In Deeply Divided Israel, Jewish and Arab Women Build Case for Peace


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Monitor logoThis article, by Naomi Darom, was originally published by The Christian Science Monitor.

The 4,000 women gathered at the Qasr el Yahud baptism site in the Jordan River Valley to press for peace were a motley crew: old and young, Palestinian and Israeli, some raising their phones to film the crowd, others holding babies.

Many wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Women Wage Peace” in Hebrew, English, and Arabic – some over bare arms, others over traditional long-sleeved embroidered dresses. An Israeli in a sleeveless white tunic embraced an elderly Palestinian in a black hijab, swaying to the beat of doumbek drums and tambourines and chanting: “Hey Ya, women walk for peace!”

Marie O’Reilly, director of research at the Inclusive Security Institute, a Cambridge, Mass.-based think tank that supports women leaders, says the lack of progress toward peace may actually be an opportunity.

“There’s been so little action for so long [in the peace process], that this could be the moment for an alternative approach and a new energy,” says Ms. O’Reilly. “We have worked with Israeli and Palestinian women, and they were some of the most tireless peace advocates we’ve known. It depends on the extent to which they manage to get support from elites on both sides and also on the societal attitudes to this kind of movement. And it’s important to get the message just right.”

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