Women in Black

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While we’re on the topic of international news, Women’s eNews has a good article today about Women in Black, a group of Israeli women who have protested the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land for the last 20 years.   Tomorrow marks the twentieth anniversary of their weekly Friday protests.

Their protests are important for highlighting that there are diverse opinions about the issue among Israelis as well as for showing that women can be active participants in the dispute, especially in an area of the world not known for challenging traditional notions of women’s roles.   From the article:

A sociology professor at Israeli’s Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva disagrees. Sara Helman says Women in Black blazed a trail by crossing national boundaries during the first Palestinian uprising and calling for an end to suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians.

“You can live in Israel your daily life as an Israeli Jew perfectly and forget” about the occupation, she says. “What Women in Black did, they didn’t let the issue of occupation be ignored . . . They brought it to the fore. They brought it to public attention.”

A 1997 study that Helman co-authored with Hebrew University of Jerusalem Professor Tamar Rapoport found that Women in Black’s protest methods “embodied an open challenge to deeply ingrained notions of femininity in Israel” and offering an alternative interpretation of a woman’s place in Israeli politics and society.

Each woman, they found, created a new space that challenged and subverted the political, social and cultural categories that relegated women to marginality.

“They brought women’s bodies into the public sphere,” Helman says. “They stood there in the public sphere outside, quietly, silently with only signs that said ‘Stop the Occupation.’ The only means to protest was their bodies. That was also path breaking.”

Keep up the amazing work!

- David S. Cohen

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