Encounter 268 – 28.4.2023

Malki came with Racheli, a childhood friend (who had already been once before), Racheli quickly internalized the spirit of the “Lighthouse”, recognized two suspicious characters as walking in the area of the well, went “hunting” and returned with Neta and Lee.
Come on circle…
Maharan said that he loved spending his childhood in Gaza with his father and with the local exotic experiences (market, sea, food, etc.). During one of the visits, he saw soldiers standing civilians facing the wall with their legs apart and searching them. To his question, his father replied that Gaza had changed. He continued to come to Gaza even in his adulthood and already knew how to notice the changes in himself. Today, he says, nobody wants Hamas, but they are afraid. In his opinion, going to work in Israel improved the economic situation a little and therefore there is peace. Israel invests more in the West Bank because there are Israelis there and neglects Gaza. They are conducted separately from the West Bank and a sort of “Gaza state” was created.
Malki says that living close to Gaza increases awareness (compared to living far away). She doesn’t have much to do but came so as not to run away from reality. Some do more than her. She focuses on the lighthouse. Gaza is a great despair.
Racheli comes from Tel Aviv. As a child, I vaguely remember Gaza. As a student she visited Gaza only once. Gaza today is a big ghetto.
Shmulik renewed the relationship with Gaza by renewing the relationship with Yusuf and his family. Once, when he was a dairy farmer, Yusuf, then a boy, came to the dairy with his father. Today they are both grandparents to their grandchildren. After many years of disconnection, Yusuf received a work permit in Israel and the relationship was renewed. Shmulik remembers that when he himself arrived in the region, in the mid-sixties of the last century, as a young man, after finishing high school, he sometimes went to the border of the Gaza Strip, met with UN soldiers and traded cigarettes. Back then the border was a single barbed wire, today the border is a fence high above the ground, a concrete wall Under the earth and the UN is busy with other countries. Shmulik used to travel with a friend from a kibbutz as he had friends in Rafah and Khan Yunis. After the Oslo Accords, there was a feeling for a moment that peace would break out, but the moment passed and peace is over. In Gaza, people live under limitations that we do not experience.
Moshe says that especially in this week of the Holocaust remembrance and independence, we hear a lot of sirens and loudspeakers. That second before the announcement on the loudspeaker, when he starts to act but still nothing has been said, that second makes him shiver. When he checked the reason, he realized that the second of this pause reminded him of the second before the “red color” alarm. After each operation, the children are checked to see that everything is fine. Moshe thinks that the adults are also hurt, it’s just that it has become the “normal”. He asks rhetorically, how did such a generation grow up in Gaza where they are completely exposed both physically and mentally/ therapeutically? While we are sitting here, in the “Lighthouse”, a group is sitting in Gaza with whom we are in contact. We have hope that one day we will meet and we gain strength from the knowledge that we are a Lighthouse for them.
Neta does not remember Gaza from before the war period. From her young age, she only remembers alarms. Today, more than 10 years after she was released from the army, she still serves in the reserves, her main occupation in the reserves is the protection of the residents. There, in Gaza, she says, there is a small group that is degenerating the area into violence. Unfortunately, she does not see a solution in Gaza, until both sides make a switch in their minds. She lives in a settlement very close to Gaza and among them you hear the “Iron Dome” first and only after that an alarm. When this happens, she already knows that she will be called to the reserves.
Lee lives in the center of the country. For her, Gaza is only stories from her father. According to him, it was a place of entertainment, sea and market. If you wanted to impress a girl you would take her to Gaza. While renovating a family site, they met a worker from Gaza who told about the horror of life under Hamas rule. Lee rarely talks about politics because “in our society everyone thinks they are the most righteous in the world.”
Mary spoke and so did I. But our words can also be read in previous summaries…
This time we were: Maharan, Malki, Mary, Racheli, Shmulik, Moshe, Neta, Lee, Oded. Roni was with us from afar.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 267 -21.4.2023

During the 5 and a bit years of the “Lighthouse” life, the motif of listening comes back again and again as an important reason for people’s desire to return and come on Fridays (between one and four did we say?).
On the days when the circular “rite” takes place, the structure of the meeting is clearer and it is intended mainly for the ears of new participants. Sit, listen and we will tell. Speak and we will listen.
When we are among ourselves, a “new” speech is created that sometimes challenges the fixed opinions, sometimes it is somewhat strange and sometimes it repeats itself. Today some talk started about the difference between “piety” and “righteousness”, a strange doubt, a philosophical doubt…
We will continue with the summary and move on to charity with a point to think about at the end:
Mark said he met a Gazan beggar near a shopping center. He asked for money to buy his children new clothes for the holiday (Eid al-Fitr). Mark gave, chatted with him a bit and gave more. Later, when they had already parted, Mark wondered to himself, was the willingness to give due to the fact that the beggar was a Gazan? Would he have given even if the beggar was from here? And if he gave, why so and so and not more, then he could have allowed himself to give a larger amount… interesting.
Roni receives a short video from a woman she knows in Gaza in which a child is seen crying. The woman adds in the video that he is crying because he wants a gift for the holiday. Roni like Roni, takes out of the wallet and gets another video of a happy child…
Vivian arrives and with her Yaeli and Tamar, graduates of the “Sam Spiegel” film school. The two are working on a television drama series about women in the Gaza border and Vivian finds it appropriate to interest them in the “Lighthouse”.
Rami presents the rationale and says that the circle seeks to place a beacon for Gaza’s consciousness, “to a place where a light burns, hope can be steered.”
We, he says, ask that we not forget that we have to turn on the light in our lighthouse. In literature and cinema, when writing about lighthouses, the main emphasis is on the people who hold the lighthouse. They are the keepers of the light in the lighthouse. They hope someone can use the light they spread. In the “storm” unfolding in the space in which we live, there are those who want to keep the light on.
Roni talks about the great privilege she had to also know the other side that claims its right in the space, on the side of her recognition of her side’s right. We will not be in each other’s place, but by each other’s side, she says. Because of the neighborhood to Gaza and familiarity with Gazans, she feels the need to link them to us. This is how joint groups of theater, dance, music and more were created. Roni receives at least 10 “Shabbat shalom” greetings from Gaza every Friday… We can’t hide behind the “no partner” slogan, she concludes, there is definitely someone to talk to.
Malki is coming because there is a light on here for her too. Gaza is a black and depressing hole. There are indeed difficulties in acting, but there is also the tendency to “get addicted” to our personal comfort bubble. This place strengthens her.
Uzi recounts the history of the establishment of his settlement and says that it was a “settlement without violence” because the settlement was not established on land occupied by others. Over the years he met many Arabs in his tours in the Middle East, and came to the conclusion that the Palestinian Arabs are very similar to us, the Jews of the region, much more than the resemblance to other Arab communities.
Haim says that for a short time in his life he was a citizenship teacher and did not feel that he was able to make an impact. Gaza is a ghetto “par excellence” he says. It’s near his house and he lives peacefully, tending his garden and being ignored. This gap disturbs his rest. Roni’s words touched his heart and he intends to act.
Yaeli writes a series about women in the Gaza border. There is many men’s stories and a female point of view is different and worthy of a story. The voice of people in our region heard only in war contexts. She says that her “hands are tied” because the project is for commercial television in Israel. The “Lighthouse” inspires, both the place and the people. When she thinks of Gaza, the word “shame” comes to mind. She is ashamed of the state and its people’s treatment of Gaza. It is also convenient for her to forget, because Gaza is not present in her life.
Tamar is Yaeli’s partner in the series. She grew up in the US and when she came back it took her a while to connect and understand Israeliness. For her, Gaza is a kind of new insight into the place she calls home.
Mark says that on this Friday in particular, it is correct to refer to Gaza as a ghetto (4 days after “Holocaust Day”, OB). Think about the people who are looking towards the houses they had. The people who died there, who ran away, who live somewhere in the world. If Gaza is a ghetto, then what are we? Mark compares us to a group of Poles who sit near the ghetto and talk about it without doing anything… at least we talk.
Rami, defines Gaza as a kind of private house in the area. The great wars are being waged today over consciousness. It is a complex struggle. Expanding the circle of consciousness is the important task. You (turning to Yaeli and Tamar), take part in this struggle in your project. Rami quotes Rabbi Kook Sr. who says “one should not accept the conviction but add justice”. Everything that happens in Gaza is defined by Rami as a temporary “mishap”.
Shmulik points out that the tip he adds to “wear away the rock” is the help he gives to a Gazan laborer, the sole breadwinner of a large family in Gaza.
Bella had an experience this week. As a Holocaust survivor, she was visited by soldiers who came and saluted her. She was moved to tears. She swore that she would not rest and would act so that people in the world would not go through life like she went through as a child.
Hayuta tells about her mother-in-law that she calls her a “Holocaust heroine” and not a “Holocaust survivor”. She took her to hear the proclamation of the state in the museum and her mother-in-law was moved to the point of crying, which surprised her a little. The pain and excitement sometimes come from an unexpected place.
Moshe refers to the story of the meeting between Mark and a beggar. This made Moshe think about Gaza. Are the positive and negative feelings related to the history of Gaza in which we are active partners? Would we develop the same attitude to what is happening in Gaza if it was due to a natural disaster for example? Would it have aroused in him the same desire to be involved and active as he feels by being, he feels, part of the responsible for the situation? Moshe refers to the Holocaust in a story about his father who left a wife and child in Europe and went to Argentina to find a safer place. His wife and son did not have time to leave and the war completely severed the relationship. Only this week, Moshe managed to find out the names of the woman and the boy who is actually his half-brother.
Vivian brought Tamar and Yaeli because she thought it would be interesting for them to meet the lighthouse. She says that it is important to introduce them to films made about the area.
Roni points out that from the contacts she has in Gaza, she sees that the light of the lighthouse is indeed visible on the other side. Before the corona virus there was an initiative by a group that was in contact with us to settle in a building not far from the fence and set up a similar lighthouse there on the other side.
At the end of the meeting, Rami told about “Gaza jars”. Gaza, which was a major city at the end of the Byzantine period and before the Arab conquest (sixth century), was a wine production center and for the purposes of storing and sending it by sea, jugs with a cone bottom were made and they were arranged in holes in the floors of the warehouses in the belly of the ship. In addition to wine, the area was abundant with barley and wheat and enjoyed great wealth until a plague came…

This time we were: Haim, Mark, Rami, Shmulik, Nahshi, Bella, Hayuta, Mary, Moshe, Roni, Malki, Uzi, Oded, Vivian, Yaeli, Tamar.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 266 – 14.4.2023

Mark suggested a slightly different circuit, “role play”.
Each person in the circle represented a popular opinion in the Israeli public. For example, “it is important to preserve the unity of the people in Israel” or “the Jewish people, wherever they are, should unite” or “two states”, “enough for occupation”, “a state of all its citizens” and more.
A good idea to start an important discussion. The problem for most of us was the difficulty of representing different and even opposite positions to the personal positions.
During the round, Mary arrived with her guest, Vicky, who listened and asked to speak as well.
Vicki is a retired Jewish American doctor. She has visited the country many times in the past. Understands Hebrew quite well but is less sure of her ability to speak. Since she showed interest and a desire to express herself, we decided to stop the role-playing and focus on Gaza. It is important and interesting to hear what an older Jewish woman from Arizona thinks about Gaza. We made a circle, some spoke English and some Hebrew. Most of us said the things we repeat every time, so I won’t mention them in the summary.
The readership can scroll back the summaries and read what Nahshi, Shmulik, Roni, Oded, Mark, Bela and Malki said about Gaza in the past… We repeated the same things today. Not that there are any surprises in what can still be said about Gaza, but there were some new insights from different people and especially in the way Vicky formulated her point of view.
Vicky spoke in English and so that I wouldn’t misunderstand things, I asked Mary to summarize for me in Hebrew. Turned out a bit long.
Vicky says this: in order for peace to come to Gaza, both nations need to work on themselves.
We need to understand the harm we caused by our actions, whether out of true intentions or due to neglect. Acknowledging these things for our neighbor is huge! This is the first step in apologizing. But the next steps are more difficult. Changing our actions and committing to peace is something that should also come from us. If we declare that we are ready for peace, but only declare, then it is a bluff. Being ready for peace also means being vulnerable in a certain way, changing our behavior and attitude to a friendly one. Being vulnerable not from a security perspective but from a relationship perspective.
The Gazans should also have real intentions and act towards us consistently in order for trust to develop. It’s hard to know if it’s possible on a large scale, it’s doubtful. Our cultures are very different. If we do things that shame and hurt the feelings of others then we are not doing our job to build peace. Unfortunately, the people of Gaza are silenced by leadership and religion, which also do not seem to encourage a two-sided solution.
Neighbors need to build trust through actions and continued talk. The current situation cannot lead to a solution, because Gaza will simply remain as it is.
Mahran thinks America should force Israel to make an agreement with Gaza. He calls the USA “the big mother”. If the economy in Gaza is good they will have no reason to fight.
Vicki replies that she has a friend who says that the US is always the source of trouble in the world and has never solved any conflict.
Haim said that like all of us, he will reach heaven one day, meet his mother who will ask if he finished the soup and maybe someone will also ask him what he has done in his life to solve the problem of the largest ghetto in the world that developed near his home (in a settlement near Gaza). In the meantime, he’s clarifying the issue for himself. Come on, this is the fourth time! to the lighthouse
Shmulik says that Gaza should be a state in itself because even the Palestinians in the West Bank do not see the Gazans as brothers and are not really interested in them.
Mahran says that he trusts and believes more in the Palestinians from Gaza than in the Palestinians from the West Bank, such a feeling… He cannot explain it… He said that the Israeli Arabs should stay between Israel and the Palestinians for the time being and not choose a side.

We were: Malki, Vicky, Mary, Haim, Shmulik, Nahshi, Bella, Mark, Mahran, Oded, Roni
Written by: Oded

Encounter 265 – 7.4.2023

Another round of Jewish-Israeli “justice” started and ended tonight. A few hours ago we “returned to normal”. The same routine that Tibi calls democratic for Jews and Jewish for Arabs. There were not many expectations for travelers today (security tension and hot weather) and yet… we are here.
As usual, I made a round to look for chairs. This time I collected 5 of these that were placed under the trees. Some of the signs that Nahshi made, in Hebrew and Arabic, in which he asks to return the chairs after use, were found torn and thrown into one of the pits, someone is probably angry with us and reacts by smashing chairs and tearing signs.
At the meeting itself there were 8 of us and we talked about order and disorder. Also on methods to manage the disorder.
Mark told about protest bikes that he was a part of in the events of the “Extinction Rebellion”.
Hayuta read from the poems of Meir Wiesilter who passed away a few days ago,
Shmulik made coffee,
Nahshi smoked, took pictures and called Rami.
The conversation with Rami didn’t work out because of the communication problems there, but I wanted to talk to Rami to hear from him and better understand what happened to Gaza last night.
According to our friends in “Other Voice”, there were “terrible bombings”.
Hanan brought his homemade jam and told (again) the story about an Arab woman from the north who scheduled her wedding for 5/15 and only when Hanan reminded her that it is “Nakba Day” did she realize the mistake…
Maharan amazes with his stories and invites to an iftar dinner at his place.
After that, Shmulik, Nahshi and I continued to Rahat and joined a protest demonstration about the events of the last few days in Al Aqsa.
We were and survived to tell: Hayuta, Nahshi, Shmulik, Hanan, Maharan, Mark, Malki, Oded.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 264 – 31.3.2023

The fasting of Ramadan is in full swing, Passover is also approaching, the holiday is already here. The wheel of the year turns despite the storms. In the lighthouse is a kind of routine that tries to survive in a storm of other routines.
As usual for the last few weeks, I start by looking for chairs and come back loaded with garbage bags (without chairs).
Moshe, Haim, Shmulik and Nahshi sit around the table and listen to Rami who tells about the structure of the aquifers in the Arava.
The topic is covered and Rami suggests making a circle on the question of whether there is a connection between the Zadorov trial and the coup d’état currently underway in the country.
In the meantime, Malki and Bella arrive. In the spirit of the times, seeing only men, Malki asks if she can join or is it better that they sit at a distance from some of the men, so as not to provoke temptation.
Nahshi making tea.
Returning to the research question formulated by Rami, the dominant word is “prosecution”. We get into legal corners and wording dilemmas. Mainly it seems that although everyone is quite sure of his/her opinion, there are concepts and procedures that we don’t understand and a “circular” discussion (in the sense of repetition) begins.
We ran out. I would like to present a situation for discussion.
“We are standing in the demonstration, vigorously waving the Israeli flag. A Palestinian comes to the demonstration and says, when the laws of the dictatorship are passed, I will be the one who will hurt more than everyone else. Therefore, I ask to join you in the demonstration.”
I asked that everyone address the situation and reply to that Palestinian. Welcome! everyone said. When we added a flag to the Palestinians, it already sounded ahalan and sahlan but…

This time we were: Malki, Bela, Shmulik, Nahshi, Haim, Moshe, Rami, Oded. This time Roni was with us in her heart.
Written by: Oded