Women in Israel Fasting to Mark Gaza Anniversary


An article by Rochelle G. Saidel and Sonja M. Hedgepeth, Womens E-News

A group of women from the Women Wage Peace movement in Israel have been holding a vigil outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem since last week, part of their 50-day fast to mark the anniversary of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

Hadar Kluger at the Women Wage Peace tent near the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem. Credit: Sonja M. Hedgepeth

The group of Israeli Jewish and Arab women are calling upon the government of Israel to return to the negotiating table and initiate a resumption of the peace talks with Israel’s neighbors as the only way to ensure a safe and secure future for today and future generations.

Most of the women are wearing the organization’s white T-shirts with the turquoise and black “Women Wage Peace” logo in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

The women are taking turns fasting, and those who do so are also wearing small turquoise signs around their necks that say “I am fasting.” Every day at 11 a.m. the women ending their fasting period give these tags to the next group of fasting women.

The group’s numbers are hard to know since the fasters come and go. There are at least a couple of dozen and they could number as many as 60.

The movement, which is much larger than those staging this fast, was founded after last summer’s Gaza operation when thousands of Israeli women rose up and said “No more!” They state that their symbolic action is not a protest, but a sign of the support for a creative initiative towards a political self-sustaining agreement.

One participant, Hadar Kluger, told us: “Arab-Israeli women are part of this movement from all over the country and we share a common understanding. We should create an understanding between left, right and center that keeping negotiations and going back to the table is a shared goal. This is the first level. Most people want peace and quiet and this can increase hope.”

The group’s mission statement says its main goals are to influence politicians and opinion makers to work vigilantly towards achieving a political agreement, as well as to give women leadership roles in planning, decision-making and the negotiating process.

Rochelle G. Saidel is founder and executive director of Remember the Women Institute and was named a Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in 2015. Sonja M. Hedgepeth is a professor at Middle Tennessee State University.

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