Encounter 173 – 9.7.2021

After the last few weeks when many people came to the circle, today was a more family event (in the Ashkenazi interpretation of family…). Shmulik Nahshi and I in the first hour, (with the renovated kite repaired by Hanan) and Malki, Bella and Dina who joined later.
There was a conversation. Nahshi and I have been saying that for a long time, we have been trying to find someone to translate into Arabic. Recently, the name of a professional translator from East Jerusalem came up and we talked about the connection with her.
This week, at the Dokaviv Festival, Michal Weitz’s documentary, “Blue Box,” was screened. The work on the film took 14 years! And the film revolves around the character of her great-grandfather, Joseph Weitz, who was one of the leaders of the JNF since the 1930s and pushed for a full Jewish takeover of the area. Michal Weitz recounts in the film his actions, dilemmas and also his (unsuccessful) attempts to help refugees recover in the places they were deported to. The history-study in the country, even though his detailed diaries (5,000 pages in handwriting!) Were visible and visible to all.

This introduction was to say that in the film and in the interview, elements come up that directly relate to our sitting at the lighthouse and they certainly filled a respectable place in the conversation.
This is, short this time…

Present: Bella, Shmulik, Dina, Nahshi, Malki, Oded.

Wrote: Oded

Encounter 172 – 2.7.2021

Today, for one session, we changed the concept of the circle. The “circle” sanctifies the right of each and every one of his / her participants to express his / her opinions in an orderly and uninterrupted manner. Every opinion is heard and listened to and everyone is equal in front of the “circle”. The reference is to each person’s personal, private, human consciousness regarding Gaza and what it represents for him / her. A discourse of human beings talking about the plight of other human beings. Many times when people go into “political” diagnoses and such and such suggestions for resolving the conflict, we try to get them back to focusing on the personal, human aspect.
Today, two members of the Palestinian Authority came to the circle. Therefore and in accordance with the one-time opportunity to know more about what is happening inside, the circle briefly changed the concept, listened to their words and asked questions.
Rami, who led the circle, tried as much as possible to steer the meeting to focus on Gaza and what its residents are going through, but they expanded their words to conflict at all levels: history, Jews vs. Palestinians, Palestinians vs. Palestinians, West Bank and Gaza, PLO and Hamas, Israeli politics ets.
They talked about the process that the Palestinians went through in the various negotiations with Israel. About the long journey that the Palestinians have made in concessions with Israel. They said that the leaderships in Israel have no continuity in negotiations and every leader wants to start negotiations again … Olmert wanted to move forward This “game” strengthened Hamas in Gaza.
In their opinion, if workers went to work in Israel, it would weaken Hamas. In order to separate the Hamas leadership from the citizens of the Gaza Strip, they must be allowed to work in Israel.
Hamas is willing to make deals with Israel to maintain its rule and if in any way, there is a way to weaken Hamas Israel intervenes and interferes.
Hamas should be part of a Palestinian unity government, they say, it will weaken it. In 2017, Hamas accepted the principle of a Palestinian state within the borders of 1967. Sinwar said after the last war that they were ready to accept UN resolutions and join a non-violent popular struggle. If they were part of the government they would have an interest in keeping the agreements.
Israel, according to them, is not behaving properly towards the residents of Gaza.
One of the two is a native of Gaza and occasionally enters the Strip to visit his family. Hamas, in his opinion, is weakened in the face of Gazan public opinion and also religiously it is unable to force its opinion.
The world needs to “help” Hamas behave differently. And the authority needs to get it into the leadership. The Hamas leadership is drawn to different directions. Some are in favor of Turkey and Qatar, some are in favor of Iran and some are in favor of Egypt. But Israel is the main influencer on what is happening in Gaza. Many Palestinians in the West Bank do not know what is happening in Gaza … There are people in Gaza who burn themselves out of desperation. 54% Unemployment. They define UN aid as “nonsense.” Students who stop studying after a course or two, who can’t get married and many get divorced. There is no money. They need a livelihood and not donations. If there is a livelihood, it will also weaken Hamas.
The sons and daughters of Hamas leaders live in wealth.

We still have time… Ramy asks for “questions” and not “lectures” … We all have opinions and a desire to be heard, but today, as mentioned, it is different. Nevertheless, every questioner “avoids” a small lecture before the question comes …
Ya’ala says that Hamas today agrees to things it did not agree with in the past. She asks about the American hospital that is ready and not working … They say that because the hospital was built under the auspices of the American army in cooperation with the Israeli army, there are suspicions … The Qataris also built a hospital in Deir al-Balah.
Mark asks that they put a finger on one, precise point, which is the one that will make a change in the direction of peace.
They confidently state that once there is a government in Israel that will make the UN decisions, it will “break the plug.” The whole agreement is written and Israel must make a decision to implement it.
Hayuta wants to know how a teenage child feels in Gaza.
Guests say a young man, at any age in Gaza, does not know what his future holds. When they finished their matriculation it seemed that the whole world was spread out before them, today there is nothing. Parents have no certainty about what they can do to help their children and the children internalize the parents’ weakness and understand that in fact the decisions are theirs alone.
Jaber asks / slaps them and asks them to see some project that the PA did for the Gazans as it did for the people of the West Bank?
They answer that although the PA has done more projects in the West Bank, but also what still exists in Gaza, was established by the PA until 2007. The PA is limited because it does not control Area C. The economic investments need to be directed there. If you do not control your territory yourself, you can do nothing. they admits that disagreements within the PA also prevent project options.
Hanan asks whether the missiles fired by Hamas during the war gave the residents of Gaza satisfaction?
They say that because of Jerusalem, the last war was different. It united the people because of the shooting at Jerusalem. Finally, the “problem” was not only that of the Gazans. Not only are they suffering and the rest are not interested. This gave Hamas an advantage over the PA.
Dina asks why no more voices of peace are heard from the Palestinians towards the world and towards Israel.
They reply that they are working in every possible media to convey the “Voice of Peace”. Founded the “Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society” in 2012 after the UN recognized a Palestinian state. The Israeli government does not want to listen to these voices and only talks about aggression. The Israelis have created a wall that blocks the possibility of knowing. As a result, Israelis are not interested.
It is also difficult for them, in the Palestinian Authority, to act because the peace process (Oslo) has collapsed and this has severely damaged the credibility of the PA leadership. The power shown by Hamas brings more achievements …
Ya’ala says she heard that there was a plan to expand Gaza towards northern Sinai and some of Israel.
Answer: This is a program by Giora Island. But, in the whole Palestinian people, from end to end, there is agreement on the dividing lines of the Green Line with an exchange of territories of only a few percent. They do not agree to accept Egyptian territory nor will Egypt agree to give its territory.
Malki asks what happened in the unopposed elections and read that the percentage of support for the PA is zero compared to Hamas.
Guests say public opinion is constantly shifting. Hamas is still strong because Fatah is divided into three lists. But these results are temporary and if the PA succeeds in improving its achievements, it will be reversed.
Maharan asks about the position of a bi-national state or the transfer of the West Bank to Jordan and the creation of Gaza as a Palestinian state.
Their answer is that there are a lot of ideas. Gaza should be the model for reconstruction. There is no situation in which Jordan, with its internal problems, will return and take control of the West Bank. “We have received a country from the world and we will not give it up,” they say. The only other solution besides “two states”, is one state with equal rights for all. This is also the original PLO plan from 1969! But the Jews want a Jewish majority …
Nomika asks who is responsible for rebuilding Gaza?
They answer that Israel is the sole ruler of Gaza and the Egyptians also ask permission from Israel to open the border between them and the Gaza Strip. Egypt has very strict criteria for accepting Palestinians to move to its territory. Everything that happens in Gaza is an Israeli decision! They emphasize.
Ramy asks if they have any questions for us …
There is one question … “Are you willing to accept workers from Gaza to your communities despite the state of hostility and suspicion created today”?
Jaber answers first and says that this is an irrelevant question to the forum convened today in the circle, because it is a forum that will in any case support any fair initiative that will bring peace.
Uzi says “yes without a doubt”! Mainly for agriculture …
Shmulik: “Unequivocally yes. We live in a common space and we all need to share a livelihood”!
Nomika says that in the past she wrote to the heads of the regional councils in the area around Gaza, and begged them to accept workers from Gaza.
Rami tells the guests that he has great appreciation for the task they have taken on because they are operating in difficult conditions both with Israel and with the Palestinians. Here, in the “circle”, do not give up discourse and action for a better future. We are all similar in the desire to share and reflect ourselves. He asks, “You too will be our emissaries. If you have ever been in a circle you are partners. Tell the Palestinians you meet abut us.” Gaza, he continues, must not fall under the cynicism and struggles of the greed for power and power. There are a lot of people without horizons and hope and it is our and yours task to make the voice heard.
Hanan says that each side does not believe that the other side wants peace. “Please tell the people in Gaza,” he asks, “that for more than three years now a group has been sitting here talking and talking about Gaza.”
The guests say that they tell their people a lot about the desire for cooperation on the part of Israelis they meet. In Gaza, they are surprising, there is a greater desire for cooperation than in the West Bank and there are ideas.

In the shade of the pine tree, in a circle of school chairs, we sat with the guests:
Hayuta, Bella, Mark, Mark, Smadar, Malki, Dina, Roni, Yaela, Rami, Jaber, Shmulik, Oded, Yossi, Brian, Eli, Naamika, Hanan, Moshe, Uzi, Maharan, Nachashi, Shoshi, Nurit.
Rote: Oded

Encounter 171 – 25.6.2021

As has been our custom for three years or more, we gathered today at the Lighthouse. Since we were all one of the regular participants (who less, who more…) and we often and even more than twice heard our opinions / thoughts / consciousness on the Gaza issue, a conversation took place in a broader context.
Vivian talks about the “Mosaica” organization founded by Rabbi Michael Melchior. They do a lot of things below the surface, she says. It is an organization of Jewish and Arab clerics. Abdullah Nimer Darwish, who had extremist views, decided to join Melchior in setting up “Mosaica”. They built a network to influence extremists on both sides to put out flames, especially at a time of violent outbreak in the area. When Darwish died, he was mourned by extremists on both sides… “Mosaica” mediated between RAAM and Bennett in the formation of the Israeli government.
Roni spoke with Rami and he says that the Palestinian leaderships are not going to cooperate.
Shmulik argues that a disk should be changed regarding Hamas. The late Rabbi Froman of Tekoa argued that religion can and should be a bridge between people and not a separation.
Radir is also in a common group of clerics. She hopes that “mosaica” can indeed influence the extremists.
Vivian wants to say something more positive… tells about the director of the Erez crossing who says in an interview that the Israeli attitude towards Gaza is unfounded and should be done exactly the opposite. He was interviewed on the 972 website. The army’s response to his remarks was a question of his private opinions…

Roni wonders if he expresses such opinions because he intends to leave…
More from Vivian – something she heard from a bookstore owner, also political literature, located in front of the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. He divides the Palestinian activists in East Jerusalem into three groups: the progressives who after the prayer in the mosque go to Sheikh Jarrah, the religious who go to al-Aqsa and the young people to the Damascus gate. Israel decided to provoke all three groups and the Palestinian authority did not respond… He told Vivian that entering al-Aqsa would cause the red lines to be crossed.
Nahshi says that when something provocative like the “idiotic” flag parade happens, it should be understood that a reaction from the stomach creates the opposite effect to the intention of the respondents.
Salah says the media needs to be more balanced. Bring in dialogue people from all sides. Fluent and not quarrelsome.
According to Dina, one should not wait for something to happen, one should initiate.
Jaber says the media has no reason to publish anything calm, it does not bring ratings. Leaders will always say “Watch out for the other, I’m fine”.
Radir says that after the assassination of Yaakov Abu al-Qa’an, they held a protest march that ended in a relatively calm conversation and at this point the media moved away and were not interested because “there is no meat”…
I said that even though Israel deliberately crosses red lines, it does not pay a price…
Vivian replies that a price has been paid and we are victims of the settlers who are dragging the area into conflict. This is (and will be…) the price.
Malki says that the public in Israel does not see that Israel pays a price because it really does not pay.
Dina says that someone should take the initiative on the other side as well and keep quiet and then it will be good for everyone.
Jaber replies, “If you are lying on the floor and I put My foot on your neck and any movement of yours will hurt you”, is this a kind of “quiet”? Jaber knows someone who has never prayed in his life, and now suddenly, wants to go to Al Aqsa to protect the worshipers… that is, Israel’s behavior infuriates everyone. Israel “puts the PA in the small pocket”… does not treat it as an influential factor. Poses ridiculous conditions in exchange for an end to the violence.

Dina thinks that today’s situation is a result and not a cause. We want to help them develop the civilian spheres so we all will be able to “sit quietly”. Want them to understand that too.
Vivian explains that it is not a matter of water or electricity but their desire for self-determination as a people sitting on their land.
Shmulik says that there are contacts below the surface. Israel has a tendency to conflict between Gaza and the West Bank. This is a game that manages the strong side in the area. If we do not change the attitude towards the political forces in the region nothing will change. “Oded,” says Shmulik, speaks of “red lines,” but there are none… There is no mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestinians. In Israel, Hamas sees a terrorist organization and also convinces the world that this is the case.
Malki changed the subject and talks about the new hospital that was established with American assistance in the area of ​​the Erez crossing.
Roni says it’s works in very small grade… Hamas is having difficulties. The equipment entered the hospital slowly. There are some doctors and pharmacists but little work because of the difficulties that Hamas places on the arrival of patients. People act as individuals according to their ability to advance the issue.

Participants: Salah, Shmulik, Radir, Malki, Dina, Roni, Oded, Vivian, Nahashi, Jaber.

Wrote: Oded.

Encounter 170 – 18.6.2021

A group of teachers from a high school in Tel Aviv is touring the area. The end of the tour is with us at the “Lighthouse”.

