It is the Jewish new year and it is symbolic to start it with a march of hope. I arrive to the north of Israel, Rosh Hanikra, near the border of Lebanon. I just read some hours ago that the movement named “4 mothers” will give the torch to us, and this is the heart of the ceremony for me. This women movement already managed to manifest their goal – withdrawing from Lebanon. We can learn much from them. I appreciate Women Wage Peace for their approach – getting inspired from stories of success, and showing by them that what seems to be impossible is actually possible. Peace is possible. We expected 100 people. There came 2000 people. Lisa is also there. As we start walking along the sea side I have an intimate talk with Lisa. She shares with me about her life and how she got burnout from too much volunteer work. I know that one gets burnout if one is disconnected from hope. The personal questions and the collective questions are so much the same – do we have a perspective for a life worth living? We are walking to bring back hope. Together we have so much power. There is a power that asks to be awakened. It is a female power that stands for peace.
We slept by the sea. In the morning I get into the water. It is so good to swim in the Mediterranean sea. I feel welcomed. The group is coming together to have a morning attunement. Michal brings the book with the name: “Temporary Autonomous Zone” – a great beginning. We walk to a high school, to talk with the young people about our pilgrimage. On the way already there are interviews from the media. We are a group of 20 people walking the whole pilgrimage. Between us there are 2 men who are so much in support that it is amazing. A new archetype of men. Later on I see that there are men who created T-shirts with the sentence: I am a man who support women who wage peace. Every day there are people joining us. Sometimes 50, sometimes hundreds. We have a bus that accompany us and bring the people who join back to the beginning point at the end of the day. The bus driver is Ismail and we talk in arabic. I realize that I can speak arabic, actually I speak better than all the other Israelis in the group. It is a great joy to speak with Ismail. In the high school after sharing about ourselves we ask the students to share one word that stay with them from the talk. Many of them say – Listening. It is the key word for me for this day. We continue walking through nature and we arrive to Lochamei hagetaot Kibbutz – to the center for humanistic education. It is an amazing project about which I have never heard. It teaches about the holocaust and the Nakba in a way of not comparing but bearing witness to the traumatic history from a perspective that tries to evoke the humanistic response. We meet both arabs and jews who graduated this program. They are amazing, sharing about how they learned to really listen to the other. They shared about experiences of violence that transformed through this type of listening. From there we continue to Akko and meet in a shelter arab and Israeli women who work together for women empowerment under the name: shared vision. I am personally touched by a woman who work with criminal youth and manage to support them to find back their meaning in life. There are so many peace projects about which I never heard. It is great to weave them together through walking and listening.
We walk in the area of Haifa and krayot – near big shopping malls. It is an area in which I lived for some years and where I gave birth to my children. I was not here for many years. I am reconciling through walking with that time of my life. During this day we are less in nature and more visible to the public. We wish that many people would get the message that we carry. It is a simple message that says that we will not stop until there is an honorable political agreement, and that it is possible to reach such an agreement. In the morning round everybody present their name and where are they from. I present myself as somebody who lives in a peace research village in the south of Portugal. It evokes a lot of curiosity. People want to know more. I walk with new people for hours and share about Tamera and about the vision of the Peace Research Village Middle East. It is amazing how much it touches people. There might be new supporters that are drawn to the vision. On the afternoon we drive with the bus to the Island of Peace – next to the Jordanian river. We have there a ceremony. I am surprised to meet there some known friends and specially and am happy to see Nagham – my Palestinian friend whom I met in Tamera a year ago. She is married to a Swedish man. We sit together and she shares with me about her life and about her love questions. There cannot be peace on earth as long as there is war in love. I am so much touched by her sincere questions. She is working on creating a movie together with an Israeli woman that would show their process as a mirror to the collective story. Meanwhile Meera is singing an improvised prayer, just with the word – Habibi – My beloved. Everybody are with tears as they hear this prayer. As we walk out of the site I see the young women who did the belly dance performance next to the soldiers with guns who were securing the event. It is such a strong contrast, and such a symbol for women power. We are traveling back and we are hosted by people who don’t know us. It is really touching to see how people open their houses and heart to us. This spirit of hospitality is really the core value of these people – both Palestinians and Israelis.
We walk in the area of Tivon with some hundreds of people. I walk with Hila, a woman who lived in a community with the teacher Shai Tuvali. This community collapsed some years ago. We talk about the awakening process she went through after leaving the community, about the Guru trap, about community life and love life, and how they come or don’t come together, about our spiritual path. It is good to have a friend who shares the same questions and some experience. She shares with me that it seems to her that Tamera is one of the few communities that really works. Oh, how much we need models that work to gain hope… I hope that this march of hope would become such a story that will trigger more women around the world to come together and change the world.
