December found us determined to bring light into the Knesset [Israeli Parliament] and throughout the country. Read on about our year-long activity involving Knesset committees, about how we chose to celebrate Hanukkah, how we’ve been sharing our message abroad and simultaneously extending our reach here in Israel.
Waging Peace in the Parliament
How do we put pressure on decision-makers while expanding our grassroots at the same time?
In brief: for the past year, WWP volunteers – mostly residents from the Jerusalem area – have formed a Knesset Committees Team, a sub-set of our Government Relations Team whose goal is to influence decision makers at all levels. In Israel, these include the Knesset, the government [the name for whichever coalition is in power, similar to ‘the administration’ in American politics] as well as mayors and regional council heads. We are determined to influence all of them in order to advance both a political agreement as well as the participation of women in every aspect of decision-making related to war, peace, and...more about our activity in Israel Parliament.
Below, WWP presents Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein [Likud] with a special gift from us, a panel of squares with messages of hope and peacecontributed by women worldwide as part of our Piece-for-Peaceproject (read more below).
Building a Shared Future
How do we train women from every diverse cohort to become activists for peace – and do it quickly, since we don’t have the luxury of waiting for a more auspicious moment?
One answer: with our training program called Building a Shared Future. As many of you know from previous newsletters, this early initiative of WWP has been devoted to promoting dialogue, local involvement, and leadership among women across Israeli society in matters of peace and security based on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 mandating equal representation of women in all aspects of negotiation. To date, more than 450 women from all corners of the country have completed this training held in cooperation with theAdam Institutefor Democracy and Peace andItach/Maaki – WomenLawyers for Social Justice. The two most recent seminars, held in the north of the country and in Jerusalem, brought together over 100 participants with the goal of advancing initiatives and actions that will promote dialogue among women about peace and human security. See below the participants in the December seminar.
Filling Dark Days with Light
How did we use the holiday of Hanukkah to reach out to new communities? Here’s a partial list of where we spent our evenings during the Festival of Lights:
in a meeting with local members of the national Jewish religious movement Emunah organized by our Tel Aviv team, we shared prayers and dialogue about the ability to forgive and the need to renounce revenge in order to promote peace
in Modi’in, we kindled sparks of connection by asking WWP members to share personal stories during an introduction to the movement
we took part in an inter-religious candlelighting event in Jerusalem based on love winning out
in a gathering called “Then and Now” our southern team began with a conversation about the wife of Mattathias (who lost her husband, her son Judah Maccabee, and all his brothers, to war) then moved on to women today who struggle with living along a tense border
our western Galilee team organized a gathering for WWP members and women from the largely Druze town of Kisra-Sumei with participation of the local scout troop
WWP members participated in a magical event in Nazareth in celebration of Christmas
Carmiel-Misgav members were happy to reciprocate the hospitality shown to local WWP members by women from Sachnin during Eid alFitr in the Fall; during Hanukkah, the women of Sachnin came to Carmiel to light candles
women from Tivon together with members of Reform Jewish Congregation Ma’alot Tivon, lit the eighth candle of Hanukkah in the presence of representatives from all the major religions
Taking our Message Far and Wide
What else are we up to?
For one thing, Go-in-Peace, our nationally- coordinated/locally-organized project that takes place at bustling shopping centers and busy traffic intersections all over the country on the first Thursdays and Fridays of each month. Low-commitment by design, these few hours a month nevertheless bring WWP valuable exposure in places where so many Israelis spend time or pass by on the roads.
For another, Piece-for-Peace, our ongoing project that stitches together – literally – messages of hope for peace from women worldwide, is gaining momentum. We have even received squares from Syrian and Iraqi refugees now living in Utrecht, Holland, via the YWCA [Young Women’s Christian Association] along with photos of the women and children who made them. These brave women, who optimistically smile in front of the camera while holding their messages of peace, give us hope that peace will come to our region.
And then there are dozens of events abroad involving WWP, including most recently in Brazil and in Berlin, Germany. One of the Brazilian events managed to reach Jewish communities throughout South America via simulcast. In Berlin, we were represented at the Conference on the Art of Resistance and Community Empowerment with an Emphasis on Women’s Empowerment organized by the choreographer Sasha Waltz, thanks to one of the dancers in Ms. Waltz’s troupe who is Israeli. After our rep shared WWP’s message with a group of women from Arab countries also attending the conference, those women chose to support WWP by attending the Israeli panel.
A Woman Waging Peace: Reut Sheffer
My name is Reut, I’m 25, and am currently a special education and African studies major at Tel Aviv University. Less than a year ago after spending six months abroad, I returned to Israel with an uneasy feeling about the situation here. I found I was both critical and ready to support the positive and beautiful aspects of Israel. Since joining WWP, I have been active in the movement's young women's chapter. I hope that the ‘bug' called Women Wage Peace will go on infecting more and more women and men and that one day we will be privileged to live here with our neighbors in peace and... read more about Reut