Radir introduces them to the rationale of the “lighthouse” meetings, Begin a “circle”.
Jaber says policymakers think the village where he lives (“unrecognized”) is in another country… the “circle” is important to him. Gaza is suffering, neighbors and family. Their condition is even worse than the condition of an unknown beduin vilages…
Hayuta, comes from time to time. Part of the education she received from her father is to be human and sensitive to the suffering of others.
Shmulik says he is an individualist communist… knows it is an oxymoron, but that’s how he feels… he reads a poem he wrote inspired by Gaza.
Moshe says he participates sometimes. In times like the last, when we experienced war, the lighthouse is important. It’s a kind of hope. We have refuge and time for hope… They have none.
Nahshi, was in friendships with Gazans who worked with him. The “lighthouse” is a kind of connection.
Naomi, member of “Other Voice“. She says (quote) “It is unthinkable that something unthinkable will last for an unthinkable time”!
Shelly rarely comes. Keep in touch. “It’s easy to suffer from someone else’s stomach ache,” she says of suffering in Gaza.
Rafi says that wherever Other voice is heard he comes to strengthen. He does not accept what is happening in Gaza. People, mostly innocent, should not go through that.
Smadar has had contact with Gaza since childhood. She was born and raised in Ashkelon, where many Gazan workers used to come. Those who have sensitivity after must understand their suffering. Recommends connections to groups that report what is happening beyond the fence. (“We are not numbers” for example…)
Radir talks about her activities. Here, in the “Lighthouse”, a family feels. It is important for her to be in space. Palestinian citizens of Israel should be a bridge to peace. Come so as not to lose hope.
Bella is already excited from the moment of starting the trip to here. Live on the daily despair side of what is going on around. Concern for friends who are close to the fence and beyond the fence. I would like to hope that the change of government and the arrival of the group of teachers at our Lighthouse will contribute to the change.
Malki identifies with every word said before her. Comes from the despair that does not pass. They, in Gaza, have no horizon.
Adva: The situation must change. A lighthouse represents the direction in which one should aim. It is difficult for her with the moral conflict in which she finds herself.
Maya: Writer. Great excitement to be here. Loves to come to meetings with people. With the help of speech, one must “undermine” the unjust reality.
Naomi: It suits her to be within the sincerity created in the circle. Gaza is a black hole for her. She was looking for a source of hope and came here. Gaza is a black spot on us and we have a responsibility for it. Her job as an educator is to flood in and talk about moral dilemmas, to expose students to what is happening. To bring us and them closer together.
Neil: First time so close to Gaza. Lost hope. It’s awful to lose hope. Perhaps meeting such people who produce empathic discourse, returns a little of it.
Ayelet from the north and she appreciates the people who live daily in the envelope. Everyone has the right to life. The push for change must come from below.
Aviva says the residents are crying out for help and need help.
Daniela says she was not born in Israel and “does not know the situation like you”. Her students come from different places, a cosmopolitan class. Come here to hear more than to make.
Za’a: As for Gaza, it has lost hope. Think this is a reality that will not change. Looking for a voice that will make a different “melody”. Today, on a tour of the region and a visit to the “lighthouse”, a small light of hope is lit. “Thank you for being who you are,” she says. Now you know you should not lose hope.
Ze’ev thanks for the opportunity to be here. Feels responsible and especially ashamed of the actions of the state. Strives to make small repairs in the world. The encounter floods the injustices and Ze’ev admits the inspiration.
Nomika talks about the establishment of “Other Voice”. Look for another way to mark national and national holidays. Time has weight in making a person numb. How much can be contained… Humanity is lost from many unjust injustices. It is impossible to mediate life in this violent space for one who has not experienced it firsthand. She gave up the great effort of the activists in the various organizations is perseverance. The ability not to lose empathy even when you are attacked, the ability to contain another story as well. In “Other Voice” they faced a lot of different opinions. It takes effort.
Yaniv grew up in Ashkelon. In the neighborhood of Gaza. His views have always been in the minority. Family dinners “explode” because of his views… Happy about the meeting at “Lighthouse”. We need to make our voices heard more.
Nili served in the area. Need one human existence, she says. Grew up in Jaffa. They had a friend from Gaza who was kind of a family. The house was culturally open. Umm Kaltum heard at home. Believes in discourse. The voice she hears here is not other voice, it is a human voice. Experienced dissonance with the peace, quiet and nature in front of the burnt fields.
Shurouff is excited. Comes from Tira, an Arabic teacher. Want to know what we’re going through. Gaza for her is a soul. Came here to breathe the air of Gaza.
Avichai says that in the last round, the Israeli brutality that was reflected in the media, “came to Tel Aviv with cries”… Here, in “Lighthouse”, it is a little escape from the depression that accompanies it. Asks himself, to what world is he raising his daughters? How could he mediate it for them? Did he stay true to his beliefs? He knows Gaza through military service. He has not returned to the area since. Thanks for the welcome in “Circle”.
Neta, a resident of the area, thanks the teachers who came from Tel Aviv today. Her life is an “amusement park”… between hope and despair. Life alarms are not made more comfortable… She has no answer as to how children are raised here, this is home so she is here. But the effect of the violent atmosphere, hard on the children. It is also difficult with what is happening on the other side. When she was still a child, in one of the rounds of violence, her daughter told her that the children in Gaza had no alarm and no way to defend themselves.
Luciana is a teacher. Gaza is a mystery. But in the last round she cried all the time. She’s a mom! Fled to the north because she could not bear the situation. We are working in education to change something in the minds of young people.
Noga. We tasted the suffering of the conflict a few weeks ago. It’s a circle of friends and it’s good to go back and meet the people. It is difficult to change reality, but there is value without burying your head in the sand. And here, in “Circle,” an act is done.
Shaul has a desire to try to live together, but he does not believe in a political settlement in our generation. However, he does see the possibility of living together, in the series. Through integration into space. Shaul’s “partner” for the series is actually the extremist on the other side.

The moderates may be nice, but creating a common life, it’s only with the extremists. A senior GSS official once told him that when he interrogated a Hamas man, they found a common language between them and they maintain contact to this day on both sides of the fence. Islam says that it is possible to live with the enemy even in a state of conflict. Israel is in conflict. Arrangements are needed that will “move” the conflict a little, even if the opinions of the enemies do not change. It is necessary and possible to find a way to live together.
Miriam has children and grandchildren who live in the area. Gaza is neighbors. This is a place where she has walked before and almost slept in a hotel on the beach… not losing hope. Tonight was a difficult experience. There was a loud explosion and she was attacked with anxiety. Not worried about herself but about her granddaughter (18) who was staying with her with a friend. She was afraid of them. In the morning she received a phone call from her cousin who asked her how you live there at the “foot of the Vesuvius”… Miriam says this is true on both sides of the border… There is a contrast between the pastoralism outside and the “rounds” violence. Miriam is frustrated but frustration is accompanied by hope. Think what Shaul said is worth listening to. Twice a year she receives a phone call from Khaled from Gaza greeting her on holidays.
rami. In the circle one meets life. Every Friday there is someone to talk to. Gaza is his internal struggles. Sit week after week with the mental difficulty he is in and see that something manages to sparkle. Choose today to listen and speak at the end. Constantly asking himself anew, what is the reason for people to choose to come here? Are there people who get up in the morning for a change of consciousness? The Neighborhood to Gaza and the knowledge he has accumulated about it since childhood, made him decide to talk about it and found the meeting and the “lighthouse”. We are talking about Gaza. Whoever decides that there is no one to talk to creates another wall. Glad his son graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in public administration. This will be able to change consciousness. Gaza is an opportunity to speak to the suffer but open heart to love.
We also talked to our friend in Gaza. It was hard to hear but a connection was made between him and the group of teachers. The conversation with them continued on the bus after they left.

We were: Radir, Jaber, Shmulik, Moshe, Naomi, Rafi, Shelly, Nahashi, Smadar, Bella, Malki, Adva, Maya, Naomi, Neil, Ayelet, Aviva, Rami, Daniela, Za’a, Ze’ev, Nomika, Yaniv, Nili, Shuruof, Avichai, Neta, Luciana, Oded, Noga, Shaul, Miriam, Rami.

Wrote: Oded.

