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