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Reports from Israel-Palestine-Lebanon

Lama Hourani reports from Gaza
June 22, 2007

Dear all,

Please have a look at my latest post to my blog: http://gazasunflower.blogspot.com.
If you have any comment please send it to the blog.
Best wishes to everyone.
Lama Hourani

PS:   Those who want to translate it to other languages are free to do so !

Lama Hourani reports from Gaza
June 7, 2007

TV interview at YouTube,click at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7vvVxj38rg
english Al Jazeera: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/AEF8DA09-06C4-47A0-88A6-BBF57A1B6337.htm

 

Israeli Committee for Right of Residency demand rights for Palestinians
December 6, 2006

Dear Friends,
This message is urgent. If the policy it protests is not reversed  immediately the consequences it describes will mean tragedy to so many. Write, fax and protest.
hannah

ICRR ( Israeli Committee for Right of Residency)  Tel: 972-9-958-4804

In March 2006, the Israeli government initiated a policy of visa denial to individuals of Palestinian descent having foreign passports, many of whom have been  arbitrarily denied residency rights in the occupied Palestinian territory
(oPt). Many of these persons have lived here for years without succeeding in obtaining residency rights even though they made Palestine their primary residence and place of employment/business, married local Palestinians, and
had children who were born in Palestine.

These people have managed to stay in the occupied Palestinian territory by acquiring tourist visas issued by the Israeli government.  Such visas are valid for  three months.  Their holders are obliged to go abroad to renew them. Those who cannot afford to travel abroad become illegal sojourners and live in perpetual fear of being deported, which confines them to their homes.  Those who go abroad have no assurance that they will be allowed to return, and in recent years the number of people denied reentry has increased significantly. Indeed, at this time, most persons of Palestinian origin attempting to transit via Israel in order to return to their families and occupations in the occupied Palestinian territory have been denied entry. As a result, families are torn apart, schooling for the children is disrupted, and economic disasters follow.

Among the entry-denied individuals are professionals from foreign countries.  This group includes physicians, teachers, professors, students, social workers,  and professionals in a variety of fields filling critically important
positions  in hospitals, schools, universities, and social institutions. Those being forced to leave by being denied entry or re-entry leave a vacuum in institutions unable to find replacements. This is devastating for all concerned, and has life-threatening implications particularly in the field of medical care. On the one  hand, the ability of hospitals in the occupied Palestinian territory to treat Palestinians is constantly diminishing while on the other hand Israel's General Security Services (Shabak) often denies access to Israeli hospitals for treat  ment.

 We, members of the Israel Committee for the Right of Residency (ICRR), have been calling upon the Israeli public to join us in demanding that our government desist from denying residency rights in the occupied Palestinian
territory to Palestinians or persons of Palestinian descent with foreign passports as well as to foreign professionals contributing to the welfare of the Palestinian population. We have been meeting with staffs of foreign embassies in Israel and have called upon them to use their good offices to intercede with the Israeli authorities to change the imposed restrictions. However, embassies do not make policy.  They carry out the policies of their governments.

We therefore call upon you, people of conscience living abroad, to organize campaigns to inform your officials about Israel¿s policy of ¿entry-denied. We ask  you to write letters requesting them to demand that Israel change its
policy.   We also ask Israelis and citizens of other countries to write letters of protest to the Israeli Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.

 As academics and members of ICRR, we are particularly concerned about the damage this policy is inflicting on the education system of Palestinians in the oPt.  We are therefore writing to ask you to also write letters to the
Israeli Minister of Education, Prof. Yuli Tamir, in order to protest the effects this policy has on quenching academic life and education for Palestinians in Palestine.

Thanks,

Prof. Daniel Amit, The Hebrew University
 Prof. Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv University
 Dr. Snait Gissis, Tel Aviv University
 Prof. Emeritus Aharon Eviatar, Tel Aviv University
 Prof. Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, The Hebrew University
 Dr. Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University
 ICRR

PS Below are links to additional information about the issue, contact  informati  on for the Israeli PM and MOI and also for members of the US congress.  There is also a draft letter that you can use or modify as needed to send to
officials.  Needless to say you are welcome to write your own.

Sample Letter:
Dear ___,

Israel claims to be a democratic country.  Yet Israeli policy  deniesfamily unification in the occupied Palestinian territory, and since March 2006 also deni es entry to the oPt for individuals of Palestinian descent,  who Israel refuses to register as residents as well as also for other foreigners who wish to visit, work, or study in the oPt. This is not in keeping with democratic values. Nor is this policy consistent with Israel¿s stated intention to abide by the Road Map, an intention reiterated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his speech on November 27 at a memorial ceremony for Paula and David Ben Gurion.  On that occasion Prime Minister Olmert expressed the intention (given certain conditions) to establish an independent and viable Palestinian State, with territorial continuity in Judea and Samaria a State with full sovereignty and defined borders. (http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/PMSpeaks/speechdavid271106.htm) By denying entry into the oPt to individuals of Palestinian descent who have been refused residency rights even though many have lived in the oPt for years and even though they have families, occupations, and own property, Israel is forcing these people to leave.  But if indeed there is to be a Palestinian State in   the future, then why drive Palestinians out? If Israeli officials truly intend to work towards accomplishing the Road Map by   the establishment of a viable Palestinian state with internationally recognized borders, then Israel must immediately cease its policy of refusing entry to p eople - of Palestinian or any other descent - desiring to visit, work, study, or live in that future state.Sincerely,"ICRR Israeli Committee for Residency Rights" group.
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/icrr?hl=en

 

An urgent call for action to stop the killing and occupation in Gaza

November 8, 2006

Dear Friends, this message was send on Mon. today Wednesday the situation is even worse. 18 people have been killed today by an Israeli bomb. please use all your connections to demand a stop to this bloody policy by Israel. Rela is an activist-writer in New-Profile and i send you her message. 

thanks for your help,
hannah safran

call from Rela Mazali

Dear friends,The announcement forwarded below is addressed to members of the press. In my view, however, given the scope and methods of Israel's ongoing and current attack against the Gaza Strip and given the continued state of emergency in the Strip, every person of conscience can and should take responsibility for fact-finding and for disseminating these facts—whether through phone calls, faxes or emails to the editorial boards of local and national media demanding adequate and fair coverage, through personal and informative op-eds and position pieces, letters to the editor, or through alternative channels such as email and other networks based in work places and/or places of worship, schools, colleges, community centers, neighborhoods and so forth. While the physicians listed below cannot possibly answer every individual phone call, this announcement is a desperate cry to everyone and anyone outside Gaza to take part immediately in ensuring that the media fulfill their role in covering the urgent reality on the ground there and in learning and disseminating this reality regardless of the mainstream media. The call, however, is first and foremost a call for action NOW to protest and stop Israel's blockade and attack. I leave it to the discretion of each of you to decide on your course of action.
Thank you,
Rela

====================================
Dear Members of the PressThe Sanctions Against Israel Coalition would like to once again provide you with the contact details of English-speaking media contacts in Gaza. Dr Mona Elfaraa, in particular, is currently trying to treat the wounded at the AlAwda hospital in Beit Hanoun, which is under siege by Israeli tanks and armored vehicles, which prevent medical teams and victims from reaching the hospital.

