2001, the first year of the Sharon national unity government, draws to a
shuddering end, hundreds of thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women
are living in fear and are battling despair. We are living in a
region that has erupted in unprecedented violence and destruction.
The Israeli political establishment has been pushing the view that in
the current situation, the fundamental causes of violence are
Palestinian actions, to which Israel merely reacts. This view not
only entitles Israel to fight force with more force, but in the face of
the Palestinian Authority's inability to control the violence, Israel
feels entitled to continue controlling Palestinian lands, people and
This "cycle of violence" view falsifies the real structure of
violence, a structure based on occupation and domination. It
blames the Palestinian Authority while simultaneously destroying it.
It condemns Palestinian violence as the only form of violence, as though
curfews, roadblocks, assassinations and all other weapons of control did
not take their toll on Palestinian life, health, well-being and
security. Isolating this moment from the whole structure of
occupation condemns us all to a future of chronic violence
In the face of a National Unity government which is determined to
continue the occupation at whatever costs to Israelis as well as
Palestinians, it is clear that a change in policy requires a change in
government. We must also begin exploring ways to build a political
alternative to this National Unity government - an effective and
democratic opposition. This of course means that we must replace
the structure of violence with a new structure of peace and justice.
Right now, given the unwillingness of the United States to press Israel
to accept international peace monitors, we must urge the international
community to pressure for official as well as informal international
protection for the Palestinian people.
We are women who are unalterably opposed to both suicide bombings as
well as to the violence of political assassinations. We are women
who insist that our humanity and commitment to justice not only connect
us, but impel us to continue to jointly struggle to end Israel's
inhumane occupation of the Palestinian people and their land.
Bat Shalom is a feminist peace organization working
toward a just peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Bat
Shalom, together with The Jerusalem Center for Women, a Palestinian
women's peace organization, comprise The Jerusalem Link.
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