Roaming Tents around the Country
In the recent difficult and violent situation the “Women Waging Peace” tent will be setting out on a campaign around Israel. The idea is to set up a tent every week or month in a different region of the country, with the intention of reaching numerous and diverse communities and speaking with them. The aim of these activities is to create a dialog of shared listening and thinking about the need for a political agreement for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The first tent visited Sderot on the 24th-25th November, concurrently with the “Sderot Conference for SocietySociety”, which was held at the adjacent Sapir College. In accordance with tradition, one of the sessions included in the conference, on Tuesday 24/11/2015, was “Security Dialogue as an Aspect of Citizenship”. The session was held at the initiative and direction of Dr Yaela Ra’ana and Dr Michal Shamir, of our organization, and Anat Ben-Ami, co-ordinator of “Hakalah” in the community (evacuation of citizens, regional emergency teams). The moderator was Anat Saragosti.
On November 24th, circles of discourse on the subject of “Women, Leadership and Judaism” took place in the tent. Actress Chava Ortman (Grandma Zaguri, from “The Zaguri Empire”) made appearances intermittent with lectures and dialog circles. Chava read “Lysistrata”, accompanied by a Sderot musical ensemble. The International Day for the Struggle against Violence against Women was held on 25th November. The program for that day emphasized women and personal, community and national security. Participants included Adv. Judith Oliel Malka, deputy mayor of Sderot, and the chairperson of Na’amat in the Ashkelon region.
Ora Levy, one of the project initiators: “The need and responsibility for a solution to the conflict belongs to all of us, and this is why the members of our organization are making every effort to engage in a structured dialogue with women (and men) from all over the country, in order to make a strong and clear voice and work toward a resolution of the conflict.
Actress Chava Ortman, one of the initiators of the project: “Our movement is made up of members from all sectors and from the whole political spectrum. Together, we are trying to reach every place in the country and to establish dialogue and thinking about the responsibility to work towards a solution, which we bear as women living in this country. We believe that women can create a unique voice which call upon our leaders to do everything, absolutely everything, to bring the conflict to an end, so that we can bequeath hope and security to our children.”
A new decision making model:
A new decision making model was instigated in the last meeting of the enlarged steering committee. The new model is intended to cope with the difficulties which became apparent in the former decision-making model and in order to make the administration of the movement smoother and more effective. This model will hopefully enable a variety of women and voices in the organization to express themselves at the decision making level (“flat organizational structure”) and to allow room for autonomous regional activity. At the same time, the new model will allow the steering coordinators more authority in the day to day administration of the movement, which will largely be based upon an annual work plan. The steering team has been widened and currently is called the “the 100 team”.
The members of this team play an active part in the movement. They are regional coordinators, heads of professional teams, women who represent diversity in the movement, etc. The team will meet three to four times a year in order to work out the strategy of the movement, to discuss work plans and major topics. The role of the paid coordinator will change according to the new model and she will help the steering coordinators in all administrative matters. At this juncture, it is appropriate to mention that Yael Barzilai, who was paid administrator for the last five months, has quitted her job and a substitute has not yet been found.
Steering coordinators of the movement in the course of the last eight months – Sheli Forman-Asa, Vardit Kaplan, Hadar Kluger and Rihab Abd Elhalim – concluded their positions last week. New coordinators were recently elected, and the old ones accompany them till mid-December as they begin their positions. We thank the outgoing coordinators for their dedicated and important work during a stormy and difficult period of the movement’s existence.
Overall work program
As a result of the dialog circles which took place in May, the strategy of the movement was crystallized. The strategy for next year will place a special emphasis on widening the variety of participants in the movement, and on increasing public awareness of our activities. During these last months, the coordinators of the professional teams and regional coordinators worked out an annual plan. At present a general work plan is being worked out which will enable synergy between the work plans of all the teams. A general and authorized work plan will be published early in December.
“Shatil” – Organizational Counselling
Lately, Yasmin and Netsha, two organizational counselors from Shatil, have begun helping us to cope with the tensions which arose in the movement regarding the topic of decision making. They will also help in implementing the new model.
“Looking People in the Eye” – Display in Jaffa Port
In these days of stress, pain and loss, we all raise our eyes from our mobile phones and, instead, look at each other in the eye, speak without words, look inwards to the soul which seeks freedom, love and peace. On Friday, 27/11/15 we held the “Looking People in the Eye” display at the central square at the entrance to Jaffa Port.
