geert lovink on 3 Jan 2001 04:47:56 -0000

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<nettime> Peace Demonstration in Jeruzalem

from: "Gila Svirsky" <>
subject: On the Way to Crowning Jerusalem with Peace


Yesterday, Israel saw the largest rally for a just peace that has been held
since the outbreak of the intifadah 3 months ago...and it was a joint
Israeli-Palestinian event.

Women came in droves from all over Israel -- Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and
Druse.  And despite the "closure" that Israel had imposed on the Occupied
Territories, Palestinian women and men also managed, by means only they
know, to cross the Green Line and reach us.

The day began in the Notre Dame conference center located symbolically on
the border of Jewish and Palestinian Jerusalem.  The walls carried two huge
banners in Hebrew and Arabic:  Women Demand: No to Occupation - Yes to a
Just Peace!  We opened with greetings from three international women peace
leaders who flew in especially for the occasion -- Luisa Morgantini from
Italy, Simone Susskind from Belgium, and June Jacobs from the U.K.  The
co-moderators -- Hannah Safran from Women in Black and Nabeha Murkus from
Tandi -- reported to the crowd about solidarity demonstrations being held
throughout the world, and of greetings from organizations and individuals
from a long list of countries.

Women then took the podium one by one, Palestinian and Israeli alternately,
to speak movingly and passionately of both the suffering as well as the
determination to end the bloodshed between our peoples.  This was a
conference "of the people", but we were glad to see in the audience 3
Israeli MKs (Tamar Gozanski, Naomi Chazan, and Muhammad Barake) expressing
their support for the grassroots work.  The simultaneous translations into
Hebrew, Arabic, and English allowed each woman to speak in her own
language.  I will just quote two: Michal Pundak-Sagie, activist in New
Profile: Movement for the Civil-ization of Israeli Society, called upon
soldiers to refuse orders that their conscience does not allow.  And Zahira
Kamal, leading grassroots spokeswoman in the Occupied Territories, declared
that the principles of the Coalition of Women for a Just Peace provide a
sound basis for peace between our peoples.

Plaza, the location of Jerusalem's Women in Black vigil, and an estimated
2,000 women filled the entire plaza and spilled over onto the side streets
carrying the traditional black hand signs with "End the Occupation" painted
in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.  This silent one-hour vigil was an even
more dramatic sight than usual, and TV crews from all over the world --
even from Israel -- were there to capture it.  The extreme right wing did
their best to infiltrate the ranks, to provoke us and draw attention to
themselves, and finally ended up exchanging blows with the police, but they
were overcome and moved behind barriers -- out of sight, mind, and media.

At 2:00 pm, the crowd poured out of the plaza and from every corner and
sidestreet, we began our march toward East Jerusalem.  Men and women who
had joined us from other organizations -- Gush Shalom brought its own
busload of activists -- held aloft their own collection of banners and
signs for peace.  The sight was overwhelming, as the street filled with
marchers and voices.  Nabila Espanioli from Nazareth grabbed a megaphone
and led responsive chanting: "Peace?" "YES!" -- "Occupation?" "NO!" doing
renditions in Hebrew, Arabic, English, and even Italian for the delegation
of 35 who had flown in for the action.  Flying high were signs and banners
saying "Palestine Side by Side With Israel -- On the '67 Borders",
"Jerusalem - 2 capitals for 2 states", "The Age of Generals is Over", "Fund
the Poor, Not Settlers", and "We Refuse to be Enemies".

It was breathtaking to be part of that march.  But the moment that brought
tears to my eyes was when I greeted a man being pushed in a wheelchair
beside me, and asked if he wanted to hold a sign.  In response, he
unbuttoned his collar and pointed to a deep scar just below his neck.  The
man pushing the wheelchair explained:  "We're from Hebron.  This is one of
the victims of the massacre by Baruch Goldstein.  He wanted to join you
today."  A victim of the violence who harbors no hatred in his heart.  I
shook his hand wordlessly.

As we finally all assembled in the park beside the ancient walls of the Old
City of Jerusalem, people spread out on the grass on this unusually warm
and sunny winter day, exhilirated and awaiting the closing ceremony.
Because of the traffic jams we had caused, the sound system had not yet
arrived, but the crowd waited patiently.  Meanwhile, four brave young women
took banners and actually managed to climb to the top of the wall from
inside the Old City -- some by stairs, but also by one quite daring leap --
and made their way to the top of the wall just over our gathering, beside
two armed soldiers "protecting" us.  From here, they unfurled four banners
down the height of the wall saying Shalom, Salaam, Peace, and End the
Occupation in the three languages.  The crowd roared its approval and the
Old City was crowned the city of peace for one brief moment --until the
soldiers assaulted two of the women and their banners.  The women wisely
threw the other two banners down to the crowd -- to save them, and probably
themselves, too.  But that was a great moment in modern history.  Thank you
Naama, Tali, Moran, and Micheline.

Finally, the sound system was set up, and Halla Espanioli spoke movingly of
our longing for peace.  Nabila called for a minute of silence in memory of
all those who had been killed in recent months, and the stillness in the
crowd was palpable.  Following this, I made a slightly modified Jewish
prayer: "May the Divine Presence give strength to all her peoples, and may
she bless all her peoples with peace."  And we all ended by singing "We
Shall Overcome".

There is much to do to turn this moment into a revolution.  We invite all
of you to join us.

Gila Svirsky
Coalition for a Just Peace

How to help:
(1) Stage your own demonstrations.  (2) Write to your elected officials
that you demand a just peace with Jerusalem and Palestine side-by-side,
Jerusalem as the capital of both, and a just solution for the Palestinian
refugee problem. (3) Send a contribution. Write to me and I'll explain how:

Members of the Coalition for a Just Peace:
Bat Shalom of The Jerusalem Link; Mothers and Women for Peace (formerly
"Four Mothers"); NELED: Women for Coexistence; New Profile: Movement for
the Civil-ization of Society in Israel; TANDI  Movement of Democratic
Women for Israel; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom 
Israel chapter; Women Engendering Peace; Women in Black; Women on Behalf of
Women Political Prisoners.

Allied Organizations:
Altufula: Pedagogical Center and Multipurpose Women's Center; Drejaat
Committee al-Ahaliya; Gush Shalom; Mazrah: Association to Promote Education
and Society; Neve Shalom / Wahat al-Salaam; Public Committee Against
Torture in Israel; Re'ut-Sadaka Youth for Peace; Women Against Violence;
Yesh Gvul

Our principles:
      An end to the occupation.
      The full involvement of women in negotiations for peace.
      Establishment of the state of Palestine side by side with the state
of Israel based on the 1967 borders.
      Recognition of Jerusalem as the shared capital of two states.
      Israel must recognize its responsibility for the results of the 1948
war, and find a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.
      Equality, inclusion and justice for Palestinian citizens of Israel.
      Opposition to the militarism that permeates Israeli society.
      Equal rights for women and for all residents of Israel.
      Social and economic justice for Israel's citizens, and integration
in the region.

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