If a large part of the democratic population reacts, he will also join in. The blacks in America were not supported by the whites but continued the uprising. He will support.
Mahran says that last Friday he joined the demonstration of the Jewish blacks in Be’er Sheva against their deportation. Loves minority struggles. Not long ago he went to visit a friend in Ra’anana. The friend wrote a book about the Bedouins and mentioned Mahran. The friend spoke of their friendship that would always exist and gave him a copy of the book. Mahran says that we are in the era of the second Israel. I see the hatred in the settlers. The left was silenced, we were defeated. The Arab right (RA’AM) was also defeated. They were silenced. They will work to intensify the hatred in the country. “He” will increase the hatred. The hatred will increase in the south as well. Mahran, perhaps in response to the fear that Rami spoke of, thinks that there is security in the Bedouin settlements. Regarding human rights, Mahran Claims that Arab society is not on the right side and does not yet deserve to wave this flag. Demography, according to him, they won, but the Arabs also did not come out to vote when the left needed them. They entered into apathy caused by the many “beats” they receive from all sides. The classic Bedouin, according to him, Shuts himself down, shy and doesn’t want to intervene. There are fanatics on both sides as in a mirror image. What is there to harm the Bedouin who are also at the bottom. But it is possible that this time the Bedouin will not be silent. In this government “Cahana was right”. The defeat was caused, perhaps, because we fell asleep, perhaps because we were Both the Arabs and the Jews on the left are indifferent.
The coffee is flowing in rounds and we still have some time left. Rami asks the circle “Is a fratricidal war possible”?
Mahran says that we are in transition from democracy to a dictatorship that will lead to a military revolution also with the support of the Arabs. The revolution is designed to restore the tie. Mahran will join the revolution.
Moshe does not expect a civil war to break out in the near future. I do expect that the hatred and violence will intensify. The change we see today is violent and chaotic, not necessarily a fratricidal war. In Argentina there was a military coup, but here it is different. The oppression will be slow and continuous and the citizen alone will understand the spirit of the times. To protect himself and his environment, he will adapt.
Nahshi does not see a scenario of internal war. The people look at what is close to them and are less busy raising their heads for a wider view. That is why they will not rise up but sink in themselves. More and more Israelis will move to other parts of the world. The army will begin to disintegrate little by little. Our sons will not serve for long in an army that does things the opposite of what they learned at home. If there is a non-violent struggle, he participates in it, but he stays away from the events. The country is not ours anymore.
Shmulik remembers that when Cahana arrived in Israel he was in the minority and his party was thrown out of the Knesset. Now his people are in the Knesset and the government. The meeting between us here is not only to drink coffee, it is also to do activities. Every day Shamulik breaks the law and does it knowingly.
I (again Oded) think that people like me will have to make even more difficult decisions. The Palestinians, who are the suffering part of the region, will have their suffering deepen. I have the option of sacrificing my money, my time and my body to alleviate their suffering or to keep these assets and decide that I am protected by my privileges. The confusion will get worse as the gap between the sufferers and the privileged widens. I am again quoting Hillel Cohen, who claims in his book “The Zero Year 1929”, that when there is security tension, each individual gathers under his ethnic affiliation, regardless of his objective position regarding the causes of the conflict. Since I estimate that violence will break out, I want to believe that I will go more with my human justice And not with my ethnic identification.
Rami says he will adapt to the situation. will not endanger himself and his livelihood. Now, he says, it’s theirs. He didn’t like the change in his kibbutz either, but when it happened, he told his children, it’s yours. He himself will not preserve anything. The Bengvirs are legitimate and have won justice and it is theirs. He will only decide about his place, whether here or somewhere else.
Mark claims that there will be no struggle of communities. There will be people who will struggle. The fight has already been decided. Fortunately for the Jewish people, it is divided between Israel and the world. If we was all here, a fratricidal war might have broken out. His children will probably move abroad. There won’t be a violent war and there won’t be a non-violent struggle either. But if there is a clear injustice, and there is an action against it that has a chance of succeeding, he will join.
Mahran comments that the Bedouin who ran over a student in Be’er Sheva this week voted for Likud in the elections (if that makes it any easier for anyone). Mahran comes from the “Ashkenazi” view. Will continue to fight for the country that was. Yes, he says, there will be a civil war here. The Arabs will not join it, but he himself will join the Ashkenazim.
We are just notifying our many readers that this coming Tuesday 11/29 afternoon we will be hosting a group of religious girls from “Tzali” Preparatory at the Lighthouse. You are all invited.
This time we were: Shmulik, Rami, Mahran, Nahshi, Mark, Moshe, Oded.
Written by: Oded.
Encounter 246 – 25.11.2022
We moved, we returned to the winter residence. Gather in the center of the sulfur factory building.