Women sit in pairs opposite each other in complete silence, and looked into each other’s eyes. Gradually, passersby, women at Jaffa Port, and visitors took their places.
This presentation is the initiative of two students of Sapir College, Moran Asraf and Bosma Huti, who set up this moving display on the central campus. With their permission, we took the display to Jaffa, in conjunction with the Almanina Theater.
Feedback on “Operation Protective Fast”
The tent erected near the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem last summer and marked a year since the “Operation Protective Edge” (“Tsuk Eitan”) was the initiating event of our movement. The tent also summarized the first year of our heavily laden schedule. In the course of the project, which lasted 50 days, dozens of women fasted for more than 1,000 hours.
As part of the movement’s studying process and lesson learning, a team was set up to collate the different voices and experiences, our aim being to learn what worked well, the strong and weak points of the organization, and to find out what needs to be improved. We would thus appreciate receiving feedback concerning the atmosphere in the tent, your own personal experience and what the participation in the tent achieved. What, in your opinion, worked successfully, and what needs to be improved?
Peace Weekend for Israeli and Palestinian Women
Roni Felzen reports: On the weekend of the 20-21/11/15, the team responsible for relationships with Palestinian women and women of the world initiated a meeting with Palestinian leaders and activists, the aim of which was to get to know each other and to establish cooperative and sharing work relations. The meeting which took place in Tantur, on the border between Jerusalem and the Bethlehem precinct, took place thanks to a generous donation organized by Joanna Goodwin, President of the Middle East Peace Dialogue Network. Thanks to the participants for the sincerity, courage, openness, attentiveness and enjoyment. The weekend was moving, challenging, pleasant, tasty and loving.
Aliza Erez, coordinator of the Karmiel region and active in the team, wrote about her experiences, the work, the conversations and the short but deep process which we went through in those two days:
“I came back tonight from an exciting and moving weekend, during which a group of Israeli Jewish and Arab members of “Women Wage Peace” met a group of Palestinian woman leaders. In the course of the meeting, we told the Palestinians about our movement and activities in Israel in the course of the last year in order to advance the political agreement.
“Together, we watched an inspiring film about the struggle of Liberian women for peace. We talked about the possibilities of common activities, and how Palestinian women could support us and influence the opinion of Palestinian women regarding the advancement of a political agreement. Of course, we talked about painful points; nevertheless, we left with operative plans.
“We are all full of motivation to begin work – tomorrow morning!
“In the course of the event, we also did some creative work, and launched the Peace Quilt project. Each person prepared a square of material on which she drew, wrote, pasted and embroidered messages of peace and comradeship. From now on, this quilt will keep on growing. At each meeting, Israeli women from all aspects of society and Palestinian women will create more and more squares, all of which will be connected in a great artistic project.”
Screening the film about the struggle of Liberian women in Tira
In November 2015, when outside violence was raging, knives were flashing and fear was in sway, some 80 Arab, Jewish, Palestinian and Israeli women met at a school in Tira to view the film “Pray the Devil back to Hell”, about Liberian women and their struggle to end of the conflict in their country. At first we were afraid that there might not be enough participants; however, already at the beginning of the evening the small hall was filled and many had to stay outside. Guests included Maysem Jaljuli, the head of Na’amat in the southern triangle, and the deputy mayor of Tira. We watched the film with great excitement, and afterwards divided into two groups for a structured discussion led by Tami Avigdor and Roni Felzen, who also recorded her impressions on our website.
If you have not yet seen this inspiring film, you may do so at one of the next screenings. Ask your regional coordinator for the schedule of screenings in your neighborhood.
“Women Wage Peace” join with “Neighbours for Peace” at the crossroads of Wadi Ara
Yael Roth-Barkai and Anat Levin, coordinators of the northern Sharon area and Wadi Ara report:
“The difficult situation in the country and in our area in particular led us to the idea of joining with “Neighbours for Peace” – a Jewish-Arabic organization which has developed in the Wadi Ara community (centered in “Bridge over the Wadi”, the bi-lingual school in Kara village, and “Green Carpet”, the joint community tourism project, etc.) Since the present wave of violence, we have been standing at crossroads on Road 65, together with tens of Jews and Arabs, stating that “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”. We call to the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to stop the incitement and violence, and to immediately sit at the negotiation table until an agreement ending the conflict is reached, which is sincere, honorable and inclusive for both peoples.”
Translated from Hebrew by Batya Fonda