THROWING WATER ON THE FIRE OF FEAR
As fires continue to rage through the Israeli and Palestinian lands caused by dry air, strong winds and most probably multiple arsonists, there are also rumors that the fires were set by Palestinians intentionally as part of a resistance movement against the ongoing Israeli military Occupation. So along with the flames of the fires there are flames of hatred and incitement also raging. Once again as a mother living here I am having to gauge the danger of these events and shield my children from the fear and hatred that accompanies acts of violence against one another.
In a gesture of unity the Palestinian fire department was the first to volunteer and thankfully the Israeli government accepted. It is beautiful to see the ‘two sides’ work so cooperatively, watering down any stories that we all only want to harm the other. The homes of both Palestinians and Israeli’s are burning, and the fires are being put out by both People’s protecting life together. Shira Richter wrote the following ,
‘In days like this when fear searches for targets to blame, and I find myself being swept into the current and also want to find someone to blame, I stop for a moment and look for the news and places in which there are good people from all sides of the map. There are many more then we imagine. Popular media is not really interested in them because it’s not very dramatic. Media likes drama and fear and war. It’s a fact. It’s also ratings. Ratings are worth money. And also – there are those who don’t want you to know there are so many Jews and Arabs who cooperate. And they have lots of power. They threaten and punish those who cooperate. So yes, yucky actions exist , of course they do, but if we would know the numbers of the “normal” people who just want to live we would realize they/we are the majority and they/we are the hero’s and there are more of these kinds of people then the other kind. I learned this years ago when I made a film about an Israeli-Palestinian women friendship. I experienced firsthand what TV wants to show and what they are not interested in. They are not very interested in showing cooperation. Therefore, in my opinion, to those who feel helpless in this situation and want to DO something, there IS a way to throw water on the fire of fear. Water in the form of these stories of cooperation between Jews/Arabs/Israeli/Palestinian/Cristian/Druz, etc. Bring lots of water. Share this water with us. Lots and lots of water can put out fire.
This post is such an example. I wrote it in Hebrew and asked if someone would like to translate it to Arabic. Bilal Mousa did this from his own will. We don’t know eachother. Thank you Bilal.
As we gathered at our last meeting of the Midwives for Peace our cell phones were lit up with incoming messages….not about women whose contractions had started but from relatives, friends and colleagues who were being effected by the raging fires all over the Land. As the day went on the rumors started that the fires were not caused only from the extreme dry air and intense winds but from arsonists. Soon the talk of arsonists turned to what the Israeli media referred to as ‘ Arab terrorism’ and that was described by the people who lit the fires as an act of resistance against Occupation. We continued our gathering with the same optimism and hope that unites us telling stories of our families, our birth work and our activism. One women had just returned from a small town in Northern Turkey which took her flying from Tel Aviv to Ankara, boarding another two hour flight north, and arriving 10 minutes away from the war torn Aleppo on the other side of the Turkish/Syrian border. She provided training for Syrian midwives facing all the horrors of war, yet still she spoke of their dedication and belief in love. Another midwife had been at the Midwifery Today conference in France and had met with the recently imprisoned midwife Agnes Gereb. We discussed the ‘hunting’ of the protectors of the feminine and what this new Trump presidency signaled. Lastly we shared our contribution to the Piece Quilt by Women Wage Peace. A quilt , a comforter , a place of refuge- one little square at a time- this is the way of mother, of midwife, of sister of friend. For more on how to become involved with a PIECE OF PEACE , see; Women from all around the world will create together a huge patchwork quilt – PIECE for PEACE.
The quilt will serve as an artistic expression of our desire for peace in our region.
It will demonstrate, without violence and without words: Women in Israel and in Palestine want peace!
This project is organized by Women Wage Peace .
How can you participate?
Women are invited to make and contribute squares that express messages of Peace and Hope.
Barbara Ben Ami of MIDWIVES OF PEACE shares ‘ Her Recipe for Peace’:
I had the honor to attend a beautiful, peaceful, calm and healthy candle lit homebirth in Bet Jalla. Only 15 minutes from my home in Jerusalem.
A Christian Palestinian couple, a Muslim midwife from Ramallah, and a Jewish Israeli midwife (me).
I believe that babies are born into this world pure and simple, without hate, corruption and maliciousness. They have no prejudices, they do not see the “differences” between us, they are taught these things
I became involved in Midwives of Peace because I think that as midwives we have a special subtle role in promoting peace.
A peaceful, calm and respectful birth gently reverberates through out ones life. My hope and wish is that the more calm, gentle and loving births we can attend as midwives, there will be more peace and harmony around us. It’s a small step in a good direction.
It begins with listening to one another and treating each other with respect and compassion. It continues on to a professional friendship and on to a personal one.
Cooperation, equality and compassion and love.
