Linked with the presentations of The Suffering Palestinian Women Undergo Every Day, and of opposing, challenging and resisting 37 years of occupation.
Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the mother of Smadar Elhanan, 13 years old when killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem in September 1997. She writes: I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour, I don’t know the kind of violence that turns a woman’s life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children, whose houses are demolished, who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal. But I am a victim of violence against women insofar as violence against children is actually violence against mothers. (See on peacepalestine).
Nurit Peled – Israel
She writes: I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour, I don’t know the kind of violence that turns a woman’s life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children, whose houses are demolished, who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal. But I am a victim of violence against women insofar as violence against children is actually violence against mothers.
Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan women are my sisters because we are all at the grip of the same unscrupulous criminals who call themselves leaders of the free enlightened world and in the name of this freedom and enlightenment rob us of our children. Furthermore, Israeli, American, Italian and British mothers have been for the most part violently blinded and brainwashed to such a degree that they cannot realize their only sisters, their only allies in the world are the Muslim Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghani mothers, whose children are killed by our children or who blow themselves to pieces with our sons and daughters. They are all mind-infected by the same viruses engendered by politicians. And the viruses, though they may have various illustrious names–such as Democracy, Patriotism, God, Homeland–are all the same. They are all part of false and fake ideologies that are meant to enrich the rich and to empower the powerful.
We are all the victims of mental, psychological and cultural violence that turn us to one homogenic group of bereaved or potentiallybereaved mothers. Western mothers who are taught to believe their uterus is a national asset just like they are taught to believe that the Muslim uterus is an international threat. They are educated not to cry out: `I gave him birth, I breast fed him, he is mine, and I will not let him be the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future is less worth than a piece of land.`
All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education to believe all we can do is either pray for our sons to come back home or be proud of their dead bodies. And all of us were brought up to bear all this silently, to contain our fear and frustration, to take Prozac for anxiety, but never hail Mama Courage in public. Never be real Jewish or Italian or Irish mothers. (Read more of this long article on peacepalestine).
She writes also: I would like to dedicate my words in this part of the day called “giving voice to the voiceless” to a man whose voice was silenced brutally. Prof. Izzat Ghazzawi, my co-laureate of the Sakharov award, a Palestinian writer and militant for peace and dialogue, was a man who spent three years in a solitary prison cell for nothing more than raising his voice in favour of dignified human existence, and who sent word from this cell to Israeli writers and poets to join him in his refusal to lose faith in man. A man who watched his 15-year-old son being shot by Israeli soldiers at the courtyard of his school while rushing to help a wounded friend, a man who has never spoken a harsh word, and who commented on the continuous humiliation and torture he and his family have been enduring for years, with a short email message, saying: “I think they are trying to intimidate my voice.” Prof. Gazawi’s heart gave in to humiliation and harassment a year ago, and I have promised him upon his death that his voice would never be intimidated. (Introduction to her speach “opposing, challenging and resisting 37 years of occupation”, Read on Inter Activist Info Exchange, and also on link above).
She writes further: My little girl was murdered because she was an Israeli by a young man who was humiliated, oppressed and desperate to the point of suicide and murder and inhumanity, just because he was a Palestinian. And now their bloods are mixed forever on the stones of Jerusalem, that have long grown indifferent to blood. The blood of children has become the cheapest merchandise in the murderous game. And the so called leaders trade in it freely, easily, because for politicians and generals, children are abstract entities, and blood is a chip in the bargain. You kill one of mine, and I’ll kill one hundred of yours. People like our so called leaders, and of course our present prime minister, are people for whom killing has always been the easiest and fastest solution to political problems, and the only way to prove their manhood and honour. But I, who have lost my only one, I know that there is nothing honourable in losing a child. I know that terms like honour and manhood kill. Terms like manhood and honour breed death.
Therefore I would like to exclude myself from the system of classification that rules the area. To me, people are not divided into Palestinians and Jews. For me people are divided into peace lovers and war criminals.
When my little girl died, a reporter asked me how can I accept condolences from theother side. I said to her very spontaneously, that I do not accept condolences from the other side. And when the mayor of Jerusalem came to offer his condolences, I went to my room because I didn’t want to speak to him or shake his hand. For me the other side are the occupation people. The system of education in Israel, or the system of classification in the Israeli system, is monolingual and monocultural. The main slogan in politics and education in Israel is: one nation, one heart, one thought. People are judged by a term that I don’t think exists in any other society, and that term is consolidation. We have to be consolidated, our thoughts have to be consolidated. Children are judged by their consolidated opinions and their consolidated relationship . This is the result of a monologic discourse. When the world is divided into us and non-us, and when time receives a different meaning than in any other place, namely the only time that exists in the Isreali discourse, I can call it mythological times. In text books of Israeli children, that Jerusalem has always been ours, and in parenthesis, except for the 2000 years that we haven’t been here. And when children say we, they mean King David, or our ancestor Abraham and themselves, and that kills them. Our children die because the only thing that is alive in Israel is mythology. Our children die because they are brought up to believe that ancient stones are more important than human life. Our children die because the Jewish mother has disappeared, and her place has been taken by mothers who send their children voluntarily to kill and to be killed. Or take them to live on stolen lands that can bring nothing but death and destruction. Our children die because they are brought up to believe that serving as killers in a murderous army means to serve the good of the nation. They die because they are brought up on these concepts, of discrimination between blood and blood. On the belief that some people are deserving more than others. These days we hear that nations in the world and organisations in the world are finally changing the terminology about our area and that Israeli heroes are called war criminals. I hope they go through with it. I hope they judge and condemn these people. I hope some child caring organisation will condemn mothers who deliberately endanger their children and turn them into killers. Today when there is no oppotiion to the murderous Israeli government, where there is a frightening consensus in Israel and in the Israeli public about the atrocities are being committed, when the Israeli left is practically dead, and the Israeli leftist declare that Palestinians have “disappointed them” because they do not adhere any more to their classification of good, bad or loyal. I wish the world will find a way to stop these people from committing genocide and to stop them from committing suicide, for they will be killing us all before they stop their bloody game of chess, of their own free will. I wish the world finds a way to force the Israeli government to release the tortured and the oppressed, and to give back the stolen land from its rightful owners, to stop their blood bargaining and let our children live.
For me, to end the war means to understand that all bloods are equal and that killing in a guerilla fighting is not more cruel than killing by tanks and airplanes, that sophisticated rockets and home-made bombs kill just the same, and that it takes so little to kill a child and so much to keep her alive. Ending the war means to adopt a diologic approach to negotiation and not a smart dealer approach, to understand that people talk not in order to win but in order to come to terms. Ending the war means that I don’t care what flag is put on what mountain, it means that I don’t care who looks where when they pray, it means that nothing is more important than to secure a young girl’s way to her dance class. If we as women and mothers, and all who care for peace don’t stand up to the politicians and force them to abandon their murderous ways, very soon there will be nothing left to say in our country, nothing left to write or read or listen to except for the cries of death. (Read the rest of this long article on Womens International League for Peace and Freedom).