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At-Home with Gila Svirsky

10 November 2000
Subject: Peace Efforts in Israel

Marchers carry sign saying in Hebrew: The age of generals is over -- The time of women has begun


I would like to say a little about the reaction of “the left” in Israel to the violence of the past six weeks.

In general, many members of the so-called peace camp, particularly those closer to the center of it, have not raised their voices. I am very sorry to report this. This primarily refers to Peace Now as a movement, although some of the younger members of this movement (and several other members) have attended the initiatives of other peace groups.

If I may speculate about the reason for this, I assume it has to do primarily with Peace Now not wanting to challenge the position of Barak, in fear of getting a worse alternative — Netanyahu or Sharon. Secondly, I assume that it reflects agreement with the position that “Israel has no partner for peace,” in disappointment with Arafat’s “failure to control” the ongoing violence.

These positions do not reflect the views of those of us who continue and have intensified our efforts. First, if Barak behaves this way, then he really is unacceptable, and we must replace him with someone else; Netanyahu and Sharon are not the only alternatives. And, second, Israel’s actions have only increased Palestinian hatred and hostility; Israel cannot now claim that it will not negotiate with people who are hostile.

While our numbers are still small — until more Israelis recognize that ending the occupation is the only answer — we engage in a wide range and variety of peace efforts inside Israel. Besides the usual demonstrations, vigils, and published petitions, there are condolence calls to the families of Palestinians who were killed, humanitarian aid to Palestinian hospitals and refugee camps, joint Jewish-Muslim-Christian prayer services, “peace tents” set up at roadsides where people stop to express solidarity, soldiers who refuse to serve in the territories and are jailed, and newly formed dialogue groups.

The Women in Black vigils have grown substantially (the one in Jerusalem is now about 50 women every Friday, with men who also join us) and reconvened in several cities where they had long closed. Extensive activity is also visible from New Profile, Gush Shalom, Bat Shalom, Rabbis for Human Rights, Yesh Gvul (the conscientious objectors), ecumenical groups, and others. Human rights work continues at a more intensive level than ever by B’Tselem, HaMoked, Adalah, Association for Civil Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, and others.

I must also note that considerable efforts are now directed toward a related internal issue — the ongoing second-class citizenship for Israel’s Arab citizens. No fewer than 13 were killed by Israeli police during demonstrations these past weeks, and the very legitimacy of Palestinians as decent, law-abiding citizens of this country is being challenged by many, including Knesset members, senior police, and government officials. Racism is currently rampant on this matter, and we must spare no effort to uproot it.

A rally organized last week by the government to commemorate Yitzhak Rabin brought 150,000 into the street. While Barak tried to use this event to mobilize support for himself, I am happy to report that the biggest ovation went to Shimon Peres for his ongoing efforts for peace, over Barak’s objections. Despite all the manufactured signs in support of Barak, they could not prevent the crowd from chanting “Shimon, Shimon.” I hope Peace Now took note.

Finally, women from all the women’s peace movements have joined hands to work together at this time. I will close with the statement we just issued.

Shalom (eventually) from Jerusalem,

Gila Svirsky

The Age of Generals Is Over —
The Time for Women Has Come!

A conference of women from a diverse range of organizations, held in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, 8 November 2000, has issued the following declaration:

  • We refuse to support men or women who do military
    service in the occupied territories.

  • Enough killing and being killed in the defense of

  • We did not get our children out of Lebanon so they
    could be sent to fight for Netzarim and Hebron.

Signed: Women for a Just Peace

Back Introduction
January 1991: War Is a Crime
March 1996:  Bombs, Revenge, and One Iota of Hope
   2 Nov 1996: Hand in Hand in Hebron
  4 Apr 1997:  Children Still Alive and Abdallah
25 May 1998:  So We Won’t Die in Any More Wars
10 July 1998:   Lena Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
  2 Aug 1998:  Lena’s New Home... Destroyed
  3 Jan 1999: Rifle Grenade #400
  9 July 1999: A Housewarming for Peace
23 Jan 2000: The Politics of the Tree
18 Oct 2000: On Violence by Israeli Arabs
10 Nov 2000: Peace Efforts in Israel
22 Nov 2000: We Refuse to Be Enemies
23 Nov 2000: Meeting of Women MKs for Peace
26 Nov 2000: Views of Faisal Husseini
28 Nov 2000: Lack of coverage for women’s events
  1 Dec 2000: Principles and Action
  8 Dec 2000: Women in Black today
30 Dec 2000: On the Way to Crowning Jerusalem with Peace
Letters from Jerusalem, 2001
Letters from Jerusalem, 2002
Letters from Jerusalem, 2003
New & recent letters from Jerusalem (2004)
Resources and Links

© 2000 Gila Svirsky. The graphic is from a protest march which took place on December 29, 2000.

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