WWP’s Team for Collaboration with Palestinian Women coordinates and encourages connections between the movement and women in Palestinian society, especially women in leadership positions. Our partners include Fatima Parvan, the head of the Shuruk organization; Fadwa a-Shahar, head of a women’s organization in East Jerusalem, Palestinian women from East Jerusalem, and many others.
Shortly after the founding of WWP, we met Huda abu Arqoub, ALLMEP’s Regional Director and a resident of Dura near Hebron. Huda not only identifies herself with WWP’s agenda, but also has been teaching us the new language of no blaming and no shaming.
The Team for Collaboration with Palestinian Women now numbers twenty-five members and is coordinated by a group of three Israeli women – Juliette Kahavaji, Liora Hadar, and Orna Ashkenzai, who themselves model the diversity we strive for in all we do.
A few weeks before the 2016 March of Hope, members of the team initiated a collaborative meeting at Ali’s Place [Karama, the Palestinian Peace and Reconciliation Center of Palestinian non-violence activist Ali abu Awad, near Hebron] where we discussed joint creativity, identity issues, and the problems we all face, both Palestinian and Israeli women. We concluded the meeting with an amusing exercise where we created a human knot (see photo).
The team also organized a second event during the March; about 150 women from all over Israel as well as 150 Palestinian women from the West Bank participated. The speakers at the ceremony – Ali abu Awad, Huda’s sister Lama her neice Yara, as well as members of WWP, all spoke about the tribulations of war and the common striving for peace.
A meeting for teachers in Beit Jalla was dedicated to educational issues and ideas for future joint projects. In another meeting, the team met Palestinian women from the Bethlehem area who spoke openly about their hopes and anxieties. We heard a moving story about a Palestinian family who was riding a car when an Israeli soldier suddenly demanded that they stop. One of the children in the car wanted to shake hands with the soldier, who moved his gun behind his back and shook hands with the child.
Another event took place two months ago next to Damascus Gate (one of the main gates to the Old City of Jerusalem). The meeting, organized by Ina from Germany and by Fadwa from Ramallah, dealt with UN Resolution 1325 which calls for the inclusion of women in all aspects of national security and peace negotiation. The event served as a stepping stone to a series of meetings organized by the Palestinian women, whose highlight was a gathering on International Peace Day, ending with a march in the Jerusalem area. During our 2017 national flagship project, the Journey to Peace, approximately 3,000 Palestinian women joined us in what we called the “Tent for the Reconciliation of the Daughters of Hagar and Sarah” erected near the Dead Sea.
Further contacts are created all the time. For instance, two Jerusalem residents of WWP are working with a few women from East Jerusalem to create a group of Jerusalem-area women from both sides. One of our members came to the Mothers’ Tent [see left] with three women from Bethlehem who expressed their desire to get involved in making peace. A contact was also made with women from Jenin and Hebron, with whom WWP hopes to build joint activities. There are also phone and email discussions with women in Gaza whom we look forward to meeting one day…
Translated from Hebrew by Sue Levinstein and Donna Kirshbaum