Women Wage Peace


November 2016

I have just returned from a historic journey of native born Cypriots to their homeland, in remembrance of 50 years since the establishment of the detention camps on the island. I was born there when my parents lived there a long time there until they made Aliya in 1949. In addition to this very powerful experience, I had another extraordinary experience which I will write about here.

Even before this journey, ties were created between Women Wage Peace (WWP) and Cypriot women. This happened when Aliza Erez, a leader of our quilt project, discovered that women from the Turkish side and the Greek side of the island create ties through crocheting squares, joining them into large blankets and using them to cover objects on both sides of the border.

with the Capriot women in Paphos
Pnina with the Capriot women in Paphos

Before the journey I got in touch with the Cypriot women in the hope of meeting them. Before I left, I received two envelopes for the Cypriot women, one from Noga Barlev and the other from Orly Kesem. (I only saw the contents when the Cypriots received these envelopes). Just before the trip I met with Aliza Erez who gave me a pile of crocheted squares, some of which she herself had made.

Since some of the Cypriot women live in Nicosia (on the Turkish side) and some live in Papos (the Greek side), we set up 2 meetings. In order to meet with Nilgon, I had to cross the border at Nicosia from the Greek to the Turkish side. We met at the Turkish Khan where I had the honor of sitting on a bench covered with a handmade crocheted blanket and of climbing stairs whose banister was also covered with crocheted fabric.

Nilgon told me that during the difficult period between the Greeks and the Turks, she left Cyprus for several years, but she missed her homeland so much that she returned. Her daughter remained in London.

Nilgon, a Turkish Cypriot and Christiana, a Greek Cypriot have been good friends for a long time; what brought them together was their expertise in crochet.  They got together and established a group called peace2peace. I met Christiana in Paphos where she lives since she was expelled from her home when it was conquered by the Turks. She came to the meeting with 3 other women. We met over a cup of Cypriot coffee (not Turkish!) and I told them about our activities in Israel, about which they seemed to know quite a bit, through Facebook.

The success of the March of Hope which made our movement much more significant within our own complex reality, inspires the Cypriots and fills them with hope that they too can act toward a solution for living peacefully together on the island. They told us that since they heard about WWP, they have been following us and their attitude towards Israel has completely changed. They learned that there are many peace loving Israelis; they were most impressed with the determination and the creative ideas of the movement.

The meeting with Cypriot women turned the concept of “sisters” into something real. I felt they are our sisters both in the path we have chosen and in our deeds. The geographic proximity strengthened this feeling. They too, like us, prepared embroidered and painted squares, some drawn by five year old children.

The two meetings left me with the feeling that the discovery of  friendship  and sharing  between WWP and women like us outside of Israel empowers both sides and should be encouraged.

We parted with a promise to keep in touch and to meet again. Paphos was chosen as the Cultural City of Europe for 2017 and many international events will take place there. We should take advantage of this opportunity.  I look forward to it.

Translated from Hebrew by Sue Levinstein


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