Encounter 169 – 11.6.2021

Just as Shmulik was pouring four cups of coffee (Nahshi will come later…) the first four guests arrived to the circle. Ayelet, Mani, Ziona and Yoram. Ayelet has been several times and Ziona, who she and Yoram came from the north, is very intrigued by the phenomenon of a group of people, not young (to say the least…) sitting on elementary school chairs, around a green “classroom table”, in a remote pine grove in the Be’eri Reserve…

I present the circle and Ziona constantly interrupts me in an attempt to understand what… what… who and why… the best explanation is the circle itself…
Shmulik explains the rationale for which he is here. Asks Ziona that when she returns home, she will tell on about us. He expands a bit on Ramy (who has not yet arrived…) who as the founder of the idea and a native of the place, best tells the story of the space. Shmulik says that in the last war he stayed at home because this is home…
Hayuta tries to convince Ziona that if she listens and lets the circular speech flow, she will understand the rationale. Hayuta comes occasionally to reinforce her meaning in life.
Roni knows Gaza far beyond the popular knowledge gained in the country. It’s much easier to hate when you don’t see a face, she says. 50% of the Gaza population, under the age of 18 – have not seen or know an Israeli who is not a soldier. When Roni decided it was important to get to know, she started driving patients (“the road to recovery”). On the ride she listened. Sometimes it was unpleasant to hear. There are those she keeps in touch with. She has a friend who she helped go to school in the US. Connects between schools, artists, young people. She comes here because she wants to convey the message that it is possible. Both peoples have a historical affinity for this place. We must reconcile. It is a circle of listeners. Tells about Uri who was last week and whose statements are difficult to contain in relation to the Arabs. He told her that he came “because here, people listen to him.” It was time we stopped saying there is no one to talk to, says Roni. And the world and recently a lot of groups from preparatory schools and schools are coming.
Ayelet was born in Kiryat Bialik and until the age of 18 she knew nothing about Gaza. Got there during military service. After the army she lived in Yamit and there she also got married. She has a lot of experiences in common with Gazans. She is impressed by the perseverance of the circle… It is exciting to know that we are present every Friday.
Ziona was born in an area in a moshav near Ofakim. She moved north as a child. Gaza was a place of shopping and freedom. Great beaches and streets with the smell of fish… Now Gaza is bombs and missiles… When Roni spoke she hears hope. The idea of ​​the “lighthouse” is great! But lacks the public effect in her opinion.
Yoram was born and raised in the valley. Has never been in contact with Gaza. Defines himself as leftist… The idea of ​​the circle sounds great but a lot of talk and… What else? Do you have a feeling that something happened in Israel thanks to your sitting here? He asks. The situation is getting worse on both sides. Why do young people not come here? The extremist people, are the ones who set the tone in this country and this circle, far from their hearts. Good things do not happen… He does not see them (the good things…) and does not feel them.
Mani has a lot of contact with Gaza from the past, now and probably in the future as well. When he worked at Yamit, he lived in the Tel Aviv area.
Hanan, Limor, Nachashi, Maharan and Amichai arrive.
Hanan says that the last time he came to the “circle” was three weeks ago, after the ceasefire “broke out”. Since then, there have been a lot of dramas. Hanan continues to strengthen hope here and in Jerusalem on Saturday. In his opinion, the activity in Jerusalem and the bridges “persuaded” Likud members not to go to the polls. The connection to the circle is that civilian activity can change!
Limor comes because she has less hope… In this situation, dominance is dictated by violence. The last round was more violent. Limor lives under two “hats”. One “hat” is her work at the Resilience Center where she supports the victims of mental crises and treats anger and frustration, and a second “hat” are her personal opinions that she should, to some extent, keep to herself. Limor has an idea to initiate a move through which you can feel real action. She wants to ask all therapists to go through an anxiety treatment workshop. Raise funds to fund the workshop and also bring therapists from Gaza. She has a fantasy that she works hand in hand with a Gazan therapist… wants to bring a film created after a the last war and screen it in front of all the therapists.
Amichai came because of Nahshi… he’s a lawyer. Came today with Maharan with whom he met a lot in court. As a teenager he worked a lot with Gazans that his uncles, Earthworks contractors, employed. There are colleagues in the profession for whom he knows that the Gazans are Damon… He has a friend from the moshav in whose house a Gazan worked who actually raised him as a mother. He too had strong friends, on other days, who were really a part of his life. He tells his friends that it is possible. Hope the circles grow.
Maharan saw this morning the coalition agreement with the “Ra’am” party. The agreement benefits the Arabs in the long run. Israeli Arabs will continue to “observe” what is happening in Gaza. Mansour Abbas told Sinuar that he “will not cause problems” until they form a government. In the war, everyone loses. Read in the Egyptian press that al-Sisi brings heavy equipment for the reconstruction of Gaza and it will bring Egypt 500 million $. Biden wants Gaza Egyptian and not Qatari. No longer free from the noise of the Middle East because the Chinese are at the gate and need to be valued in front of them.
Jaber, who is known to all of us from al-Zarnok, says that “an unrecognized village” is worth a trash can in the corner of the country… he came because he feels missing us… the first time he participated in “circle”, he felt that . Some light inside the black… We must continue to operate through the lighthouse. In Gaza, the situation is bad and it is a human act to worry about friends and neighbors. Who started or who was before it does not matter. Let’s work for both of us together.
Calling from Gaza, to Roni’s cell phone. Ramy takes the mobile from Roni and makes a round between everyone and everyone says a few words of greeting and sympathy.

Rami says that last night he was in a tent on the beach in Ashdod. Find a quiet place, but ATVs got there… heard they speak Arabic and all at once, all the “work” he does with himself “disappears”. Thoughts began to surface about the clashes that took place in the cities during the war. Although the Arabic language is so beloved by him, he was “frozen.” He told himself that it was sad that the statements, that if we persisted in fences and separations we would not be able to contain the hostility, would come true. His soul is tired. Here in the pine grove, near his house, where the tanks have traveled and the planes have passed, near Gaza which does not go out of his mind, he finds little refuge. Gaza is a clear knowledge that everything is shattered. The political change is causing a shock to many people. And the mental load only increases. Suddenly the demons come from the past and defeat it. The mind is exhausted. Finds some comfort in the fact that there is no longer any energy for hostility either… The war in Gaza tried to ignite hostility in the streets, but in his opinion it did not really work. The earth is not really burning and maybe this will lead to a new way. For that it’s worth every second he sits here. Gaza is not going anywhere and people are not disappearing. It is a joy mixed with sadness. Very soon we will see something else, he says.
Radir says Gaza is a big prison and any of the leaders who want to make “shofuni” use Gaza. Gaza is present here (in the “circle”…) because we are here. Even the media ignores. Killing children in war is the worst thing. Participates in the “Peace Square” (of the Bereaved Families Forum) in Zoom, and someone said there that because the Gazans responded, they deserve all the respect. This radius caused mental anguish, hoping for a more containing discourse. When she saw her family’s assessments in Acre in the face of the violence, in the clashes that took place in the streets, she was horrified. A friend from Lod told her that her neighbor, with his weapon, protected the neighborhood and now it is difficult for her to ask for the obvious, that it is to collect the illegal weapon…
Nahshi comes as he can… it is the anchor of the things he does to feel that he relates to what is being done around it. Gets to know more and more people and learns. This is the practical thing he can do to realize even a little of the potential for an encounter with the Gazans. Know every Friday that this is the first important thing to do. Maybe maybe maybe now we can say that there is some shift in a better direction…
This is for today… Next week we are supposed to host teachers from the “Herzliya Gymnasium” school in Tel Aviv…

We were: Hayuta, Shmulik, Oded, Roni, Ayelet, Mani, Ziona, Yoram, Rami, Rami, Hanan, Limor, Nahashi, Maharan, Jaber, Amichai, Radir.

Wrote: Oded.

