Women’s Demonstration Against War

While a majority of Israelis seem to be backing their government’s murderous aggression against the Lebanese people, there have been some voices of dissent.

On July 23rd thousands of people (some reports say as many as 5,000) – from Arab, “left zionist”, peace, feminist and anarchist organizations – came together to demonstrate in Tel Aviv, calling for an immediate halt to the murderous attacks on Lebanon. (Slogans included “We will not kill, we will not die in the name of Zionism” and also “We will not die and will not kill in the service of the United States.”)

Of particular interest to myself are activities which try to explicitly connect the struggles against military aggression, patriarchy and colonialism – all of which are on fine display in the current conflict. (For instance: rabbi Moshe Sternbuch – who seems like the Fred Phelps of Israel – has argued that Hezbollah attacks are a divine warning against queer Israelis, noting in regards to the planned gay pride march in Jerusalem, “We have not protested enough against this parade of abomination and therefore we have received this warning,  Who knows where things will get to if we do not act further and more stringently against it.”)

So i was heartened when i saw the following news story of a women’s demonstration in Tel Aviv last Sunday. The following report is from Sunday’s ynetnews:

Protesters: War a man’s issue

Moran Rada

Former Member of Knesset Tamar Gozansky, who participated in the left-wing demonstration against the war in Lebanon on Saturday, said “War has been and will remain a man’s issue. We denounce the conception that everything must be solved through force.”

Some 1,500 demonstrators marched from Rabin Square to King George Street in Tel Aviv carrying signs inscribed with slogans such as: “Prisoner swap better than body bags” and “Stop killing, start talking NOW” and “If we want, there is someone to talk to.”
Ten women’s organizations were behind the organization, under the banner “Women Against the War,” espousing the outlook that “women don’t gain from war, but men do. Every general or colonel in reserve duty sets the policy, and we, as women, only lose.” Adi Dagan, spokeswoman of the Coalition of Women for Peace, said “We as women have more motivation for the war to end.”

Gozanksy explained, “If you check thoroughly you will see that among the powerless victims there are a lot of women and children. Women are an exploited, degraded, and oppressed population that pays the price of her weakness even after the war. I’m sure that after this war we will hear of many women who were fired and whose rights were not upheld because they couldn’t get to work. The public did not vote for the parties so that they would support war.”

Not just for women

At the demonstration, not a small number of men were present. Dan Yahav explained, “I think that this is one of the stupidest wars ever. The captive soldiers were not the trigger for the war. One must coldly think what the real reasons that caused the government to go to war.”

He beleives some potential reasons could be “the arrogance and the lack of preparedness to compromise, especially on territory. This is also the main reason for the lack of peace with Syria. Similar to the first Lebanon War, the goal is to rearrange Lebanon, to change the ethnic balance in Lebanon according to the vision of the West – that is the US. The leaders want to prove themselves.”

Matti Shmuelaf, a poet and editor, joined the protestors claiming, “I came to demonstrate because I think a fateful mistake has been made that is exacting an enormous price on the periphery, on the soldiers, and on Lebanon and Gaza. Hundreds of people are dying. I think we are a pioneering army in the true camp of peace.”

Economic security beyond borders

Yaheli Hashash of Haifa, a member of the Ahoti (My Sister) movement said that she came to the demonstration “because our security in Israel is first and foremost economic security. The economic security of women has deteriorated in the last 15 years. The achievements of the social welfare movements in the last elections have been thrown out the window with the grinding down of entire populations in the north. Who will compensate women in the north who receive hourly or daily wages? The money that is invested now in supposedly saving us from Katyushas was supposed to save us from unemployment and a lack of economic security. Beyond the border there also needs to be economic security, because that is our security also.”

Neta Rotem of Jerusalem, a member in the Anarchist Group, said that in her opinion the war must stop immediately. “Our voice calls out to stop thinking that to every problem there is a violent solution, a competitive solution, a solution in which one side has to lose and the other side has to win. The aggression of Israel and the Hizbullah cannot bring about a decisive victory to one side, or a decisive loss to the other side. The solution must be an agreement between the two sides from which everyone will benefit, and won’t die from.”

Dagan called the Government of Israel to respond to offers of an immediate ceasefire, to prisoner exchange, and to diplomatic negotiation.

“We believe that this war will not achieve security for the residents of Israel, only negotiations and peace agreements with Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority will. We women are always politically active for the end of the occupation, and equality for women and minorities, and therefore we were the first to organize against the war.”


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