During the last days I saw 3 almost dead animals – a mouse, a snake and a butterfly. I am aware that we are dealing with a critical situation in the middle east and in the world. Hope is almost dying. One need to have a great vision in order to bring it back to life.
Today we meet in the arab village – Um el Fahem. We first visit the art gallery that was created to the name of Asem abu shakra who was my most beloved art teacher in high school. I talk with Said abu Shakra – the gallery owner and the cousin of Asem and I share with him memories. It is very touching. Said gives a speech and I am touched by his path and by his words. He talks about fear that just needs the light to disappear. We fear what we don’t know. He speaks about his mother that was forced to marry on the age of 13, taking her dolls secretly with her. He speaks about the need to uplift himself – and later to discover the challenge to connect with his own people on the same eye level, discovering that he needs to lower himself to their level and uplift both together. He is planning to create a museum in Um el Fahem that will have transparent walls. There is another speech by Kollet Avital, a former kneset member and also the former ambassador of Israel in Portugal. We make contact and set a meeting for after the march. I feel she can be a supporter. We walk all through Um el Fahem and meet many local people. Some people in our group were afraid to walk like this in the arab village and they are surprised by the friendliness. We meet many peace initiative from the area. One of them is touristic collaboration with both arabs and jews tour guides. I have a talk with Shirin – an arab tour guide. She is funny and she has a lot of knowledge about the Kuran and the Islam. She shares with me that she reads every day in the Kuraan. I know this love to the holy books and yet from our conversation I think how realize again the religion and the sexual suppression are close together. In the evening we get to know many more peace initiatives. I am touched by a story about the B-language school for both arabs and jews. On its gate it is written: “We are all different”.
It is Monday. We start the morning walk with the ring of power. I lead a silent walk with the question: what is the role of the feminine in bringing peace? After half an hour we share in pairs. I have a deep talk with haya – a woman who lives with her partner who also walk with us on a boat. I am touched by the power of collaboration in our group – a true feminine power.
Today we walk to Bartaa – an arab village that is divided. Half of it is in Israeli citizenship and half of it is part of palestine. We hear the complications of the life in a place like this. It asks for a big heart opening. We meet leaders from the palestinian community. It is good to to get connected with the reality of this place even though it is not easy.
We continue walking in nature and I have a talk with Hagit, the israeli leader of the walk. I am amazed by her and by Ulfat – the arab leader, both are very committed peace worker and very humble women – not pushing their ego, and inviting the gifts of each woman to show up. They both became role models for me for a new kind of leadership. I gain more and more trust in the movement Women Wage Peace. It has some basic guidelines that I get to know:
a new language is needed! We talk a lot about this new language that is inclusive and focuses on solutions.
no blaming and no shaming!
You suggest – you manifest! (this is a beautiful guideline that promotes activism and self responsibility, you don’t wait that somebody will do it… you do it yourself with the support of others)
After being in Bartaa we go to an ortodox Jewish religious village. We meet some representatives. We wish to let people know about us that usually were not connected to peace work. We get to know what they are busy with. The women are working on their path of women empowerment and rights to be part of the prayers. They collect money each week for the poor people in the area. This is part of their education system. We continue to givaat haviva – a peace center. There we meet more peace initiatives… there are so many that I cannot name them all. The man who host us says – you women have the power to do what we – men could not do – to bring peace. At night we have a meeting with the intimate group of the walkers. It is good to come together as a smaller circle. We share what we gained from the walk and I share how I gained hope in the vision of the Peace Research Village Middle East and how I feel the connection between the community reality I live in Tamera and the community that I feel around me here. I take deeper and deeper the task to create community wherever I am.
It is Yom Kipur eve – The holiday of forgiveness and atonement. We have a walk by the mediterranean sea. Hundreds of people are joining us walking together and singing. The children collect the sea shells. Also my family is joining. When we reach our destination by the shore I lead the prayer. I pray to leave behind the feeling of despair, of impotence, of loneliness. I connect with the people dying in Syria. Around Israel there are hundreds of people who come together to pray for them. I connect with my friends who are doing the pilgrimage “walking water”. The children make a mandala from the shells. Each person take a shell from the outer circle of the mandala and throw it to the ocean and with it to throw away what prevent me from working for peace.