Encounter 168 – 4.6.2021

Both the “circle” of the day and that of last week, were characterized by “sitting on the edge of the chair” … that is, those who do not agree with the speaker’s words, slide to the edge of the chair impatiently to respond immediately … Luckily for us, there is still respect for the speaking procedure used in the circle and we let the speaker finish his / her words …
It opens with a discussion around the chapter “Hagar” in Shelly Eshkoli’s book, “Postcards”. Shelley joined the circle today. In her book, Shelley illuminates women who accompany the biblical story. Reading the chapter on Hagar, clarified to me elements in the story that I did not give my opinion on.
Then a discussion began on the issue of regulating the unrecognized villages against the background of the formation of the government of change.
Uri: is it interesting to know how many Arabs of Israel think it is good to be citizens of the State of Israel under Jewish rule? And does it give them a better standard of living …
Roni says that both peoples see this space as a homeland and the Palestinian’s right to see his homeland here does not fall short of the Jew’s right.
I ask the participants, if each of us had the exclusive right to decide who they “share” in the country, who would they join and on what background? Uri responds quickly and says he would not share Arabs, but Druze did.
Jaber moves to the “end of the chair” and responds immediately when Uri finishes … He says that from his acquaintance with the Druze, those who live in the Golan Heights, are determined to remain Syrians. He also says that Ben-Gurion did not agree that the Bedouin would be in the army because then he would have to give them equal citizenship conditions…
From here we connect to the matter for which we have gathered, “a circle for the Gaza consciousness.” Jaber is already in the run and he continues to tell about his village El-Zarnouk, but repeatedly emphasizes that he keeps coming because of the unbearable situation in Gaza. Gaza is neighbors, he says. If they thrive the whole area will thrive. They are an organ from the spatial body. If part of the body is sick, the whole body suffers.
Nahshi found on his way to come here an opportunity to remind himself that there are sufferers in the area. In our meetings he learned that Gaza had a glorious past. The future can be good, too. The presence here is the little grain of sand that it can contribute to tilting the scales in the direction of speech and reconciliation. Calls on everyone on his side to come and say it out loud. He has cautious hope in the new government. The difference is that now there are expectations and from the previous government were not.
Uri thinks that Gaza has a role that not everyone accepts. A role assigned to it by the other Arab countries in the destruction of Israel. In his opinion, they are not interested in peace but receive money from Arab countries to expel the Jews from here. The Palestinian state is not in the forefront of their minds. If anyone in Gaza thinks otherwise, he can not even say that to his child, because then they will kill him. If someone had thought otherwise he would have already found a way to say it. But as long as they are paid they must perform their job because for that they get the money.
Roni takes care of the neighbors and discovers new friends every day. There are partners and there are those to talk to. In Gaza, there are partners in her opinion who do, speak and initiate for the sake of speech and meeting. There are those who are afraid to speak and there are those who are willing to speak. During the war, they called and asked how she was. She did not want to compare pain and suffering with Gazan friends during the war, but was also unwilling to apologize for being well protected and having no casualties on her side. They have the same right as us with the same arguments. We both have a right to this place. There are solutions. Roni appeals to Hamas to allow dialogue in any way possible.
Mark has very little to do with Gaza. He comes here to remind himself of the situation and is aware that he is to blame for their situation: his national aspirations have caused their problems. Neighborhood does not push him into action. Does not feel he has much to do. Checking his opinions with himself every day. Engaging in academic discussion is an escape from responsibility. Here in the “circle” is among people who understand it. Today, it deals mainly with climatic issues.
Brian has been teaching debate in schools for 5 years. What draws him here is the ability to respect the other’s mind. Restrain judgment and for a short time listen. He comes because he believes in something whose essence is to sit and listen. When you listen, you give value to a person regardless of his opinion. The politics are less interesting. Donates according to his ability. The only Gazan I met was Rami on the phone. It is good to keep hope.
Salameh remembers from childhood trips to Gaza. Everyone is at sea and the fun is great. In recent years everything has turned upside down. In his workplace he cannot express an opinion that everyone will attack him. Glad to hear different opinions here while maintaining listening.
Mahran is somewhat optimistic. After 73 years people realized that coexistence was urgently needed. He once attended a conference of Yesh Atid and talked to Yair Lapid. The change now sets a precedent and creates a new situation under the Israeli flag. The leaders decided yes, it is necessary to unite despite the difficulties they tried to outwit them. Hopefully this government will be good for Gaza as well. It is hard for him to believe that changes will be made. Too many contrasts. But yes maybe under the influence of the RAAM political party there will be relief. Even under occupation, if there is a good economic situation there is no rebellion. Two scenarios. Or war again, or a long-standing hudna which is a global interest. We want the economic interest in the reconstruction of Gaza. If there is peace here, it is essential for the region.
When it is Shmulik’s turn to speak, he first responds to the question I asked at the beginning of the discussion … yes, he is willing to accept within his political framework any person as a person. In the context of the new government, he says that even in other countries, despite the contradictions in the various political systems, they knew how to reach agreements. Believes that the political issue will be resolved in our region as well. Every destruction of a house hurts him as if his house had been destroyed. The current situation is solvable.
At the end, when everyone had got up from their seats and we started to settle down, contact was made with Gaza and Roni passed between us all with the cell phone and greeted them.
P.S.
Two “big” events in the planning (initiated by Nomika). One – meeting with the principal, teachers, students and parents from the Herzliya Gymnasium in two weeks – 18/6
The second – a meeting with Ashraf al-Ajrami, head of the committee for interaction with Israeli society on 2/7.

We were today:
Shmulik, Shelly, Brian, Mark, Roni, Oded, Uri, Nahashi, Eviatar (Neria-child …), Jaber, Salma, Maharan.
Rote: Oded.

