The encounter: I met Lior in the sculpture garden of the Israel Museum. The garden was mostly empty because it was a very cold and windy day. The only other people I met were Lior and her friend. The two women sat huddled together eating their lunch sandwiches.
What are you doing here right now?
I needed take care of some administrative business at a university office that has no branch in Tel Aviv so I had to travel to Jerusalem for that. My friend came with me to keep me company. We were done early, so we decided to visit the museum.
What is your occupation?
I work in the Petah Tikva Museum of Art, together with my friend here. I also work as a therapist for at-risk youth. Eventually, I plan to continue for a doctorate in Art Therapy. Beside that, I’m also a practicing artist and exhibit with an artist collective.
How do you describe your religious or national identity?
First of all I am a woman. Then, I am Israeli. After that, I am Jewish.
Can you tell me a bit about your family?
I’m the oldest of three siblings. I have a brother and a sister.
Where is your family from?
On both my parents’ sides, my family’s roots are in Belarus, the area between Poland, Ukraine and Russia. My grandfather from mother’s side moved from Belarus to Israel in 1923, when he was five years old. He came with his mom and his siblings.I didn’t get to know any of my other grandparents because they all died before I was born. But I know that my grandmother from father’s side was born in Kinneret [in the north of Israel] early in the 20th century. She was among the first Jewish pioneer children who grew up there. Also my mother’s family were pioneers. They were among the families who established the town of Giv’at Ada [south of Haifa] around the turn of the last century. But because I didn’t know my grandmother, it all feels like very far-away history to me. I just know she is buried in Givat Ada.
What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
The future seems very dark to me. It doesn’t seem good at all. This country is becoming more right wing, more religious, more extreme, more fascist... Freedom of expression is getting restricted. The attitude towards minorities is becoming less tolerant – not just towards Arabs, but also towards political refugees [from South Sudan and Eritrea]. And that in a society where originally we all were refugees!
I hope things will get better, even if I can’t see that happening now. Ideally, I would like to see two states for two people. And I’d like for people to feel free to be who they want to be. I mean... In many places I feel uncomfortable acknowledging I am left wing. I’m afraid of the reactions. Nowadays, if you really want peace, you are considered radical, fringe. Of course, everyone says they want peace, but it’s just a slogan. They pretend they want peace, but they’re not willing to do anything for it. If you’re actually willing to make compromises for peace, they’ll call you a traitor. But in the end, I choose to live here, so maybe I’m still hopeful.