She was a national human rights, peace, and veterans’ and international women’s and children’s activist who authored two books in her own right. She widely lectured and received over twenty honorary doctorate degrees from institutions of higher education all over the world.
In her honor, I will share a story I heard from my late teacher Harvey Jackins. It was told as a true story, not just a nice anecdote. I hope that journalists and historians will be able to dig up the exact facts, one day.
The story goes as follows.
At a regional international women’s conference on Cyprus in the late Seventies, Mrs. Begin and Mrs. Sadat did everything in their power to avoid each other. This annoyed numerous other women present. They banded together and plotted to lock the two leading ladies in a room. “We won’t let you out until you are friends.” And so it happened.
Both went home and, behind the scenes, convinced their husbands that Egypt and Israel should make peace.
Sadat’s speech to the Knesset is rather flimsy. But what counted more was the sea of enthusiasm and hope that engulfed most of Israel.
This peace, until today, is rather fragile and cold. Members of the Egyptian parliament are attacked like evil creatures when they dare to say one positive word about Israel. I wouldn’t dare to walk the streets of Cairo.
Yet, our Sages teach that almost anything is better than war. In a war, so many innocent people die.
May, one day, the peace between Egypt and Israel will become a mutual, warm relationship with respect and even love that suits good neighbors.
But let’s never forget who set this all in motion, over forty years ago.