We woke the next morning, and joined Mark Marcus, the mazkir (i.e., kibbutz secretary), for a quick tour of Kibbutz Urim, just outside the “Gaza Envelope”. There have been changes at Urim (a paid dining room, for instance), but it still remains shitufi (or traditional) in terms of equal salaries for all members. Mark is in the midst of designing changes for his kibbutz that would allow two types of membership: the traditional type of equality and a more independent form of association (and salary) to attract new members.
Then we drove down to Sderot, a “development town” (where the Israeli government has helped settle new immigrants over the years) best known as ground zero for many of the Qassam rockets fired out of Gaza. There we visited Kibbutz Migvan, another urban kibbutz, this one on a tree-lined street on the outskirts of the city. We got to interview one of the founders, Nomika Zion, an extraordinary woman who regaled us for close to two hours with her personal history, the early debates and social-justice motives of Migvan, and her own work with the Other Voice movement that tries to create solidarity between the civilian communities in Gaza and Israel to break the cycle of violence that is usually the only reason outsiders ever hear about Gaza or Sderot. (Later we met Julia Chaitin, another key member of Other Voice, back in Urim.)
We left Sderot—a city most associated with anxiety and violence—moved and inspired by her vision of peace.