Constructing Peace….but What Kind of Peace?
Women's Activism, Strategies and Discourse against War (Israel-Palestine 1950-2012)
Israeli and Palestinian women played a vital role in the difficult process of achieving peace and restoring dialogue. Meeting and organizing away from the spotlight, women held discussions with each other and proposed ways to bring about reconciliation, as well as constructing alternatives to violence and war.
Women from both sides of the Green Line and within Israel were particularly active during the first Intifada, building a genuine women’s peace movement while being engaged in protest activities, lobbying and solidarity actions. These grassroots organizations, which were clearly anti- occupation, took part in non-mixed activities and occasionally subverted and deconstructed national identities. In addition to these innovative and intensive activities in the field, political women and social activists tried to develop women’s diplomacy at international meetings. Important joint declarations were endorsed at these pioneering conferences, which helped to prepare the ground for future international peace agreements. The outbreak of the El-Aqsa Intifada, and the disillusionment with the Oslo process, lead Israeli women to re-launch their activities in a more radical way, while the peace camp was demobilized. This new shape of activism included a broad spectrum of protest activities, combining the fight against occupation, feminist issues and anti-militarism.
The most durable legacy from women’s peace activism was the formulation of new political discourses which defined peace in terms of a global concept that clearly links gender oppression and national oppression and creates an alternative discourse strongly opposed to violent and militarist options.