EMAIL PAGE SEVENTEEN
COLUMN SEVENTY-TWO, JUNE 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)
WOMEN IN THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
[Givat-Haviva] Women Caught Up in Israeli-Palestinian Violence
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 00:24:29 -0700
From: Mohammad Darawshe firstname.lastname@example.org
Caught Up in Israeli-Palestinian Violence
Helen Schary Motro
peace initiatives are fading as Palestinian women join the ranks of suicide
bombers and the death toll among women on both sides of the conflict rises
dramatically. KFAR SHMARIAHU,
Israel (WOMENSENEWS)--Before a suicide bomber positioned himself next to a group
of mothers with baby carriages in
before a Palestinian woman brandishing a knife tried to attack Israeli soldiers
last August in Jerusalem, and two young Palestinian women in two separate
instances blew themselves up in crowded, public settings, women and girls were
not instigators in the conflict.
the 104 women and girls killed between October 2000 and February 2002,
one-quarter of the deaths have occurred in the last 30 days, according to
B'Tselem, a human rights organization in Jerusalem. Violence this month promises
to balloon those figures.
to Lior Yavne, a spokesman for B'Tselem, women are not being specifically
targeted per se, but as the fighting becomes ever fiercer, with growing
incursions into populated areas, women are randomly cut down as well as men.
the Intifada, the armed Palestinian uprising against Israel, broke out in
October 2000, contacts between Israeli and Palestinian women in economic,
artistic and social spheres were mushrooming. Women were reaching out to each
other in a variety of projects.
the only initiatives are by tiny groups. On the Israeli side, these women are
perceived as fringe elements on the extreme left. On the Arab side, they hardly
exist. Women in the mainstream of both nationalities have, like men, adopted a
not that we tried to have more contact and were rebuffed, but the feeling is
that there is no use making any efforts now," says Rutie Pilz-Burstein,
chairwoman of the Israeli Federation for the Advancement of Women in Sport,
which in 1999 organized a "Walk for Peace" along the Jordanian border.
"Both sides see one another as enemies, not as partners for peace."
three pregnant women--two Palestinian and one Jewish--were shot in the last week
of February and gave birth to healthy daughters, they felt no kinship.
"What we did was an accident. What they did is murder," said Tamara
Lifshitz, the Jewish woman who lost her father in the incident.
of women's groups is muted, and even groups pushing for cooperation are hardly
making contact with one another. Both Palestinian and Jewish women "should
stand up and shout, 'Enough of this carnage!'" says Maha Abu Dayydh,
director of the Arab Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling.
Sanaa Watad, co-director of peace center Givat Haviva's "Women in
Community," a three-year project that trains women to combat gender-based
violence and work for women's rights in their communities, believes that Jewish
women must speak out against the Israeli occupation. "I understand that
defending their homeland is important to them, but this is the humiliation of
another people," says Watad, an Israeli Arab whose organization is the
leading group in Israel working toward Jewish and Arab cooperation and
co-existence. Palestinian women, she says, "must support and take part in
the struggle by any means they chose."
an article in the Jerusalem Post, Israeli writer Naomi Regan has used the symbol
of Jewish women victims to urge the Israeli government into a more hard-line
stance: "How long can the freely elected government of a democratic state
allow the murder of its women? . . . How long must such a nation cater to its
disproven and delusional Left as its daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters,
women do have several peace organizations. One example of Arab and
Israel Women's Network, a non-partisan organization whose members hold a variety
of perspectives, is affiliated with groups in the Israeli Arab sector. But
maintaining ties has become strained, says Ella Gera, the network's executive
network wants to expand its Hebrew hotline to include Arabic speakers to counsel
callers about sexual harassment and family law, but despite widespread
publicity, not one Arab woman has agreed to answer calls. "It is difficult
for Palestinian women these days to keep in contact with an organization they
view as Israeli, even if it is non-partisan," Gera says.
Shalom Director Terry Greenblatt believes that prospects for peace may be dire
because women are not among the Israeli and Palestinian leadership and are
therefore excluded from the negotiating tables. "Even with the situation so
horrific, nobody is standing up and saying, 'Hey, maybe women have something
smart to say that could help us out of this mess,'" Greenblatt says.
"Men may not be best to make peace. They know how to make war."
Darawshe, spokesman for the still-active Givat Haviva, says that the spate of
women fatalities "adds to frustrations and
he believes that the violence could be a "motivating factor" for women
"to turn the situation in the other direction and create an alternative
he maintains, "are greater supporters of peace than the average man."
[Helen Schary Motro is an American lawyer living in Israel who writes a column for The Jerusalem Post.] ##
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