Fans of the inimitable and ever hilarious Dr. Ruth Westheimer who want to hear her at Jerusalem’s Beit Avi Chai on August 28 when she is interviewed by Michael Greenspan should order tickets in advance. Not everyone is aware of the need to do this, and may be disappointed if they simply turn up to discover that there are no more seats available.
The event will take place at 9 p.m. in the Beit Avi Chai courtyard, where the acoustics are not always the best. Doors open at 8:45 p.m., which means that early birds will get the best seats.
■ SEVERAL YEARS ago Gwen Ackerman, who is currently the bureau chief for Bloomberg News, was a member of the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post, and it’s nice to be able to congratulate a former colleague. Ackerman’s novel, Goddess of Battle, published by Black Rose, has just been released, but everyone who knows her may not realize that she is the author, because they may not recognize her under her full name of Gwendolyn Rachel Ackerman. The plot is about two young women, Tyra and Noureen – one an Israeli, the other a Palestinian – who, despite the violence, hatred and despair in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, form a friendship that becomes a beacon of hope and inspiration to others.
■ ACKERMAN’S BOOK is timely, given efforts for peace and reconciliation that are being made by grassroots organizations such as the Parents Circle, Rays of Hope, Coalition of Women for Peace, Physicians for Human Rights, Rabbis for Human Rights and, more recently, Women Wage Peace.
There are several other organizations working toward peace and reconciliation, but Women Wage Peace seems to be growing at a faster rate than most others. It includes religious, traditional and secular Israeli Jewish women, Christian and Muslim Israeli-Arab women, Druse women, Palestinian women and foreign female diplomats currently stationed in Israel. They come from diverse lifestyles and economic status. Some are multigenerational in the region, some are new immigrants. They live in cities, towns, villages, kibbutzim and moshavim. What unites them is the will to do away with animosity and violence and to find a means of building friendship and coexistence.
■ IN THE suffragette era, women fought desperately to be permitted to vote in national and local council elections. It took a long time for universal recognition that women are no less entitled to vote than men. Over the years many countries have had women prime ministers, foreign ministers and even a few defense ministers. There’s also been an ever increasing number of female diplomats. With the exception of Scandinavia, women still continue to be a minority in most governments around the world, but women of all ages, and national, religious and ethnic backgrounds are coming together not only for the traditional causes of women’s organizations but also for major political causes.
Two of the more veteran organizations are Women in Black, whose members congregate on Fridays in Jerusalem demanding an end to the “occupation,” and whose politics are obviously on the left of the spectrum; and Women in Green, whose members are determined to maintain the biblical integrity of the Land of Israel, and whose politics are on the right of the spectrum. And, as mentioned above, there is Women Wage Peace, which holds demonstrations at some 130 junctions across Israel on the first Thursday of every month.
Many of the women also belong to other peace and reconciliation organizations, and have joined Women Wage Peace not because they are disillusioned with the other organizations, but because they feel that they should be wherever they can make even a ripple of an impact. In the other organizations, they have forged friendships with women whom they once regarded as the enemy, and they want to forge more such friendships in the hope that more Palestinian women will also feel a kinship with them.
Women Wage Peace was created in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge. Last year it organized a 15-day cross-country March of Hope, which started at the end of Rosh Hashana and finished during Sukkot. Composer and singer Yael Deckelbaum composed a song for the march and has since been invited to peace marches in other parts of the world in which women are attempting to influence politicians to stop conflicts and begin dialogues for peace.
Deckelbaum was also invited to perform at this year’s Europe Day reception, hosted by Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the head of the EU delegation in Israel.
Women Wage Peace, which recently was awarded the 2017 Luxembourg Peace Prize, will hold another March of Hope this year, again beginning at the end of Rosh Hashana, on September 7. The march will reach its high point during the week of Sukkot in the Tent of Sarah and Hagar – a huge tent of dialogue, hope and peace, art and music happenings, and encounters.
Symbolically, the Jewish and Palestinian women see themselves as the daughters of Sarah and Hagar, only instead of the hostility that existed between the mothers of Isaac and Ishmael, they will sit together in the tent as sisters and friends and will seek to end the long-running dispute. They will call for the leaders of both peoples to come to the tent and to begin ongoing negotiations until an agreement is signed.
From the tent, the women will continue to Jerusalem, where they will launch what they hope will be the largest women’s congress in the region. Several men who believe in what the women are doing have indicated that they will join the march. But overwhelmingly, the participants will be women.
■ LEADING FIGURES of the National Basketball Association (NBA) called on President Reuven Rivlin at his official residence on Thursday. The group, led by NBA deputy commissioner and COO Mark Tatum, included club owners, chairmen, board members, and NBA Hall of Fame members David Robinson and Wayne Embry.
In welcoming the delegation Rivlin spoke of the impact all sport had on society. “You all know very well that whatever sport we are talking about, a team is a symbol of community, of values,” he said. “It represents hopes and dreams. The NBA and the WNBA [Women’s National Basketball Association] represent the hopes and dreams of so many young boys and girls around the world. For them you are a role model and an example. This is a great responsibility.”
Speaking from personal experience, as the former manager of the Beitar soccer team, Rivlin said: “Sport has the great power to break down barriers between people from different communities. In Israel, we are working to build this understanding. I am proud of the work my office is doing through the Israeli Hope in Sport project.” Rivlin told his guests about the Shield of Honor award presented by the President’s Office to Israeli Premier League soccer clubs, in recognition of efforts to fight racism in soccer, and stressed, “We bring Jews and Arabs, children, to come and play side by side. Because a society that plays together, stays together.”
Tatum told the president of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders initiative, taking place for the first time in Israel this year, which brings children from different communities to play and train together.
Rivlin’s love of soccer manifested itself last week not only when he awarded the Shield of Honor, but also when accepting the credentials of Mexican Ambassador Pablo Macedo. Rivlin mentioned that he had been to Mexico several times, both as communications minister and as a member of Knesset, but his most memorable visit was in 1986 for FIFA’s World Cup, which was initially scheduled for Colombia but for economic reasons was moved to Mexico. Rivlin saw Diego Maradona. He also saw Pelé play in Mexico in the 1970 World Cup. Just talking about the two international soccer stars transported Israel’s No. 1 soccer fan to paradise.