I go home with Meera and Sausan as we have a day off from the pilgrimage for the holiday. They are both 22 years old. Sausan ran away from home as her brother threatened to kill her. She is walking with us the whole walk. People fall in love with her. Me too.We enter into the holiday with singing– create in me a pure heart oh God! I sing and sing. In my mind I see people that I love. They come to me one after the other like a train of beloved people. I could feel the fabric of my contact with them. Later I feel the vision of the Peace Research Village Middle East coming. I am one with this vision. It seems possible. I ask Meera – will we create the Peace Research Village Middle East? She says: sure: I have so many arab friends for this vision and she start to name them. We laugh a lot. I sing for this vision together with Meera and Sausan. I cannot sleep the whole night. I read the book – women who run with wolves. I am such a woman. I am a wild woman and my heart is beating wildly for peace.
We go through the arab villages Kalanswa and Taibe. We meet children from the school. The young children made an art project for us. We collect in every place pieces for our peace quilt. The children want to show us what they created. They also sing to us. It is a touching moment. In Taibe we meet children from the high school who have a project together – arab and jewish youth learning together once a month. They share how it influenced them. One girl share about how they volunteer together in a hospital and how she realized that pain has no race and it doesn’t distinguish between arab and jews.
On the long hot day we walk and music uplift us. I walk with Dafna and we write a new song while walking. Very fast more people get it and we all sing together. I walk with an arab woman with a veil. She shares with me about her love to nature, about her family and lifestyle. I really like her. She also share how happy she is that her husband allowed her to join the march. I know that for women it would be a long way to find the authority to decide for their lives, to step out of patriarchy, to raise their voice. I am happy for each step.
We continue to an event in Kfar saba. We made a suka – hut – that is part of the holiday rituals and we decorate it with the paintings we got from the children from Kalanswa. We invited all the Kneset memebers and some speakers. Some of them came both from left and right parties. It is an interesting pannel. Meanwhile there is one kneset memeber who comes with a violent racist attitude and threatened to ruin the event. He gets some attention from the media but the police stops him and we continue. Amir perez speaks about making the peace movement again a popular movement that people would love to join it. I feel we make the first steps toward this goal. In the evening again we go to people who offered their house and made dinner for us. The best hospitality… They heard that we are vegan and they learned specially vegan recipes to make us happy. The man who host me is working on creating a card game about Jewish mysticism and i offer my help.
We have again a long walk. We walk through the cotton fields and I think about the principle of softness as a feminine quality. I invite the group to have a silent walk with the inspiration of peace pilgrim. We walk with the sentence: This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.
Later I have a long walk with Liati who is one of the women who go though the whole march. She is an amazing artist and once I visited her home in the desert which is more beautiful than what Gaudy made in Barcelona. She shares with me about her daughter with whom she has the same difficulties as I have with my daughter. We make a prayer for our daughters. On the day after something opens. Her daughter that didn’t communicate with her and with her family for a long while gives a first sign of contact. I have another walk with Dafna and we talk about the root of violence erupting from the feeling of not being seen.
We meet again with hundreds of people including some leaders in the area of Modein, starting to walk together toward Neve Shalom. The song of Meera again tunes the hearts. I have more time to walk and talk with Ulfat – the arab leader of the walk. She is such an inspiration for me. She works in her daily life with arab and israeli groups in nature – claiming that nature can bring us to our core of truth. In her family they used to celebrate the holidays of the 3 religions. She shares with me about the books of Castaneda that gave her the courage to make changes in her life. As we walk she gets more and more interested in Tamera. She is a woman who goes a path that is not so common in society. She doesn’t want to become a mother and also partnership is not her first priority. I honor her courage to discover and follow her truth. It is another holiday eve and this holiday is dedicated to the story of exodus – walking out of the comfort zone and daring to step into the unknown. I feel that this whole march was a kind of exodus for me.
Today is a big day as we will host a big event with Leimah Gbowee – from Liberia, who was awarded the noble peace prize in 2011. In the morning I give as a gift the book “sources of love and peace” to the core group – 20 people who were walking together. It is amazing how we became a community during those days. Before the event we have an artistic activity with Eitan kedmy. We create together a mandala from natural materials. It is about finding our inner center. It is like a mirror of the soul of our core group – colorful, joyful, many individuals who create something together, giving space to each other’s individuality. I realize that while creating the mandala I take the task to keep it all together. To see the whole. The event in the evening starts and the place is full. I am deeply impressed by Leimah. I take her as a deep inspiration for my life. She says that we need to be serious if we want to be carriers of hope and peace. One can feel that she knows what she is talking about. She says that we might loose friends, that we might pay prices, and it is a deep commitment. She also share that in order to work for peace one needs to put down every wall and every prejudice in ones own soul. Taking this african woman as a role model is a very touching decision. I want to learn to speak from my innermost point of faith as I can experience the talk of Leimah.
