women writers and artists

Gila Svirsky: Letters from Jerusalem


Goodbye, Gaza
6 August 2005

Despite the political turmoil in
Israel, I have not written for a while because I have been otherwise engaged – more about that in a moment.

First, the good news about the Gaza disengagement:  Above all, the million plus Palestinians in Gaza who have had the Israeli boot in their neck for 37 years will finally see that boot lifted, beginning in 10 days.  That, above all, is the achievement of leaving Gaza – giving Gazans back their lives.  My friend ‘Inam may find her highly educated children (doctor, engineer, computers, etc.) begin to drift back home from their overseas jobs, bringing grandchildren and strengthening the fabric of Gazan society.  Insh’Allah.

(Gila, middle, with other Women in Black, Israel)

More good news is that Israeli politicians are acknowledging the need for Gaza to have access to the world by land, sea and air, and are negotiating the opening of these ports.  This is not yet public information, but a fact.  International pressure does work.

Also the misdeeds of the settlers in resisting the disengagement – their violence, their spurning of law and democracy in favor of “what God tells them” – have begun to reveal the religious madness and materialistic greed driving their ideology.  Exposed at last are the plush villas, the exorbitant demands for ‘replacement villas’ on choice beachfront land inside Israel, and – above all – their rejection of the democratic process as inconsistent with God’s will.  This was epitomized this week by the egregious murder of Israeli Druse citizens by an AWOL soldier seeking to halt the disengagement.  Post-disengagement, the settlers will no longer fool anybody by their claim to having the best interests of the state at heart, and that is a good result, though achieved with great pain.

The bad news continues to be Sharon’s tightening grip on the West Bank through more settlement expansion, more uprooting and destruction of Palestinian homes and land, and the ongoing construction of the Separation Wall, snaking its way through Palestinian towns and lives.  International objection to all this is growing more widespread, due to the cumulative effect of all our efforts, and these must continue.

One such effort is the reason I have been too busy to write in recent months –  helping organize the International Activist Conference of Women in Black, to begin Friday (August 12) in Jerusalem.  This event will bring 700 women from all over the world to see a slice of the oppression with their own eyes, helping strengthen their work as “Women Resist Occupation and War”, the title of this four-day event.

Even if you will not be joining us in
Jerusalem, we invite you to watch our plenary discussions live on the internet.  Click on www.womeninblack.org/jerusalem.html, which is the main conference page (English), and this will lead you to the broadcasts.  You can also participate in the conference by sending us messages via the website, and even blogging and chatting right there.  By the way, the tapes of the conference will be stored on the website for a full year, in case you miss the realtime broadcast.

So, good-bye Gaza, hale and farewell, may our departure enable your long-suffering inhabitants to breath more freely, and may it presage Israel’s imminent departure from the West Bank, too, which will finally spell the liberation not only of Palestine, but of Israel as well

Gila Svirsky


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