t the protest tent, I am with three friends from my northern Galilean village. We are greeted warmly by the women already in the tent and about to end their fast. Each woman wears around her neck a sky-blue cloth sign that says ani bi’tsom (“I am fasting”). One by one the women ending their fast remove the cloth necklaces from around their necks and hang them around our necks, to pass the protest-gesture on to us. We each feel the ritual charge of the connections being established between us, strangers who are suddenly intimates in our shared refusal to accept the unacceptable: this ongoing violence and warfare.
We are in the Women Wage Peace protest tent, situated one block from the Israeli Prime Minister’s residence, where women are fasting in shifts for 50 days – the 50 days of last year’s horrific war in Gaza. Every day, new women join the protest, fasting in shifts of 25 or 50 hours. We are demanding that our government enter immediately into renewed peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority to precipitate a political resolution to this bloody conflict. We are protesting the terrible senselessness of last summer’s war, and our government’s refusal to do everything in its power to prevent the next war. We are protesting the profound failure of our politicians to provide us with a viable future in this land.
We settle into the white plastic lawn chairs, and the hours settle into a seamless flow, punctuated by encounters with supporters stopping by to encourage or detractors stopping by to argue. Twice a day, at 11 am and 7 pm, amid the steady traffic noise, we pull our chairs into a circle, to share our names and tell each other why we are here at the protest tent. For many of us, last summer’s war was the breaking point — our first experience of having a son in combat, of sitting hours and hours by the news, hearing reports of each new horror, the names of the boys who would not return from the front, the numbers of unnamed Gazan civilians killed. In the tent, we share the remembered terror of knowing one’s child is in grave danger, and is fighting in a war that could have been avoided, that will lead to nothing but greater hatred and renewed warfare.