Thousands Finish Women's Peace March With Plea for Action at Netanyahu's Door

'They told me there was nobody to make peace with. Today, we proved that wrong,' Israeli singer Yael Deckelbaum says of the two-week 'Women Wage Peace' event.

Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Thousands of women rally in Jerusalem for closing of two-week 'Women Wage Peace' event, on October 19, 2016.
Thousands of women rally in Jerusalem for closing of two-week 'Women Wage Peace' event, on October 19, 2016.Credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters
Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger

A march that began two weeks ago as a minor event in Rosh Hanikra ended in Jerusalem on Wednesday night as a mass rally, when thousands of Jewish and Arab women from all over the country gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Residence to urge his government to make peace with the Palestinians.

The prime minister’s security was so heavily deployed it was impossible to see what was happening outside his house on Balfour Street. But the presence of thousands of women in downtown Jerusalem was evident.

The so-called March of Hope was organized by Women Wage Peace, a group founded after the end of the 2014 war in Gaza. At a time when the peace process has been relegated to the bottom of the public agenda, it was surprising to see the march sweep up thousands, most of the participants dressed in white.

In addition to marching through Israel, they marchers entered the West Bank near Jericho Wednesday morning. Tens of thousands of people participated in the two-week event, organizers said.

The guest of honor at the march and Wednesday's rally was Leymah Gbowee, one of three Liberian women to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for heading a women’s group that helped end their country’s civil war and oust its dictator, Charles Taylor.

Female activists from the "Women for Peace" organization, take part in a march at the Qasr al-Yahud baptismal, site near the West Bank city of Jericho on October 19, 2016. Credit: Abbas Momani, AFP

Gbowee said the two days she spent marching with Israeli and Palestinian women were days of hope and of looking toward the future, and they had convinced her that peace was possible. She also discussed the establishment of the women’s movement in Liberia, comprised primarily of women who had been raped or wounded at war.

Hadassah Froman, widow of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman of the settlement of Tekoa, also won a lengthy applause when she addressed the crowd, as did her daughter-in-law, Michal Froman, who was wounded in a stabbing attack at her home in Tekoa in January.

The younger Froman, who ascended the dais along with a four-month-old baby she had been pregnant with when the attack occurred, told the crowd that while she was en route to the hospital that day, she decided that God had been “addressing me and trying to wake me up.”

“To choose life is to choose to see the complexity of the situation here,” she said. “To learn, of necessity, to defend one’s life, but also to see the distress and extend a helping hand. Someone who is dead no longer feels. I chose to feel and to give space to the full range of feelings inside me – to the pain and the anger, but also to mercy and love.

“Death is separation,” she continued. “Life is an encounter, life is peace. Life here will be possible only if we stop blaming each other and stop being victims. We all need to overcome and to take responsibility and start working hard for the sake of life here.”

Women take part in a rally, outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem October 19, 2016.Credit: Baz Ratner, Reuters

Huda Abu Arqoub, a political activist from Hebron, won rousing applause when she said, in English, that she was there as a free woman, and that the time had come for women to speak their piece and to work for peace, security for everyone and mutual recognition. She ended her speech by declaring that there is a partner for peace.

Singer Yael Deckelbaum, who performed at the rally, spoke about the women’s prayer service she had attended Wednesday morning at Qasr al-Yahud, near Jericho.

“We were 4,000 women, half of them Palestinians,” she said. “They told me there was nobody to make peace with. Today, we proved that wrong.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott