This is an edited transcript of the part of the conversation that focused on me.
Jane: What is your greatest regret about Kvutza [living in our communal group] or from the period of Orev… Or about Orev in general?
Daniel: Great question.
Tal: I really love your show. (Laughing)
Daniel: Thanks for having me. (Laughing)
…Sometimes I wish that I hadn’t been so pulled toward Israel and that that wasn’t a compulsion that pulled me away from New York.
I also sometimes wish that we had organized ourselves to live New York much more in the years that we were here.
Jane: What does that mean?
Daniel: You know, I wish we had lot’s more money and do lot’s more things (Laughter)… It’s the truth of any city, but New York is New York and I always think about the million things that I wish I would have done in New York, like go to shows and visit museums…
Jane: Like cultural stuff?
Daniel: Ya, Like cultural stuff and… Checking out more music, trying new bars just to try them…
Jane: Do you have any regrets that pertain to any of the five of us?
Daniel: No… Not individually at all. Like I said, I feel that there may have been a hundred, or five, other potential possibilities out there had the compulsion to go do what I’m doing not been so present in me. There were plenty of ways we could have built and moved forward as us in another time line.
Jane: How do you think the Kvutza would’ve responded to Occupy Wall Street? Because we broke up right before that started…
Daniel: It’s a great question. I think we were exhausted. In a lot of political ways, and the Tikkun Adam-Tikkun Olam [Working to better ourselves and simultaneously working to better the world] had been weighed down heavily for us. My guess is that we would have found our way into Occupy as individuals, or in smaller units. To some degree Occupy really changed things in the world around us, and I think we all would have found our way into some facet of that world, though not as a Kvutza. Not at that point in our history.
It’s also important to remember that in the months before we took different paths we agreed that if we were going to remain together as Orev, we would have to build some new model for that, so by then (Fall 2011) we may have had some new way of organizing ourselves had we decided we were staying together, which could have changed the way we would have addressed something like Occupy.
Michal: What did you learn from our time together; from the Kvutza or that time in your life - either or both - that you use in your life now?
Daniel: First is that I am very mission oriented. I want my life to be about the mission that I am engaged in, you know, all the reasons that I moved there were things like a desire to learn Hebrew and to end the occupation. I have a very clear “mission” orientation in my life right now. I think I said it this morning: When I ask myself why I don’t move to Toronto the answer is always that I don’t know what I would be doing there, I don’t know what the content of my life would be there right now. I don’t know what the day to day mission would be, and that’s something that is clear in Tel Aviv.
And I cultivated that in our life together. I was really able to take that to a higher level with you. I think most people walk into an adulthood where you don’t get to live your vision, where changing the world around you takes a backseat to dealing with the day to day. And I think I learned from our lives together that there is no need to not build your vision. The only reason to not do that is if you no longer want to or you are busy gathering the resources necessary, but not because it is impossible.
Michal: What else did you learn that transcended that time?
Daniel: That’s the major thing. Our five years together is a clear indication to me that all it takes is the will and ability to make something happen [okay, that’s not nothing]. Most people’s visions are possible, and it just takes the energy to do it. We did a really crazy thing for a long time, and living that type of life is totally normal for us and a lot of the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with in our “post-Orev” era [“post” may not be the right word]. But for the wider world the notion that you can just do a thing that you think you can do is actually strange and foreign.
Tal: That’s true.
Daniel: … And the way Karen and I live together in Tel Aviv is communal. It’s similar in most respects to how we lived together as a Kvutza. The way we deal with finances, cleaning, hanging out, and making decisions about our lives all carried over from the culture that we built together.
Tal: What is the relationship… commit to the question… between your desire to raise your children within a communal structure – which you’ve put lately almost in negative terms, as in “I don’t want to raise my kids outside of a communal structure”, which is odd for such a positive action… I wonder: What’s the relationship between raising your children within a communal structure and ending the occupation? As in, your more pointed, immediate, political, activist ambitions.
Tal: You’ve been deep in the Israeli political and cultural Left for a bunch of years now and now you live in Israel and you are further acquainted with it, and I am wondering how is it possible that this political cultural movement of communalism, of communal living, doesn’t somehow have a clear set of tactics for ending the occupation, or an analysis on how those actions would have a direct political impact on the state or on its military aspirations.
Daniel: How is it possible that the Israeli Left doesn’t have an analysis?
Karen: More like: What’s going on in Israel with all the communalist movements in relation to the occupation? How do those two things fit together?
Tal: Right, and how does that speak to you?
Daniel: Most of Israel doesn’t see the occupation.
Karen: You were saying this yesterday; that it is like the “White Walkers” in Game of Thrones.
Daniel: Yeah, most of Israel is like most of the world. Israel’s view of the occupation is like the world’s view, or lack of any view, of climate change. In Israel they have no idea that this thing is ripping the fabric of society apart and there will be nothing left very soon. Even on the “Left” there is very little conception of the reality of the ongoing militarism and racism and occupation and what its doing. There is a lot of great stuff that they are doing including the communal structures and the economic battles, but all of it will just be torn apart by the continuation of the occupation. In very much the same way that it is important to fight for economic justice here for example, but if you can’t breathe the air, then it is worthless. It’s an idea that the civil rights leader, James Farmer, Jr. articulated years ago… There is an overarching issue at hand, whether climate change globally or the occupation over there.
And how is it possible that people aren’t paying attention or addressing it? Ellie said it yesterday at lunch, it’s terribly frightening. We talked about it at lunch and we’ve been talking about it all day. It’s incredibly frightening to face the reality of fundamental change; that there’s a real need for a fundamental shift.
To get back to your original question: The disconnect is incredibly disappointing for me, and up until now we have been making the choice to build new structures for the things we are doing there to address the disconnect. And I think Achvat Amim is an answer to that in a lot of ways, bringing the anti-occupation work, the educational work, and Hashomer [Hatzair] together. Hashomer is fairly small and therefore also fairly shift-able, dynamic. For example, right now they are studying and becoming a Feminist movement, explicitly, and it has actually shifted the way they talk, and perhaps, how they act. Adva, thinks that this shift in the way they are talking about the world and politics is a step on the way to shifting the way they think and act surrounding other issues like the occupation. I think she is right, and having our movement and other movements involved more directly in anti-occupation work would make a world of difference.