Mr President, on the eve of your first visit to Israel, hear our voices – the voices of Israeli women who ask that you not give up on us.
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We are writing on behalf of tens of thousands of Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze Israeli women who vote for right wing, centrist, and left-wing parties. Next year, Israel will celebrate 70 years of independence. These have also been 70 years of war and military operations, the most recent of which took place in Gaza only three years ago.
That conflict caused us to say: “No more.” No more wars, no more victims, no more deaths, no more fear, and no more horror. We promised ourselves, our sisters, our children to do everything possible to prevent the next war and founded Women Wage Peace. Our aim is to spur and support our leaders in forging a political solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to give women a voice. Because it sometimes seems that the next war is just a matter of time.
Mr. President, when you land here you will meet our leaders. The vast majority of them will be men. They are the men who run our lives. They are the men who decide if and when we are to embark on another bloody round of violence. They are the men whose voices are heard.
But we, the tens of thousands of women in Women Wage Peace, ask that our voices be heard as well. The voices of those who pay the price of bloodshed, the voices of women who send their sons to war, the voices of women who lose hope, the voices of women who have lost their sense of security.
Recent decades have seen the resolution of other bloody conflicts around the world: The U.S. played a pivotal role in resolving those conflicts. The US indeed played a pivotal role here too. It was President Carter who aided Egyptian and Israeli leaders in forging a peace agreement in 1979 which has endured to this day, securing our southern border. It was President Clinton who aided Israeli and Jordanian leaders in signing the peace agreement in 1994 that brought quiet to our eastern border.
For years, the U.S. has exerted supreme efforts in fostering a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - without success. Every failure prompted another round of violence, victims, and despair.
I, Hiam Tannous, a Christian Arab from northern Israel who has devoted her entire life to education, a mother of two sons and a grandmother of four, joined the movement to play a role in the formation of a new future for the State of Israel, in particular, and for the Middle East, in general. I joined because I believe that it is a crime to sit on the sidelines and not get involved.
I, Anat Saragusti, a Jew from Tel Aviv, who has devoted her entire life to minority rights, was born into a bereaved family. I have promised myself and my son to do everything possible to prevent the next war.
We have arrived at a crossroads in which we can choose to continue on the path of hatred, enmity, and blood or dare to proceed with determination and duty on behalf of our children and our grandchildren.
It is important to us that you know that behind our leaders are ordinary people from both sides who have lost hope. Your visit can return that hope to us. You are a man of deeds, of making deals, of bottom lines. Help us bring our soldiers home. Help the Palestinian people live by our side in tranquility. Mr. President, help us end our endless war.
Hiam Tanous, Haifa
Anat Saragusti, Tel Aviv
Hiam Tannous is an Arab Christian with a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Haifa University. She worked as a senior supervisor in counseling and guidance for the Ministry of Education from 1997-2017. Tannous also headed the Committee for Non-Violence for all Jewish and Arab schools in the north of Israel.
Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor, freelance journalist and writer, on issues of state security, participation of women in decision-making processes and current affairs. Saragusti is a laureate of the 2016 “Unsung Hero” Drum Major for Justice Award.