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.