An Open Letter To A Foreign Correspondent Who lives In Israel

Dear S,

I was saddened by your decision not to report about The March Of Hope, one of the most significant events that took place in Israel in recent years. You write that the march of Women Wage Peace did not interest the newspapers that you were writing for, and that the spotlight was on other places in the world. I am not surprised to learn that the world is not interested in thousands of women in Israel who are marching for peace.

But as you live in Israel and cover our news you must be aware that Women Wage Peace is the largest non-partisan grassroots movement in Israel. In the two years since its inception, in the midst of Operation Protective Edge, thousands of women, from all walks of life holding different political positions, have joined in

Women Wage Peace is a single-issue movement, its goal is to put an end to the conflict with the Palestinians through a viable political agreement. This stand is unique, as the movement doesn’t believe in endorsing one specific solution. Instead it is open to an array of possibilities and does not presume to offer an answer.

Yes I realize that it sounds naïve, but as women we know that when we open our minds and hearts we are able to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. Actually I feel that Women Wage Peace is the fruit of this way of thinking. The women in the movement believe that after so many years of tenacious conflict there is a need to change the approach toward finding a solution.

You write  that you don’t  believe that the movement will lead to anything positive. In a way it might even be counter productive , because it makes the occupation easier to cope with for the women who march and march even though they are getting nowhere.

If you ask members of Women Wage Peace about your judgment, you are likely to hear different opinions. For example, that most Israelis  accept occupation as a necessary evil because they believe that there is no partner. Women Wage Peace focuses on those who still believe in the possibility of an agreement. It is the women, on both sides, who pay the highest price for the conflict, so as women we don’t have the privilege to do nothing. We march because it helps to raise public awareness to our activities and to spread the word that there is an option. Another  activist would tell you that our challenge is to create a kind of diverse dialogue, which works to unite rather than to divide, and in today’s world it is a subversive action in the good sense of the world. Our insistence as women to talk about peace and security as knowledgeable and involved citizens is an important step in extricating the discussion of political agreement from those few military and security experts who have always been in charge.

Personally I think that Women Wage Peace is a pragmatic movement,  we are here because we feel that we have no choice but to take our destiny in our own hands. You doubt the merit of the march, but it transpired that The March Of Hope, which started in the northern border of Israel on October 4th 2016 and ended in a mass rally in Jerusalem on October 19th, was a pivotal project. Moreover this march was the work of hundreds of volunteers. We didn’t march to nowhere, we gained momentum and became a household name. I feel that this is an important step in changing public opinion.

The event in Qasr El Yehud on October 19th was especially hopeful: A magnificent spectacle of thousands of women: Palestinians, Israelis and Israeli Palestinians who got together to demand peace. I have to disagree with your conclusion, yes occupation has to end, but it is only part of the solution. Women Wage Peace is pushing forward a process of reconciliation at a time when there is nothing. Your papers missed a historic moment and I am sad that you as a Journalist and a feminist did not alert them. I hope that you’ll come around.

Best wishes, Orna

Thanks to my friends in Women Wage Peace for your support and for the great texts that you sent me for the purpose of writing this letter.

About the Author
I hold a PhD in English Literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, specializing in writing about issues related to women, literature, culture, and society. Having lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994), I bring a diverse perspective to my work. As a widow, in March 2016, I initiated a support and growth-oriented Facebook group for widows named "Widows Move On." The group has now grown to over 2000 members, providing a valuable space for mutual support and understanding.
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