In the past few days, at least two ambulance workers were killed by Israeli fire while taking the wounded to hospital (this apart from the women who who were shot down while walking to the mosque to act as human shields for others who were trapped inside).

Journalists often tell the Sanctions Against Israel Coalition that they have no contacts in Gaza to interview. Well, here are all their cell numbers and we urge you to call them:

Dr Mona Elfaraa, Doctor at AlAwda Hospital in Beit Hanoun. Tel: +972 599 410 741 and +970 82846602Dr Abu Ala'a, Professor at Gaza University. Tel: + 972 599441766 Dr Asad A. Shark, Gaza Strip, + 972 599 322636
Dr Ayoub Othman, + 972 599 412 826 
Yousef Alhelou, Journalist based in Beit Hanoun. Tel: + 972599697254. Email: ydamadan@hotmail.com

 

article after first week of war - by Hannah Safran
August 15, 2006

This is a call for people around the world to stop the war in Lebanon and to call upon Israel to abandon its policies of occupation and domination over Palestinians. I am overwhelmed by the actions taken by my country since this war has started. I would like to know why has Israel done such evil to another people. We have just completed 6 years of peace and quite in the north, but we kept Lebanese prisoners in captivity, not willing to return them or to negotiate their release. Why? Did we not know that one day the desire to get them back would make Hezbollah kidnap soldiers? They kept on saying it clear and loud. And when it happened anyway why could we not negotiate their release first before destroying a whole country? for all the bombing we have done we might have killed the kidnapped solders already. I am asking loudly why Israel has the right to kill and destroy and devastate with such brutal force the entire state of Lebanon. Why has no one interfere to stop this bloodshed? The entire northern part of Israel has been under shelling every day, people are also getting killed here in my home town Haifa and many other villages and towns and none of us are able to continue with our life.

In spite of this conflict looking so complicated there are few basic things we should remember. the root of it all is the depute over Palestine. Since the establishment of Israel the Palestinians have suffered displacement and occupation. They will not surrender their claim to a state of their own. Israel on the other hand denied for a long time the very existence of Palestinians and their national aspirations. Eventually, with the Oslo agreement there was an official recognition in Israel in the legitimacy of the Palestinian claim. Nothing much came out of it. Israel still forbids the creation of a Palestinian state and will not let them have the small piece that was left from the original 1948 Palestine. What has all this to do with Lebanon? The original reason why Israel got itself into Lebanon in the first place in 1982 was to destroy the P.L.O. it failed horrendously but in the mean time created such outrage to its very occupation of southern Lebanon that a new organization was created, the Hezbollah, the one Israel is fighting today.

The result of the first war in Lebanon were 18 years of wasted bloodshed with more than 1600 Israeli soldiers dead and hundred of thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese dead. Why do it again? If it failed once it surly will fail the next time. All these questions make me think that Israel is fighting for the US and its interests. Perhaps so. But our problem has nothing to do with the US. We have to live here with another nation, namely the Palestinians. Nothing will ever change this fact.

Today, as we, Women against War and all the other peace organizations in Israel, campaigns and demonstrations focus on Lebanon, at exactly the same time, Israeli forces are conquering Gaza again, killing Palestinians in Nablus and Gaza, preventing movement and marriages between Palestinians in different parts of occupied Palestine and inside Israel (20% of the citizens of Israel are Palestinians), separating villages from towns and people from their livelihood and an endless list of miseries. There is no electricity in hospitals in Gaza. No money to run the rubbish collecting cars in the town. Children are sick and malnourished. Why? 

 

Yes, it is true. The Palestinians were not nice to us. They used violence in their struggle. No enemy is "good" or "nice" by the very nature of being an enemy. But peace is possible only between enemies. Friends are already in peace. Thus, for all our Jewish supporters in the US I say, look into history to see who the "terrorist" is, ask him why he has chosen this path. Why even women sometime join him in using force. Only by facing him and her – Palestinians – we would have a chance to survive in this area. Killing each other will end up with all of us dead.

I am tired from long days of struggle. Struggle to say "I beg to differ". No one here is allowed a different point of view. In the "only" democracy in the Middle East, if you suggest that perhaps this war is unnecessary, that it is evil, that it should stop immediately, you are called a traitor. People phone the radio stations wanting to kill you (me). If Jews made all these efforts to build a homeland in order to kill and get killed, I am not sure it has anything to do with Judaism at all. I am ashamed in what is happening now and do not know from whom I could ask forgiveness.

With my respect and call for action.

Hannah Safran (Ph.D.)

Haifa, northern Israel 

 

 

letter to sisters and friends - by Yvonne Deutsch
August 14, 2006

Dear sisters and friends,

In the midst of the war the world pride events were taking place in Jerusalem the last week. They were postponed from the last year because of the disengagement. This year the March was cancelled because of the war. But all the other events were taking place. There was  an overwhelming religious   reaction to the march which was a product of Jewish-Moslem-Christian fundamentalist unity. Why don't they find this unity for creating a process of justice, reconciliation and peace  for all? Why do they unite in hating lesbians, gay, bisexuals and transgender? Of course, there are inter religious meetings of different Moslem, Jewish and Christian groups  in search of peace. But the power is not in the hands of people who would like real change in basic values and the end of every oppression and suffering.

In my worst dreams I did not imagine that the war will be so long and painful. Today they declared a cease fire.  We, in the radical left were out in the streets from the first days confronting   feelings of hate and racism. We are regarded traitors more than ever. The  Zionist parts of  the peace movement are  started  to wake up last week. Our historic role is to be catalysts of the mainstream peace movement. But it is important to mention that from the beginning of the war also individual Zionist peace activists took part in our demonstrations.

In the first 2 weeks Ii went to the anti war vigils in Jerusalem everyday. Jerusalem is not part of the current war zone which means that here it is possible to continue our regular lives. But the sorrow and pain because of the widespread suffering is tremendous. I hardly can concentrate on my work.  I am taking part in the feminist organizing concerning the war. We who work with women from disenfranchised communities - who disagree  with us politically - are looking for ways to discuss the issue of security and war from  feminist perspectives based on their experiences. We also plan a gathering of activists for our own political discussion besides the constant
demonstrations and  activities that are taken place though marginalized and hardly represented in the media.

