Power to Women in Peace Processes

Women's Organisations Cooperating in Realising Resolution 1325

Chassia Chomsky-Porat has been active in various ways in the struggle for peace in Israel and abroad. Operation 1325 has a long-term relationship through workshops and conferences in working with Chassia.
FOTO: Private

The important task of Israeli women

It is no big secret that Israel is a very militaristic, combative state. I suppose that it is understandable. Our history is a long chain of persecutions and pogroms and war, and of course - there is the traumatic wound of the holocaust, still raw and bleeding in our collective memory and psyche.

So we have developed the "Zionist Ethos": Israel is our haven, our only home in the world, our only guarantee from extinction, for Israeli Jews, and for Jews all over the world. As long as the State of Israel exists, world Jewry is safe.

Suspect the bad guys

Hence we have to be strong and mighty and suspect the whole world, be constantly on guard. This, which is partly a political manipulation, is so embedded in us, that we do not even notice it. From early childhood until the end of school, in all our religious and national holidays and curricula "We" are portrayed as the good guys and "They" – be it the Romans, the ancient Greeks, the Nazis, the British in Palestine before 1948, the Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular – "They" are the bad guys.

From this follows the notion, that the most substantial and central focus of the State is the army, hence, the militaristic culture or atmosphere governs our lives.

In parliament, 21 women out of 120 members

Women's position in society demonstrates it. We constitute about 51 percent of Israeli population, yet we are largely excluded from the political and public arena and from positions of power. In the Israeli Parliament, there are 21 women out of 120 members and among the 30 ministers only 2 are women, both in marginal ministries. Our collective voice is not heard and we do not participate in making decisions that shape our reality, let alone during military conflicts.

We create life, yet have no say in matters touching the lives of our sons.

Worse still, we, like the rest of Israeli society have internalized the ominous intimidations and educate our sons to be first-rate soldiers. We also educate ourselves – the mothers – to be willing to sacrifice our sons without hesitation, proudly even.

And so, at 18, young men, boys actually, are recruited to the army, and remain in the military circles through reserve service until age 45-50, while we, mothers, girl-friends, sisters and daughters are left behind, worried sick, watching helplessly, without a say, as our boys turn into killing machines, some of them dying morally, some of them dying physically, all of them wounded mentally and emotionally.

Constant manipulation of external threats

Of course, not every boy – or man – wants to do his military service or fight in a war, but there is festive atmosphere when they join the army or go to war, an excitement. And we must not forget the constant manipulation of threats, external ones from Iran, Hamas, Syria, etc, and internal ones the Israeli Arab minority.

The State of Israel has undertaken the implementation UN resolution 1325. So far it ignores the resolution, and most of the Israeli public is unaware of its existence, hence is largely blind to the consequences of not implementing it.

And here we come into the picture, with a role and responsibility.

Women have had to concentrate on the core of problems

Women are strong, resourceful, creative, intuitive and emphatic. The fact that we have been excluded for centuries from shaping our realities has forced us to put our egos aside and concentrate on getting to the core of problems and conflicts and solve them in the most effective ways.

And indeed, in seemingly irresolvable armed conflicts, in places like Northern Ireland, South Africa, the United States, Africa, Palestine and Israel and many more, women have played a major role in transforming the conflicts into manageable ones. Sometimes they even are THE driving force behind the transformation

And here, in Israel, we have an added “bonus”: because we do not make military careers as combatants we can observe reality from a broader perspective. So it is our role, our responsibility and duty to be more involved and determined in every aspect of life.

In education we have to make sure that when our children are taught about wars, even as toddlers, there should not be good vs bad, right vs wrong, but emphasis on asking questions, about good and bad on both sides, about having the courage to voice and respect questions and doubts, compassion and empathy.

Fight sending our sons and husbands to war

We have to be adamant and not send our sons and husbands to the army proudly, but to fight it, with all our might.

We have to empower ourselves through dialogue circles of women: right wingers with left wingers: to learn to listen and to become political activists.

Last but definitely not least – it is our duty as women to replace the military discourse, with a feminist, compassionate one, a discourse in which emotions, humanity and morality are valid, accepted and respected values.

Chassia Chomsky-Porat
Israeli Peace Activist and founder of Lystrata Organization