The grass roots group Women Wage Peace has called on all political parties to commit to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On Friday, the group set up a Mothers’ Tent in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, where the group plans to sit until the day after the April 9 elections. It also held a march and rally to mark International Women’s Day.
The group has not put forward a specific plan, but has spoken generally of a non-violent resolution that is mutually acceptable to both Israelis and Palestinians. It has also asked that women be included in the peace making process as mandated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
Among the speakers at the rally was Ronnie Keidar from Moshav Netiva Haasara on the northern Gaza border who introduced herself as a mother of five children and a grandmother of 17 grandchildren.
“I am standing here to transform the current reality of fear and anxiety to one of hope and prosperity,” Keidar said.
To achieve this vision, Israelis and Palestinians have to look at each other as equals.
“The time has come to talk,” Keidar said, adding that “years of enmity and war have to end.”
The rockets that have fallen on her moshav have not kept her from reaching across the border to connect with Palestinians in Gaza out of a deep belief in the value of dialogue, Keidar told the crowd.
“None of this will end until we talk. There is a most assuredly a partner,” she said.
Violence has not achieved anything, said Keidar adding, “There has been reaction after reaction, war after war and where has that led us.”
“I am turning to the leaders of today and tomorrow and asking them to do something new and brave,” she said.
Suzann Abd Bshara from the Israeli-Arab city of Tira, a mother of three, told the crowd that she believed in peace between neighbors and nations.
“It doesn’t matter if one lives on one side of the Green Line or the other. The feelings are the same feelings, the fear of what will happen to our children is the same. A mother’s feeling is the same. We all want a better future for our children,” she said.
“I am here to stop the next war,” Abd Bshara said.
Timna Ofir from Kibbutz Givat Haim, one of the founders of Women Wage Peace, described herself as a mother of four and a grandmother of ten.
She recalled how as a young mother, her husband had been drafted into the first Lebanon War. Over 30 years later, she found herself in a bomb shelter with her daughter and her granddaughter.
“We were all waiting to see where the missile would fall, on our house, somewhere else in the city,” Ofir said.
She wondered if her daughter and granddaughter were doomed to continue to live in this kind of a reality.
Leora Hadar, from the West Bank settlement of Alei Zahav, said she was a mother of four. “We are all here to stay in this land, Jews and Arabs. I joined Women Wage Peace out of a desire to better know the Palestinian mothers from the other side of the road,” Hadar said.
She also wanted to join a large movement of women committed to change.
Former foreign minister and Hatnua party head Tzipi Livni said that she would not let hope for peace leave Israel.
Women Wage Page are asking for what is just for future generations.
“Women have raised the flag of peace” knowing that people falsely equate security with strong men and peace with weak women, Livni said. “The opposite is true. We understand that peace and security go together,” she said.
Women Wage Peace was created in 2014, in the aftermath of that summer’s war in Gaza.
Its broad umbrella membership of over 40,000 thousand includes Jewish and Israeli-Arab women from both sides of the Green Line. Its membership includes women who are secular and religious and come from the Left and Right of the Israeli political spectrum.
For the last five years the group has worked to ensure that politicians move forward on a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Mothers’ Tent had previously been set up outside the Knesset during its 2018 summer session. The group also proposed a bill in the Knesset during its winter session call “Political Alternatives First,” to obligate decision makers to work toward resolving the conflict.
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