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

March 30, 2017
William R. Polk
What Must be Done in the Time of Trump
Howard Lisnoff
Enough of Russia! There’s an Epidemic of Despair in the US
Ralph Nader
Crash of Trumpcare Opens Door to Full Medicare for All
Carol Polsgrove
Gorsuch and the Power of the Executive: Behind the Congressional Stage, a Legal Drama Unfolds
Michael J. Sainato
Fox News Should Finally Dump Bill O’Reilly
Kenneth Surin
Former NC Governor Pat McCory’s Job Search Not Going Well
Binoy Kampmark
The Price of Liberation: Slaughtering Civilians in Mosul
Bruce Lesnick
Good Morning America!
William Binney and Ray McGovern
The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate: Will Trump Take on the Spooks?
Jill Richardson
Gutting Climate Protections Won’t Bring Back Coal Jobs
Robert Pillsbury
Maybe It’s Time for Russia to Send Us a Wake-Up Call
Prudence Crowther
Swamp Rats Sue Trump
March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail