Encounter 272 – 26.5.2023

We are sitting, the breeze is caressing with the aroma of coffee.
After about an hour, when we had already calculated the end of the circle backwards, the first miracle happened, Jaber arrives! The hug with me is natural and expected, as above with Moshe, but with Shmulik?! Anyone who hasn’t been there and seen it with me, will have a hard time even imagining. Jaber, armed with a bag of baked goods, a bag of za’atar, a vial with olive oil and a pinch of salt, organizes plates with a health mixture.
More breeze, more coffee, and a traveling family appears on the top of the hill – second miracle!
Instead of being a guest in some kibbutz with caravans of agricultural implements and white maidens leaping from among the yellowing wheat, couples with guys as above and children with baskets on their heads. It turns out that there are those who actually chose to travel.
Yuval Orna and their children, Ofek and Adam, like to travel on the weekends precisely in places that few people, if any, would choose to travel to.
I begin by explaining about us, continue with “What is Gaza to me” and point out that my presence here, in our “Lighthouse” is influenced by a television docu that I watched in the past in which there is a reference to a population that lives an almost undisturbed life while in its neighborhood, other people suffer for a long time (the docu talks about those who lived in the neighborhood of the concentration camps in Europe during the Second World War and continued their normal lives).
Yuval says he has no specific connection to Gaza (he did not serve in it or near it in the army). He thinks the situation inside is difficult. The parallel I made when I presented my rationale is difficult for him. He compares the Hamas rule in Gaza to dictators in Africa. The aid programs are not successful because the government is not interested in change and profits from the situation. You can complain about the Israelis, but you should also honestly say that their attempt at democracy did not succeed and not because of Israel. I once read a book by an economist, whose name I don’t remember, who said that those who live off of someone else’s backwardness will not really try to solve the problems.
Orna, curious to go in and see with her own eyes the situation there. It pains her to see the pictures from there that are broadcast on TV, especially during the rounds of violence. Very very curious to see Gaza.
Shmulik, born in Ramat Gan, came to the area in a group and lived here since the 1960s. His family is scattered around the Gaza Strip, a daughter in Netiv Ha’asara, a son in Kfar Gaza, a sister in Nir Oz, and he and another daughter and son live in Nir Itzhak. In times of war one does not leave home, he also says (an answer to Orna’s question “What did he do in the last conflict”). In his professional life he also met workers from Gaza and remained in contact with them. When the physical contact was severed he sent money and now helps in hiring a laborer from there. At the time, Aric Sharon created a complete dependence of the Gazan economy on Israel. Today we are separated by modern fences. Tells about Physicians for Human Rights doctors, who visited the circle almost 5 years ago and told about the difficult situation in Gaza’s hospitals. Until about a year ago, Gaza was closed and isolated and there was great despair. Since they opened the suffocating lockdown and allowed the workers to go to work, the situation has improved a bit. Enmity and tensions are building up there and one day everything will explode and flood us. When he understood the situation he also decided to be active.
Jaber talks about “El Zarnouk”, his unrecognized settlement, and emphasizes that compared to Gaza, their situation is excellent. Whoever ignores what is happening there is burying his head in the sand. Every time we hurt the “responsibles” and new ones arise. In the economic aspect, Jaber says, the foreign workers in Israel (from Thailand, Philippines ect.) take the money out of the country, while the Gazans, on whom Israel’s economy was based until about 30 years ago, used the money inside Israel. The situation bothers him. In his eyes, the state is like a father, an abusive father. There cannot be a situation where there is nothing to eat and we are thriving. This difference between the opportunities each side has is outrageous. Wants to be a part of the lighthouse even though he is at work on Fridays (driver in “Egged”).
Moshe says that in the last operation (the use of the word “operation” does not please him), he saw how we, the adults, also suffer. Today is a holiday, the sense of danger is constantly hovering above, present. On the other side, they suffer much more. There is a film about the children in Gaza, Moshe recommends watching. This is a reality that is hard to digest. Most of the population in Gaza are refugees from 1948. This affects the collective and personal level. We try to contact people in Gaza and this sometimes happens despite “dangerous conditions of conversation”. It is difficult but also optimistic.
Yuval says that he is himself, not paying a price (doesn’t live close to Gaza) and therefore he feels that the weight of his words is weaker. Basically, he says, he is a leftist. In his opinion everyone deserves a fair life but in the West there is a lot of hypocrisy, if tribes are slaughtering each other in Africa I don’t get involved because it’s not my conflict. A person should demand humanity from himself, but he also has the right to demand it from the other side. The western standard is only about itself.
The holiday is about to begin and I make sure to finish on time. Just before the end, Maharan and his son Malek also arrive. They are on their way to watch with us the Shavuot ceremony in Nir Itzhak. Jaber and the traveling family are also invited, but decide to stick to the prearranged plans.
This time we were: Shmulik, Moshe, Jaber, Oded, Orna, Yuval (Ofek and Adam, their sons, wandered the site), Maharan and Malek.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 271 – 19.5.2023