( Image of Orli , one of the original founders of Sulha PEACE Project)
I am excited to share the official video of “Prayer Of The Mothers”.
A product of mutual effort made by dozens of women and men, who put in the best of their creation ,to spread the news of this historical event that took place in Israel. where thousands of Israeli and Palestinian Women marched together in a joint prayer for peace.
Thank you to “Women Wage Peace”, for your dedication and endless work that brought to this moment
Women Wage Peace will work to bring about a viable peace agreement. We will place the option of a political resolution at the top of the public agenda, as it is the only outcome that offers life and hope. A new and different reality in the Middle East is feasible, and we must strive for it. We have therefore decided to initiate, mobilize and propose an alternative. The last round of violence has made it clear to all that we must break out of the spiral. Whether Left or Right-wing, religious or secular, Arab or Jewish, we want to live in a society characterized by normality, prosperity and human rights. All of us wish to lead a sane and balanced existence.
The movement will operate to enlarge the peace-seeking public interested in a long-term understanding between Israel, the Palestinians and other states in the region. Simultaneously, we will continuously engage decision makers and demand a change in priorities, giving a negotiated agreement preference over military and security-based approaches. We wish to bring together all the women’s initiatives in order to create as broad a base of influence as possible.
Join us. Spread the word. Influence change.
Throughout the war that took place during the summer of 2015 my family and I were exposed to 56 days of continued violence, to rockets, to bomb shelters and sirens, but most of all to hate and fear. My heart ached at the suffering taking place on both sides of this armed conflict. I also worried about my children’s physical safety and emotional reaction to such a dark conflict.
When the war ended I vowed to stay active in creating peace. I started this blog, began attending peace demonstrations and meeting with Midwives of Peace. Over a year has passed during that time and although there was a lull in the daily experience of the armed conflict, despite its mechanisms still in place, there had been relative quiet.
Around a month ago ‘out of nowhere’ there was once again violence in the streets. An ‘armed struggle ‘ by some Palestinians began with a series of stabbing attacks. These attacks seemed desperate and criminal and hard to place within the context of the Occupation. My immediate reaction was concern for my children’s safety. Soon the new threatening situation spiraled out of control. There were attacks and counter attacks taking place daily. Once 12 year old Palestinian boys with scissors are being ‘neutralized’ by armed Israeli civilians it became very clear to me that this newest expression of the unresolved conflict is not criminal but based on the continued oppression and injustices taking place and the perpetuation of values that make finding a solution impossible.
Real threats mixed with lesser threats. Real fear mixed with lesser fear. A return to the cycle of violence.Impossible to excuse or explain an older grandfather in Synagogue praying being attacked. I truly understand both ‘sides’ of this situation. On a personal level I am no mere observer. My daughter goes on school field trips with armed guards. This will never not be foreign and unacceptable to me. My urgency to be an active bringer of peace was reawakened. Already distressed by the violence here I woke up last week to the news of the attacks in Paris. It does seem like the whole world is in need of a detox, a sweat lodge, a session, a healing circle ……more prayers, more unity, more love, more peace.
I invite you now to share here your recipes for peace. This was my original intention of this blog and hence its name. I envisioned women from around the globe contributing an actual food recipe as well as a metaphoric ‘recipe’ for creating peace. Together lets fill these pages with our recipes for peace so that our children, our families and our communities are full and filled with peace.
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”
These past months I’ve been too overwhelmed with the violent conflicts to write anything coherent about how peace activism plays out in my own life. Forgive the rambled blog post that is nothing more than a warm up and return to my presence as a mindful peace bringer. Over the past couple of months in Israel there has been talk of a 3rd Intifada or Armed Uprising of the Palestinian people. There have been waves of stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israeli’s resulting in new terminology for me , such a ‘neutralized’. As in the terrorist attempting to stab has been neutralized. Sort of like the wild West the nightly news and daily radio has featured stories of knife wielding Palestinians being neutralized on the streets by armed passerbys and armed forces. The issue is that some of these knife wiedling terrorists are 12 year old boys who have grown up under Occupation, have absorbed a military conflict their entire lives, so it would seem that the language of resistance and armed conflict is with context. But fears and violence and threats of stabbing also have consequences and the cycle of violence continues. I have many poignant stories that are seared in my mind, personal and collective that I intend to share in the coming weeks. I will say though that when the terrorist attacks happened in Paris it seemed that even the loveliest of places is no longer capable of remaining outside of the conflicts of the world. It is seeping in, like the White Walkers in Game of Thrones. What will we do? How will we respond? How do we heal? What steps can be taken so 12 year old boys play basketball not try to stab their neighbors? The questions and answers are complex. So for now I will arm myself with a new tattoo, a constant reminder of my commitment to peace. Any ideas on where I should get it? Design by VANYA @ merakilabbe