From the lowest place on earth – a barren sandy stretch of land in the West Bank near the Dead Sea – thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women gathered on Sunday to call on world leaders to make peace.
“I call on you Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu to end the conflict and enter negotiations until you reach an agreement,” called out Yahaloma Zchut. “And I want peace.”
She explained that her parents had come to Israel from Egypt in the 1950s and she was raising her family in Ofakim.
“We have the power and the courage to find the key to peace. Yes, it is possible,” she said.
All the women in the tent chanted back: “Yes, it is.”
She was one of the dozens of speakers who stood on a makeshift stage under a large tent with large peace quilts hanging off the sides and spoke of their desire for peace.
The event is part of a 16-day march from Israel’s South to North organized by the NGO, Women Wage Peace.
The group, which was created in 2014 in the aftermath of the Gaza war, has focused on the need for a solution to end the violence rather than holding one ideological line or another.
Most of the march was inside the Green Line, which meant the Palestinian participants could not take part.
However, Sunday’s event, and one last week in Gush Etzion, were in the West Bank, which allowed Palestinian woman to participate.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent the women a message of support, while Women in Gaza sent a message to the group saying: “We can’t accept the law of the jungle that is never-ending. In such a game, there are no winners.”
An area in one of the tents was dedicated to the biblical matriarchal figures Sarah and Hagar and the idea that the Jewish and Muslim descendants of these women were now coming together. Pieces of artwork dedicated to peace were placed near the tent area.
Ruth Katz Klein, a Sinai evacuee, recreated the very large white dove she drew in the sand near the settlement of Yamit just before it was evacuated in 1982.
Israeli artist Adi Yekutieli displayed a 70 foot-high dress that was so large it was hung from a crane.
Yekutieli said he first pieced together the dress 10 years ago with the help of 500 women to highlight the issue of agunot, women whose husbands refuse to grant them a Jewish divorce.
Inspired by the topic of the march, he agreed to loan it to the women for their desert peace tent because its symbolism is about the greater cause of female empowerment, including the pursuit of peace.
“It is a really a symbol of unity, of support and empowerment,” Yekutieli said.
Reported by: Tovah Lazaroff – JPost. com