Shoshana Lavan

The Time Has Come!

It’s been quite a few months now that I’ve felt I’m slowly going crazy. It all started, I think, with the hat incident. Apparently, I’ve become quite infamous. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see my blog.) The song ‘my three-cornered hat’ took on an entirely new meaning. The Israeli corner, the Palestinian corner, and, wait for it… the peace corner. But God Forbid I talk to anyone about that. Peace? My students asked me. No way. NO WAY. Far too early to talk about peace. Well done, my colleagues said, well done for trying to talk about peace. For trying to bring peace. What courage. I wish I had your courage – but you wouldn’t catch me dead doing such a thing. Peace? My Arab friends asked me. Peace? If we talk about peace, or making a deal with Hamas, or even that all people’s lives matter (yes, even the Palestinians) we get fired. There’s no way in the world you’ll catch us talking about peace anywhere except with our psychologists.

I turned to my kibbutz. Surely there’s a place here in this left-wing beautiful place to talk about a ceasefire, about bringing the hostages home. Oh no. That’s way too political – enough that someone put yellow ribbons up everywhere. We don’t want to be reminded, thank you very much. You want to tell us how many days the hostages have been in captivity? Put it on another WhatsApp group. Leave ours alone.

I’ve had all these hushed conversations – walls have ears – with Christian Arab friends and Muslim Arab friends and it’s the same stuck record. We won’t speak out about peace, even though we believe in it.

Yes, I have found moments, even mornings, of sanity. A ‘standing together’ conference here, a ‘Women Wage Peace’ meeting there, demonstrations every week, my friends on the kibbutz who ceaselessly and tirelessly devote their time to trying to get the Minister Shikli to resign – at least then we’d have one less sadistic extremist running this god forsaken country. And of course, at home, with a husband who is the treasurer and officer for external affairs of The Forum of Israeli Peace NGOs and who is trying to bring all the peace organizations together and working his guts out every day. This has certainly given me a great strength I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

But then the isolation hits again, like when we get an invite for tea and cake and a supposedly religious Jew (Chabad) tells us unequivocally that we should remove all Gazans from their home and send them off to live in Europe.

And he calls himself Jewish. Seriously?

My understanding of Judaism is that we were chosen to heal the world. I don’t cut the sentence short like many of our religious counterparts: we are the chosen people. No. If anything, we were chosen to heal the world. We have a great responsibility.

And, well, my dears, we’re not doing such a good job, are we?

And this isolation is how I’ve been feeling for a bloody long time. Until yesterday. Yesterday ‘The time has come’ series was launched. Yes, you read that right. ‘The Time has come’. A show of strength for the majority of people in this country who want peace. We will not be silenced anymore. The time has come to speak about peace, about the occupation, about the slaughter on the 7th October, about the deaths on both sides since, about the future. Yes, even about the future! About peace! Over five thousand people in one stadium in Tel Aviv – the iconic Yad Eliahu Menorah arena. (Next time, it will be in an equally iconic stadium in Haifa. And the one after will be in the South – if we haven’t actually achieved peace by then.)

I was there yesterday talking about peace for ten hours. The Forum for Israeli Peace NGOs got there at 12p.m. to set up, and we didn’t leave until 10p.m. What did I do in all that time? I visited over 50 peace organisations at their stands to talk about their visions for peace; I interviewed many people to ask them why they were there (because they believe in peace!) to send to my friend and film director Esther Takac, in Australia (director of to give her material or at least inspiration for her next film, focusing on trauma, resilience, and the day after; I snuck backstage and listened to Sha’anan Streett practicing his version of Shir Lashalom, and, spellbound, watched Yael Deckelbaum singing ‘Prayer for the Mothers’ (which I could listen to forever) and even found myself being interviewed by a professional film maker, who is making a documentary about Yael and wanted to know why I was there. I gave out my homemade cookies to the peacemakers, and was told these cookies alone could bring peace (I wish). I found a peaceful corner and spoke to my best friend in England who wants and needs to know such miracles are actually in the middle of happening in this forlorn place, for all she hears is the big and terrible news.

But this is the big and terrific news. I am shouting it out to you, and I am sure I am not the only one. Over five thousand people in one place, singing their hearts out: Hear the prayer of the mothers, and bring us peace! Over five thousand people applauding Yuval Noah Harari when he shared with us his understanding: war is for the narrow minded, small-minded, close-minded people, and peace is for the GREAT. Over five thousand people whooping and clapping Arab member of Knesset Ayman Odeh, who gave the speech of his life, about peace not only being possible, but being truly achievable now. For all the damaged, traumatized, suffering survivors of the 7th October, for all the relatives of the hostages, for all the members of Knesset, old peace activists and new, for all the Jews, Christian and Muslim Palestinians on the stage and in the stadium, we, over five thousand of us, were applauding.

And my god, was I crying. To all the people who in the last months have told me, written to me, shouted at me: where are our Palestinian partners for peace, I could finally show them all: here they are, in this room, or on this screen, talking to us from Israel, from the West Bank, from Gaza, begging us for peace. Telling us they are ready, they are willing. They are WITH US.

So back to my three-cornered hat. Finally, yesterday, I was in the peace corner. And over five thousand other people were right there with me.

The time has come, my friends. It really has.

About the Author
Shoshana Lavan is a published author, high school teacher of English Literature and Language, teacher of English as a foreign language and most importantly, a very proud mother of her gorgeous little boy. She is a peace activist and a committed vegan. A keen runner, she adores the mountains and glorious sunshine in this wonderful country.
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