We set up the tent in Kikar Rabin early in March to remind everyone that we are not ready to continue with ongoing missiles and incendiary balloons in the south, which have become “everyday life” for those living there. We opened the tent on time to celebrate the International Women’s Day and the following week to celebrate the 40th year anniversary of peace between Israel and Egypt.
There were lectures, discussions, films and other activities every day. The Mothers’ Tent was filled with women and men who shared our excitement and hope for a better future. We all believe that the day will come when the bloodshed will end and we will live in peace with our neighbors. Many Palestinian women were speakers and shared their experiences and beliefs. The various events were enlightening and gave us energy to continue our efforts in the peace movement. We had reminders that things can be different and that war is not inevitable.
The women in charge of the tent came from all over the country – from Aco, Beit Zera, Lod, Tel Aviv – to host the visitors and to talk to those passing by. They spent long days, coping with rain and wind, often the same women day after day. They shared with others about our efforts to bring about peace. Visitors varied from one extreme to another – tourists who were enthusiastic and complimentary, Israelis who felt discouraged and don’t believe there can be change. Efforts were made to listen respectfully and to find sources of hope. It was pointed out that there are peace activists also on the Palestinian side, joint activities for Jewish and Palestinian youth, to remove barriers of fear and hate. For all involved, we were exposed to new ideas and became open to new possibilities. Soldiers visited and groups of school children came to hear about what citizens can do to promote peace. Material was available about the law we want to bring about that requires our leaders to exhaust all possibilities for a negotiated solution to any conflict before using force and the army to end the conflict.
The message was heard by all visitors that our goal is to push our leaders to reach a respectful peace agreement with our neighbors, an agreement that is fair to both sides. We also emphasized the importance of involving women in the decision-making process and that we won’t give up until we attain our goal.
There were new experiences and new insights every day in the tent, which closed on April 3 after having been visited by thousands of people. The dedicated women who volunteered in the tent were extraordinary in their hospitality, patience, explanations and cooperation.
Plans are being made to set up the tent at different times in different places around the country.
*Translated and edited from the Hebrew summary by Susan Zaidel