In light of the recent spate of Jewish terrorism in Israel, a friend of mine compiled the following list of names: Yisrael Lederman , David Ben Shimol , Haggai Segal , Yona Avrushmi , Raphael Solomon , Ami Popper , Baruch Goldstein, Yigal Amir, Eden Natan Zada , Jack Teitel , Asher Vizgan , Yosef Chaim Ben David , Yishai Shlisel. Some of these names should be familiar, some are relatively unknown, all are Israeli Jews who carried out shocking acts of violence against random Arabs (or in some cases against Jews). And all of them, as it turns out, are men.
It is a bizarre and mind-boggling fact of this conflict that on the Israeli side, men dominate in violent actions, and men also dominated in the indefinitely stalled peace negotiations. Even when Tzipi Livni had the official job description of being responsible for negotiations following Operation Protective Edge, her then-boss PM Netanyahu found ways to exclude her – and all other women – from the talks in Egypt. In short, men have created this war and have thus far completely failed at resolving it.
People can debate the reasons for this striking gender factoid. Some will argue that women are more innately peaceful by nature or biology. Others will claim that women are just like men, but we have been out of locations of power in general, so we haven’t had the opportunities to act just like men. Others will say that the male-domination of Jewish terrorism and the Israeli military elite are just random realities and nothing to be concerned about. Personally, I contend that women have been acculturated for generations to be caretakers and empathizers, and many women today continue to cultivate that inherited culture while men have for the most part ignored us and chosen their familiar path of reaching for their weapons.
In any case, no matter what the cause of this marked gender divide, one cannot help but think of Einstein’s famous quip that one cannot solve a problem with the same tools that created it. The violence in the Middle East was created by men exclusive of women, and it seems evident that it will not be resolved by men continuing to exclude women.
While terrible acts of Jewish-initiated violence have occupied the public’s attention over the past week, a group of women has been tirelessly, and hungrily, working towards change. Founded after last year’s Gaza War, Women Wage Peace , has spent this summer fasting, in an act of defiance aimed at forcing the government to return to the negotiating table. The group that now numbers over 12,000 members with fifty branches around Israel, has embarked on a fifty-day fast to mark the fifty days of the war. Each day, five or six different women fast, with some 250 women participating in this variation of a hunger strike. Each day, they sit in a poster-plastered tent outside the Prime Minister’s house, accompanied by dozens of supporters aiming to get the attention of passersby and ultimately the government.