Every Saturday  Jews and Palestinians in Israel  march in Tel Aviv against the war. Among other slogans we also shout  that we refuse to be enemies. Asking a Palestinian friend what sustains her in this horrible situation she
immediately said that the Jewish Arab demonstrations in Tel Aviv. Although our voices are hardly heard in the public. We insist to march together. We insist to be together and say among other things that:  We are against the war, We don't want to kill and be killed in the service of the US, Both in Haifa and Beirut children want to live,  We refuse to be enemies. I go out the street to express my views publicly.  I go out to express my opposition of solving conflict with arms.  I go out to express solidarity, I go out to streets to be with my Palestinian friends.

So much pain and suffering in both sides. The  suffering and destruction in Lebanon is greater and I feel horrible about it. It is done in my name.  It is done in our name. But also here there is destruction in many levels of life. I mourn  the suffering of the wounded, the dead and their families, the refugees in Lebanon, the ones whose houses were destroyed, women, men and children in the war zone who were thrown into  destruction, anxieties and greater  poverty. Two friends of mine have old parents in Haifa who are survivors of the holocaust. They didn't t want to leave their homes and their children were really worried. Lately we start to hear  about experiences  of old and sick people who cannot go to the shelters.The horrible situation in Gaza and the west bank is not in the centre of public
attention. This is also done in our name.

Feminist organizations in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other places organize around women's needs like single mothers with children and poor women.  Finally the media mentions also  feminist critique of the war .
Nevertheless our world view is still in the margins. The critique was there from the beginning but the media did not respond to it till now. The stickers in the streets claiming  Israel is going to win  the war are around everywhere. What does it mean to win a war? The division between Jews and Arabs or Israelis and Palestinian is growing. We are creating more hate towards us. We are going to face even worse economic and social problems. Many are killed. Many are injured.  More money will be given to the army and less and less for health, education and welfare. I think we still cannot imagine the inner social destruction that the society in Israel is going to face. The possibilities of a real peace process between Israel and Palestine looks less and less possible already for few years.  We lost hope to witness and take part in a  process of justice, reconciliation and living in peace for Jewish and Palestinian people in the Middle East. No matter how important is the struggle against any kind of religious fundamentalism the
core of the problem here is the national conflict.

As I already mentioned we witness the racist attitudes, dehumanization  and hate toward the enemy. . One dimensional attitude towards a large community, this time here towards the Moslem Arabs. This is a widespread phenomenon everywhere. As feminists we should discuss this concept of the enemy in depth and oppose it. Only through the deep notion that all humans in the universe are connected we can really create change. It won't be easy for us because  Patriarchy, Militarism, Fundamentalism, Capitalism  and every oppressive  system is regarded by us as the enemy. We witness  the ruins and destruction of those  oppressive systems everywhere. We know that men in power or men  in the arms industry are part of those systems and benefit from them.  How do we relate as feminists to those enemies?  Do we have a unique contribution to the concept of the enemy?

I hope that the cease fire will help me to get back also to my everyday work with women directors. Those are women who by being directors within the welfare office and of social change organizations will have to deal with the new social and economic challenges that people from disenfranchised communities will have to meet. This tremendous  responsibility  puts a special burden on them. In our project we also want to expose them to feminist critique of social rights and change.

I hope each of you is well.
Love and hugs
Yvonne

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War, Nyet! Ceasefire, Da! - by Gila Svirsky
August 11, 2006

Friends,

I figured there would be extra anger at us at the Women in Black vigil today, and there was.  “I hope all your children will get killed and your house explodes too!” screamed one woman as she walked by.

I think the fury rises in direct proportion to how Israelis think the war is going, and it is going very poorly indeed in public opinion:  Only 20% of Israelis say that “ Israel is winning”.  These are the ones who are convinced by Olmert’s glorious view of the battlefield.  Another 30% say, “Israel is not winning”…presumably because somebody else is.  And 43% say that there’s no winner or loser.  Like a tie in soccer, I suppose.  [Data published in Ha’aretz 11 August]

Driving home, I tuned the radio to the easy listening music program, but there was no easy listening for me today.  The celebrity host was telling listeners about the proposed ceasefire, and warning them, “If we have a ceasefire now and return the territory in dispute, that will reward terrorism, and then Syria will invade, knowing that it can also regain lost territory by going to war against Israel.”  How many errors can you find in that sentence?  The media are now filled with Israelis protesting that the proposed various ceasefire plans will not let us finish off the enemy.

A few items about war and peace:

Military Refusal in Israel
From a report by Sarah Anne Minkin and Rela Mazali:  “…activist groups New Profile and Yesh Gvul report that hundreds, if not thousands, of reserve troops are refusing to go to the war. More than a hundred have turned to the groups for help in refusing to serve. While 5 refusers are currently in jail, with more awaiting trial for their refusal, the vast majority of refusers will not face immediate trial or punishment.”  Why not?  Report Sarah Anne and Rela: “…the majority of refusers are being told by their commanders to go AWOL, with punitive measures delayed for a later, less-urgent time. Refusers also report that many other men get out of service by going abroad, getting a medical deferral or simply going AWOL.”  (Soon to appear on www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org)

Pride and No-pride
At recent gay pride events in Israel, Queeruption held several successful happenings.  On the left is a sign from one: No pride in occupation & war”.  And on the right is Shaul, a staunch peace activist, trying out his piano after a direct hit to his Haifa home by a Hizbullah-fired rocket destroyed just about everything except the piano.  Shaul continues to come to the anti-war rallies (and his wife Ruthie is an active member of the Coalition of Women for Peace).

“They place military installations in the midst of their towns and villages”
This claim against Hizbullah is used by Israel to justify its bombing of Lebanese towns and villages.  Now that makes me worry, as a huge number of Israel’s military installations are also in or near our populated areas.  Marjam Hadar Meerschwam of New Profile ( www.newprofile.org) writes that she “has a military plant at the foot of my road, and Gelilot army base a short walk away.”    Rela Mazali, also of New Profile, writes, “My own house, in quiet suburbia just north of Tel Aviv, is 15 minutes walk from a major intelligence base in one direction and a major munitions plant in the other.”  And did we mention that Israel’s Ministry of Defense (our Pentagon) is in the heart of crowded, downtown Tel Aviv?  Both sides have a lot to learn about the rules of war.

Bulletin
I just heard that a peace activist was hit by a rubber bullet today at the weekly protest of the Separation Barrier in Bil'in.  The websites say he has “moderate to serious head wounds.”  I hope he’s okay.

Finally
I reprint below the translation of an article that just appeared in Ha’aretz (10 August).  We’re very proud of these two young activists in the Coalition of Women for Peace.

