FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Duet of the People

by GILA SVIRSKY

 

Oh, Mother Jerusalem,
You lie there naked with fear,
A mermaid in an enchanted bed,
A wall encircling you,
Burning like a candle from within,
But the houses–locked shut
In loneliness and tears.

In what may have been one of the most moving moments of protest in Israel, hundreds of women and men wearing stark black lay down outside the Cinematheque in Tel-Aviv, completely covering the large plaza in front of the building. At first, it seemed too hot to attempt such an act–exactly at 12 noon–and first efforts to lie flat on one’s back seemed a misguided idea. But then the unaccompanied voice of Reem Telhami began its chant, the haunting harmonies reminiscent of the call of the muezzin during Ramadan at dawn before the sun has risen, and soon there was utter silence. I lay there, too, the heat pressing against my arms, back and legs, my eyelids luminescent with sun, and soon I too was inside Reem’s deep, mournful lament. “In loneliness and tears”, she sang three times, each more tender and plaintive than the last. As the last strains evaporated into the air, I could feel my face wet with those tears.

So began today’s demonstration of the Coalition of Women for Peace, marking 36 years of Israeli occupation, calling for its end and an end to the killing that has enveloped our lives. How can this still be happening to us? Haven’t 36 years been enough?

The speakers alternated–Jews and Palestinians from Israel, two Palestinian women from the territories, and one woman representing the internationals who risk their lives in an effort to intervene nonviolently. Dalit Baum, feminist Jewish activist, opened by showing the connections among all the forms of violence — occupation, poverty, brutality against women — through their common roots. Suher abu-Uksa Daoud, a Palestinian writer doing her doctorate at Hebrew University, spoke of how her own life moved from anger to peace activism. Yali Hashash, a feminist defender of Mizrahi rights among Jews, challenged us to examine our commitment to justice, and pay a solidarity visit to the protest encampment of impoverished Israelis in Tel Aviv.

Flo Razowsky a U.S. peace activist with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), told how the Israeli government is trying to prevent peace and human rights activists from entering the territories, and noted that she is personally struggling to prevent Israel from deporting her. A particularly moving letter written by Cindy Corrie, the mother of Rachel–the American peace activist who was killed by a bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home–was read out loud and said, in part: “There have been times when I have been quiet because I felt there were others who knew more. But I am no longer intimidated by experts and critics. After all, my daughter had the courage to stand in front of a bulldozer” [full text attached]. Shulamit Aloni, former Israeli cabinet minister and outspoken defender of justice and equality, was eloquent in demanding an end to the bloodshed and the dawn of an era of peace.

From the occupied territories, Fadwa Khader of the Palestinian Agricultural Association came to extend her hand in peace. Zahira Kamal, senior official in the Palestinian Authority, and committed all her life to peace, women, and workers, declared “I believe in the power of women. Women are grounded in their awareness of the sanctity of all human beingsI believe we can work together for ending the occupation and that we can live in peace together.” Rauda Murkus, Palestinian from Israel, closed with an aching and touching poem.

When all the painful words were used up, Yana and Haya, our Jewish and Palestinian co-moderators, again asked us to lie down on the pavement, and I thought we could not recapture that initial moment. But we lay down again, and Reem began her lament again, and soon I heard a very quiet clapping in response to the weeping in her voice, and a new space was created together, a space where we met the loneliness and tears of Reem’s singing with the quiet clapping of our hands. While there was sorrow, we were no longer “locked shut / In loneliness and tears”.

As the situation in the territories gets worse; as witnesses are barred from the scenes of violence; as political rhetoric raises expectations and then retracts them; our hopes still lie with the duet of the people, the lament caressed by quiet clapping, the Palestinians and Israelis who have kept their faith, who still reach out to each other inside the pain and wait — and work together — for the lament to end.

GILA SVIRSKY lives in Jerusalem. She is a member of Coalition of Women for Peace. She can be reached at: gsvirsky@netvision.net.il

 

Special Thanks To:

The organizers: Dorit Abramowitz, Dita Bitterman, Yana Knopova, Molly Malekar, Yakov Manor, Manal Shalabi, GILA SVIRSKY, Guy Tatsa, Alix Weizman.

International friends and supporters: Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Sally Gottesman, Kvinna till Kvinna, Moriah Fund, and many dear friends.

Knesset Members (present and past) who attended: Yael Dayan, Tamar Gozansky, Issam Makhoul.

Solidarity vigils all around the world: in North America, Europe, and Japan.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail