Encounter 258 – 17.2.2023

The first episode will tell how Hayuta, Nahshi and Moshe arrived at the old Sulphur factory and even before the coffee was ready…
Hayuta invited a group of travelers, people of the North and they, motorcyclists, are all equally sure which way the wind is blowing. They believe that the solution, in space and in general, is very simple: a gun.
Politely say thank you for the coffee, both bitter and sweet.
And there was also a second and even a third episode…
With Guy, a photographer from the Modi’in area, who managed to taste coffee but not participate in the circle, compared to Oded and Shmulik who happened to come back from the Modi’in area and did not give up the circle, the cake and the coffee, and Malki and Uzi from Gvulot, and Tami and Doron from Tel Aviv.
Tami finds it hard to understand how people live there with all the poverty and hardship. She has an image she once saw in a movie about Gaza. In the film we see a tiger walking in a cage back and forth.
Doron says that there is a change in Gaza’s treatment of us in recent times, they don’t shoot at us! There is an organized mechanism against the Egyptians and the Qataris. They decided to maintain the status quo. They are not under our boot, they have independence, don’t they? (He says and puts a question mark on his own words) They don’t get up in the morning and see Jews.
Hayuta tells about Palestinians from Gaza that she knew. Three of his daughters are teachers and another son is a hospital male nurse. What they all have in common – they don’t have a job. He told her that before he came to work here, they sometimes suffered from hunger. Suddenly she understands the terrible predicament. He told her that all his children studied and yet could not find work. He does not want to leave Gaza, it is my home, he says and adds that now it is impossible to go to work even in Abu Dhabi.
Nahshi tells about a Palestinian he knows. His brother established a factory for building blocks. In an explosion of a gas tank used by a neighboring bakery, the factory was destroyed and a brother was killed. They tried to rebuild the business, but people don’t have money and don’t buy. Even if they receive goods, it is difficult to charge for them.
Malki says that she had two good encounters with Gaza recently: one is a film made by Gazans about what a wedding in Gaza looks like. The one who interviewed the group that made the film asked them why they made such a film and they said that they wanted to show that people still live there. The second meeting is her participation in the peace conference in Arava. There were many Arabs and Druze. Daliat El Carmel, Usafia, Ramallah, Nablus and more. There were also a father and son who came from Gaza. The 22-year-old son left Gaza for the first time! He was shocked by the encounter with Israelis who are different from the image he has known all his life. The father and son toured the country and it changed his view of Israel. In two months the son is going to study in Germany. Malki finishes by saying that she came to the lighthouse for the sake of the soul and for the meeting.
Shmulik says that in the permits that the Palestinians receive to work in Israel, it is written that they must return to Gaza every day. But that’s a white lie. Everyone knows it’s impossible and lets the possible exist. They are very careful not to take steps that would endanger their license to work in Israel. Shmulik talks about the UNRA agency. Gaza is closed, he says, and depends on the will or unwillingness of the Israelis. His first encounter with Gazans was when he arrived in the mid-sixties, to the Kibutz where he lives to this day. They would walk to the border. There were Swap cigarettes with the UN men. Later he was a dairy farmer and worked with Palestinian family members.
Shoshi says that everyone wants the best. You (she turns to me, Oded) are going through the experience of life on the Gaza side, you want things to go back to normal (well, not exactly what I said, but the rules of the circle “forbid” me to interrupt her speech). There, the common man on the street is a victim. I want to get up and earn a living. Every person is born to do good. She (on the other hand) first wants to help her people if she has free time. wants to help her family first. But, at the same time, she understands their plight.
Amnon agrees with his wife. We are in a difficult reality and there are no solutions at the moment. The reality is hard and sad and requires patience. He greatly appreciates our meeting here and the task we have undertaken. He defines it (the mission) as pioneers and Zionists.
Moshe tells about the meeting that started the circle today, a meeting with a northern group. What bothered him in this meeting was that things were presented as facts and not as opinions. We are the good ones and those beyond the fence cannot be trusted. We, at the Lighthouse, have partners there, says Moshe, we know that there is also a way of thinking that is a mirror image of thinking in Israel, and this makes Moshe very sad.
This time we were: Hayuta, Nahshi, Moshe, Guy, Oded, Shmulik, Malki, Uzi, Tami, Doron, Shoshi, Amnon and a group of bikers without names but with solutions.
Written by: Moshe, Oded and Nahshi.
Photo: Nahshi and Jaber.

