Encounter 252 – 6.1.2023

First meeting of the new year. A guided group descends from private vehicles, watches us from the high level and glides towards the well. I “ambush” them there and invite them to the circle.
They listen and settle down. I’m cutting history short (I hope it’s “short”, at least I’m trying). From me to the left, where Itzik is sitting.
Itzik recalled that he used to cross Gaza on the coastal road, where he had clients. Gaza seemed to him like a big refugee camp.
Esther: Gaza is a miss. The money that goes there is directed less to the well-being of the residents and more to the well-being of Hamas.
Tal is impressed by the overcrowding and poverty and also tells about a carpenter from Gaza, very professional, who made him furniture for the house.
Dina was during her military service at a near base. At that time, Gaza was open and she spent most of her time in Yamit and Gaza.
Orly says that Gaza is overcrowding and poverty that hostile factors have taken over. A place of waste.
Amotz also uses the word “missing” to describe the feeling about Gaza (the word will come up again and again later on). He had Gazan employees in the past.
Orit remembers a visit to Khan Yunis, she was not afraid. Could have been good, miss.
Isabel: Her father served for many years in Gaza. She had friends there. Now that’s a miss.
Sefi was an operations officer. He has a lot of memories from Gaza. I managed to write down that he remembers children who sell sabers and refugees that we are responsible for part of their emissions. In his opinion, there is nothing to do with their ideology.
Fabian remembers spending Saturdays in Gaza. Lived and Served in the army then in Yamit. Gaza is a cursed place for her. Her three sons were there in the military service. From 2014 it is a different and distant place.
Avi remembers Abu Hatira’s fish restaurant on the beach. His first bicycle was bought for him in Gaza.
Nirit says that when she was a child she went with a family friend, a military man, to visit Gaza. They went in a Mercedes and he had a gun in the car. They went into all the sweets shops in Jiblia.
Ronit’s daughter served in the army in Nahal Oz and Kerem Shalom. The majority there, in Gaza, want peace. She wants to be optimistic and quietly adds, “If we have a country left.”
Roni led delegations of donors to visit the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council. She was very impressed by the principal of the school who worked hard to educate the students not to hate. She think of children on both sides who during the “rounds” are looking for an immediate hiding place.
Oded also connects with the statement of miss. He see no hope. The younger generations do not know either side. Mainly there, there are more and more people who want revenge.
Udi says Gaza is a tragedy. He knows Jews, descendants of Jews from Gaza. Extremists navigate politics and control and these are the results. They are held captive by a gang. Udi hopes we are not in the same direction.
Yotam (the group’s guide) spent a lot of time in Gaza. It almost cost him his life. A friend of his from the army was killed and since then he keeps in touch with the friend’s mother. The mother lives in a Kibutz near Rahat and has a good relationship with a family from Rahat, one of whose daughters married someone from Gaza who has been avoiding visiting his family for many years. During the couple’s visit to her home, their little son saw pictures of the fallen son and promised the mother that when he grows up, he will buy tanks and planes and take revenge on whoever killed her son.
Yehuda thinks that Gaza is a wasted potential for both sides, but we have no choice and they have to be flexible.
Orli says that Gaza is a “great sorrow”. The uninvolved population is held captive by Hamas. They are brought up to see us as enemies. Hopefully one day we will think the other way around and instead of shelling, we will choose to improve their lives. Maybe it will help a life together.
Avi was in Gaza for the first time in 1967 after the war. He was a boy who was walking with his father. Gaza is the essence of the conflict and life in Israel. There should be hope but it’s hard to see the light.
Danny was in Gaza for the first time at the age of 17. They made a bicycle trip from the north to the settlement of the maritime zone south of the Gaza Strip. In the past he supported the evacuation but today he thinks it should have been part of an agreement to resolve the conflict. Today, the parties can no longer do anything. You can sit in the “Lighthouse” and talk about, but there is nothing to do and it’s a shame.
Tali said that her father was also in Gaza and so was her son. Tali was an officer in the Yamit evacuation, a difficult experience. She see in this place a soured paradise because of those pulling the strings. She is also connected to Gaza through her journalistic work. She spent quite a few times of violence here, was a participant in personal conversations with Gazans in which they told her their tragedy and also a lot of aggression and anger. There is a lot of missing here. There may be a desire to improve, but also helplessness and it’s depressing.
Mark raised his children at a time when they were riding the bus to school and there were shelling. The children were trained in survival instructions. Today his children live in Tel Aviv and do not want to start their families here. There is a lot of food for thought not only for this region, but for the whole country. The conversations here, at the “Lighthouse”, challenge Mark’s most basic values and his civic duties. The place helps him think.
Uzi is frustrated like everyone else with what is happening and what is not happening. Want to influence in some way and bring hearts together. Tells about the release of pigeon to freedom project that he conceived and continues to promote (physical flying and virtual flying). He hopes that the very act of releasing the pigeon from captivity will bring a message of bringing hearts together. He also added an electronic sign that would name each pigeon release, and display the number of participants. To illustrate, Uzi brought a pigeon in a small cage, and it was released to the applause of the spectators and the ticking of the cameras.
The group left and we were left alone. Shmulik tells about the meeting with the “Be’er Ora” preparatory school that took place on Monday in Nir Yitzhak. I say that my impression is that they know almost nothing about Gaza, and worse, Gaza is of no interest to them. At the meeting, they were a little pushed to talk out of necessity and to comment, but not out of desire.
Ilan says that young people have a lot of stimuli and there are many other areas that do not interest them, not only Gaza.
Vivian says that the reluctance to know about Gaza does not depend on age.
Mahran says that teenagers are interested in Messi and Ronaldo and the smartphone. This is where an internal Israeli political debate is developing about the new government’s moves. It is true that among the circle’s members today there are representatives of the variety of opinions in the Israeli empirical space, but no opinion is surprising in its originality and therefore, due to the length of the summary, we will skip it.
Family is coming: They came from the north for the weekend in the south which is starting to bloom.
Uri also comes.
Mark explains about us and starts another round.
Moshe: The circle is always open to guests. We want to listen. Listening to people from Gaza and beyond. People ask us, “Are there also people like you on the other side”? Yes, says Moshe, we (and others) establish contact and conduct dialogue whenever possible. It is also a component of his desire to be here at the lighthouse.
Eitan thinks that even if Hanin Zoebi becomes Prime Minister, nothing will change. Israel’s military capabilities are insane and the Palestinians have no ability to do anything to us for another century. Therefore, the attacks they carry out do not advance them and only strengthen the Israeli right. The only chance for them to change, is to come and ask for peace.
Carmel, a student in the 8th grade, is surprised when it is suddenly her turn to speak. I don’t understand anything about the subject, she says, at school they don’t deal with the subject.
Moran does not look at the same level as Eitan. On a daily basis she doesn’t think about Gaza, it makes her sad. Her son will be serving there soon. A political solution is not in sight. Against the background of her son’s service, which is approaching operational activity, she decided to learn more about the conflict.
A colleague, a soldier, is finishing a route soon. “I don’t have anything smart to say,” he says. In the army he trains for war and thinks to do it well. If there is a situation where he enters Gaza, he is almost certain that he will not spare any means when he encounters the enemy, but I wish it would not happen and he would not have to deal with such a situation.
Ran is a 12th grade student. He says that people are not interested in the news. He knows that there in Gaza people live in hardship and poverty. When he was in the 11th grade, he remembers that they learned in class about deportation during the War of Independence.
Uri understands Ran and feels the same way.
Mahran, perhaps in response to what he said to Eitan, says that the situation is serious and the world is very pragmatic and fast. Everyone has abilities. We are exposed to the changes that will happen around us. Where there is occupation there is resistance. He has an Israeli Jewish friend whose son is a soldier and he is anxious like everyone else.
Vivian told about a meeting she organized between Israeli and Palestinian women’s groups. The Palestinians were shocked when they heard the Israelis talking about peace. She tells Eitan that it features the side that tightens the plunger and she wants to open it. He does talk about absolute Israeli military superiority, but they, with balloons and kites, disrupted our lives and will do so as long as we occupy. Once, when it was still possible, Vivian took her children to meet her partners in Gaza and they “discovered” to their surprise, they were human beings and not enemies.
Mark tells about his son who served in the Armored Corps and because he was under pressure did not participate in one of the wars here in the region. He wishes his fellow soldier to take good care of himself and adds that the situation is very bad for the Israelis and it is terrible what happened to them. People should know what we do he says, every child should learn about it at school. We de facto control the territories and administer apartheid systems. He, Mark, is not ready to be a citizen of a country that runs its life in this way. Even if it is in the name of our security, we need to initiate the change, mainly for ourselves. We don’t have another hundred years. The people who grow up here will think that it is normal to live in such a country. This will be a reason for a big war.
Uri disagrees, overwhelmingly, with what Mark said. To his delight he discovered that there are Zionist Arabs who want to participate in Jewish life here and vote for Netanyahu. In the end, he says, 99% of the residents of the State of Israel are united in striving for the same thing and there is a desire for peace. Even language in the circle has differences of opinion. Everyone should join the army and be together. In relation to Canada, our situation is bad and in relation to Syria, our situation is good, he concludes.
And these are our names: Itzik, Esther, Tal, Dina, Orli, Amotz, Isabel, Sefi, Orit, Fabian, Avi, Nirit, Ronit, Roni, Oded, Udi, Yotam, Yehuda, Orli, Avi, Danny, Tali, Eitan, Moran, Amit, Ran, Carmel, Uri, Vivian, Mark, Shmulik, Mary, Ilan, Moshe, Nahshi, Itzik, Uzi, Mahran, Oded.
Written by: Oded.