In the last year, the dialogue we used to maintain with partners in Gaza has weakened. This dialogue is important and complementary to the circles that are re-created every Friday at the “Lighthouse”.
Of course, individual relationships still exist, such as helping someone find a job, transporting patients, donating money, and more. But, the connection with the group from Gaza was in the past one of the anchors of the “Lighthouse”. In situations where the reality hardly changes and it is difficult to get excited at every new meeting, the conversation with Gaza, as well as the meeting with random guests, was what created interest and sometimes a thread for further action or dialogue. Admittedly, even in the talks with Gaza, the texts were repeated, but perhaps this is actually the conflict we are facing today, messages that are repeated over and over and may produce a “tiring” routine in the face of recognition of the importance of persistence in maintaining the “Lighthouse” initiative.
A shining ray of light in this “routine” is Roni, who manages to create a continuous dialogue with people of Gaza, and every week she shares information with us. This time Roni proposed to create some kind of forum to which the needs of employers on the one hand, and job seekers on the other, would flow.
During every week, articles are published and information is published in the context of Gaza. It’s not like direct dialogue, but it’s knowledge. Knowledge and facts are an important tool in dealing with “feeling”. In the context of Gaza, all the more so. The gap between the public’s “knowledge” about Gaza (if anyone is interested in Gaza outside of the war context) and the real facts and information, is huge. The same goes for the knowledge that exists in the Gazan public about Israel. An initiative like the “Lighthouse” is important as a place that treasures knowledge that it can mediate to those who are interested in listening (perhaps even generating the matter itself).
Today, 9 people were present at our Lighthouse, all of whom have “experience” of one kind or another. That’s why we wondered about those who disappeared a bit: Jaber for example and Ofek (Nahshi sent him a message and he replied that Ofek does intend to visit and has a lot to tell us).
It is also important to note that Chaim is coming for the fifth or sixth time (who is counting) in the last two or three months. It may not lower the average age, but it certainly raises the level of intellect.
We reminded ourselves – and repeat here as well – that next week we have two special meetings planned: Wednesday 5/31, with the Galilee Preparatory and the next day, Thursday 6/1 with the trainees of the “Hashomer Hachadash” leadership program. In the afternoon here at the sulfur plant. We would welcome the participation of anyone who can.
This time we were: Nahshi, Shmulik, Bela, Malki, Roni, Hanan, Haim, Moshe, Oded.
Written by: Oded.

Encounter 270 – 12.5.2023

The roads to the “Lighthouse” are blocked, but not all. There was an argument in the car: Should we go to the sulfur plant or sit under the protection of a shelter near Be’eri.
Under the pressure of the back bench, it was decided to Be’eri.
But, no shelter was found there…
With no choice, the back bench agreed to go to the sulfur plant. Nahshi also adds that “no one will come anyway and all we need is to bypass the army and bring a picture of victory.”
As mentioned, the roads are blocked, but not all…
In the “Lighthouse” a pleasant wind blows and the silence is wrapped in a hum from the sky and distant growls of another unnecessary war.
Nahshi, the one from the back bench, sending a “not to come” invitation. Strange kind of an invitation.
Shmulik, Nahshi and me. Three coffee mugs, with refreshments that have been making their way back and forth for several weeks.
Talk about Gaza, or rather, keep talking about Gaza. There is a lot to say already from the night between Monday and Tuesday 8-9/5. It’s not just that I mention the date. This is the official date of the end of WWII (in Russia it is celebrated on 9/5 and in Europe 8/5), a war in which about 6 million Jews were murdered (out of about 35 million total citizens) – the “Holocaust”.
The Holocaust serves to this day as a moral test for the State of Israel and gives it unlimited credit to repel accusations of its behavior towards the Palestinians. And here, on this sensitive date, Israel chooses to re-examine the strength of the Holocaust and under the illusory pretext of self-defense eliminates three Palestinians who are defined as “seniors in the Islamic Jihad” and along the way murders ten more innocent people.
So we came to the “Lighthouse”. We quoted WhatsApps, articles and conversations, all in the context of Gaza, its surroundings and its destruction.
When we left the area, we changed the route a little and upon reaching the exit road from the Re’im parking lot, we were captured by an IDF squad. The soldiers jumped out of their composure and excitedly waved us to stop (except for one who was engrossed in crossword puzzles). They caught three downed Altas. They reported us and were instructed to hold us until the command understood the extent of the failure. Then they announced that since we had arrived from a no-go area, we would have to wait. We offered them a coffee in the meantime, they said they are equipped and organized and respected us with iced Coce.
A strange scene: three leftists (except for Nahshi and Shmulik), elderly people and a squad of young people wearing uniforms are waiting for “instructions from above”. After about fifteen minutes we were released.
We were this time – Nahshi, Shmulik, Oded.
Intented to come but avoided it for security reasons – Hanan and Mark.
“Take care of yourselves” – Mahran said
Sending a hug – Roni
Send information that was discussed during the meeting – Racheli, Nomika, Dina, Julia, Mary, Hayuta.
“The heart is with you” – Malki said.
Written by: Oded

Encounter 269 – 5.5.2023

There were three of us quite orphaned: Nahshi, Shmulik and I.
After love bites between Shmulik and Nahshi, the coffee came on our luxurious table.
Shmulik, gave me an amusing quiz that happily tested my failure to remember the names of the eighteen residents of the Poalim Yod residance – our common childhood home in Ramat Gan which no longer exists.
This matter comes to say that everything that has been said and celebrated so far has been a discussion at the level of Ephesians who are entertaining in themselves.
We exchanged experiences about the week’s useless round of violence, updated about our acquaintances beyond the fence and read some of Israel Pinkas’s poems when, around three o’clock, Rami emerged from among the clouds of haze.
We were all happy to see that his condition had improved remarkably: not that he put on any meat, God forbid, but he returned to his previous thinness and his face was as good as it was in the past. Rami’s appearance also failed to raise the level of the discussion and he soared again and again –
Until he landed a very practical and generous offer: he offers to buy the lighthouse a dedicated vehicle that will help transport the equipment and make it easier for the struggling people who have been sitting in the sulfur factory for five years. The proposal was made and here it is before us, and here we come in front of this generosity and large-heartedness, for the days when solutions will come.
This time we were: Shmulik, Rami, Nahshi and Hayuta.
concluded and enjoyed Hayuta.