Encounter 253 – 13.1.2023

A week ago a lot of people came and we felt that we are at the beginning of a wonderful friendship with the migration season of the people in the Be’eri reserve. Even today, a beautiful day without rain, the area is covered with green. Here and there begins some red marks of flowers. However, despite the promise contained in the above description, many travelers in the area are not predicted.
Those who did come (to walk) were Lital and Eyal who were captured by Nahshi’s charismatic invitation and came for coffee and teasing.
Lital has memories. She was born in a kibbutz on the Gaza border. She remembers the 1967 war, 3 days in the shelter. Father is a cotton man and was also involved in the security field. She was 7 years old. Someone from the kibbutz was killed at the very beginning. The Kibutz organized the children to prepare a reception for soldiers returning from the battles in Sinai. Convoys of buses arrived, but with Egyptian prisoners – there were no Israeli soldiers. She cried because she was waiting for soldiers and not prisoners. Father said that’s how it is in war, there are prisoners, nothing will be done to them and they will return home. Then workers began to arrive and people began to travel in Gaza. Lital remembers being overwhelmed by the friendly reception they received in Gaza. I remember the pots alley and Ali Monter. In her military service she came again to Ali Monter and remembered. Now she lives in Tel Aviv and everything is far away, the childhood, the memories, Gaza too. We do not know what is happening with those who worked for us, I only know that they were not allowed to return to work. Today she went for a walk with her brother in the area and suddenly realized that “she can be seen from there” and maybe it is a bit dangerous. (This is how it is when you get too used to Tel Aviv). People live here and people live there, she concludes and asks, how will all this end? She wants to ask us if we are actively doing something in the area? How can you influence? Who cares?
Eyal says that for him Gaza is… “I don’t want to define it”. He knows it well, he is Lital’s older brother and still lives in the kibbutz where they were born. Claims that he is so radical to the left that he reached Ben Gvir. (Lital is horrified. “Don’t write it” she says). Eyal says that he helped someone from the Gaza village hang a joint photo exhibition of her and artists from Gaza and we all remember that Batya (the photographer) sat in a circle with us and told about the exhibition, small world. After that, Eyal turns to Kai (we’ll get to know him soon) and tells him that he hosted two guests from Norway and took them to the “Black Arrow” to look over Gaza and also emphasized to them that only from here can you see and understand what Gaza really is and that you don’t have to believe the “brainwashing” that the Palestinians do to the Europeans in the media abroad.
Kai has been in Israel for several years, a musician plays double bass, lives in Jerusalem and trying to become an Israeli citizen (his father is Israeli). Kai was born in the USA, grew up and lived in Norway, until he came to study and play in Israel. Kai says that Gaza is an interesting place. But more interesting is the ability of people in Israel to ignore their neighbors. He himself lives in Abu Tor – a mixed neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Rami calls and the conversation with Kai is cut off, unfortunately non-renewable
Rami wishes a happy new year and hopes for new beginnings. He wants to have coffee with us. The conversation with him is also blurring until it is disconnected.
Hayuta feels that Lital’s questions were not answered. She tells Lital that she herself did not come here with a plan to change anything, she has no ambitions to influence, just to add her little toothpick to the fire of hope.
Nahshi continues the line of Hayuta and says that he came here to keep himself from changing and to remind himself that close to him are people who are suffering. He has no idea what the solution will be. If there is any contribution to the hospitality of people here, it is to make it clear that there are people there and here. They are indeed led by a powerful body (“soon with us” he says) but still, people are people and they have rights and desires to exercise.
Lital works at the Haaretz Museum and organized a tour for the workers committee. They arrived at Alumim and the people were a bit in shock from the proximity to the border. Until then, they didn’t really understand the situation of being near Gaza.
4 young women and men pass, two+two. They try to slip away and continue, but Nahshi’s charisma and Shmulik’s promise to go through the production line for tea instead of coffee sat them down. They want to know the history of the place and I tell. At the end of the historical description, I tie in the theme of the “Lighthouse” and ask them to share with us “What is Gaza for them?”. silence. After a few seconds one mumbles that he has no interest in politics. Neither do we, I say, only humans. He says he also saw someone taking pictures of them and he asks not to publish. Well, says Nahshi, I deleted. They are suspicious and refuse to even say their names, except that they are from Jerusalem. But the tea is served, so one of them opens with a short speech and this is what I managed to write down:
give me peace get peace I considered coming to live in the south. Is it worth it for me to come and live in the south? If it’s quiet, sure, but leaving the house every time when something happens? Do not want. I don’t deal with politics. I have friends of all religions and I have visited Arab friends in their homes, but if you come to stab me I will cut off contact. Israel is attacked by Gaza and that’s where politics starts and it’s none of my business. Obviously, as people, they suffer, but we have no solution.
One of the boys also briefly and quickly says the following (not before his friends emphasize that he is a bereaved brother):
I don’t trust them. I will not turn my back on them because they will stick a knife in me. They killed my friend’s father when he went to the market. Give them a finger and they will want the whole hand. Terrorism in Gaza. Don’t trust them.
After these things they get up and go – they have to return to Jerusalem before Shabbat.
Mahran, who arrived in the meantime and listened to the conversation, says that his instinct says that “the two” are policemen and that is why they were so reserved and that his instinct is not wrong. Maybe.
For me, in any case, a feeling of discomfort from this quartet remained for a while, a feeling that continued even after they left.
We were: Hayuta, Shmulik, Nahshi, Moshe, Kai, Oded, Lital, Eyal, Maor, Mir, Mahran, 4 Jerusalemites who did not want to say their names.
Written by: Oded