Women Wage Peace: Trailblazing Israelis
Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Women Wage Peace (WWP), a group of thoughtful and committed Israeli citizens, is demanding a return to negotiations that will achieve a durable, just, peace agreement. WWP is focused on a theory of political change that reawakens hope among diverse populations of women to create the cultural shift that will make a return to negotiations possible. They breathe the oxygen of “Radical Hope.”
Their mission is to increase the number and diversity of Israeli citizens supporting a negotiated peace agreement; to insure that the Israeli government prioritizes reaching a political agreement; and to increase the number of women engaging in all peace initiatives.
WWP declares: We refuse to live indefinitely by the sword. We vow that we will not be silent, that we will raise our voices above the sounds of weapons and sirens. Violence only breeds more violence and further radicalization, with suffering and insecurity for all sides.
WWP attracts women and men from vastly different backgrounds and belief systems who share a singular determination: to build a different future based on their common humanity. They believe that healing is possible. Unity is possible. Peace is possible.
OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE GIVES BIRTH TO WOMEN WAGE PEACE
Founded in the summer of 2014 in response to the Gaza War, the movement has grown to over 22,000 supporters worldwide. The movement includes Jewish and Arab Israelis from every region of the country ––– the secular, the religious, Mizrachi, Ashkenazi, Russians, Settlers, all with diverse political views. They are determined to make peace among each other and their neighbors.
WWP challenges the thinking that it’s EITHER peace OR security. It affirms that peace IS security and recognizes that even the most extreme and persistent conflicts can be successfully resolved when women are actively engaged in the process. They reject the status quo and believe that in the absence of a political resolution, more rounds of violence are inevitable. They remain open to whatever resolution the two sides can agree upon.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS
In November 2014, more than 700 women traveled by train to Sderot. They expressed their solidarity with the residents of the Western Negev who had borne the brunt of the violence during the Gaza War.
In July of 2015, they launched Operation Protective Fast to mark the one year anniversary of Operation Protective Edge. In blistering heat, they erected a large white tent opposite the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem. Inside the tent, women fasted for periods of 25 hours for 50 days. Hundreds from across the country visited their tent, including MKs, foreign ambassadors, rabbis, academics, and celebrities.
Since 2015, they have hosted more than 250 screenings of the powerful documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” subtitled in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian. It recounts the success of Liberian women who brought an end to decades of violence, united by social worker and activist, Leymah Gbowee, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
Funded by the EU in recognition of the efficacy of their work, they have implemented a series of workshops to train 500 women from diverse communities to engage in peace activism, some for the first time in their lives.
WOMEN WAGE PEACE ORGANIZE THE MARCH OF HOPE 2016
Invoking the ancient custom of the Jewish harvest/pilgrimage festival of Sukkot, thousands of Israelis will join the March of Hope from October 4-19, 2016. They will march from the far north and bike from the far south towards Jerusalem.
On Oct 17th, Leymah Gbowee will lead a rally at Neve Shalom/Wahat-al Salaam (Oasis of Peace), a village founded by Israeli Jews and Palestinian-Israelis in the1970’s who continue to prove that peaceful co-existence is possible.
On October 18th, many activities will take place, ranging from adding tiles to the peace mosaic at a kibbutz on the Gaza border to a torchlight march in Ofakim, a multi-cultural development town where women have been inspired to unite despite the conflicts among the Jewish ethnic groups living there.
On Oct 19th, thousands will march to the Allenby Bridge. Palestinian women will march in solidarity from Jericho. Both groups will march together to Qasr el-Yahud, the lowest sacred site on earth, near the Dead Sea. Gbowee will lead the marchers in song and prayer, showing the world that, like the Christian and Muslim women of Liberia, Israelis and Palestinians, too, can unite, reawaken hope, and shape their destiny.
In the afternoon, Gbowee will lead the Israeli marchers to the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem. There they will make four legislative demands, imploring their leaders to make every effort to consider all genuine solutions to the conflict.
FOUR LEGISLATIVE DEMANDS
1. Establish a government office of Peace and Reconciliation
2. Establish a Peace Cabinet to develop a strategic plan for peace that will report publicly, on a monthly basis, on steps taken to advance the peace process
3. Establish a Peace Department in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for resolving security crises through political means whenever possible
4. Integrate women in all relevant governmental bodies and negotiating teams, as mandated by UNSC Resolution 1325 and Israel’s National Action Plan
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says: “A Jew is asked to take a leap of ACTION rather than a leap of faith.” Women Wage Peace is taking that leap of action to build a movement. Women worldwide are taking that leap of action to plan solidarity events. Several events are currently planned in the US, including a March of Hope on the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday, October 16th. Events are planned in Seattle and Pittsburgh. Find out more about solidarity events and how you can participate or create one in your community via their Facebook page.
How to cite this page
Goodwin, Joanna. "Women Wage Peace: Trailblazing Israelis ." 22 September 2016. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on June 25, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/women-wage-peace-trailblazing-israelis>.