Shalom / Salaam from Jerusalem,
Gila Svirsky

Translated from Ha’aretz, 10 August 2006
Voine – Nyet!  Kharb – La!  [“War – No!” in Russian and Arabic]
By Lily Galili

At the vanguard of the radical left protest against the war are two women – an Arab and an immigrant from the former Soviet Union – leading the demonstrations with “End the War” chants in Arabic and Russian.

The evening before we met, Khulood Badawi [photo, right] escaped the horrors of war to go to the al-Hakawati Theater in East Jerusalem.  But even escapism is not what it used to be.  She was watching the Lebanese movie “The Kite”, directed by a friend’s sister, in which a young Lebanese woman falls in love with a Druze soldier from Israel during the first Lebanon War.  At the height of the story, her cell phones began to ring.  The news that Katyusha rockets had fallen on Haifa quickly moved through the theater.  Badawi, who had lived in Haifa for several years, fled the theater to watch the TV news, where she recognized the offices of al-Ittihad, the newspaper of Hadash, Badawi’s political party.  Among the ruins she saw many offices she knew, and began calling her friends.

At that same moment, Yana Knopova [photo, left], who immigrated to Israel from the Ukraine 11 years ago as a young Zionist activist, was fielding phone calls to and from friends and colleagues.  The rockets had fallen not far from the Haifa apartment she shares with Abir Kopty, the spokeswoman for the Mossawa Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens of Israel, and in the heart of the neighborhood of many Arabs and Jews who share her uncommon political path.

The two met the next day in what they call “the Tel Aviv bubble”, where they have been orchestrating the key protests against the war on behalf of the Coalition of Women for Peace and Ta’ayush.  An Arab and a Russian.  Another of the strange phenomena to emerge from this war.

The 30-year-old Badawi has a long history of political activism:  The former militant chair of the Association of Arab University Students in Israel, Badawi is today a field worker for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel.  The 25-year-old Knopova, a student of psychology at Haifa University [and coordinator of the Coalition of Women for Peace], strayed far from the Zionist dream though she had worked five years for the Jewish Agency,

In those years, she believed that “the left was only the Meretz Party”, as she put it, and then she discovered what she calls the lies and arrogance on which Israel is based, which not only create primitive men in Israel, but undermine the judgment of the entire country.  Thus she found her way to a political and social home in the radical left.

The Bomb and the Hope
Clearly the sense of marginalization in Israeli society – which views Arabs as the enemy and ignores immigrants –strengthened the solidarity between them.  “The police see Khulood as a natural enemy,” says Knopova with a bitter smile; “while in the exact same situation, the police refuse to see me as an enemy.  They also live with the stereotype that there are no Russians in the left.  Khulood is always dangerous, I am never dangerous; Khulood is a demographic time-bomb, I am a demographic hope.  This is an approach that regards the wombs of us both as in the service of the state, and we will not give them this pleasure.”

Over the past month, they have orchestrated all the demonstrations of the left, and held them in three languages – Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.  Based on the number of calls coming in to Badawi’s three cell phones, one would think that opposition to the war is the new consensus; based on the calls to Knopova in Russian throughout our conversation, one would think that a million Russian speakers in Israel changed their political views.

This is not true, of course, but there is no doubt that something different and new is happening.  Much has already been said about the uniqueness of this war; the fact that at the vanguard of protest are two women – an Arab and an immigrant from the former Soviet Union – is without a doubt another unique element.  Everything is new about this: Most of the protest in Israel, including that of the more left-wing activists, used to spring from the pool of Ashkenazi Jewish men.  Not anymore.  Today the protest of this war is being led to a large extent by women.

And that is not the only difference.  In the past, Arab citizens of Israel refrained from going to demonstrations in Tel Aviv during a war.  At most, they would make do with token representation in the later stages of protest.  They would also generally hold their demonstrations in Arab towns.  Not any more.  From the very first week, the Arabs became equal partners to the demonstrations in Tel Aviv.  Thousands of Katyusha rockets falling on them erased the reluctance of the past.  In their eyes, this is no longer a Jewish war, but a civilian war in which they have an equal right to make themselves heard.  Badawi says that they deliberately bring their voices to Tel Aviv, which is seen as the capital of Israel. 

Another kind of change is transpiring among Russian speakers, considered the hard core of the Israeli right.  Once, bringing a few Russian speakers to demonstrations of the Zionist left was considered a big achievement.  Today there is a small, but visible and consistent participation of Russian speakers in the protest movement of the radical left.  Thus, the Arabs are learning to chant “Voine – Nyet!” (no war), while Russian and Hebrew speakers are chanting “Salaam – Na’am!, Kharb – La!” (peace yes! war no!).  It looks like this connection will last long after the voices of war subside.

The Old Left Failed
To Badawi and Knopova, all this seems quite natural.  Above all, they feel that the role of women in this protest is obvious.  “All the elements of this war bring the issues together – feminism, social justice, class distinctions, environment, and the occupation,” they say; “Women make this connection in a natural way.  The Old Left, even Gush Shalom, has not managed to connect these struggles.  We do.  Even the social justice and political networks of women are stronger.  This war is taking place on our social turf, in our homes.  As women and citizens, we create an alternative voice of women facing the militant voice of men.”

“This is a male war about honor, both that of the Israel Defense Forces and the Hizbullah,” says Knopova.   “Women are less into matters of honor.  Russian women instinctively understand that this war is a man’s game.  We grew up in that kind of society, and it’s obvious to us.”  Perhaps this is why the group of Russian-speaking women in the radical left in Israel grew over a short period from 3 to 200 activists who are now involved in protest.

Knopova explains that even her father now visiting in Israel, a profoundly non-political person, “understood the lie” from watching the Israeli TV channel in Russian.  Even he, reports Knopova, noted in amazement that one Israeli soldier seems to be worth the lives of ten Israeli civilians and a hundred Lebanese.  “He feels instinctively that something is wrong,” she says, “but the Russians in Israel get brainwashed.”

“Human life is valued in Israel only when it is in uniform,” contends Badawi.  “From our perspective, the struggle now is for the dignity of everyone in Israel.  Every human being.  Arab women have a common socio-economic interest with Russian and Mizrahi women.  Our parents will have nothing left to eat after the war.  When we speak from the stage – Yana in Russian, I in Arabic – that in itself is a political message.  It also conveys to the Arab world that the claims by Israel and the U.S. that Jews and Arabs cannot live together is a false message.”

It is easy to elicit endless criticism from them about Israel, but harder to pry from them statements against the Hizbullah.  “Clearly we as feminists cannot support a fundamentalist religious organization,” they agree, “but we do not want our statements to be used manipulatively against our views.  Israel gave the Hizbullah reasons to attack, but our struggle is waged on behalf of our own society, to prevent a regional war that would hurt us all.”

