About 1,000 women rode the train from Tel Aviv to Beit Shean on Thursday and then held a rally in the northern Israeli town as part of a campaign to jumpstart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
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The demonstration was organized by Women Wage Peace, a non-partisan women’s movement founded in 2014 in the aftermath of that year's Gaza war.
Lily Weisberger, of Emek Hefer, told Haaretz that women and families from all over the country took part in the event. “They came from Dimona, Ofakim, Eilat, Ashdod, Yavne, kibbutzim and moshavim, Kiryat Shmona, Tivon and the Jordan Valley,” said Weisberger, whose son fought in the 2014 Israel-Gaza war. Her other son is now serving in a combat unit as well.
“It’s a sight to behold,” she said of the rally. “We’re connected by love, concern and human interests that cut across parties, religions and communities.”
Weisberger said the movement is demanding “that no stone be left unturned" in the Israeli pursuit of peace. "Take all the creativity that we put into science, technology and agriculture and funnel it into groundbreaking thinking to find a solution," she said. "As women, as mothers, we demand that no stone be left unturned to make peace.”
Yahaloma Zakut, one of the movement’s leaders, founded the Hosen (resilience) Center in Ofakim after a Grad rocket landed near her home in the southern Israeli town. Some 350 people now volunteer for the center
Zakut, who spoke at the rally in Beit Shean, said Thursday's train ride was intended to expand the campaign beyond central Israel.
Zakut said the movement’s women are grappling with ways of developing a new social and national discourse that will bring Israelis from all walks of life together in the fight for peace and security.
“Women Wage Peace is challenged daily by the variety of voices in the movement. As an Ofakim resident from an observant, conservative, right wing community, I am challenged by the movement’s social diversity,” she said.
“Some people exploit the socio-economic gaps to increase division in Israeli society, a division cynically used by the ruling parties to gain power,” she said.
“We in the movement know the answer is within us, we understand that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” she said.
Mayors from the area and Knesset Member Yehuda Glick took part in the rally. Glick praised the women's movement at the event. “We established a state to be sensitive to the suffering of the otherThere are people without hope, but women see a long way ahead. Don’t lose hope. Remember that only 100 years ago women didn’t even have the right to vote and now it seems obvious. Women, don’t despair. Peace is a win-win situation. The feminist movement’s contribution to the world is the ability to be attentive. Peace won’t come [on its own], you will bring peace.”