Rabbi Ovadia’s daughter talks peace with Palestinian women

Adina Bar-Shalom and other Shas women meet counterparts in Jerusalem two weeks after Yosef asks God to ‘smite’ the Palestinians.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
September 15, 2010 02:21
2 minute read.
SIXTEEN PALESTINIAN, haredis meet in Jerusalem

haredi women meet 311. (photo credit: Geneva Initiative)

 
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Two weeks after Shas spiritual leader Rav Ovadia Yosef called for God to “smite [Palestinians] with the plague,” his daughter, Rabbanit Adina Bar-Shalom and other women affiliated with Shas met with Palestinian women in a meeting arranged by the Geneva Initiative (GI) on Tuesday in Jerusalem.

The meeting was a follow-up to a summit in Bulgaria in July with the same 16 women, which opened the dialogue and encouraged the participants to explore the role of women in ending the conflict.

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“We are hoping they will meet the other side and discuss their role as women in promoting peace,” said Gilly Harpaz, the spokeswoman for GI, a non-profit peace organization.

“We hope they’ll see where they draw their red lines and see their positions, where they’re different and where they’re the same. We try to show that each side has its own problems.”

Harpaz explained that GI has been involved with Shas for a number of years, and had previously coordinated meetings between Shas rabbis, peace activists and the United Nations Development Program.

Shas officials did not return repeated calls seeking comment.



Bar-Shalom, the founder of the Haredi College in Jerusalem and a staunch supporter of women’s rights, was joined by seven other women were who are politically active in Shas. They met with eight Palestinian women from a variety of different leadership positions, including a reporter, an activist from the Yasser Arafat Foundation, and Fadwa Al-Shaer, an assistant to the Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Said Abu-Ali.

Harpaz expressed hope that future meetings will be organized and that they will be able to open the group to a more diverse group of women, including secular Jewish women.

“We are very hopeful because the last meeting was very successful,” she said.

The meetings and summit are funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, a branch of the Spanish Ministry of Affairs and Cooperation.

GI is also funded by a host of international organizations, including USAID, which reportedly paid for part of GI’s current advertising blitz “Yes to the Agreement: You Have a Partner.”

Bar-Shalom’s participation is in stark contrast to her father’s comments on August 29, when he referred to PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people as “our enemies and haters... May they vanish from the world, may God smite them with the plague, them and the Palestinians, evil-doers and Israelhaters.”

Yosef was roundly condemned for the remarks by the US State Department, the PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Bar-Shalom was not available for comment.

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