The evening yesterday was amazing and still i missed the song of Meera as part of it. I wonder why it was not included. There were famous singer who were invited, and still Meera’s song is not less powerful than all that was sang. I ask the organizers why was it and if Meera will sing in the big event in the ending ritual. They tell me that it was not planned that she would sing her song in the big event. I bring together the core group and discover that we are united in the way we look at this situation. We request with a clear voice that this song should be heard in the big event. I find an assertive new clear power in me. I know that this song should be there, for Meera to be heard, for us and for the people who will come. After some hours the decision is made – the song will be included. During this day (one day before our last big event) there are many marches and events all around the country. Leimah is taken to 3 of these events. I continue with the core group on our way to jerusalem. I hold again the silent walk with a quote from sources of love and peace. “Cleanse yourself daily with the question: Do I want to become a messenger of peace? Take time to enter the day with this conscious decision.” We walk close to my home We dip in ein Limon – which was a spring in which I was dipping every day for some years. We end the day with a talk with Avrum Burg – an inspiring author. I want to talk with him for a long time. He says that there are new alliances in our days. He mentions the strengthening of the racist power in the world and also the strengthening of the peace protectors. He calls it clashes of civilizations. He dares in the end of the talk to touch the erotic question, claiming that the next step would be when love would know no race and there would be no fear to fall in love and make families beyond the nationality of arabs and jews. I am impressed and I dare to speak publicly about this topic and about Tamera. At the end of the event I meet him and we set a date for another meeting.
I am tired and I go home. I get a phone call saying that Sausan is in the police station and that she was caught with marijuana. I ask a friend to take his car and I drive to Tel Aviv. There I meet Meera. The brothers of Sausan were there and were threatening to kill Meera. We open a complain against the brothers in the police. There is a lot of solidarity and support from the women who walk the march. Shila pays a lawyer to come to the police station. We stay there the whole night until 4:00AM in the morning when Sausan is released with my signature to be her guarantee.
We get home to sleep for an hour as tomorrow is the big event. I have deep talks with Sausan about her family and life. We all live in a patriarchal society but I never heard in such an intimate way the story of a young woman who live with the patriarchal society so violently expressing in her daily life. How can it be that your brother could wish to kill his sister? I am so grateful to have my brother with me, as my best friend.
We get to the busses that travel to the dead sea. In the baptist site kaser el yahud. We get there early as we are the core group, but very soon more and more busses start to come. I am amazed to see so many busses coming from the west bank. Abu Mazen was funding some of those busses to come and many other heads of municipalities were giving financial support for busses to come to this event. We step out of the normalization topic – It is about participating in an historic event – Women are coming together and demand a peace agreement. My little arabic is again used. I am happy to chat with the women and I get to know women who live in a Palestinian village not far from my house but behind the separation wall. There is a feminine core that is touched. We are so powerful, celebrating, drumming, singing. We are happy beyond compare. The tiredness from the sleepless night disappears. There is a power of excitement. We start walking together as a big snake of 4000 women. I know that this snake will go on. The event is held by an Israeli woman and a Palestinian woman from Hebron. Huda Abuarqoube – an inspiring charismatic woman. She breaks down the Israeli stenotype and deep fear – “If anybody claims that you have no partner I am here to say loud – you have a partner” she says. Leimah is also speaking. She says – “If you see this march today and you don’t see hope, and you don’t see peace, then you are blind. Reject the narrative that war is your future. Maybe we would not end the conflict but we will make it impossible for militarism to continue in this region. We are equal. Nobody of us is better from the other, History will write this day.”
From there we continue to Jerusalm. The big march. 20,000 people joined. I walk with Sausan and Tali, One of my best friends. I decide to stop walking in the front and just stand in one place and witness the people. More and more people are passing by. I see some people that I know and many others. There are women singing everywhere. It doesn’t look like a demonstration but more like a celebration. Everywhere people are smiling – saying that they didn’t experience such hope for many many years. I see handicapped people marching with us with wheelchairs, I see children and elders, people are waving to us from their homes, some Palestinian and Israeli women are walking together with water bottles on their heads trying to walk balanced in the traditional way. We have so much to learn from each other. We get to the prime minister’s home and many speakers are talking. Bibi had put a thick black curtain between us and his home. It is a strong symbol but we don’t stop. Our voice is heard. It feels that we stepped out into the world to change consciousness and consciousness will change the world. Peace is possible. Meera is singing on stage her powerful song – love is the religion. At the end of the event the organizer whisper in my ear: Thank you for insisting that Meera’s song will be part of this event. Something is changing and I am also changing through this walk, finding a new power of hope in me.
May we succeed!