On the Monday after Mother's Day, May 13, eleven women stood together in Syracuse's cold pouring rain with signs reading "Palestinian Women for Peace" and "Jewish Women Against the Israeli Occupation of West Bank and Gaza". For the first time Jewish and Palestinian women had organized a vigil together, recognizing their common interest in ending the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
Despite the unrelenting rain the women handed out hundreds of flyers to people
in cars. The flyers called for an end to all violence against civilians, whether by
suicide bombers or military action, and international recognition for a secure state
of Israel and the creation of a viable state of Palestine.
The women support the peace work of the many Israeli and Palestinian women who have continued to speak out and stand together against the Israeli Occupation, and against all violence.
As is stated in the Bat Shalom (an Israeli women's organization) and Jerusalem Center for Women (a Palestinian women's organization) Joint Declaration presented to the UN Security Council in May 2002:
"We believe that women can develop an alternative voice promoting effec-
tive peace initiatives and sound approaches...Mutual recognition and
respect of each other's individual and collective rights will pave the way for peace making."
On Tuesday, April 9, 15-20 tanks rolled into the village of Dura west of Hebron. Although no curfew was announced, Israeli soldiers began shooting anything that moved in the streets including several people leaving a neighborhood mosque. Helicopter gun ships circled overhead occasionally firing rockets into the village, destroying several buildings.
CPTers [Christian Peacemaker Team members] were called to the scene. As Kathy Kern and Greg Rollins approached a house with four Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) parked out front, they were ordered to retreat and shots were fired over their heads.
Kern and Rollins then went with journalists to the top floor of a different house overlooking Dura. There they met a man who was very upset because his daughter and grandchildren were blockaded inside the house surrounded by APCs.
CPTers offered to approach the house again to request the family's release. Thinking the soldiers might be less likely to shoot a wo-man, Kern borrowed a white head scarf and headed up the street towards the troops.
A soldier with an Amer-ican accent repeatedly ordered Kern to leave. Several warning shots were fired. Kern stated that she want-ed to help the family inside get out. The soldier told her there was no family inside. Kern insisted that she had spoken to the woman's father and he was very worried about her. The soldier assured Kern that everyone inside was fine.
When Kern didn't leave, the soldier cautioned several times, "Kathy, you are putting yourself in danger." Kern replied, "Everyone here is in danger." The soldier then said, "Kathy, you are making a fool of yourself. You are turning this into a circus." Kern then stated firmly that she would leave as soon as the family inside was released.
The soldier then told Kern to have a seat and wait. After a while, he said the family would be released if Kern moved back about fifty meters behind a blue car. Kern agreed to move but asked which part of the US the soldier came from. He replied that if she wanted the family freed, she would not ask any more questions.
Within a few minutes the woman came out of the house with her children and Kern escorted them to safety.
_Signs of the Times, Spring 2002
Christian Peacemaker Teams;
On April 19, at the end of Palm Drive [near Stanford University], a rally began with about 150 demonstrators in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and 200 counter-demonstrators, on opposite sides of the road. Rabbi Michael Lerner spoke criticizing the Israeli regime. He also criticized the Palestinian Authority for the use of violence without negotiation. Many counter-demonstrators booed Lerner before he spoke, but after a while, some began to applaud him. Later, there was a call from organizers not to replicate the conflict, but to join and sing together for peace. The two demonstrations then merged, and Israeli and Palestinian flags flew side by side as the merged group sang "Od Yavo' Shalom Aleinu" ("Peace will come to us").
_Jewish Peace News,
The pilot of an Israeli helicopter gunship reportedly refused an order to shoot a missile at a Palestinian home. It happened on the early hours of Tuesday, April 9_when an Israeli army regiment, supported by tanks and helicopter gunships, captured the Palestinian town of Dura, near Hebron in the southern West Bank. During several hours of fighting when the army overcame the resistance of local Palestinian militias, the regimental commander ordered the pilot of a helicopter gunship to shoot a missile at a Palestinian home, in which five alleged terrorists were hiding, in order to "liquidate them" (sic). The pilot refused, telling the regimental commander there might be civilians in the house. The radio debate continued for a long time, with the helicopter hovering over the house. The commander told the pilot that the five terrorists could be exactly pin-pointed in the house and again ordered him to shoot. The pilot again refused, and at a certain point left the vicinity of the house and circled the town. When he got back to the point above the house, the commander told him that the terrorists had disappeared, but ordered him to shoot at the house nevertheless. The pilot again refused. After two hours, he finally shot one burst from the helicopter's cannon, but near the house rather than at it. Soldiers nearby on the ground described the shot as "perfunctory, meant to hit nothing."
_Haggai Huberman, in Hatzofeh (an extreme right, ultra-nationalist Israeli newspaper), Monday, April 15, 2002. Translated by Gush Shalom.(Distributed by Jewish Peace News)
Fifty rabbinical students, mostly from New York City, attended a rally in Washington, DC on April 15. This group wanted to show that Jewish opinion is not monolithic, and held signs saying, "Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, Pro-Peace," and "Israel _ Yes, Occupation _ No." There they announced a new organization: Rabbinical Students for a Just Peace.
After they returned to New York, they sent a letter to the heads of Jewish organizations, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and a recognition of Palestinian suffering. The letter was signed by 108 students, including a quarter of the rabbinical students at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
The students hope to do teach-ins and speeches for general audiences, to show America a different part of the Jewish character.
_Summarized by Jewish Peace News from a New York Observer article,
May 15, 2002 by Philip Weiss
Eighty people came out to hear three Ithaca women speak about their experiences visiting Occupied Palestine on May 23 in Syracuse.