Encounter 250 – 23.12.2022

Shmulik, Moshe, Hayuta and myself arrived and we stayed for about an hour and a half. Hayuta and I walked around the space trying to locate mobile chairs. At about half past two, a group of young women from the area arrived. A youth guide from a kibbutz in the area and with them 4 of their trainees, all graduates of the regional school. I mention the matter of the school because they immediately recognized me as “the one who taught street theater at school” and Shmulik as “the one who prepares potato chips”… (we both actually worked at the regional elementary school, until the outbreak of the Coronavirus).
The group sat down, treated themselves to coffee and bit into the yeast cakes they had brought with them. Although they live in the area, they had not heard of the “Lighthouse” so I explained about us. I tried to bring as much historical factual information as possible from the knowledge that we have accumulated over the years.
In my understanding, the unconsciousness that Jewish Israelis go through, the size of the education and media systems in Israel, in everything related to the indigenous people to the Palestinians, leaves the reference to the Palestinians to the realm of emotion only. That is why it is important to me to emphasize to the facts.
Moshe said that we are surprised anew every time people sit with us. We are open to listening to every opinion, he says and adds that he has an optimistic side that believes it is possible to have an impact.
Rotem deals with youth guidance. He says that Gaza is here, near his house. This situation, in his opinion, cannot continue. Need for solution. But a solution does not serve the leaders on both sides and therefore the situation does not improve.
Matan, one of the campers, says that Gaza is pressure. Gaza is such a fear.
Shani, instructor. She watched over Gaza in her military service. The first sentence that comes out of her mouth, “I love Gaza very much.” According to her, this is something that developed as a result of her military activity. Everyday she connected to their routine. farmers. come with the same working clothes… simple people. I “meet” with them every day and accompanied their lives for almost two years. You also see schools, children. It is clear who the enemies are and when… Hamas often thwarts activity against Israel, but this is also in accordance with its interests… the activity is routine, automatic, with almost no feelings involved. She really wants to visit the places she has been looking at. There were some demonstrations in front of the fence, but no shooting from our side. Hamas is everywhere, even if the majority does not support it, it is very embedded in the population.
Ma’ayan (camper)- Gaza is the enemy, that’s what he was taught all his life. It was not important for him, not even now, to challenge or reflect on this assertion…
Shmulik strongly supports the granting of work permits in Israel. He himself is involved in the employment of Gazans in Israel. It brings some calm in Gaza. There is no livelihood in Gaza and work relieves the stress a little. Our listening here to the different voices is also to create listening and connection with Gaza. We try as much as we can to help. My role as a person, Shmulik says, is to make it clear that life is not a newspaper headline. In reality, the personal connection between people leads to much more meaningful understandings and connections.
This week Hayuta dealt with David Grossman and the award he received. In a speech on the occasion of his victory, he declared himself a man of peace. The speech had a wide echo in the world. Grossman says that every effort should be made for peace. He quoted from Etty Hilsum’s book “The disrupted life” (Hayuta brought the book with her). Telling young people who Etty Hilsum was. She seeks to show a way from Hilsum’s teaching, that a relationship between people is important for creating reconciliation and understanding.
Yam (camper), asks Hayuta if she thinks that opening the fence in front of Gaza is realistic. In his opinion, opening the fence will cause them to come and kill us.
Rotem says that right now they have nothing to lose, so the direction is terrorism. It is important to give work to lower the motivation for terrorism. Make them understand that there are other options.
Shmulik says that the Gazans are between a rock and a hard place, nobody wants them. Not Israel, not Egypt and even the West Bank, seemingly among their own people, there is indifference towards them. The ability to trade and communicate outside of Gaza gives a perspective to a different life. A lot of Qatari money is reassuring too.
Yam repeats and tells Shmulik that he does not dispute that they want to live and deserve life, but they want it “at your expense”.
I summarize the discussion with the things I learned from Hillel Cohen’s book (facts, yes…) “Year Zero 1929”: After the disturbances in 1929, the British prosecuted those who they believed caused the outbreak. 29 of them (26 Arabs and 3 Jews) were sentenced to death by hanging. Without any reconciliation between them, the Arabs turned separately and the Jews separately to the British government and asked to pardon them all! The main argument in front of her, which, as mentioned, was not compatible, was that life together would slowly return to the normality in which it was conducted before and the executions would arouse renewed enmity. The British considered and begged for prison alternatives 26 of 29 The convicts. 3 (Arabs) were executed. By 1935 none of them remained in prison.
That’s it for today. The rain is already here and so is the cold.
We were: Moshe, Hayuta, Shmulik, Oded, Rotem, Shani, Matan, Ma’ayan, Yam and another one who walked around all the time with his dog and did not sit down with us.
Written by: Oded