Full transcript of event at Habima Square, Tel Aviv, on International Women’s Day 2019
Bushra: We stand here together today, women who carry a message of love, peace and life, and bless you with this message of ours.
Anat: We are a group of women from the Parents Circle – Families Forum. We have all lost loved ones as victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we shout “Enough!” —Enough wars, enough bloodshed, enough of the Occupation!
Bushra: Out of the abyss of grief, we found strength and hope in joining the Parents Circle, and our mission is to save more families from experiencing the terrible pain of loss. We march together today, on International Women’s Day, to show that it is possible to bring our message to society— if we can, so can all of you too.
Anat: In our activities, we —bereaved members from both sides— discovered the humanity of the other side, and we learned that despite the differences, there is much in common.
The pain of loss and the hope of ending the conflict are our strong link.
Bushra: We know that women, for the most part, are not the driving force of wars, but we suffer and pay the price of wars. Women can, and should, be involved in promoting peace and reconciliation at home, in society, and in the world. It is important that women take part in shaping peace agreements and raise and educate children for peace. And we tell you today – yes, we can!
Anat: I am Anat Marnin, a resident of Tel Aviv. I lost my two brothers in the Yom Kippur War. I was 16 at the time, and the foundations of my life were destroyed. As a mother of children, I realized that I could no longer keep my personal stories as a private life story. And so I chose to join the Parents Circle – Families Forum and share the story of my dead brothers, for the future of my children and future generations.
Bushra Awad from Beit Ummar, Hebron, the mother of Mahmoud Awad, who was killed on January 25, 2008: After the death of my son Mahmud, my life changed completely – I lost hope and all the reasons for happiness and joy. Mahmoud was less than 18 years old. Two years after he was killed, I joined the Parents Circle – Families Forum, hoping that the killing will not grow on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, that the peace vote will prevail, and that everyone will live in security. On this day, International Women’s Day, I greatly appreciate the efforts that women make to promote a life of peace and mutual respect, because women constitute half of society and because they are able to build a society full of love and without revenge.
Anat: Today we chose to march and share flowers together, to tell you that for too many years we have placed flowers on the graves of the fallen and nothing changes. Let us work together to end the cycle of bereavement.
Anat: From this stage, we— Bushra, myself, and our friends from the Women’s Group of the Parents Circle – Families Forum— are calling out to you: Do not say “one day peace will come”; make that day happen!
Bushra: We are now inviting Israeli and Palestinian women members of the Parents Circle to share their hopes for a better future.
Laila: I am Leila al-Sheikh, from Bethlehem. I lost my son, Kosai.
Tzurit: I, Tzurit Sarig, from Hibbat Zion, I lost my son, Guy.
Leila: We walked together today to show that it was possible.
Tzurit: You can live together in peace
Ashrat: I’m Ashrat Rosenthal, from Kibbutz Nitzanim. I lost my brother, Gil.
Najla: I am Najla Abu Ayish, from Beit Ummar, I lost my brother Maher.
Ashrat: We walked together today to show that we could be different.
Najla: We can stop the circle of bereavement.
Maha: I, Maha Salah, from Beit Sahur, have lost my brother, Abdullah.
Orit: I, Orit Novik, from Jaffa, lost my father, Yekutiel.
Maha: We walked together today to show that it was possible.
Orit: We can create a better future for our children.
Anat: We are honored to invite two dear representatives from Women’s Group: Israeli poet, Hamutal Bar-Yosef, and Palestinian student, Rowand Aktam, who represent different generations of women who aspire to peace and are working to promote it.
Bushra: They will read in Arabic and Hebrew the song “Revenge” by Taha Muhammad Ali.
This poem reflects the choice of the members of the Parents Circle – the choice of reconciliation, rather than revenge.
At times … I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I’d rest at last,
and if I were ready —
I would take my revenge!
But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who’d put
his right hand over
the heart’s place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they’d set —
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.
Likewise … I
would not murder him
if it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn’t bear his absence
and whom his gifts would thrill.
Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbours he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school …
asking about him
and sending him regards.
But if he turned
out to be on his own —
cut off like a branch from a tree —
without a mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and without kin or neighbours or friends,
colleagues or companions,
then I’d add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness —
not the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I’d be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street — as I
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.
April 15, 2006
Bushra: Thank you Hamutal and Rowand.
Anat: We continue from here to march together to Rabin Square, to bring the Parents Circle’s message of reconciliation to the joint conversation we are having in a tent, with Women Wage Peace. We invite you all to join us.