Encounter 167 – 28.5.2021

Today, 25 people spoke at the lighthouse. At the beginning of the “circle” presences Dina, Shmulik, Roni, Nomika, Nahshi, Mir and Oded.
The war we went through and it’s gliding to the streets of the mixed cities, is still present in the discourse.
Dina says that if the Arab citizens of Israel felt good they would not switch to Palestinian flags instead of Israeli flags on balconies. This is an extreme act in her opinion.
Shmulik says that if you want a partnership, you need to expand the socio-political range and not just focus on Zionism, the JNF and more.
Dina thinks it is important to give Arabs the good feeling they share. This is where the behavior comes from. Supports working with young people.
Salim arrives and with him Dor. Followed by Jaber and Ramy.
Salim tells a little about himself and the period of his studies in Israel. A story about his family that he cannot visit. If he visits, it’s a risk that he may not be able to return. His family stayed away from the bombings. The family dispersed to reduce the risk … electricity was problematic. The food was enough for a few days. The feelings were mostly anger. Now there is some kind of relaxation. There is some hope. There was no safe place.
Rami says that during the war he was not in the area (working in the Arava) and even shut himself off from hearing. Because he was out of place he could find an inner voice for himself. Deep inner sadness. The only thing that interested him in the context of the war was what was happening to humans. Wants to embrace the suffering. In his inner sense, there is no limit, we are all together. It is difficult for him to define in words, the feelings. The circle gives him strength now, when he is in distress.
Nomika brings a song by Leah Goldberg. “denial”. Tells of a friend who also traveled to the Arava and preferred to seal himself, like Rami …
Mir says Gaza is an interesting place that has good people like us. Hope to visit there.
Nahshi comes because it’s the little he does to keep a voice inside him that recognizes the suffering on the other side. They suffer from what we do.
According to Shmulik, the fence imprisons both sides. Expects a day for the fence to fall and sees itself as a partner in activities for the fall of the fence.
Dina- Gaza is a forgotten place from the hearts of the people. You can ignore and you can do. Everyone is supposed to do the least for a better world. She works with the feeling that she is doing something for a better world. Calls on all of us to do together with her.
Roni does everything she can for the people of Gaza, those who are in contact with her. It is everywhere where the voice of Gaza can be heard. We blame each other and need to stop and let everyone live. There is a speaking partner and we let the extremists run us. She had a hard time in the war. She was afraid to leave the shelter and at the same time thought about her comrades in Gaza. It is an internal rift. But she continues to be a bridge to the Gazans. It also helps to reach the media in Israel.
Eyal and Boaz arrive.
Jaber feels an inner need to come into the circle and that is really part of it. It is a strong sense of satisfaction that does him good. Gaza is a family, neighbors, the Gaza Strip is his natural area, not Tel Aviv. Their situation is terrible and unbearable. Hamas found an excuse and used what was happening in Jerusalem to erupt.
Eyal – connects to maintain hope and light. On a day-to-day basis he engages a lot in politics in his various roles (the Meretz party and Mate Asher regional council) but, he says, he will try to keep the rules of the “circle”. History has taught us what hatred is, he says. He chooses not hatred but hope. Initiate a meeting at a school in an Arab village with educators to talk about the incidents of violence, not to lose the togethernes and what can be done. In addition, he met with coordinators at the Arab Society in Givat Haviva. Conversation with Arab female leadership. He also met with heads of authorities in the Galilee. One of the heads of the Arab councils in the Galilee told him about dealing with what the young people see on the Arab social networks (Al Jazeera) and how he physically prevented teenagers from going wild. Eyal believes in living together despite what we see around. No need to accept it. Need to fight over dismantling settings. Today, the word “peace” is less used even in encounters between a person and his friend. There were a lot of intersections in the protest and that’s important, but to make an impact, space movements need to connect to a political system.
Comes maharan.
Ramy says national symbols are meant to separate communities. Since the dawn of history. The one up the creek sets the rules for the one down. When he arrives, he has a lot of happiness. The simplicity with which the “circle” takes place, school chairs, coffee … when he saw Salim, he was moved. The naturalness with which Salim feels with us to be here, it’s exciting. This gives Ramy hope that change can happen soon. Thanks to a circle that allows near / far voices to be heard. Knowing that there is such a place does him good.
Dor Tells about herself. Came because she wanted to ask herself questions of identity. Recently, the conflict between the urge to be here and feel at home (even though she was not born here) and the fear of shock at the base of our society. Need to create a displacement. Infrastructure needs to be built for the day after.
Salim lost friends in the wars that were. The people, are the ones who make the place where they are home. For the first time experience the war from the other side: see the difference in the way of thinking. To feel at home, you need to have confidence. Physical, economic, national and more. It’s fascinating for him to hear how people here see the other side. Where he is here in the country, people who are far from where he was born speak differently from people who are close to where he was born. As close as those in the circle.
A group of motorcyclists arrive: Roy, Dror, Yoram, Yavin, Yogev and Roi. Uzi, Malki, Radir Yaela and Talila.
Rami introduces the residents of the circle to the “lighthouse”.
Salim continues: It is difficult for him to enjoy his studies because he cannot visit his family. Takes care of the lives of the people who live next door to his family. During the war many questions came to his mind. The answers helped him understand himself more. Glad he’s here at the lighthouse.
Talila has memories of trips to Gaza. Glad to meet and get to know Salim. Works as a filmmaker and dermatherapist. Works with children. Sometimes it is hard for them to believe that she has Arab friends. A girl told her that if people quarreled a lot over something unimportant, it will not be.
Maharan begins with a historical fact … Many peoples lived here. In the last war he took care of friends who live here in the area. During the war, he informed his wife that she was getting ready to host … that was a real concern. He said he knew before everyone else that there would be a war. According to the helicopters that passed over his place of residence … and yet, when the war began, he felt lost, defenseless. There are no police and no one to protect. There was chaos. The police were in chaos. This war, gives indications for the future …
Uzi met many Arabs as an Orientalist. In Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and various conferences. Once, in a lecture to educated people in Egypt, they asked him who the Palestinians were like … he said that most of all the peoples in the region are similar to us, the Jews … In his opinion, Gaza could be Singapore of the Middle East. Both sides are to blame but we are strong so we need to initiate the solution.
Malki – happy to come today. Identifies with the lighthouse sentence that says “to the place where light is lit one can navigate hope.”
Roy: Gaza is a thorn in the side of the world. A half pin that hurts the whole world. Represents the rift between the Arab world and the Western world. All the terrorist attacks in the world are linked there. But need to get to know each other and he’s glad he knew Salim. The personal acquaintance between human beings, this is the solution to world peace.
Dror opens and tells us that “there is a lack of understanding here.” He explains. All the problems come from there. They need to get organized on their own. They choose the option that is convenient for them. His knowledge of Gaza is from the media. Human beings live in Gaza. The question is why do they choose the way they choose …
Yoram opens with “Congratulations to those who are willing to live here.” Yoram worked and served in Gaza without fear and without weapons. In his opinion education is the problem. He does not know who is responsible for education there but the name of the problem. We and they educate differently. When shooting, you react, no matter who started. Funds that do not go to education are transferred there. Hope it will be okay and that the education there will change.
Yavin- he does not have much knowledge. For him, Gaza is a topic that is talked about among friends. It all starts and ends with education and does not know how to change it. He has never met Gazans and never heard of Gaza in the education system in the country.
Yogev – connects to the issue of education as an element that can create closeness between the two sides. The circles that allow listening are the way to the solution. The State of Israel is here to stay and they have to come to terms with it. He asks Salim if such a circle can exist in the place where he was born, and if so, is it possible to speak freely?
Salim answers yes, that in conversations between friends you can say everything, but not in public …
Yogev goes on to say that the discussion should take place at eye level. Turns to Salim again and tells him I wish he could speak to him in his own language.
Roi: Peace between leaders is not peace. It comes voluntarily for political gain. Gaza is human and it is difficult to see the bodies of children coming out of the rubble. Tells of a study he read. A Japanese scientist spoke for a month only nice words to the plants in his house and they grew. Then he spoke to them for a month in harsh words and the plants withered. Brings from the words of “Pirkei Avot” that jealousy is a difficult emotion. They, he says, envy us for our success. Lust for the other’s garden is also a motivation for confrontation. Once you give a horizon of livelihood and prosperity you create hope. In favor of dialogue from a place where both sides do not lower their hands to each other.
Radir states that peace happens between peoples. She tells of the riots in Acre, her hometown. Her family lives there. At her parents home, they prepared to defend themselves against violence by force, in contrast to the education they received. Gaza is an easy place to burn and the leaders use it. Believes in discourse at eye level. Understood the need to speak and began peace and reconciliation activities. She’s tired of definitions. It hurts her to see children suffering and burnt fields.
Yaela: She left Kissufim at war. Opposite Kissufim, a few hundred meters away, is the city of Khan Yunis. Yaela sees the neighbors from her home and cannot ignore their daily life with the suffering and the good. Tells the guests (the bikers …) that it is important to her that they came and wants to say that the neighborhood is desirable to us.
Roni asked to summarize and addressed the issue of “education” which was repeated in the guests words. It tells of collaborations between young people between the two sides that are not published and do not reach the public.
We were – Mir, Nahshi, Shmulik, Dina, Roni, Rami, Nomika, Dor, Salim, Oded, Jaber, Boaz, Eyal, Malki, Radir, Uzi, Yaela, Talila, Maharan, Roy, Dror, Yoram, Yavin, Yogev and Roi.
Wrote – Oded.

