A short article in the Associated Press caught my attention. It describes how a 62-year-old Arab resident of Gaza still holds positive memories from 23 years of working on a nearby kibbutz, while his 21-year-old son only has anger for the Israelis beyond the fence that surrounds Gaza because he has only ever encountered soldiers.
The elder Hamami spent what he considers the best 23 years of his life working on Israeli kibbutzim, or collective farms, near Gaza. He had his own room, took Hebrew classes, swam in the community pool with kibbutz members and danced at their parties. “They were all my friends,” he said, “from the old man to the child.”
It’s a reminder of the important bridge that many kibbutzim formed, on the edge of the nation, between Jews and Arabs. And a reminder of how so much of that connection has been lost because the two sides rarely encounter each other in daily life anymore, rarely work together, rarely play together, rarely have the chance to build trust and friendship—that unity at the core of the original kibbutz founders’ vision of the future.