After I visited Id and his family in Beit Omar we kept in touch, talked on the phone and I've sent them the photos I took during our last meeting. After a while Id and his wife called me and we arranged their visit to Beit Omar. I took their names to arrange permits. Unfortunately the boys, Yussuf and Mussa, didn't get permits probably because of their young age. Id and Hiam, his wife, did.
On Tuesday, 19.06.07 they came to visit me with Faysel who drove all the way and translated the conversation. At the Tarkumiya check point they were asked by one of the soldiers: "Who do you have in Negba?" Id answered: "A friend of mine." "Who is the woman sitting next to you?" asked the soldier and Id answered: "my wife." After fifty minutes they reached Negba. I received them at the Kibbutz gate and after some refreshments we decided what we'll see together in the Kibbutz. They asked me to show them the life in the Kibbutz and to travel in the fields where I work.
I explained them about the Kibbutz and then we went to visit the nursery where my sister in law, Haya Litvak (the wife of my late brother Arnon), works. Haya welcomed them warmly and invited them to see the nursery. Hiam was excited and asked is she can pick up one of the babies. She hugged him and said: "He doesn't care that I'm a Palestinian with a kerchief, he feels that I'm a mother and that I love him." The nursery nannies were very moved by Hiam words and they all stood together and talked.
From There we walked in the Kibbutz and met different Kibbutz members who said hello and shook hands. We went through the field crops where I work, to the old water tower which still stands with holes from the 48 war, until we reached Negba's military cemetery where my father, Moshe Litvak, is buried. I put a stone on his grave and Id said that he knows about the Jewish custom to put stones on the grave and asked me if he can also put a stone. I agreed and he did. Id and Hiam asked me to translate what is written on the gravestone and why all the graves look the same. I answered all their questions.
We entered my van and went for a tour in Negba's fields. Hiam comes from a farmers' family and knew what kind of questions to ask. In the fields I showed them the villages that were abandoned in the 1948 war – like Ibdis, and from there I took them to the field where my father was killed. Today chickpeas grow there. I showed them the hill of Beit Affa village. From that village came the Arabs who killed my father.
During the tour we talked about why there aren't any Palestinian workers from the West Bank and Gaza in the Kibbutz. I explained that today the workers are from Thailand because of the lack of mobility of the Palestinian workers due to curfews following terrorist acts.
We kept on to the avocado and persimmon groves, the cowshed, the garage and walked around the Kibbutz so that they could get a feeling of Negba's size.
We returned to my house and had a light dinner which I prepared. I gave them the photos I took at our last meeting in Beit Omar and two shirts I bought for their boys who couldn't come. Hiam said to me: "You love my sons and they love you, now we are a big family."
We went to sit outside to give Id the option to smoke one cigarette after the other, we drank coffee and talked. We talked about the situation in Gaza, their situation, the hardships of getting permits and how it prevents them from working in Israel and what happened to the family since the second Intifada in 2000. They said that there situation got worse; the separation wall was built, there are more check points, they can't get work permits in Israel, their financial state is worse than it was, the young generation don't know any Israelis and don't speak Hebrew. We spoke about life in Israel and in the Kibbutz, education and culture. During the conversation we laughed. Towards the end of the visit I phoned their son Yussuf and spoke to him.
When the sun started setting we said our goodbyes, promised each other to keep in touch and they went back east to their home.
I felt after the two meetings we had, that pairing me with Id for this Project turned out to be very successful because of our similar history. Id was very honest in what said and was open to listen to what I had to say. I felt that I can tell him my whole history and narrative and that he internalized what I had to say. We established a good relationship between our families in Beit Omar and Negba. Today I feel that I have another friend who sees Reconciliation and Peace, like I do.
We do have a partner for Peace and Reconciliation between the two nations. I'm longing to see them again.
Mashka and Id in Beit Omar