Frustrated with the peace process, more Arab-Israeli women are joining the ranks of Women Wage Peace, rejecting pressure not to ‘normalize’ relations with Israeli Jews. Says member Ghadir Hani, “I was born in Akko, a mixed city, and I grew up on the values of accepting others,” she says. “We are all human beings. We cry when someone is killed on the ‘other’ side, but for so long have felt like there is nothing we can do.”
“But we want, in our own way, to make peace,” she continues. “As a part of Arab society, I have a feeling we can be a bridge between Palestinians and Jews since we are also Palestinians, but also citizens of this country.” She has been a community organizer for years in the Bedouin town of Khoura in the Negev, where she moved almost 20 years ago, and where she recently joined a growing Arab and Jewish peace movement called Women Wage Peace.
There are now hundreds of Arab female citizens of Israel who are active in the group, according to a spokesperson, a steady climb in membership since the group began during the most recent war between Israel and Hamas, in the summer of 2014 in Gaza.
“We tell each other shalom (peace), on the streets in greeting and in the prayers we recite, but we don’t feel any sense of shalom. We speak of peace, but we want to feel peace,” says Hani.
In speaking out and becoming active in an organization like Women Wage Peace, the Arab women within it, and its Palestinian women supporters in the occupied West Bank, are rejecting the notion of “anti-normalization” promoted by Palestinian activists in recent years. It’s a concept that maintains that Palestinians should not engage in any kind of people-to-people activities with Jewish Israelis as long as the occupation continues, arguing that such projects give the impression that the sides are meeting on a level playing field when it is Israel that is still very much in charge.
Women Wage Peace casts itself as a big-tent type of movement. It’s not affiliated with any political party, and instead urges women of all backgrounds and political leanings to come together and demand that Israeli and Palestinian leaders return to the negotiating table after years of stalemate.
From an article by Dina Kraft, October 24, 2017 in The Christian Science Monitor. To read the entire article, please visit: https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2017/1024/Breaking-barriers-Arab-Israeli-women-join-movement-to-wage-peace