Encounter 257 – 10.2.2023

The “Lighthouse”, at the British Sulfur factory, Be’eri Reserve, Friday one o’clock in the afternoon.
Nahshi, Moshe, Hayuta, Oded and Mary are sitting. The crowds of Beit Israel are concentrated near the entrance to Kibbutz Be’eri. Nachbir (Old Be’eri) is visited much less now. To us, to the ” Lighthouse”, even less…
And yet, three young men who rented bicycles stopped for coffee. They are on a time limit, have to return the bike on time.
Eyal says that Gaza is a place he cannot understand. In the army he served in the area, in front of Gaza, in the Iron Dome. And so naturally he is more connected to the need to protect against Gaza and does not have much other knowledge.
Yonatan is still in service and dealing with threats from Gaza. There is a humanitarian disaster there, he knows to say. He will be if glad we could do something good there too. The other side, Hamas, does not help. I don’t know where their motivation is directed. We all need protection.
Rif says that for him Gaza is a singular point in the Middle East around which volcanoes form and the area is always bubbling and hot. There is anger on both sides. Riff lays the blame mostly on their upbringing and the hostility they display on social media. He has no solution to offer. Both sides need to talk.
Nahshi says that we are in a bad time. He has no outline for exit and solution. Hope for a change because there are many good things here. Met people from Gaza. Education on both sides does not lead to a solution. He is in contact with people from a parallel group in Gaza.
Mary is drawn to complexity and Aza is a “piece of complexity”. The comparison made by Riff to a volcano is correct. But like a volcano, there is constant underground activity and a process of change. We try to follow the change.
Hayuta – the descriptions here fit her and she is here to do better.
Moshe says there are at least 4 stories that deserve reference: 1. What we think about ourselves 2. What we think about Gaza 3. What the Gazans think about themselves 4. What the Gazans think about us. Both sides treat themselves as victims. The Gazans say that the Israelis feel as if they have left Gaza, but in practice continue to strangle it. There is a kernel of truth in all four stories.
Jonathan says it’s good that this conversation is happening. Right now it’s between us and I wish it would also happen between other people on both sides.
The three get on their bikes and go for a ride.
Time passes.
Around three thirty, a guy with sunglasses on his head and a rolled up map in his hand entered.
We – you look like a group guide
The guide – correct
We – according to the sunglasses on the head
The guide – the glasses because that’s how it conveys professionalism
Nahshi immediately turns to make coffee. By the time the group arrives, the guide says that they are a group of new immigrants from Russia. Their Hebrew is not good, he says. They continue towards the well and when they return the coffee is ready and it’s almost four o’clock. Some are sitting, some are standing. Make a quick circle. It turns out that there are 2 guides and both of them are called Michael. I explain briefly, they translate into Russian and in the end it turns out that they all also speak English.
Michael (first) refers to Gaza. A humanitarian catastrophe, he says, does not see a solution in the near future, a great pity.
Michael (the second) expands a bit. He says that as a Tel Avivian he feels like a neighbor of Gaza. An hour drive is nothing. Mentally he feels that he is part of the area.
Vera came because of the war in Ukraine. She is indeed Russian, but there is also fear in Russia. For her, Gaza is war, pain, fear.
Roman says that Gaza is a difficult question. There is religious fanaticism there. No answer now. At the moment nothing can be done.
The facilitator did not follow the rules of the circle mainly because they were interested in what we were thinking and they were constantly bursting with questions. In the discussion that unfolded, the question of military service also came up, and Vera said with astonishment that this is the first time in Israel that she has heard talk against military service.
At a quarter past four + piercing cold we dispersed.
This time we were: Nahshi, Moshe, Hayuta, Oded, Mary, Rif, Yonatan, Eyal, Michael (the first), Michael (the second), Vera, Roman and 8 other silent ones.
Written by: Oded.

