Thursday, March 05, 2015

Israeli Women Wage Peace

Israeli Women Wage Peace

by Stephen Lendman

Anti-war women of the world unite. They're doing it in Israel. Thousands represent a refreshing antidote to Netanyahu's hate-mongering rage for war.

Women Wage Peace (WWP) activists support a "viable" Israeli- Palestinian peace. They want working for it "place(d) at the top of the public agenda."

They call peace the only solution "offer(ing) life and hope." With Israeli general elections days away, they urge a "new and different reality in the Middle East."

They call it "feasible." Saying "we must strive for it." Inspired by the horrors of last summer's Gaza war, they "decided to initiate, mobilize and propose an alternative."

"The last round of violence has made it clear to all that we must break out of the spiral," they stress.

"Whether Left or Right-wing, religious or secular, Arab or Jewish, we want to live in a society characterized by normality, prosperity and human rights." 

"All of us wish to lead a sane and balanced existence." They hope to enlist widespread public support.

They intend "engag(ing) decision-makers and demand a change in priorities. They want peace "over military and security-based approaches."

Their mission statement says the following:

WWP "is a non-political, broad-based, and rapidly growing movement of thousands of women, taking action to influence the public and political arena."

It aims "to restore hope and work towards a peaceful existence for ourselves, our children and future generations."

It wants future wars prevented. It wants peaceful, viable conflict resolution benefitting everyone equitably.

It believes involving large numbers of women increase chances for achieving its objective.

"Cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli women working together to promote (peace) will increase the chances for a sustainable (longterm) solution."

It calls its values:

-- "Perseverance and determination

-- Mutual respect

-- Cooperation and joint leadership"

It calls on all Israeli women to join a mass initiative for peace.

"Spread the word," it urges. "Influence change." Wage peace, not war. WWP activists intend going all-out to stop its scourge.

On March 3, its members carrying anti-war banners marched down Tel Aviv's Rothschild Blvd. ahead of a planned mass rally outside Israel's Knesset.

WWP has about 7,000 members. They want Palestinian peace talks revived.

On Wednesday, thousands surrounded the Knesset. They delivered what they called an "alternative" to Netanyahu's congressional rant.

WPP member Michal Shamir said he spoke "in Washington in English, and we have chosen to speak in Jerusalem in Hebrew and Arabic."

Group members began their rally walking from Independence Hall (where Israel's May 1948 declaration of independence was signed) to Derech Hashalom - a main exit to the Tel Aviv/Jerusalem highway.

Derech Hashalom means Peace Way. "If there is no way, there is no peace," said Shamir.

Israeli lawyers Irit Tamir and Michal Barak founded WWP in the wake of last summer's Gaza war. Yael Elad heads its media efforts. She serves as spokeswoman.

She says "women cannot just sit at home, complain, and hope for the best, without actively doing something to change the situation."

"It's time for us to be part of the dialogue that revolves around security and peace."

"We sense that women disappear from the public space when you look at TV panels or listen to radio shows." 

"This place is reserved for generals or politicians, but never for women. This has to change." 

"Women are half of the population. We raise the kids who eventually get sent to fight wars or protect the country." 

"We should be there to say something about the outcome."

Since last August, WWP attracted new members through at home meetings and social media.

It has over 7,000 registered and more than 10,000 Facebook followers. It aims to grow its ranks to 700,000.

"We must become a powerful electoral voice," said Elad. "We disagree on many things but agree on the necessity of a peace agreement for the future of Israel."

Rihad Abdul Halim said she joined WWP's steering committee because of a deep belief in the power of women to peaceful conflict resolution.

It "starts at home," she said. "As women, our role is to educate for tolerance and the acceptance of the other. Why do we want peace? Because we hurt most during war."

Recruiting Arab women is harder because "(we) don't see ourselves as decision-makers," she said.

"We feel we have no influence. (It) rests with the government, which is Jewish." Nevertheless, when I hold parlor meetings, I see the women change their minds."

"I describe this connection like a woman standing on the side of a lake and throwing in a pebble, representing our vision." 

"The stone creates water circles that grow wider and wider. Similarly, this movement created circles of humanity between women." 

"We exchange knowledge and culture, empowering each other. The influence is not just in the domain of peace, but in society more broadly.”

It's not easy in male-dominated Israel. Only one woman, Golda Meir, ever served as prime minister. She was no dove.

A potential future leader, Tzipi Livni, matches Netanyahu's hawkishness. Women for peace in Israel find it hard to be heard.

WWP activists intend to keep trying for a goal vital to achieve. Professor Irit Keynan heads the Institute for Civic Responsibility.

"Politicians who are uninterested in peace hold onto weak excuses and raise the ghosts of the Jewish people's traumatic fears," she said.

Those wanting peace "are afraid to say so out loud, and compete with each other" to see who's toughest.

Patriotism is identified with pro-war discourse. Peace is a four-letter word. Unless Israel ends conflict with Palestinians, its future is grim, Keynan believes.

Michal Keidar said she "lost the only man (she ever) loved in the madness of this country."

She believes no one else should die because hawkish politicians choose war over peace. She urged others to support candidates "for a quiet, normal life" on March 17.

WWP activists want Israel governed by officials waging peace, not war. So do supporters of peace, equity and justice for their own countries worldwide.

Join the struggle against lunatics in Israel and Western countries threatening humanity's survival to achieve their imperial goals.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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