Aliyah Strauss from WILPF Israel uses humour with military and police.
Photo: Anna Erlandson
"Using humour is among the unexpected methods we women often use in a situation which is not at all humorous," Aliyah Strauss says. She is President of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF in Israel.
How come she manages to continue using humour in such a militaristic country as Israel year after year?
"If we don’t laugh we are going to cry, so let’s laugh," she simply answers.
Aliyah Strauss greets the participants of the conference with a warm welcome.
"That’s me," she says and points at a black and white photograph portraying some old ladies with big hats hanging above the participants of the conference at Subtopia.
Grannies Work with Humour
We learn that Aliyah Strauss is not only the president of WILPF, but also a part of the organisation "Raging Grannies" – a group of elderly women protesting against the Israeli-Palestinian war. She explains that elderly women tend to be ignored at demonstrations.
"Young people can run when the military starts shooting tear gas and rubber bullets. At my age I cannot do that and I don’t want to force young activists to carry me," she says.
Instead the Grannies make themselves seen and heard, by rewriting well-known songs into protest songs the young people enjoy hearing.
Every day women peace activists go to check-points between Israel and Palestine to watch and report about how the Palestinians are treated by the Israeli military and authorities. The women also monitor the gates in the wall, built on Palestinian territories which cut off villages from their fields. The Palestinian farmers have the right to go to their fields but are facing so called administrative problems on a daily basis.
Civilizing a Militaristic Society
Aliyah Strauss belongs to a network made up of 10 organisations. One of them is New Profile, a movement working for the "civilization" of Israel from being a completely militarized society. New Profile has made a travelling exhibition showing how "militaristic and chauvinistic" Israel has become, Aliyah Strauss says, and gives one example.
"One greeting card to send to young people when they go into the army said: ´You are going to the army. Have fun!´ On the card there was a man dressed in nothing but a general’s hat sitting in a bath tub. Behind him was a woman scrubbing his back."
She also talks about an incident that happened two years ago when the authorities entered the homes of seven women in Tel Aviv and confiscated their computers. They were also arrested for having "advocated rebellion" against the army.
"This was a complete lie. The women had legally supported young people who did not want to fulfill their military service."
Within two hours 200 people gathered outside the police station to support the seven women and demanded their immediate release. While five policemen stood in line to block the entrance five Grannies stepped up to them.
"We demand that you arrest us, we have lots of stories to tell you," Aliyah Strauss says she told the police. To the roars of laughter at Subtopia and the 1325 conference she explains how the policemen were fighting very hard to keep a straight face.
Resolution 1325 Absent
Aliyah Strauss points out instances where the implementation of resolution 1325 was absent: No women in the negotiation team between the Israeli and the Palestinian governments. No women in the investigation team of what happened on the Turkish vessel in the Ship to Gaza action when nine people were killed.
"Resolution 1325 is very important to implement in Israel. The resolution is translated into Hebrew and ought to be better spread today."