Encounter 165 – May 14, 2021

In ‘regular’ times between denial and forgetting, we sit in Migdalor’s circle, meet ourselves and travelers happening to pass by, speak about ‘Gaza consciousness’, try to extricate from our circle mates’ consciousness memory, emotion and discovery of this space. We listen to people who, all of a sudden, without previous planning, while being served with coffee, have to relate to Gaza and say what it means for them – sometimes this is surprising, at times obvious and expected, and always making up a human puzzle that constitutes the larger picture of our living space.
Today, for the time in a long time, we could not physically reach the sulfur plant. The Israeli army spread barriers on access toads and prevented our entering the Migdalor site (we tried).
But consciousness cannot be blocked. For a short while, the awareness of Gaza’s space blows up for the whole world to see and hear, a big bang. For a short while only. Then Gaza will be forgotten again in a dark corner of one’s mind.
In this short interim, denial and forgetting blow up in our face in blood and fire, destruction and bereavement, rage and revenge. Humans who received a definite and timed lifetime, lose their lives. The criminals pad themselves in rights that were supposedly given to them by god and history.
On ‘regular’ days I add the list of participants in the circle. Today I wish to name the victims of this round of the Gaza wars. A very partial list, out of the Israeli press:
Ido, Omar, Amira, Abed, Bara, Nabil, Osmat, Raed, Zakariya, Moussa, Bashir, Mustafa, Saber, Mohammad, Moammad, Ibrahim, Yousef/Yosef, Rahaf, Yazin, Hussein, Ahamad, Salim, Sahumiya, Leah, Khaleel, Nadine, Nella.
Wrote: Oded

Encounter 164 – May 7, 2021

It’s already 3 p.m. I try to think how to summarize a circle where only the regulars were sitting. Perhaps I’ll write that about 100 meters from us there was still a piece of wood lightly smoking (Shmulike put it out with a single liter of water…), perhaps about my collecting chairs as I looked for those taken and not returned (it already turned 3:20 p.m.). Perhaps…
A group of travelers disembarks and enters the sulfur plant (we are already seated in our summer residence, outside). Nahshi yells at them to “come have some coffee” and gesticulates his invitation. They stare at us and glide inside. As they exit, they approach hesitantly, but our determined invitation won out. They sit with us. Rami arrives too. Nice! We have a circle!
I open it by telling them about us, the “migdalor” (lighthouse in Heb.), about ‘Gaza consciousness’ and the reasons for which I have been here every Friday for over 3 years.
Nahshi who kept his word and served them coffee, tells about his pals in Gaza, how for a long time he suppressed it, and then came sobering. How things came together and ‘woke him up’ to action, and how he tries to ‘fix’ things through the Migdalor meetings and though them also meets and hears interesting people.
Maharan says that until he was 14 years old he was in Gaza every week. His uncle worked in with the governate there. He was there again 5 years ago, saw a lot of destruction because of the Israeli bombings. The governor’s building still stands… Here’s no steady supply of electricity. He saw how generators and other means were used instead. Yesterday he was in Hebron with the family. In the evening when everyone goes out after the iftar (the dinner that breaks the fast) Hebron looks vibrant and sated. The Gaza matter must be solved before it blows up in our face. He says that the coming government in Israel will be even worse than the present one!
Malki says that as soon as she came to the circle for the first time, she was captivated in this island of sanity. People come out different from how they entered. There are phone talks with Gazans, and it gives them strength.
Uzi is short in words, there are still many speakers and it’s already 4 o’clock. “Gaza is deep sorrow and a horrific miss”. Both sides are responsible but we are the stronger side and must be the first fixers.
Rami speaks about his family and its history which is the story of this space. Gaza is home for him. He was born and grew up in this area and the space is the story of his life. In recent years he has been discovering the narrative that is different from what he was told and told himself. So he listens to other voices. Gaza is love. Loving the voices, the winds, its glorious history. It’s a space of junctions. When he meets people and tells the story again and again it reinforces his feeling that we are stuck in a failure that can and should be fixed. Change consciousness. His Gaza and The Gazans’ Gaza is a shared space. It’ll be over, he says, sprout anew as after the fires.
Shoshi is from the north. For her Gaza is what she hears in the media. She feels empathy for the Israelis living near the fence. As a mother she does not want her son to serve in the army opposite Gaza. She wishes to empower us. For her in the north it’s like living opposite Suria and Lebanon. Perhaps a new government holds hope.
For Yifat this is a trip to get to know the area, the people who experience the bomb alerts. Gaza scares her. A place that produces evil. She wishes to believe that there are such circles on the other side, but does not believe it. She has demonstrated a lot this year, against Netanyahu and his government. The great question mark arises, whether anything could happen here…
Dina has been affected by all the confrontations ever since she immigrated to Israel. She cannot understand the hostility. She tries to understand why people wish to hurt each other and do wrong. She thinks of us, not of them. She saw what happened to her daughter in the 2nd Lebanon War. After this visit with us, she will try to help benevolence proliferate.
Tzlila remembers Gaza from her 10th grade, when she came to pick tomatoes at Kibbutz Holit (then one of the settler-colonies in the Gaza Strip). During the First Intifada her life partner was in Gaza and she was worried. She went to visit there with her kids because he was serving as an officer at HQ. Lately her son served in the southern Israeli division. She has love-hate relations with Gaza but ‘their’ extremism has the upper hand.
Ofer says we surprised them in a big way… “we didn’t plan to have coffee in the middle of our trip, and suddenly out of nowhere comes the invitation to sit and sip coffee with us…” It’s been their second traveling day around here. It would be nice if the other side could show openness like ours… This could be an economic and touristic paradise. There is no hope. The real obstacles live in the minds. He feels we have an extraordinary circle here…
Nitzan served years in the Israeli defense system. Hope is important. Gaza tells a complex story. There is a very challenging religious and national friction. Sinwar of the Hamas was discussed. He thinks deals could be closed with him. Gaza is a security and propaganda challenge. A mechanism could be created that would lift Gaza our of the deep hole it is in now. We cannot help much, this depends mainly on their conduct. Good will and passing goods through is simply not enough. Leadership is needed on both sides. Someone should take it upon themselves. It’s a longevity project, for it will take much time…
For Akiva Gaza is a source of sorrow. He remembers it from his army-reserves duty although he tries to escape his memories. He hopes that circles such as ours would help improve people’s consciousness of Gaza.
Raviv says he is pragmatic in his worldview. Our side does a lot, no other country would. He waits for the day when their side would grow a leadership that would industrialize them, initiate economy projects, where the infrastructure should be democracy and industry. That’s how it works in this world. If they don’t undergo this industrialization process, their situation will not chance. He is ready to send them consulting help. If they don’t become such factors, nothing will change and everything will continue till the end of time. He speaks of the Angola model in which he was involved, and learned that industrialization and international entrepreneurship raised the country.
Shmulik is optimistic, because history shows that conflicts find resolutions and things that seemed irresolvable did resolve. There is indirect communication with other side. The fence lies between two suffering sides. He knows Gazans who worked with him and remained friends.
Jaber tells of himself and about the unrecognized community in which he lives. His life is ‘garbage’ but he comes to our circle because he has connected to the people and to compassion. He feels that the Gazans are living in a worse situation than his. The State of Israel has targeted their most important infrastructures and the Israeli authorities don’t want us to know this. The rulers of both sides do not care about the citizens. The people on each side don’t know about the others. He feels that in the ‘Migdalor’ everyone is considered. We need to be with him, with the same interests.
Nitzan claims from personal knowledge, of talks in which he took part, that the Gazans did not want to build power stations, did not want to bear responsibility. They do not want it, and that is the reason for the chaos that reigns.
Rami tells him that his absolute talk is difficult to hear. He speaks of a single chapter out of a continuum. We try to be less knowledgeable and less ‘right’. Complexity arrives to places that we don’t know and need to check and learn the whole time. A border drawn in 1949 is a new line in history. We need to re-examine the perspective on which we grew up. Things should be looked at differently, and less righteously.
We could have spoken on for hours, but evening was near and 4 p.m. was long gone. Naturally we invite all our myriad readers and ‘rememberers’ to come early, between
1 and 4 p.m. every Friday.
Participants: Shmulik, Nahshi, Oded, Maharan, Rami, Jaber, Malki, Uzi, Shoshi, Yifat, Dina, Tzlila, Ofer, Nitzan, Akiva and Raviv.
Wrote: Oded. Translation from Hebrew: Tal Haran.

