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At-Home with Gila Svirsky

23 November 2001
Subject: Warning: The canary in the cage has died.


To start from the middle: This week could have been called relatively quiet by Middle East standards, had it not been for the horrible killing of five Palestinian children by an explosive device placed at the side of the road by Israeli soldiers. Though our army was not aiming for children, they did plant the device where children walk. This is the inevitable outcome of using weapons. What demonic minds invent, manufacture, and sell weapons for profit... while the rest of us blandly accede to their being used in our name?

With some significant exceptions, much of the vision Powell shared this week came from the pages of the Israeli peace movement along with our international allies. Powell could not have articulated these views, had it not been for the years of effort by the movement to give them legitimacy. Sharon will never implement any of this vision, however, and we should already be working on ensuring that the next prime minister will be closer to our views.

While the rest of the world was looking and acting elsewhere after September 11th, the violence in this region escalated. In parallel, peace activism locally reached intense levels, carried out by “the usual suspects.” Women in Black vigils have sprouted in new locations in Israel and throughout the world as well.

Some new activity:

Women’s Lobby in Brussels

One exciting new strategy is the presence in the European Parliament (in Brussels) of Debby Lerman from Israel and Jihan Anastas from Palestine. Both are there to inform European Parliamentarians about the work being done in the Middle East to advance the cause of peace, and to advocate for a just resolution of the conflict. This was organized by the inimitable Luisa Morgantini, member of Parliament and Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council. Debby ( is an active member of the Coalition of Women for a Just Peace, Bat Shalom, and Women in Black. Jihan ( is a member of the Municipal Council of Bethlehem and the Arab Women’s Union, as well as a lecturer at Bethlehem University.

Plans for December 28

A major, international event is being planned for December 28th by the Coalition of Women for Peace. In Jerusalem, we will hold a silent and solemn march of Women (and men) in Black, followed by a concert for peace. Below is a short description of what we plan to do and why. People from all over the world are invited to join us in any way they like – be with us in Jerusalem, organize or attend a vigil in your own city, or just light a candle in your window that evening (more about this in a coming letter). For more information, see or write to

Below is an excerpt from a letter about this event that was written by former Knesset Member Marcia Freedman, an activist with the Coalition of Women. An invitation that says it all.

I’ll be in Amman for the next three days, if I don’t answer your letter immediately.

Shalom / Salaam from Jerusalem,

....What we have learned during the past 13 months of the Second Intifada is that violent revenge solves nothing, but only feeds upon itself, exacting an ever-increasing price in human life and suffering on all sides. The attempt to use military might and violent resistance to impose a nation’s or a people’s will is both cruel and futile. We are now seeing the tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being played out on a much greater scale as the nations of the West make war on Afghanistan and Islamic fundamentalism.

Let us join together to remind the world that violence and destruction do not lead to peace, but only to more violence and more destruction. We need, rather, to look at the underlying causes and devise serious attempts to resolve them. This is a voice that is not being heard, or at least not loudly enough. But we know that it is an international voice and, frequently, a woman’s voice. For now, only the generals are speaking. It is time that woman’s voice, and the voices of our allies, be heard loud and clear.

What is happening in Bethlehem, Jenin, Ramallah, Qalqiliah, Tul Karm, Hadera, Afula, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Kabul, New York, Washington is more than a warning. The canary in the cage has died many times over. Can we, Women in Black and our allies, make a difference? We, Jewish and Palestinian women in Israel, urge you to try once again.

Join us on December 28th. Let us know what you are planning so that we can coordinate our efforts and publicize them internationally. It is the tradition of Women in Black, and the Coalition of Women for Peace honors it, that every group is free to choose its tactics and the definition of its issues independently.

Let us hear from you: intl@coalitionof

Marcia Freedman
International Coordinator
Coalition of Women for a Just Peace

P.S. If any of you know of prominent performers/ poets/ actresses/ musicians/ singers who might be willing to come to Jerusalem for this concert, please let us know (together with contact information) – we are looking for names that can help us draw the international and local media.

At-Home with Gila Svirsky

Letters from Jerusalem, 2001
Letters from Jerusalem, 2002
Letters from Jerusalem, 2003
New & recent letters from Jerusalem (2004)
Resources and Links

© 2001 Gila Svirsky, Marcia Freedman, Coalition of Women for Peace.

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