Women Wage Peace, a grassroots movement working towards reaching all sectors of Israeli and Palestinian society, believe their success lies in the communication of hope.
With over 26,000 registered members, the movement is now the biggest grassroots peace movement in the region in recent history. Their goal is to not stop working until there is a peace agreement.
The movement was launched in the November after the 2014 Gaza war. The 40 founding members held their first meeting in Tel Aviv and decided to draw inspiration from Four Mothers, an Israeli anti-war group established in the 1990s, which was partly credited for the Israeli pullout from Lebanon in 2000. But, while Four Mothers worked from a starting line of consensus across Israel to get out of Lebanon, Women Wage Peace have an uphill battle as they work to restart the conversation around peace and create a critical mass of citizens who believe in the possibility of a diplomatic solution.
While past grassroots movements and peace discussions have failed, this group owes much of its success to their unique strategy. Instead of working towards a specific diplomatic agreement, Women Wage Peace have focused their lobbying efforts on a broad peace brought about by pressuring decision makers in the region. By not identifying with a specific political party and focusing on inclusivity, the movement has garnered praise from leaders and citizens alike for using language that draws people together rather than communication that divides.
As they work to bridge barriers, the group focuses on expanding their numbers and bringing in women from all economic, political, geographic, and religious sectors to join the movement. The group encompasses the unlikeliest of supporters from across political and religious spectrums in Israel. Each member understands that bullets and rockets do not distinguish between political or geographic lines and that it is necessary to bring people together in order to reach a solution.
An ALLMEP member, Women Wage Peace has led several successful events, including the organization’s “Peace Train” that carried 1,000 women from across Israel to Sderot and last year’s “March of Hope,” in which thousands of women participated, culminating ni a rally at the Qasr al-Yahud baptismal site near Jericho. Currently, they are completing a two-and-a-half-week-long “Journey to Peace” that will culminate with a mass gathering at the Dead Sea and a vigil in Jerusalem on October 9th and 10th. By bringing together Israelis and Palestinians from both sides of the Green Line, the movement is hoping to bridge barriers and enable peace communication that will lead to a diplomatic agreement.
In an article published in Haaretz, Women Wage Peace member Tammy Avigdor said:
The significance of this movement is that we have brought a new voice to the conversation. It’s a voice that unites rather than divides. And it doesn’t matter if you’re left or right – we’re all women and mothers, and that’s what binds us together.
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