A colleague told me once that when his first son was born he wanted to name him David. However he didn’t like the way Americans pronounce Biblical names so he consulted several sources and discovered that the closest transliteration of the Hebrew name was Daveed. The next day when the nurse entered the hospital room and saw the name on the baby’s crib, she said “you sure spell David strangely.”
I was thinking about this amusing anecdote when I heard that, after their meeting with Sara Netanyahu, the four leaders of Women Wage Peace were labeled “left wing activists” in two different newspapers. This is another example in which, despite the effort we put into our words and our actions, we have very little control over the way other people perceive us.
Since its inception in 2014, shortly after the end of Operation Protective Edge, Women Wage Peace has insisted that it did not identify with any political party. It started as a grassroots movement which aimed to gather under its umbrella as many women as possible, and it has purposely remained within the consensus focusing only on universal, seemingly non controversial, values. It should have worked: is there a woman who would admit that she didn’t want peace?
But in today’s reality even a Hallmark Card is not above suspicion, and members of a group of “ordinary” women, from all walks of life and from all over the country, who sit outside the home of our prime minister and fast, must be left-wing. It only took a short meeting of the four activists from Women Wage Peace with our first lady Sara Netanyahu to ruin almost a year of walking on eggshells.
After more than 30 days of fasting for peace, when our first lady finally found the time to meet the representatives of the largest ever women movement, most of them mothers, she banished them to “hold their vigil outside the home of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as “It is Abbas who is responsible for the stalled process,” “Let him work to renew negotiations instead of trying to promote boycotts of Israel.”(Haaretz 12/8)
Even after those disappointing words, Vardit Kaplan, one of the activists present at the meeting, still didn’t despair. She chose her words carefully, and in the spirit of acceptance and tolerance, typical of the movement, summarized the meeting: “We held an open discussion with the prime minister’s wife…even if there is not full agreement about the diplomatic path, we all share a common hope for peace and the faith that women can be a driving force to promote dialogue between peoples”(Haaretz12/8).
At a time when “left-wing” has deteriorated from being just another, legitimate, world view to a derogatory name, which is almost synonymous with being a traitor, I hope that branding the four activists of Women Wage Peace, who met Sara Netanyahu, as “left-wing” is not a cynical attempt to break the spirit of the movement and put a stop to such an important initiative.