Communities in times of trouble

For a period of three months, I stayed in different communities in the country of Israel and Palestine. I do not report about my experience afterwards as a journalist. I just describe how it was for me personally to live there. I tried to live in those communities as a full member.
I was
- volunteering in a kibbutz and taking part in harvesting (olives, dates, pommegranates), sorting olives, filling jars, preparing food, planting, cleaning, serving…;
- learning in a Midrasha (women jewish school) and living with a family in Jewish settlement in “Juda and Samaria" (Westbanks);
- joining a Palestinian familie's daily life in Palestine villages in Palestine (Westbanks) and in Israel;
- sharing activities at alternative communities in Israel like Pardes Chana (mostly women based supporting system) and Neve Shalom (a village, where Palestinians and Israelis are living together and teaching peace strategies);
- being with an initiative called „machsan schel chaim“ (the store of life), a community, that was found on the base of gift economy or “etz ba ir” (tree in the city, a group of people, who try to life sustainable in the city by working together with community supported agriculture, growing own vegetables on the balcony and roofs and making soap, cleaning supplies and more on their own.
- generating and discussing artworks in an artist community around the festival ZAZ
and many more.
In every community I felt very quickly, that I was welcome to stay forever. And because of my capacity to adapt, the specific goals of my own life started to blurr after a couple of days and I was asking myself if the life in this specific community is my final destination. The minute I changed the environment, I already forgot the former conditions and adapted to the new surrounding.
As this had been an artistic task, I ignored the signs of resistance and sooner or later, especially while physically working hard like in the kibbutz, I also was often ill.
I regressed into a completely childish mood after a strongly restricted community life in the kibbutz (no smartphones, no alcohol, no speaking while eating, no music while working) when I participated at the artist group, which was celebrating every day life with music, alcohol, digital supplies and more.
Left alone in private surroundings of old and new friends, I all of a sudden felt useless, as there is always a job to do in a community.
The different approaches –  specially of the Israeli people – towards my visits to the Westbanks were mind blowing. For religious settlers it is totally normal, to go to “Juda and Samaria” by busses every day. The bus lines are only stopping in Jewish settlements or kibbutzim. Citizen of Tel Aviv or Kibbutzim in Israel are convinced, that it is impossible to go the Westbanks. Peace workers are going there every day, they just took me there by car, even to areas, which are forbidden for them to enter. Other Israelis, who are living close to the border, are going there for shopping and repairing cars on Saturday. In Israel settled Arab Palestinians are visiting their families in the Westbanks regularly as well.
The war-situation between those two groups of people was also perceived very differently. Artists and peace workers felt the wars as a steady threat with which they have to cope and against which they have to do something. A kibbutz like Neot Smadar totally lives in island-conditions – as an oasis in the dessert - and war does not matter to them in their every day life. Religious settlers and Arab families in the Westbanks, I experienced,  are people, which have very similar adjustments. They want to grow up their children, cultivate their own land, harvest their vegetables, built houses and not to be disturbed by anything or anybody. They are afraid of the “others”. And the fear makes them hate them.
Some recipients believed to recognize depressive approaches in my report during this period. There is something sad about getting familiar with so many different people in different life situations. And than leave them behind, as if nothing happened, just because it is an art project? Shall I stay in contact with them also in my normal life? Or is my life anyway an art project and all the contacts I did and do are a part of it?