Badawi says that this is also the beginning of a way to repair the fractured relations from the events of 2000 [when 13 Arab citizens were killed by the Israeli police], after which it was practically impossible to find Arab partners for political protest.  “The age is over when we would accept Jewish partnership at any price,” she says.  “Today the connection is genuine, with Jewish activists paying the price of their participation by demonstrations against the wall in Bil’in, refusal to serve in the military, activism at the checkpoints.  We have a common fate, but it is different than in the past.  These demonstrations can help us out of the severed relations of October 2000.  Now the Arab-Jewish partnership is egalitarian.”

Only one area remains outside the joint space: the emotional memories.  When Badawi talks about the evils of the Separation Fence, her personal baggage takes her back to 1948.  Knopova agrees to every word, but has other associations from the collective Jewish memory.  “I do not want Germans guarding us within the ghetto that we created for ourselves with the Separation Walls and security zones,” she says.  “In the tragic evolution of Zionism, Israel has become the final solution of itself.”  Perhaps this is not the text that will accompany the official lighting of torches on Independence Day in Israel, but it is the only moment when the thoughts of the two good friends part ways.

The Coalition of Women for Peace needs your donations !!!
HOW TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION

Contributions to the Coalition of Women for Peace help make it possible for us to carry out our work for peace.  You can make a donation in any of the following ways:

1) Make out a check to the “Coalition of Women for Peace”, and mail it to Coalition of Women for Peace, P.O. Box 10252, 91102 Jerusalem, Israel.

2) To our American friends: For a US-tax deduction, make out a check to "New Israel Fund”, write on the memo line (or separately) that it is “For the Coalition of Women for Peace", and mail it to New Israel Fund, 1101 14th Street NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005-5639. (Minimum they will accept – $100.)

3) To our British friends:  For a UK-tax deduction, make out a check to the "New Israel Fund", write on the memo line (or separately) that it is "For the Coalition of Women for Peace", and mail it to New Israel Fund, 25-26 Enford Street, London W1H 1DW.  (Minimum they will accept – 70 GBP.)

4) To our Dutch friends:  For a Netherlands-tax deduction, make a deposit into the bank account of Stichting Ontwikkeling Mondiaal Leiderschap, Javakade 162, 1019 RW Amsterdam, account 697683222, writing on the memo line: Education program of the Coalition of Women for Peace.

5)  To our Swiss friends:  For a Swiss tax benefit, make out a check to "Neuer Israel Fonds Schweiz", write on the memo line (or separately) that it is "For the Coalition of Women for Peace", and mail it to NIF-Schweiz, Postfach 425, CH-4010 Basel.  Or deposit to Postscheckkonto 40-37333-1.

6) Alternatively, you can wire transfer a contribution directly into our bank account. 
Our address: Israel Discount Bank, Hamoshava Branch #062, 21 Emek Refaim Street, Jerusalem.
Beneficiary: Coalition of Women for Peace
Account Number: 967017-512400
Swift Code:  IDBLILIT 062
For transfers from Europe:  IBAN No. IL 011062 967017 512400

Gila Svirsky
Coalition of Women for Peace - www.coalitionofwomen.org

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Gila Svirsky talk about peaceactivism on radio program
August 10, 2006 at 16.30 Belgian time

Gila Svirsky will be broadcasted on WHLD radio (which is in Buffalo, NY) today August 10 at 10.30 a.m. NY time !

However, they do stream online, which puts  WHLD & Gila within earshot of the whole world!
Or, at least,  that part of the world with computers, free time, the willingness to  listen,

WHLD: http://www.whld1270.com/  

from WHLD radio "... We'd love to have you on our show to discuss the current crisis. We've heard so much about how all of Israel is united in their thirst for more war, it's important that dissenting voices  be heard..."

 

Gila Svirsky reply to the article: Left or Right, Israelis Are Pro-War in the NY Times
August 9, 2006

Not all of us.

To the editor:
 
Steven Erlanger’s article, “Left or Right, Israelis are Pro-War” ( August 9, 2006 ) was a misrepresentation of the facts.  There is ongoing, vocal, and visible Israeli opposition to the war.  Every day, the Women against War Movement holds vigils in three cities – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa – yes, Haifa, even under shelling.  Every Saturday, we hold mass marches through the heart of Tel Aviv, the most recent one over 5,000 people strong.  Several men have refused call-ups to serve in Lebanon, and a dozen young men and women were arrested (8 August) for blocking the road to an air-force base in an effort to prevent, in their words, “the carrying out of more war crimes”.
 
Ha’aretz newspaper is filled with articles criticizing the war – not because “it is going poorly” but because the idea of preventing aggression by bombardment is both ludicrous and immoral.  These acts of criticism represent the views of thousands more, and if the war continues, they will also be out on the streets.  Let’s hope it will end before that is necessary.
 
Gila Svirsky, Jerusalem , Israel
Coalition of Women for Peace
www.coalitionofwomen.org  

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Report demonstration Tel Aviv
August 6, 2006

The biggest demonstration against the war held in Israel until now took place today (August 5, 2006) in the heart of downtown Tel-Aviv, an area that is considered especially right-wing.

All peace organizations took part. Besides Gush Shalom, participants included the Women's Coalition for Peace, Ta'ayush, Anarchists Against Walls, Yesh Gvul, the Israeli-Palestinian Forum of Bereaved Families, feminists, many parents with their children, veteran and young peace activists as well the political parties Hadash, Balad and the United Arab List.

Close to 10 thousand demonstrators from all over the country, among them many Arab citizens, marched from Ben-Zion Boulevard, along King George Street, to Magen David Square. There, at the entrance to the Carmel market, a stage was set up. The thousands that did not find place in the square flowed over into Nahlat Binyamin and the other neighboring streets.
When the demonstrators were still waiting for the start, a salvo of eggs was thrown at them from the balcony of a building. The perpetrators fled before the police could reach them.
More serious was another act of sabotage. It had been decided to carry a mass of black flags. One of the activists brought the flags to the assembly point before the demonstrators arrived. Suddenly a car stopped, three youngsters got out, seized the flags by force and disappeared. The demonstration had to take place without them.
During the march, the demonstrators shouted (in Hebrew): "Jews and Arabs / refuse to be enemies!" - "We shall not die nor kill / in the service of the USA!" - "Children want to live / in Beirut and Haifa!" - "Peretz, Peretz resign / peace is more important!" - "A million refugees / that's a war crime!" - "Olmert, Peretz and Ramon / Get out of Lebanon!"
The two most popular stickers were Gush Shalom's "Bring the Soldiers Home" and the Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families' Forum's "It will not End Until we Talk!"
Some conspicuous posters: "We shall all lose!" - "Occupation and War are a disaster!" - "Just Peace = Security!" - "39 Years are enough - End the Occupation!" - "There is no military solution!" - "Cease-fire NOW!" - "Stop the war! Stop the massacre!"


 

Call for a protest march and demonstration
Saturday, August 5, 2006 - Tel Aviv

Enough!
Black flags - Stop the War march in Tel-Aviv
Stop this unnecessary war!
Start Peace Negotiations!

18:00: Meeting at Sderot Ben-Zion, corner King-George
18:30: A protest march to Kikar Magen-David (Nachlat Binyamin pedestrian zone)

19:00: A demonstration in Kikar Magen-David

We call upon the Israeli government: 

Ceasefire now! 
Stop the killing of civilians!
Negotiations to exchange prisoners!
Peace negotiations with Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority!

There is no military solution. Only negotiations can bring an end to the mutual violence and the hitting of innocent civilians in Lebanon , Israel and Gaza .
Join us in our effort to warn for the continuation of this unnecessary war! We have the power to change! This war on the back of citizens is conducted for interests foreign to our peoples. Time has come to achieve an agreement with our neighbors. Unilateral withdrawals, invasions, walls and bombings will only bring us more disasters.
For the hundreds of thousands who are hiding and escaping from the missiles and the bombs and for the future of us all.

Transportation
Nazareth 16:00 bet elsadaka, Nabila 050-558-1709
Kufr Yasif 15:30 Dar Elsadaka, Nabiha 04-996-1631
Akka 16:00 Haifa Taxi station, Nabiha 04-996-1631
Jerusalem 16:30 Gan Hapaamon, 16:45 Beniani Hau'uma, Yuval 052-520-3102
 Haifa 16:00 Solel Boneh, Iris 054-442-0806
 Kufr Kara 16:30 Super market elgadban
 Taybe 16:30, Butaina 050-578-3642
 Shfa’amer 16:30 Fatheye 054-571-3326
 Ramle-Lod 17:00 Horeye 050-522-1150
 Beer Sheva- Al Lakiya, Mona 054-721-9813
 Sakhnin-Arabe 15:15 monument, Tarez 052-550-8512
 For general questions: Raya, 054-448-0903

 

Coalition of Peace Organizations
  Please help us finance it. Send checks to:
the coalition, P.O. Box 1335 , Kfar Saba , Israel

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From Gila Svirsky - a brief Peace update
July 30, 2006

In Jerusalem alone, 100 people turned up for a vigil on Sunday in a surge of anger, protest, and mourning following the killing of children and adults in Qana , Lebanon .  Vigils erupted all over Israel , punctuated by the fury of passersby as they read our signs.  I brought candles, but they did not stay lit in the cool evening breeze of Jerusalem .  Others brought their own signs.  Here are a few photos of the Jerusalem (left) and Haifa vigils (the 2 right photos are by Jacob Katriel in Haifa ):

On Saturday, we held an extraordinary mass march of "Women Against War" in Tel Aviv.  Women came from 17 sponsoring women’s organizations*, and we estimate about 3,000 participants (including men).  It was a dramatic sight marching through the streets dressed in black as a sign of mourning for the victims on both sides.  While the tabloids ignored us, Ha'aretz published a photo and detailed caption, and NRG, one of Israel 's biggest news portals, told the whole story.  The Arabic press gave us front-page coverage, and some of the foreign press also captured the story.  This was an important action in a society in which the voices of women are always marginalized – and entirely erased during times of war.  Our gratitude to the Urgent Action Fund for helping make it possible.

For a real sense of the event, click into this 3.35 minute video done by "Social TV".  It's in Hebrew, but you’ll get the idea: http://www.tv.social.org.il/medini/hafganat-nashim-29-7-06.htm 

For chant collectors, here's a translation of a few of ours (in Hebrew they rhyme):
    "Peace and security are not built on dead bodies"
        "Money for the disadvantaged, not for war"
            "Children in Beirut and Haifa ALL want to live"

It was an amazingly long procession (photo left), and we could see people hanging out of balconies to watch and sometimes curse – no surprise, with 90% of Israelis in support of this war.   The anti-war movement in Israel seems to be inching forward, though the vast majority of Israelis continue to view us as traitors.  The international anti-war movement is a great source of solidarity for us here.

Most disturbing is the overwhelming Israeli support for the Qana bombing based on the belief that the Hezbullah were using this building as a launching site for their missiles.   And while all this is happening, dozens of Palestinians are being killed in Gaza by Israeli troops.  A news (not op-ed) article in Ha’aretz noted, “The large number of fatalities suggests the IDF is engaged in indiscriminate killing under the cover of the war in the north” (“97 fatalities in Gaza , but all eyes are on Lebanon ” by Avi Issacharoff, 30 July 2006 ).

It’s more than those killed for whom we have to light candles – it’s the breakdown of morality in Israeli society in general.
In sadness,
Gila Svirsky, Jerusalem
Coalition of Women for Peace: www.coalitionofwomen.org

*The participating organizations:  Women against the War – Coalition of Women for Peace, Achoti, Aswat, Bat Shalom, Women in Black, Fora, Tandi, Women against violence, Altafula, New Profile, The Fifth mother, WILPF, Neled, Beit Nashim Feministy, "Itihad El maraa El Takdumi", Kian – Feminist organization, women council-Kofor Karea

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From Yvonne Deutsch
July 30, 2006

Dear Women in Black,

Thank you for all the support and the solidarity actions. Today more than 50 civilians, refugees of the war in Lebanon, mainly women and children, were killed by the Israeli army.

I cannot describe you the horrible feeling that the horrors of this war and the ongoing occupation are  done in our names. We are in the streets everyday. Our voices in the media are hardly heard. This weekend an indepth
inteview was conducted with the founders of "Four Mothers" who struggled in the 1990's to bring back the soldiers from Lebanon. Today they support the war. Our voices are marginalized though here and there we appear in the
paper or television. But very little. Of course, the discourse is militarized . Pictures from Lebanon are not showed in the way they are showed abroad.

So, with all the pain, the helplesness in effecting our perspecitves on reality, the anger and sorrow and the fact that we are few and regarded as traitors  - we have to  continue. The pressure for national solidarity dismisses not only the cruelty of this war in Lebanon but also the effect of the war on poor people in Israel, the fact that many don't have an income  and the rise of violence against women in the north, in the areas that are suffering from the war.

Thank you for your solidarity
love, justice and peace and a very BIG HUG
Yvonne

Chères Femmes en Noir,

Merci pour toutes les actions de soutien et de solidarité. Aujourd’hui, plus de 50 civils, réfugiés de guerre au Liban, principalement des femmes et des enfants, ont été tués par l’armée israélienne.

