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At-Home with Gila Svirsky

22 September 2001
Subject: War is not a solution; it is part of the problem.


I just returned home after four weeks abroad, the last week in ravaged Manhattan. So much was tragically familiar – the horrible devastation, the grief, the acts of selflessness, the nation united by patriotism and a desire for revenge – and yet the enormity of this horror leaves it incomparable to any other experience.

But now, in addition to the mourning we must do, the tasks of rebuilding property and lives, the economic challenges, and the rethinking of one’s fleeting place in the world – any of us could have been on those planes, in those buildings – we have the burden of countering the calls for massive retaliation, as politicians seek to make political capital off of terrorism. This part sounds very familiar, and so will the end-result, as violence paints a mural of more bloodshed and destruction across the world. We are poised on the cusp of a futile, counterproductive war and must do everything in our power to stop it.

Organizing has begun throughout the world, and Israeli Women in Black held a demonstration today opposite the U.S. Embassy in Tel-Aviv, organized by the Coalition of Women for a Just Peace. We had very good media coverage in Israel, and I wonder if anyone saw it on international media. The Coalition also ran an ad in yesterday’s newspaper (full text below). While condemning the terrorism, the Coalition also calls upon the U.S. and Israeli governments to halt “the campaign of racist slander that turns reality into a mythic struggle between Good and Evil, between a ’superior‘ western culture and an ’inferior‘ Muslim one.”

Before my visit to the States, I had spent the last week of August in Yugoslavia at an international Women in Black conference attended by 250 women from many countries. It’s amazing how one small vigil in Jerusalem grew spontaneously into an international movement. And just in time, too, as people of conscience everywhere must join together in a commitment to justice and a world free of all forms of violence, individual and state-sponsored.

My Rosh Hashana New Year wish is obvious this year: I wish us all a world where peace and love prevail.

Gila Svirsky

P.S. Excuse my delay in responding to emails from many of you who wrote.


Ad in Ha’aretz, 20 September 2001:

We – Palestinian and Jewish women from Israel, activists who have worked for many years to achieve a just peace and the end of Occupation – feel shocked and numbed by the murderous terrorist attack against New York and Washington. Deeply shaken by the immense pain and destruction, we wish to extend our condolences to the families of the victims, express our deep empathy and solidarity with the American people, and condemn the murder and injury of innocent people.

To end the cycle of violence:

  • The governments of Israel and the USA must immediately stop their campaign of racist slander that turns reality into a mythic struggle between Good and Evil, between a “superior” western culture and an “inferior” Muslim one.

  • The government of the U.S.A. must abstain from violent retaliation that can only lead to further escalation and more killing.

  • The government of Israel must stop taking advantage of the international numbness and shock to intensify assaults against the Palestinian people.

The racist campaign against the Muslim and Arab world, the launching of war and terrorism as the next step, can only destroy the hope of finding real solutions to the problem of world terrorism, while wreaking more destruction and death.

The Coalition of Women for Peace, Israel

At-Home with Gila Svirsky

Letters from Jerusalem, 2001
Letters from Jerusalem, 2002
Letters from Jerusalem, 2003
New & recent letters from Jerusalem (2004)
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© 2001 Gila Svirsky, Coalition of Women for Peace.

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