This time we took seats at the table. Last week WWP made history when we were formally invited inside to launch the Women’s Caucus for Peace and Security, the first of its kind in Israel’s nearly 70-year history. With our support, women MKs will initiate, craft, and pressure colleagues to support legislation leading to greater peace, security, and shared prosperity. In brief, we’ve arrived among our decision-makers and we plan to stay. Our voices have been heard and we’ll continue to make them heard until we reach our one goal: a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians.
The launch ceremony demonstrated, once again, our ability to unite as women to demand a secure and peaceful future. The limited-seating hall was filled to capacity with WWP members – easy to spot in white shirts and turquoise scarves...read more. Read also Yahaloma Zakut ’s speech and Sarah Rozenbereg's speech.
On Fridays we show up, week in and week out, at intersections, plazas, and markets throughout the country. Women from the Upper Galilee stand outside the town of Karmiel engaging shoppers; women in Eilat hand out fliers on the waterfront promenade or at the arts and crafts fair; women from the Beersheva area display WWP’s distinctive turquoise-white-and-rose-colored signs next to a busy traffic intersection; women from the Sharon [coastal plain north of Tel Aviv] set up booths in malls to sign up new members; women from Tel Aviv area stand with their posters at the entrance to the shuk haCarmel [Carmel outdoor market], the area’s largest.
Our Diversity Team has introduced the idea of nationwide ‘thinking meetings’ explicitly for thinking through complex issues that arise as we work to broaden the movement. The first session, held in Haifa in January and moderated by both an Arab and Jewish member of WWP, drew fifty women including twelve Arab Israelis. Several Arab women asked us not to make any distinction between Arabs and Jews – we are all Israelis, they emphasized. Others suggested that as pieces of the same puzzle, cooperation is only natural. Many agreed on the urgent need to know one another better and express our solidarity as women. One participant, Hiyam, summed up her experience this way: We’re here to find out what’s going on and will act on it with love... read more
Getting off the couch, a program described as a wake-up call for the Sh’fela [Judean foothills in central Israel] drew over 200 women and men to Kibbutz Givat Brenner in January. The “question of questions” was asked at the start: what made us leave our homes tonight and come to a meeting? What causes women and men to get involved in social action? Answers included vision, the desire to do good, the need for belonging, solidarity. On the other hand, warned the lecturer, after experiencing these positive feelings, are often supplanted by doubts and fears about the difficulty and complexity of the work ahead as well as the fear of failure and encountering unresponsiveness and pessimism. Groups can withstand this inevitable swing of the pendulum if they share a clear goal and develop bonds through the sharing of personal stories. Getting Off the Couch generated much enthusiasm and a sense of connection, as well as new members for WWP.
Kindling Hope was our name for a variety of local events held during the Hanukkah and Christmas season, beginning with an interfaith event in Ramle in the country’s center, continuing with a celebration of both holidays in Fasuta, a northern Arab Christian town, followed by an emotional gathering at Kibbutz Negba with women from Ofakim, a development town near the Gaza border. We lit candles at a Center for a Shared Society, hosted a Piece-for-Peace party for Jewish and Arab women in the Galilee; We also filled a Tel Aviv club with our first poetry slam – for young women; shared in the holiness of a gathering with Zion, a new synagogue community in Jerusalem and its Arab partners. We traveled to the West Bank settlement of Tekoa for a conversation about the strength of women and our role as peace-makers. Kindling Hope concluded in Jaffa [ancient port in Tel Aviv] and in Omer near Beersheva, where a Christian-Arab poet and a retired IDF general spoke to 120 Jewish and Bedouin residents crammed into a private home. Although the Hebrew rhyme is lost in translation, the idea surely shines through: for each woman is one small candle but together we are a massive light.
The team of 100 – now closer to 150 committed activists – met for a marathon session during January to plan this year’s activities and refine the ways we communicate with one another in our rapidly growing and highly-visible movement (now numbering over 12,000 registered members in Israel with 33,000 supporters worldwide). Despite our rapid growth and increased visibility, we are opting to preserve our non-hierarchical structure. A great challenge is preventing our diversity and differences of opinion from overwhelming our message that women must be willing to face and then rise above their own and others’ deeply-held convictions, devastating personal losses and much pain, and unite for the sake of peace.
a woman waging peace: Dr. Rehab Abed Elhalim
Women Wage Peace has been blessed with several natural-born leaders – women with many professional achievements who have exchanged a successful career for activity related to seeking peace. Rehab Abed Elhalim is one of these women – an Israeli-Arab with a doctorate in the Philosophy of Education whose peace work is a natural continuation of her career in education. With her talent, vision and determination, Rehab converted a failing school in a small town into an award-winning educational facility. She also developed a theory of education that draws on something her late father told her: “Think positively! Thoughts create your fate.” She grew up in Nazareth and came to Manshiya Zabda, a small town near Haifa, when she married, expecting to teach Arabic in the local elementary school. Rehab discovered that the school had no electricity or water and that some children were studying a few hours a day in huts located in the cemetery... read more
Piece-for-Peace: afewstories behind the squares
Scrolling through the photo gallery in the Piece-for-Peace section of our website, you’ll find many beautiful and distinctive cotton squares decorated in equally distinct ways; you may even spot a name and country of origin here and there. If only the story sewn into each and every piece could be stored as well! Here, at least, are a few of them – reminding us all of the power of creativity, of hope, and of women... read more.
Pnina Dobo, who serves as WWP’s regional coordinator for the Negev region, recently traveled to Cyprus for an historic journey of native-born Cypriots in remembrance of 50 years since the establishment of the Displaced Persons camps there in 1947; her parents were only able to emigrate to Israel in 1949. Penina knew in advance that Greek and Turkish women on either side of the line dividing the island had not only contributed to our project but have themselves been crocheting squares, joining them into large blankets, and using them to cover objects, from bannisters to benches, on both sides of the border in a project they call peace2peace... read more.
From a Moroccan reporter who covers conflict zones around the world and had come to Israel on assignment in December, the Piece-for-Peace project received a piece made from traditional cloth ordinarily used as a head covering by Moroccan women. She has also decided to launch a Women Wage Peace in the Middle East movement in support of our actions.
A Ghanaian woman now living abroad became enthusiastic about WWP and decided to show her support by donating money to WWP and sending a piece on traditional kente cloth with the message Love and Peace.
In Japan, the chair of The World Peace Prayer Society , whose message – may peace prevail on earth – can be seen on wooden poles set in highly symbolic places throughout the world, sent this request to all the Society’s members: "A call has gone out for people around the world to make quilt squares for a large project called Piece-for-Peace..."
From the United States, England, Spain, Italy and other countries we keep receiving squares woven, embroidered or colored by women who are committed to promoting peace.