Je n’arrive pas à vous décrire le sentiment d’horreur que cette guerre et de l’occupation qui continue soient commis en notre nom. Nous sommes dans la rue chaque jour. On entend à peine notre voix dans les médias. Ce week-end, il y a eu une interview en profondeur avec les fondatrices des « Quatre mères » qui ont lutté dans les années 1990 pour ramener les soldats à la maison. Aujourd’hui, elles soutiennent la guerre. Notre voix est marginalisée même si, ici et là, nous apparaissons dans les journaux ou la télévision. Mais très peu. Le discours est évidemment militarisé. On ne montre pas les images du Liban comme elles sont présentées à l’étranger.

Ainsi, malgré toute la douleur, l’impuissance en exécutant notre manière de voir la réalité, la colère et le chagrin et le fait que nous sommes peu nombreux et considérés comme des traîtres – nous devons continuer. La pression pour la solidarité nationale a évacué non seulement la cruauté de cette guerre au Liban mais aussi son effet sur les pauvres en Israël, le fait que beaucoup n’ont pas de revenus et la montée de la violence contre les femmes dans le nord, dans les zones qui souffrent de la guerre.

Merci pour votre solidarité
Amour, justice et paix et un grand « Hug »,
Yvonne

Queridas Mujeres de Negro:

Muchas gracias por vuestro apoyo y todas vuestras acciones de solidaridad. Hoy más de 50 civiles, refugiados de la guerra en el Líbano, la mayoría mujeres y niños, han muerto por la acción del ejército israelí.

No puedo describiros la horrible sensación que nos provoca el que los horrores de esta guerra y la ocupación se hagan en nuestro nombre. Estamos en las calles cada día. Nuestras voces apenas se escuchan en los medios. Este fin de semana se hizo una entrevista en profundidad con las fundadoras de las “Cuatro Madres” que lucharon en los noventa para traer de vuelta a los soldados del Líbano. Hoy apoyan la guerra. Nuestras voces se ven marginalizadas aunque aquí y allá aparezcamos en la prensa o la televisión, pero muy poco. Naturalmente, el discurso está militarizado. No se muestran las imágenes del Líbano como las que se pueden ver fuera de Israel .

Así, con todo el dolor, la impotencia a la hora de convertir nuestras perspectivas en realidad, la rabia y la tristeza y el hecho de que somos pocas y consideradas como traidoras, tenemos que seguir. La presión por una solidaridad nacional oculta no solo la crueldad de esta guerra en el Líbano sino también el efecto de la guerra en la población pobre de Israel, el hecho de que muchos no tengan ingresos y el aumento de la violencia contra las mujeres en el norte, en las zonas que están sufriendo por la guerra.

Gracias por vuestra solidaridad
Amor, justicia y paz y un saludo muy grande.
Yvonne Deutsch

 

Women Against War Manifestation in Tel Aviv
TV report July 30, 2006

Look at website "social TV" that posts alternative news reports in Israel.
It is all in Hebrew but a demonstration is a demonstration and you can get an idea of what it looks and sounds like...
when you go to the website, wait for a few minutes for the clip to start playing by itself.
women against war in tel aviv July 29, 2006:
http://www.tv.social.org.il/medini/hafganat-nashim-29-7-06.htm

mass march against the war last week in tel aviv:
http://www.tv.social.org.il/medini/hafgana-22-7-06-web.htm

 

 

Palestinian and Israeli Women groups call for action
July 29, 2006 in Tel Aviv

Stop the War !   Stop the occupation!
Stop killing civilians!

Negotiations now! Exchange prisoners!

The march will start in Rabin square in Tel Aviv on Saturday 29.7.06 at 18:30 and will reach Maxim square in Ben Zion Ave.
For details call: Yana 0501-8575729
Abir 054-4743723

Women against the War – Coalition of Women for Peace, Achoti, Aswat, Bat Shalom, Women in Black, Fora, Tandi, Women against violence, Altafula, New Profile, The Fifth mother, WILPF, Neled, Beit Nashim Feministy, "Itihad El maraa El Takdumi", Kian – Feminist organization, women council-Kofor Karea

 Transportation:
Nazareth 16:30 bet elsadaka, Nabila 0505581709
Afula 17:00 Bat shalom 046407011
Kofor Yasif 16:00 Dar Elsadaka, Nabiha 049961631
Akka 16:30 Haifa Taxi station, Nabiha 049961631
Jerusalem 17:00 Gan Hapaamon, 17:15 Beniani Hau'uma, Gila 0547515797
Haifa 16:30 Solel Boneh, Iris 0544420806
Kofor Karea 17:00 Super market elgadban, Fauzeye 0523618312
Taybi-Tiri 17:00 Kfar Saba-Ra'anana 17:15, Butaina 0505783642
Shfaamer 17:00 Fatheye 0545713326
Ramli-Led 17:30 Horeye 0505221150
Beer alsabea- Al Lakiya, Rawia 0546669949
Sakhnin-Arabi 15:45 monument Tarez 0525508512

 

 

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ASWAT
July 27, 2006

To all our friends and colleagues, 

Thank to all of you who have contacted ASWAT to ask about our safety as we are based in Haifa. It is much appreciated that you are thinking of us in these days. We want to thank you again for your support and the ongoing friendship.

 

We in ASWAT, our friends and families are safe and we will keep you posted if anything changes. Our reason to write you is to let you know that in these days our hearts and thoughts are in Lebanon, not forgetting Gaza and the West Bank in Palestine and Iraq.

 

We have a lot of pain and sadness, watching all the pictures as a result of the hits, seeing people killed, and hearing about all the refugees; it makes us stop and raise our voices in ASWAT and say out loud STOP THIS WAR on our sisters and brothers in Lebanon and start negotiating!!!

 

We have received some news from activists and friends from Helem, an LGBT center in Beirut. After the influx of refugees from the southern suburbs of Beirut as well as from the south of Lebanon, Helem center, together with other NGOs, has begun providing shelter, food, and supplies for the refugees.

More information can be found at http://www.helem.net/

Helem also pointed out a few blogs so as to allow people to get first hand information from the civil society in Lebanon:
http://sanayehreliefcenter.blogspot.com/
http://lebanonupdates.blogspot.com/

Other important links:

http://arab-americans.blogspot.com/

http://www.aswatgroup.org/english/article.php?article=106&category=

http://www.aswatgroup.org/arabic/article.php?article=107&category=107

 

 In solidarity, 

ASWAT-Palestinian Gay Women

E-mail: aswat@aswatgroup.org

Website: http://www.aswatgroup.org/

Join Aswat's mailing list at: http://www.aswatgroup.org/english/newsletter.php   

 

 

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Gila Svirsky and Hannah Safran
July 23, 2006

Quick Report from the Israeli Peace Front

The peace movement in Israel has pulled out all stops to end this mad war. Lots of groups are active, and we had a big joint demonstration last night - at least 5,000 people (though the media reported 2,500).  Marching through
the streets of Tel Aviv with signs, "End the War", "End the Occupation" felt like a relief after the roar of pro-war-talk on all the media.

