The last meeting of the Journey to Peace campaign headquarters was held on Thursday, 19.9.17. There was still quite a lot to be done, but by 19.00, the pens, papers and laptops dropped, and everyone hurried to Sommer Gallery in the neighbouring building, for the opening of the Women Wage Peace exhibition.
The artists Michal Rovner, Sigalit Landau and Arian Littman exhibited their innovative collective and private works; Hands Searching for Contact, and Soft Compassionate Sewing Presence. Some photographs taken by the marchers were also displayed. The exhibition was curated by master artist Gil Shani, whose sensitive video and still works show lovely moments from the March of Hope.
The artist Michal Rovner contributed a framed print for anyone who donated more than 5,000 NIS to the movement. She said: “it is exciting to see the Women Wage Peace movement growing and attracting more and more women from all sectors of the population and the political map. They know that, despite our differences, it is possible to have a respectful dialogue and to find a way to live side by side in peace.” Michal added that this is her belief and longing too. Her work expresses the attempt to hold hands while healing the existing rift.
Other artists donated their work to the Journey to Peace: The artist and entrepreneur, Adi Yekutieli, winner of the Sussman-Joint prize 2017, founder and general director of the Association for Community Art and Intercultural Dialogue, donated the work “The Great Dress” as his gesture to women who are creating life, women who bring peace throughout the world and who are saying: “enough to violence. It is time for love, compassion and healing. It is time for peace!”
The Great Dress was part of the project ‘Asurot’ (bound), created a few years ago by women from all over Israel, who were refused divorce (gett). The project was supported by the Israel Quilters Association, in cooperation with The International Coalition for Agunnah Rights, with the aim to make the subject more public. The work has been donated with pleasure to Women Wage Peace, and was first exhibited in the Hagar and Sara Tent in the village of peace, as part of the Journey to Peace. The concept of hanging the dress was planned by the designer Daniel Nahmias. All the dress parts were sewn by Kitan and Orit Swisa – Northails, sail-making company. The dress is 21m high and 50m in diameter.
On the other side of the tent, drawn on the desert sand, was The Dove for Peace. This was a copy of White Dove in the Sand, the original drawing by Ruth Katz Klein done on the eve of the withdrawal from Sinai, where she has been living until 1982. The white dove was drawn on 4 acres of sand dunes, opposite Yamit, whilst the last resident left his home. From there, the dove flew over to the Dead Sea as a gesture to Women Wage Peace, which work tirelessly towards a political agreement. With the help of a fantastic crew, the land has been flattened and marked. Then, chalk dust scattered around the lines of the dove. This work has been dedicated, by the artist, to the women who are waging peace.
Ruth Katz Klein explained the inspiration for her drawing: “When Egypt president, Anwar Sadat, landed in Israel, in 1977, it was a momentous, exciting and happy moment in our history. I was living then in Sadot. I knew I would have to pay with my home for the possibility of peace. But I thought this was worthwhile if it could achieve peace. On that very same night, I drew a small sketch of a dove taking flight which I have decided to create, on a large scale on the dunes, on the day I would have to leave my home and welcome the Egyptians, our partners to peace.
Five years of negotiations later, we arrived at the week before the withdrawal, and I had not yet drawn the dove. It was burning within me, as there was no later date.
All the nation’s dignitaries assembled in Sadot community centre a few days before the evacuation. I too went on the podium and announced that everyone is invited to see the large dove on the dunes near Yamit on the day that we were meant to leave.
When the day came, no one could help me. Then, Amin, from Khan Yunis, volunteered and brought iron bars and two tones of chalk dust. More friends arrived from the north, and at the end many others took part in the project.
In the afternoon, the dove was already shinning on the sand dunes. Past chief of staff, Raful, arranged a helicopter so I can photograph the dove from above as well as the villages which are no longer there. 35 years on, the villagers commented that, when they had left their homes, they looked at the drawing of the ‘White Dove in the Sand’ and felt that it was a messenger of peace.”
When the Dalai Lama first visited Israel, in 1994, Ruth dedicated him an exhibition. In the exhibition, ‘Covenant Towers’, between Eilat and Aqaba, photographs of the ‘White Dove in the Sand’ were displayed. She and Zivi Adiram brought the Dalai Lama an official invitation from WWP to join the Journey to Peace. After the Journey, the artist sent him a picture of the ‘Dove of Peace’ in the Dead Sea, as well as photographs of the Journey and the Dalai Lama sent back his blessing.
The Dalai Lama is the most prominent personality who has given his support to Women Wage Peace. He is a man of peace and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, and is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan diaspora in Dharmsala. The Dalai has been preaching for many years to large crowds around the world, on subjects such as the development of inner peace that enables finding of universal peace. He stresses our universal responsibility for the ecology, science, education of the world, and highlights the need for altruism as the source of happiness. He supports non-violence and is a great believer in the power of women to bring about change through compassion. Hopefully, all those who strive to live in peace and harmony can sit under the wings of the dove.
Many singers and artists took part throughout the Journey to Peace,. Among them: Miriam Toukan, David D’Or, Miri Mesika, David Broza, Idit Zin, Esther Radha, Meera Eilabouni, Prayer of the Mothers Ensemble, Ronit Shefi, Leah Migdal, Lana Zilberman, Neta Shemesh, Leigh Shin from China, Joseph and his Brothers group, as well as other groups and dancers.
There is no large activity of Women Wage Peace without Yael Deckelbaum. The song Prayer of the Mothers became the movement’s theme song and, there is no event in which it is not been sang. With the help of this song, Yael attracted many followers across Israel and around the world. Last year, she has been invited to many marches; from the huge march of the women in Washington, and other event in the USA, to Zurich, to a gala event in Geneva, and a peace rally on the boarder of Austria and Switzerland. She took part in the march for peace in Cordoba, Spain, appeared in the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, in La Notte della Taranta in Italy, together with Suzanne Vega, Gregory Porter, Pedrito Martinez and many others.
The clip of the Prayer of the Mothers has been watched by over 4 million people on YouTube and another 2.8 million on Facebook. The clip of the song in the March of Hope had more than 10 million viewers and, Yael had more than 40,000 followers only this month. The Journey for Peace inspired hundreds of articles about her around the world, in the media and newspapers.