04. Waging Peace
Updated: Jun 13
A year or two ago I was having an appointment with a fascinating cardiologist who told me a little of her grandparents' experience of the holocaust. I mentioned that I had been to Israel twice, and so it was with echoes of that conversation and the age old struggles of the Jewish people still fresh in my mind that I subsequently found myself listening to a radio news item about a movement called Women Wage Peace.
This simple grass-roots movement, inspired by similar groups in Northern Ireland and Liberia, began with the purpose of raising awareness, and engaging the public in consultations about the possibilities of a political resolution to the Israeli Palestine situation. During formal and informal meetings of individuals and groups, national events such as demonstrations and protests became organised. Their aim is to pressure decision makers to work toward reaching a viable peace agreement.
I found this grass-roots effort to be an inspiring example of what can be achieved when women and men of different races, languages and religions come together in a spirit of good will and commitment.
Dressed in white, the women demanded a political solution to the conflict which has divided the two communities for decades. They also demanded that women have an equal say in peace negotiations.
“We are women from the right, the left, Jews and Arabs, from the cities and the periphery and we have decided that we stop the next war," they stated.
The gathering lasted for two weeks and culminated in a meeting in a “tent of reconciliation”, where women and children crafted signs reading “peace be upon you” in Arabic and Hebrew. The tent was named for Hagar and Sarah, scriptural mothers of Ishmael and Isaac, the half-brother patriarchs of Muslims and Jews.
When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never be willing to sanction it. Mothers will not give their sons as sacrifices upon the battlefield after twenty years of anxiety and loving devotion in rearing them from infancy, no matter what cause they are called upon to defend. There is no doubt that when women obtain equality of rights, war will entirely cease among mankind.
-Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace p 172
I remember the Israeli, Palestinian and Irish members of our human family every time I hear this inspirational anthem, recorded in Haifa, Israel;
'One Day' by Koolulam.