Encounter 163 – April 30, 2021

Last weekend and early this week we had another ‘round’ of fire. And the Meron Mt. disaster occurred that last night. These two events were discussed during our first hour at the Migdalor circle by its present veterans (Shmulik, Nahshi, Rami, Hayuta, Bella, Malki and Oded). We spoke about ‘responsibility’, ‘authority’, ‘procedures’, ‘the acquitted and the guilty’ etc., as is wont by people who are right…
A bit past 14:00 we had a turnover. First came Hanan, then Noga and Shaul, and then Ayelet, Haran and Uzi. We ‘hunted’ 5 travelers who stopped at our Migdalor on their way to a wedding.
Here Rami put on his facilitator expression and we began a real ‘circle’.
This week, for Rami Gaza means ‘questions’. His mother says he must be part of the planning for rounds of rockets, because every time these are launched, he happens not to be present at Beeri. Rami asks who loves him that much in Gaza and takes care to launch those rockets when he is gone… The quiet is slippery, he says, and surprising.
Shaul says that these past few years he feels he can himself an Israeli Arab. He is part of the classical Israeli track, but something lately feels as if he embodies this combination and it is unique for him. Shaul suggests we begin with hudna, a kind of temporary armistice, at least for some time. Gaza is an opportunity that has been passed over. “Peace” is a bit much, let’s begin with hudna.
Noga tells us about a project she shares with Liora and their friends in Gaza. Noga likes to be here, at the Migdalor, it inspires her. Even if it doesn’t suggest immediate solutions.
Rami says that the place attracts artists who wish to express themselves. There is something optimistic about a film. He sat with the young group at Sderot and watched a first projection of a film. Much excitement in the air.
Noga adds information about the project Liora and Adir are engaged in with Gazan artists. There are lost of stories around this work, some of which are still confidential.
Bella is confused this week. She was in Elat when the area was on fire. She says opportunities are passed over when there is quiet. Yesterday she watched the broadcast of Women Making Peace at Nahal Oz and was thrilled. They were speaking about the inhabitants’ suffering. We have developed a siren complex. On TV’s trivia show, someone asked since when has the Gaza Strip existed… No one wanted to “take” it (really, not on TV…) Bella wonders whether the Women Making Peace organization could affect anything? Is there a parallel group in Gaza? How shall we make peace?
Ayelet spoke. Her encounter with Gaza was in 1978-9 when she was an instructor at the Yamit (settler-colony) field school. She and a friend would drive to the Ali Montar hill and wait for a group to come. They were very calm with this. She remembers the potters’ quarter underground, a mosaic floor, other sites. She says that in her opinion it is possible to renew such relations between us and the Gazans. She recalls trips by Kibbutz Beeri to Gaza that Viviane organized. There were wonderful relations, and in Beeri people even considered helping to support a refugee camp. When she was in the army she never knew that one day she would live in Beeri… Suddenly she noticed that she has become accustomed to life here in the shadow of ongoing tension. But this process is not right. Memories of her time in the field school, her confidence in relations with Gazans, these are the things that should be leading us.
Malki come to ‘an island of sanity’ – that’s how she sees the Migdalor circle. She connects to things said before her turn came. A while ago she listened to the speech new Knesset Member Ibtisam Mra’ana gave at the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) and was very moved. Mra’ana told a children’s story, about girls laughing at the beauty of the world, and the king who thinks they are laughing at him and prohibits laughter in the entire kingdom. Everyone obeys except the girls…
Gaza for Hana is us… He was worried about us during the latest “round”. Following the Meron disaster, someone wrote about the Arabs in the area who mobilized to help, how Tel Aviv residents were donating blood, and how a grocer was giving out food free of charge to the families of the victims. Hana says it’s odd that someone posted this as news, as though this humane reaction was extraordinary…
Shmulik considers himself responsible for us being able to gather here every Friday! Knowing the Gazans has made him feel uneasy about everything going on there, and he comes to our circle to ‘launder’ his conscience. Our encounter helps him understand the people with whom he lives. It’s significant because people believe a settlement can be reached. Our greatest friend in Europe is Germany. If that is possible, then it’s possible with Palestinians as well.
Hayuta is not too curious to find out where the conflict is rooted. She comes for the human experience. Even in the latest “round” she did not regard Gazans as enemies. She knows their struggle is true and just.
Nahshi agrees with most of the things already said. He has friends and they and he wish to meet and have a good time as in the old days.
Maharan has met racism everywhere. In Europe as well as in Israel. He cannot understand the tagging of someone as Arab or Jew. When there is distress, it’s not race that is discussed but the distress, survival. A week ago in the circle, he spoke about another ‘round’ soon, and this happened that very night. Maharan says his uncle was a senior officer of the military government and as children they spent much time in Gaza.
People arrive, Rami speaks about us, about the kite that decorates the circle and Hanan who built it inspired by the kites that came from the Gaza Strip, and the illustration of a Gazan girl that showed on “Star of Hope”. We hold a quick acquaintance circle.
Uzi defines himself as a “farmer, son of a farmer”. However, at some point in his life, he was involved in Middle East studies and toured Egypt and Jordan, and in different circumstances spent time in Lebanon as well… At an encounter with Egyptian intellectuals, they asked him what the Palestinians are like. He answered that they resemble mainly ourselves, Israelis. He himself, as he says, is a “proud and sad Zionist”. Maharan gives another historical talk about the Saudis, the British and Palestine, before we listen to the group that arrived (after they listened to us).
Fanny says they came to the area because of a wedding. They came from afar, took a zimmer and decided to travel a bit. We are so close to Gaza, she says, if they could only be released of the vice that holds them, we could make a paradise out of this place. Only their leaders and ours must understand this. Fanny was in Egypt right after the signing of the peace treaty, “we were as in a dream”, she says. Finally, it was possible, and she hopes this would happen with Gaza too.
Ofira, her daughter, is the one getting married. She organized her wedding here and that’s why they came. Minutes before they met us, Ofira said she feels like having coffee, and a few minutes later the miracle took place and they arrived. Leaders want wars, she says, because they serve their interests. People wish to live a normal life. Her brother served in the army in Gaza and told horror stories about what Arik Sharon did. She too served in Gaza and has good memories. She is moved by our circle. There are people who actually do “peace”. Ofira knows Fanny and her opinions, and knows how difficult it is for her to speak the way she did, but at the end of the day she loves people.
Leah also came for the wedding. It’s sad, this ongoing tension with Gaza. There was even a part of the group that deliberated whether to come to the area.
Yaron is retired from the Ministry of Defense. He worked for years in the Israeli arms industry and contributed to the security of Israelis in this area. He recalls his youth, working picking fruit at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, when there was peace and quiet. Then he recalls, the ‘hotspot’ was near Syria, and it’s all reversed. He and Ofira belong to a group of hikers who do not reach our area because of the security situation. They live in the north and hear about it in the media. Their hike today, here opposite Gaza, shows a possible normalcy even when the media says otherwise. A part of their pleasure in hiking is running into ‘surprises’. But such a ‘surprise’ as ours they haven’t met yet. “Go on”, he concludes.
When the son of Zohar and Fanny studied at the Sapeer College (in the south), they as northern residents found this frightening. But their son, who lives in Sderot, was not moved. He thinks that hatred is created as a process over time and brings people money… The question is whether there is a way to cut it off before it seeps down to people. Otherwise, it will last forever. There were good times. What was wrong with that?
Rami concludes the encounter today with a story about his family, his parents and grandparents on both sides, whose way of life in this area symbolizes the relations between humans who lived here.
Participants this time: Nahshi, Maharan, Hayuta, Shmulik, Hana, Malki, Bella, Oded, Noga, Shaul, Rami, Ayelet, Uzi, Fanny, Ofira, Leah, Yaron, Zohar.
Wrote: Oded