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
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail