Women Wage Peace

Position paper

It took us a week to formulate this statement. We are a movement made up of Jewish and Arab women with diverse opinions and positions, and we found ourselves inside this crazy, threatening, horrible and frightening movie. There are no words in any language to describe what we all went through this past week. We are still searching for the right words that we can share at this moment.
First of all, we mourn the brutal murder, in an indescribable and unforgiveable massacre carried out by Hamas, of over 1300 civilians, babies, children, women, men, the elderly, male and female soldiers, members of the security and rescue forces, among them Arab civilians and soldiers. We wish complete recovery and rehabilitation to the thousands injured in body and soul.
We share the deep sorrow of members of Women Wage Peace who lost family members; we offer support to the members of the movement from the Gaza Envelope who survived the horrific inferno last Saturday; and we are terribly worried about the safety and fate of all those missing, kidnapped and abducted – among them peace activist Vivian Silver from Kibbutz Beeri, a member of Women Wage Peace, and Ditza Heyman from Kibbutz Nir Oz, the mother of movement member, Neta Heiman.
We demand that the Israeli government begin negotiations immediately for the release of all those who were abducted. We call on the Red Cross and the international community to ensure their safety and act for their immediate release.
Despite the rage and pain in the face of the criminal and unforgiveable acts committed by Hamas, including incessant shelling of towns all over Israel, we must not lose human dignity. Even in the most difficult situations, it is our obligation as mothers, as women, as human beings and as an entire nation not to lose basic human values.
We hear words of revenge all the time – “all restraints have been removed”, “we will wipe out Gaza”, “we will act brutally”. But one cannot resolve one injustice with another injustice. We grieve the death of innocent Palestinians, among them hundreds of children, who are being killed in this accursed war. The situation in Gaza is getting worse all the time.
This war proves, more than ever, that the concept of “managing the conflict” failed. The idea that dealing with the resolution of the conflict could be postponed indefinitely has been proved to be fundamentally wrong.
For 9 years since the end of “Operation Protective Edge”, we, Jewish and Arab mothers have been telling the leadership in Israel – enough! We must turn every stone in order to reach a political solution. This is our obligation for the future of our children. This is our obligation to both Israeli and Palestinian children. They deserve a future of security and freedom, not a future of death, war and destruction.
Despite the complexity of the issue, we and the Palestinians have no choice but to strive for a resolution of the conflict. The Palestinian people will not disappear, nor will we.
More wars, bombings, assassinations, arrests and a never-ending cycle of bloodshed will not allow us and our children to live here as normal people. All conflicts in the world have been resolved by peace agreements. Hamas acts to destroy any chance for peace. Hamas has already managed to destroy the negotiations with Saudi Arabia. Hamas must not be allowed to win!
We know these words sound imaginary, naïve and unrealistic, but this is the truth, and we must recognize it. Every mother, Jewish and Arab, gives birth to her children to see them grow and flourish and not to bury them.
That’s why, even today, amidst the pain and the feeling that the belief in peace has collapsed, we extend a hand in peace to the mothers of Gaza and the West Bank.
We mothers, together with women from all over the world, must unite to stop this madness.
It is our obligation to say, even if it is difficult to say this now – Israel must consider its steps and actions responsibly and morally and prevent needless deaths of civilians and soldiers and, at the same time, wherever possible, prevent harm to innocent people in Gaza.
We raise difficult questions and expect answers – ground action, destruction of Gaza, forcing one million Palestinians to flee their homes – will all of this lead to a future of security? And what will happen the day after? Isn’t it essential to deal with the issue of the abductees first? Do our leaders have the answers?
We must maintain and strengthen the solidarity and unity between the Jewish and Arab public in Israel and continue to act against racism and hatred. The Arab public, which has lived for years with the internal conflict of being citizens of Israel and being part of the Palestinian people, rallied in this difficult time of crisis for the sake of the entire society in Israel.
We demand that Israel prevent a flare-up in the West Bank and not allow extremist elements from both sides to incite the region, as has already happened this past week.
Last but not least, we will say that even though this is 2023, there are almost no women in decision-making forums in Israel. This is an intolerable situation that must change. We demand that the negotiation team for the release of the abductees include women. It is not possible that only men run the country during this crisis.
May the memory of all the victims be blessed

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