Women march to 'wage peace'
Israel / Freedom for Peace / 11 oct 2017
Sunday 8 October marked the culmination of two weeks of marching through the desert to Jerusalem by more than 30,000 women demanding peace. In an amazing display of solidarity and strength, Palestinian and Israeli women walked together, dressed in white, holding signs reading “Ready for Peace” and dancing arm in arm. The march was organised by Women Wage Peace, an organisation founded in 2014 after the 50-day Gaza war, during which more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 73 Israelis were killed. Women Wage Peace calls for a “bilaterally acceptable political agreement” which would end a conflict which has destroyed lives and divided communities for decades.
The march ended with a gathering of thousands of women in a “Peace Tent” in Jerusalem’s Independence Park and marked the end of two weeks of events organised by Women Wage Peace throughout Israel and the West Bank. "We are women from the right, the left, Jews and Arabs, from the cities and the periphery and we have decided that we will stop the next war", said Marilyn Smadja, one of the founders of Women Wage Peace. Events in the peace tent included group singing, speeches, workshops and yoga, providing a space for sharing ideas and an atmosphere of hope.
After experiencing the devastating effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and watching political leaders on both sides fail time and again to bring peace, the founders of Women Wage Peace felt it was time to take action and for women’s voices to be heard. They aim to bring Palestinian and Israeli women together to build public support for a political agreement while exerting pressure on decision-makers. As Huda Abuarquob, a Palestinian from the West Bank city of Hebron and march organiser, explained, they march "because women matter, because women are inclusive, because women gave so much trust to the leaders here and the leaders failed us". Women Wage Peace also demand that women are included equally during any peace negotiations, as mandated by UNSC resolution 1325. With over 24,000 supporters in Israel and 33,000 overseas, this grassroots movement is growing rapidly with the potential to make a substantial impact in the journey to peace.