Women in Black held vigils last Friday throughout Israel.  The reactions from the street were quite violent and the police were out in numbers keeping onlookers (and on-shouters) at bay.  After our vigil, we read the list of 55 (!) locations [see list below] that held solidarity events this weekend.  Some were Women in Black and others organized by allied groups. We felt greatly encouraged by this international solidarity.

I end with a short note from Hannah Safran of the Haifa vigil of Women in Black.  The women were shelled during the vigil, but they returned to complete it.  Later that day, under the newly formed "Women Against War", they again left their homes to protest.

Gila

 

hi gila, how are you?

we are having a terrible day today. while we were demonstrating at our regular Women in Black square (30-40 people in all), we were bombed on both sides. it felt like being targeted from close. we had to abandon the vigil and look for shelter. we came back 20 min. later and completed the vigil on time. As we were traveling home, there was a second attack and we had to stop the car and look for shelter. When we came home we opened the newspaper to read letters of women from Lebanon. The devastation is horrific.

Has Israel gone crazy or have we not noticed what a mad country we live in?
It is 5:45 p.m. now and we had two attacks since then.
I am off to our daily demonstration of Women Against War in front of the Foreign Office and all the foreign press.

We will not be silenced. War must be stopped now.
Every min. counts as people's lives are in danger. do all you can to stop this madness.

only someone from outside can put pressure on Israel to stop.

i have to hurry. be well and let's pray for better days.

love, hannah

Hannah Safran - Letter to an American Friend
Haifa, Wednesday night. The 19th of July, 2006

Dear friend in the US, this morning I promised to write an article to be sent to your list of supporters. I was going to write to you all the reasons against the war that we have been saying publicly for the last 4 days in Israel esp. to the foreign press but eventually also to the Israeli media. Tonight, after yet another terrible day of killing and destruction I am unable to fulfill my promise to you. So many people in Israel are celebrating the death and destruction of other human beings – who happen to be Palestinian, Lebanese, Arabs – that my belief in humanity has been shattered. I have sent to you few minutes ago the horror of it all: a message from Lebanon. The first two photos of girls writing messages were published in the Israeli press yesterday. I am tired and desolate. But I will keep writing. I owe it to you so you will not be able to say “I did not know.”

Dear friend, I would like to ask you why has my country done such evil to another people? We have just completed 6 years of peace and quiet in the north, but we kept Lebanese prisoners in captivity. not willing to return them or to negotiate their release. Why? Did we not know that one day the desire to get them back would make Hezbollah kidnap soldiers? They kept on saying it clear and loud. And when it happened anyway why could we not negotiate their release first before destroying a whole country? For all the bombing we have done, we might have killed them already. It is your duty and that of your friends, as much as mine, to explain to me why Israel has the right to kill and destroy and devastate with such brutal force the entire state of Lebanon. You remember very well when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. There was only the PLO then. No Hezbollah at all. 18 years of wasted war, more than 1000 Israeli soldiers dead and hundred of thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese dead. That was the result of the first war. Why do it again? If it failed once, it surely will fail the next time. All these questions make me think that Israel is fighting for the US and its interests. Perhaps so. But our problem has nothing to do with the US. We have to live here with another nation, namely the Palestinians. Nothing will ever change this fact. But we have not done anything to achieve this aim. On the contrary, even in the Oslo days, Arafat was never allowed to declare the establishment of the state of Palestine.

Today, as our (Women against War and all the other peace organizations in Israel) campaign and demonstrations focused on Lebanon, at exactly the same time, Israeli forces were conquering Gaza again (for how many times?). Killing Palestinians in Nablus and Gaza, preventing movement and marriages between Palestinians in different parts of occupied Palestine, separating villages from towns and people from their livelihood and an endless list of miseries. There is no electricity in hospitals in Gaza. No money to run the rubbish-collecting cars in the town. Children are sick and malnourished.

Yes, it is true. The Palestinians were not nice to us. They used violence in their struggle. No enemy is “good” or “nice” by the very nature of being an enemy. But peace is possible only between enemies. Friends are already in peace. Thus, for all our Jewish supporters in the US I say, look into history to see who is the “terrorist,” ask him why he has chosen this path. Why even women sometime join him in using force. Only by facing him and her – Palestinians – we would have a chance to survive in this area. Killing each other will end up with all of us dead.

I should not continue. I am tired from a long day of struggle. Struggle to say “I beg to differ.” No one here is allowed a different point of view. In the “only” democracy in the Middle East, if you suggest that perhaps this war is not necessary, that it is evil, that it should stop immediately, you are called a traitor. People phone the radio station wanting to kill you. If Jews made all these efforts to build a homeland in order to kill and get killed, I am not sure it has anything to do with Judaism at all. I am ashamed in what is happening now and do not know from whom I could ask forgiveness.

With my respect and call for action,
Hannah Safran


Dear M__, thanks for your warm response. you may send it to be published anywhere, but please keep it in one piece. What do you mean by saying that “what we are both feeling right now is too much for most American Jews at this point”? do you suggest that perhaps we should wait a little until the Jews will be ready to listen to the horror Israel inflicts on Lebanon and on Lebanese and Palestinians? should they be protected from knowing the truth until they will be ready? should we hide from them what is actually going on? do we have the luxury of waiting when the destruction is taking place this very moment? When people are being killed on both sides and when the life of thousands of people all over Lebanon is systematically ruined and shattered night after night, I cannot morally care for the onlooker and not for the victim. Is it not like asking the Jews in a concentration camp to understand that the world outside is not ready yet to listen to their misery because it is too much for peole to understand? When the US media will finally admit to its public (after Israel will soon have to do) the horror of what is happening this very minute in Lebanon, it will be too late for the people over there. Their destruction at this point has already reached the destruction inflicted on Lebanon during 18 years of invasion.

Why is all this happening? Why does Israel refuse, until this very minute, to negotiate for the kidnapped soldiers? Why is Israel not ready to return these Lebanese prisoners?

It feels as if the US and Iran are having a good fight and we are all paying the price. Whatever the explanations, this bloodshed has to stop now for the good of both sides. Even Israel starts to say that soon they will negotiate a ceasefire, why not now?

Love, hannah

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