Encounter 256 – 3.2.2023

Shmulik, Nahshi, Shelly and I arrived to our “Lighthouse” today after participating in a ceremony of planting olive trees in the Bedouin village “El Karinat”.
Advocate Maharan also arrived at the same time as us.
While I start collecting chairs from the area (“Oh, I don’t understand why they don’t return the chairs to the place” grumbles Shmulik) and already Harel and Sylvi join us.
Minutes later, so did Chaya and Zion.
The circle starts as usual with my presentation and after – Maharan.
Maharan says that the State of Israel needs to make a change because the situation in Gaza is close to an explosion. Poverty is the mother of all trouble. Going to work is relaxing. Everywhere in the world, economic improvement benefits peace. Gaza will be a problem if the situation does not improve. It’s hard to live on the sword. The peace that comes after the wars is important. Maharan is pessimistic. The situation there is critical. Israel is turning to the wrong places. The authority is not the address. Peace is made with the powerful (Hamas). They have dangerous capabilities and Israel ignores them.
Nahshi says that Gaza is neighbors, it is human beings. Here everyone is suffering. I don’t want to get into the discussion of who is to blame. There is no lead to a solution on either side. These are people, not monsters. He doesn’t have a magic formula either. He came here out of an urge to do something, listen to people and talk about change.
Shelly has never been to Gaza. She got to talk to people from there a little, not much. As a child, her first bicycle was bought in Gaza. She wish she could visit. As a “leftist” she often hears the call “Go to Gaza” – I wish that would happen someday, she thinks to herself.
Harel says that Gaza’s beach is truly amazing. But Gaza is a threat and a tragedy. People enter into fear when they are in a state of helplessness or uncertainty. The fact that Gazans are allowed to come to work improves the situation a little. There is an understanding that outside of the conflict people should also be given a livelihood. Any solution that enables a better life for both parties is welcome. We need to increase the interval between wars and save human lives.
Sylvi says that generations of post-traumatic children and adults are growing up here and there. There are 2 million there who suffer because of a handful of fanatics. Closing your eyes is not a method. They don’t have privileges like us (immigration, political choice of government, etc.). The fanatical handful creates reality. The silent majority there needs to act if they want change. She cannot tell them who will rule them. Sylvi is annoyed by the indifference to the rounds in the south. Only when the missiles reach the north of Gan Yavne (where she used to live) is the government shocked.
Shmulik says that the rounds of talks here create thinking. In Israel there is a reference to Gaza separately and the West Bank separately, as a separation tactic. He has no doubt that this suffering there in Gaza must stop. People may not know, but the rule of Hamas is possible today, and was possible in the past, under the auspices of Israel. Israel chose Hamas as someone who can generate opposition to the PLO. There is tremendous significance in going to work in Israel as a way to reduce tensions. Israel has a political trend of separation. Under the auspices of the Egyptians. You need to learn and get to know Hamas. They started in the mosques as a social movement. These millions have no horizon. A desperate situation of no way out.
Haya, grew up ultra-Orthodox. Throughout her life she knew that the Arabs were an enemy. She dosn’t see an option to think otherwise because of her faith.
Zion, a bus driver. Every society has the fringes that seep into the center. If there is a dot on white paper, it attracts the eye even if it is a tiny part of the page. Wants to provide for his family like any other person, like them. It is a pity that there is no direct communication with them, only through intermediaries. This is the wrong way, you need to speak directly.
Maharan asks Haya and wants to understand if it is the religion that defines the Arabs as the enemy or if it is her opinion. Haya answers him that this is also her personal opinion.
Nahshi asks Haya if not with the enemy, with whom will we make peace?
Haya replies that they try and try and it doesn’t work out.
Rami has arrived.
Rami says he came from a memorial for an IDF officer who was killed here in the area. It’s exciting to see people still coming to the memorial 9 years after the officer’s death. What is our attitude, as a nation, to bereavement, he asks. The officer’s mother said she lost the most precious thing of all but gained a huge family. Here he came to remind himself that we live in an age that is faster than ours and everyone is trying to hold on to their edge. The home and the family is what also connects him to the circle here. In all this corruption there is a movement to repair. The knowledge that it will be good, came through the discourse. We put here in a circle, a statement, “What is Gaza for you”. For him, Gaza is home and family and people who have been displaced from their homes. He came to tell himself that Gaza for him is not giving up. Not giving up the knowledge that we as people, something broke for us, but we know how to fix it. In the memorial, he looked at the grove that burned down a few years ago and today is blooming. He tells about his grandfather and his passport, which is written in three languages and has signatures from all the countries of the region. His grandfather traveled all over the region. There was a transportation system open to everyone. He traveled on trains, trading apples. Also Rami wants all these signatures in the passport and slowly it comes true. There is a lot of frustration and bereavement but Rami refuses to accept it as a decree of fate. Still dreaming of traveling through the train station in Gaza all over the Levant. Tells about a mosaic found near Kisufim: A mosaic from the time of Alexander the Great. A mosaic that shows abundance. The ancient Ma’on synagogue has the menorah symbol. Ma’on and the whole area was an open space without walls and the Jewish “neighborhood” Ma’on, sits within a very large Byzantine community. We see that Jewish communities live in peace in the region.
Jaber introduces himself. Explains the difficult life in an unrecognized settlement. Says you can’t close your eyes. It is impossible for one child to sit on the computer and another child to have nothing to eat.
Hanan came because of the kites (angry that they are used as instruments of destruction) met us and connected. That was almost 3 years ago. On the website he founded, “Irrelevant”, he separates his opinions from the facts in what he publishes on the website. When referring to the facts, the starting point is feelings and the society in which you live. Not sure that arguing about facts will change anyone’s mind. It is a fantasy to think so, even if the debate is online. People who are in a position of questioning or hesitation will take on a firm opinion. Regarding Gaza, Hanan is worried. There were falls this week, “oh what’s 9 falls” people ask disdainfully… those who haven’t experienced it right next to them, treat with indifference. When they say that the IDF returned fire, it is at all worrisome.
Uri, in response to Jaber, tries to clarify the concept of unrecognized settlements. The word “scattered” clarifies the situation there very well. Then he explains to Sylvi how he changed from a leftist, to a Likud supporter. Harel sighs in relief and says that in his surroundings he is considered “leftist” and here, in the circle, his words are treated as “rightist” and here comes Uri and rescues him from his “rightist extremism”.
Uri says that he recently met a Gazan friend who he knew as a child and now he has returned to work in Israel. Many years have not met. In Uri’s opinion it is good that he can come to work in Israel. Uri remembers that when he was young, he used to pick up potatoes from our fields, arriving at the checkpoint and deliver to them. Now, he points out, the friend from Gaza tells him strange and terrible things that happen there.
That’s it, the cold is coming, Maharan, Rami, Chaya and Zion have long gone and now we too.
This time we were: Maharan, Nahshi, Shelly, Harel, Sylvi, Shmulik, Jaber, Chaya, Zion, Rami, Uri, Oded, Hanan. We also talked a little with Rami through Nahshi’s mobile phone.
Written by: Oded