'We don't want you here'
On International Women’s Day in March, bereaved Palestinian and Israeli women came together in Tel Aviv’s Cinematheque Plaza to call for a change that will bring about a solution to the conflict.
The audience – hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians – were invited to look at a dramatic monument to future victims of the conflict, an installation designed for the Bereaved Families Forum by artist Gili Godiano. Through peepholes in the installation, the viewer looks into a room. There they see a tombstone, reflected many times over by mirrors and creating the vision of a cemetery. The message of past victims is spelled out for the viewer in Hebrew, Arabic and English: “We don’t want you here.”
The installation echoes the message of the Bereaved Families Forum: let’s prevent further bloodshed on both sides.
Michal Pundak Sagi, who lost her brother in the Yom Kippur War, told the audience: “On this day we, Palestinian and Israeli women, must stand together to remember and remind people about the heavy and terrible price we all pay. We must do our utmost to make a difference and bring hope for a better future, based on justice, respect, compassion and friendship.
“Violence and bloodshed are an option only when we are silent, when women don’t make a stand… We have to demand from our leaders, as well as ourselves, to speak out and refuse to engage in the violence that rages in our region.”
Aisha Aktam from Nablus, who lost her brother Mahmoud Al-Khatib in 1999, said: “After I lost my brother, I saw the pain of my mother; she asked me to do whatever I can to protect my children, her grandchildren. My voice is the voice of all mothers. We must assume responsibility for the future of our children. Help us. Give us a chance, let us keep our children. We don’t want them to grow up hating, thinking that weapons are the solution. There is another solution called dialogue and a recognition of the other’s rights."
Pairs of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian women, mothers, sisters, wives and daughters, took to the stage to tell their personal stories of bereavement. The women, campaigners for reconciliation and an end to the conflict, called on Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to bring about a resumption of peace talks and an end to the conflict.
The Bereaved Families Forum continues to stage weekly events promoting peace and reconciliation in the square. Keep up to date with the Forum’s activities at
www.theparentscircle.org and on its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/crackinthewall?fref=ts
Sharon Kalimi Misheiker
a Forum member who lost her brother in the conflict