My experience in the Mothers’ Tent / Avital Brown

The WWP Mothers’ tent was built in the Rose Garden, opposite the Knesset, early in May.

Each visit to the tent brought a new experience, a surprise, excitement, new insights, and mainly a feeling of pride in Women Wage Peace.  Each visit confirmed my confidence that nothing can or will stop us from achieving our goals.

Unfortunately, I could not stay a night in the tent, which turned into an upgraded ‘Airbnb’ with a great breeze and countless stars. My schedule allowed me to visit the tent only once or twice a week. During the rest of the days, I had to settle for watching video clips and pictures sent to our WhatsApp group by my friends who attended the activities in the tent.

Here are some flashes of memories from the tent:

During the very first day, I was assisting in building the tent. While tying up the ropes, I found myself explaining to a passing-by tourist what WWP stands for. He got very excited, opened his wallet and donated towards our operation.

When a TV journalist asked me why I chose to sit in the tent, I found myself answering in a genuine authenticity that my son is on call at his military camp, and I am here “on call for peace”. I continued by using a metaphor borrowed from the military world:  Israel, I said, is using radars to guard our skies, making sure that no hostile airplane and the like is crossing the border. I am calling upon our decision makers to use metaphoric radars to find political alternatives to the violent situation. These radars should identify any opportunity for negotiation with the leaders in the Middle East, and make sure Israel does not miss an opportunity. I was pleased when Ami Ayalon, who visited our tent and heard about the ‘peace radar’, picked up the metaphor and explained that modern radars are also able to be locked on a target when recognizing a good one.

On another evening, I got engaged in a profound and mutually respectful conversation with a Haredi man who passed by the place and asked if we really believed that there’s a chance to reach an agreement. On another occasion, I found myself in a similar discussion with a young fellow, a settler from Hebron area, who admitted he was startled by the lack of security, and hoped for a solution, “I will endorse any solution that will bring security” he said, and decided to start following our Facebook page. He also intended to share his visit experience with women in his settlement, and to hear their reaction. I was delighted I could show him a report about the activities WWP conducts on a regular basis with women from settlements in Judea and Samaria – Ofra, Tekoa, Sde Boaz, and others.

I found myself shedding tears when a mother whose son had been severely wounded in the 2014 Tzuk Eytan war in Gaza, walked us through the path she, her son, and the whole family have been walking through since that knock on their door in 2014.

I found myself listening to different ideas about political alternatives for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and watching inspirational movies about women activists from different parts of the world, and from different times and disciplines.

I found myself explaining the WWP goals and principles to women who had once registered to the movement but had not been active since, and the visit to the tent made them decide to take responsibility for the next generations and become active.

I also found myself one day taking my one-year-old grandson to the tent, and when some tourists walked by and wanted to hear about WWP, I left the little one in the caring hands of two members of Knesset, who happened to be in the tent at that time.

Photo: Arianne Littman

This was my Mothers’ tent – a meeting place for people who otherwise would never meet each other, let alone sit together and talk about mutual respect, peace, security, and diplomatic alternatives. It was a place of learning, a place of discussion, and its participants came from all over the world, from all over Israel, from all ages, and definitely representing the ‘four tribes’ President Rivlin talked about.

WWP Mothers’ tent was disassembled as the Knesset went into its summer recess, but we, the members of WWP, and the dwellers of the Mothers’ tent are not going on vacation. There is a lot of work to be done, and as my dear friend Aliza Erez, says: We are in the middle of a Marathon full of sprints.

We have to make sure that Israel is not going to enter yet another war this summer without first exhausting political alternatives.

We have to build a mechanism of ongoing discussion about possible political solutions to the conflict (activating the ‘peace radar’).

We have to keep pushing our decision makers to start negotiations.

We have to keep on growing and expanding our circle of activists and supporters, making sure the issue stays on the public agenda.

And when there is a political agreement, we will make sure that women will be involved in its making and keeping. And who knows… this may be followed by a real peace.

I would like to thank my friends who thought about the idea of the mothers’ tent, my friends who took responsibility for having the tent operate 24/7 for 72 days, those who came when they could, when they were called upon (especially our WWP Jerusalem chapter). I would also like to thank those who could not physically be in the tent, but helped enormously from far away, the thousands of guests who came, and the 30 MKs from different parties who came to support, some of them more than once.

WWP – we are not stopping until there’s a political agreement.

Translated by Avital