After the disastrous Gaza war of 2014, a new Peace organization was founded in Israel, called “Women Wage Peace”. The organization is unique I think, in the sense that it strives to be an “inclusive” movement and believes that in order to make progress, people from all walks of life need to be involved, and today the movement is proud to include women from all over the political spectrum, both religious and secular, as well as Arab women.
The movement makes only one central demand: To reach a Political Agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No talk about peace, no mention of ending the occupation, no confrontation. Being nice to anyone and everyone should result in reaching an understanding.
The organization, (which I have been able to observe and experience up close at home) was founded by a group of women who have and still fulfil senior positions in Israeli society, and they cannot be suspected of neither naivety nor ignorance about Israel today. So how did they come up with the curiously simplistic main theme of an “Agreement”, without staking out basic positions on the many issues that are and should be involved in such an Agreement?
The answers given are simplistic to the same extend as the question: the movement must be different: not on the political left, not on the political right, not a “Peace” movement not an “anti-settlement” movement, not a “pro-Israel Hashlema” movement. The movement is the demand of women for a break in the cycle of senseless violence, the demand for a political solution, the demand for recognition of the need to talk to your enemy.
No doubt, the “regular” peace movements are going nowhere, are losing their support base and with the intense pressure of government from the highest levels, are having to deal with a hostility from the general public. So a different, new approach to reaching out to the man (or in this case, woman) in the street may indeed be refreshing and appeal to many people who are fed up with the anti-Israel rhetoric on one hand and the continued slogans about our rights to Eretz Israel on the other.
But not telling them anything? Not taking a position? Ignoring all animosity between the opposite sides? Even though he organization managed to organize big events, bringing out large numbers of women without any clear position being taken except the demand for an “Agreement”, where did these successes take them? Is anybody who is somebody seeing them at all? Is somebody taking notice?
Despite these large numbers taking part in events like the “peace train to Bet She’an” last week, the organization is not really being taken seriously, not by the political world and not by the press. And it is very clear why. They are not a threat to the right, they are not a sign of hope for the left, they are not much more than a (very genuine) expression of pain, fear and despair of women who have lost and will lose, fathers, sons, husbands and friends to the violent results of Israeli politics. But you can’t win Knesset seats with pain, fear and despair, so nobody really cares.
The all-inclusive banner that “Women Wage Peace” carry, also results in rather absurd situations, which both confuse and indicate that indeed, the organization has no direction, no tangible purpose.
At the event in Bet She’an last week, one of the speakers was Knesset Member Yehuda Glick. I have no doubt Mr. Glick will support an agreement with the Palestinians, as long as it includes them being transferred to who knows here, with the special stipulation that before they leave they will have to supply the laborers to build the Third Temple on the ashes of the El-Aksa and Golden Dome mosques.
Inviting a man who is so clearly affiliated with everything that prevents an Agreement, a political solution, a PEACE agreement, sends a confusing message to everybody.
The leadership of “Women Wage Peace” should realize a couple of simple facts of life:
· An “Agreement” will necessarily have to include Palestinians. Including in the Organization people who live on stolen Palestinian land and call it theirs, is not going to be helpful.
· Racist and fascist tendencies, must be condemned and cannot be condoned in an organization that really wants a (peace) Agreement.
· Messianic Jewish thought is counterproductive if one is interested in both peoples having a future and Agree on a way forward.
And these things MUST be said out loud!!!!! Not shouting them means, or is at least interpreted, as condoning them!!!
The only way a peace movement can be successful (and in this case, like in many before it, it will be a very long haul) is to be honest with itself and honest with the people the movement wants to address, and if you want to include and address all, fine, but tell them the truth. Only by engaging your opponent with the truth as your weapon, you will have a chance to succeed. If they are fascists, you need to tell them so. If they are racist, you must tell them. Only by telling them the truth, and telling them the truth often enough, may in the end cause them to change their ways. And if they won’t, maybe their children will. Or their grandchildren.
My dear “Women Wage Peace”. I admire your strength, your courage, your stamina. And I share your pain, your fear, your despair. I may no longer share your hopes but that’s why you are out there and I am not.
I wish you well.