Palestinian, Israeli & international women oppose the Wall

Report by Bat Shalom, May 12, 2004

On May 11, 2004, a group of 50 Palestinian women, together with Israeli and international peace activists, marched once again in solidarity. We moved through the streets of Biddu to the site of the Separation Wall, where earthmoving machinery was seen working. Walking through the narrow streets of Biddu, many of the marchers still remembered the violent attack of the police just two weeks earlier. This time, we decided, we will stay together in one group. Some Palestinian and Israeli women hold hands. The tension and the fear could not be ignored. Someone shouted that she saw policemen on horses behind the hill. Nevertheless, we kept on walking, holding hands and singing.

We were particularly impressed by the passion of the Palestinian women marchers, who chanted peace slogans in Arabic and Hebrew. For anyone doubting the Palestinian desire for peace, today's march was convincing proof that the Palestinians are desperate for peace and ready to live normal lives next to a non-aggressive Israel.

Finally the march arrived to the point where the soldiers were positioned. Two horses were seen behind them, waiting. On a narrow street of Biddu stood two groups, the soldiers and the women, facing each other for a long time. Today, no shots were fired, no tear gas used and mounted police were only seen in the distance – importantly: no offensive attacks were made on the peaceful demonstrators. We were encouraged by the success of expressing our resistance to the Wall engulfing the village of Biddu.

Following the protest, we returned back to the municipality hall for a quick lunch and began planning future joint actions. Despite the terror felt by many women, we will continue to set the agenda of non-violence and non-confrontation within our protests.

We, the women of Bat Shalom, repeat our former assertions that the struggle against the wall is about ending the Israeli Occupation. The Wall is one of the tools of control by the occupying power. Its construction is a hostile act, inflicting pain and injustice on Palestinians today and threatening the social and economic integrity and viability of any future Palestinian state. In opposing the wall we must make clear that we oppose not only the human rights abuses, but that we are promoting an alternative set of values and standards that see as their goal an equally decent life for both people. By working together, Israeli and Palestinian women are introducing values and norms, which will pave the way for a just, equitable resolution for Palestinians and Israelis.

Bat Shalom is an Israeli national feminist grassroots organization of Jewish and Palestinian Israeli women working together for a genuine peace grounded in a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, respect for human rights, and an equal voice for Jewish and Arab women within Israeli society.