Friday, November 27th, 2015
WSI – WOMEN’S SECURITY INDEX
Israel is viewed as a safe haven for the LGBTQ community (lesbians, gay, bisexuals, transgender and queer people). Attacks such as the one that occurred on July 2015 during the Jerusalem Pride Parade are dismissed as an exception perpetuated by “bad apples”. It is also commonly assumed violence and homophobic attacks are directed more towards gay men, rather than towards women.
Our question is – how safe is the safe haven for LBTQ women in Israel? Do LBTQ women feel safe in public in Israel?
REDEFINING SECURITY, INFORMING PUBLIC POLICY
The WSI has developed a unique methodology for mapping changes in women’s experiences regarding their safety and security, providing a source of data for activists, NGOs and policy makers in Israel
WSI is a coalition of 6 Jewish and Palestinian feminist organizations: Isha L’Isha – Haifa Feminist Center, Coalition of Women for Peace, Kayan Feminist Organization, Aswat Palestinian Gay Women, Women Against Violence, New Profile, each making it’s unique contribution to the project.
Monday, October 3rd, 2011
The high Bedouin popular committee of the Negev
Demonstration and General strike
The October 6 Demonstration
No to Praver Plan
Thursday, 6.10.2011, 11:00 am
Be’er Sheva, in front of the “Authority for the settlement of the Negev Bedouins”
Buses to the demonstration and back will leave from Tel Aviv (9:00 Arlozorov train station, Masof El Al) and Jerusalem (9:00 Gan Hapa’amon)Registration at: Mumtaz – 0507701118, Ilan – 0542895000
Monday, April 4th, 2011
Sunday, September 26th, 2010
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Sunday, January 28th, 2007
(Talk at the Haifa Symposium: “Security for Whom?”)
Exploring the diverse meanings of the term “security” remains a challenge for many groups all over the world. The meaning of security in the Israeli context was raised last week in the city of Haifa at a symposium entitled “Security For Whom? An Alternative Conference”. Organized by two organizations, Isha L’Isha–Haifa Feminist Center and the Coalition of Women for Peace, the gathering offered an alternative view about security issues from a feminist perspective.
In Israel, the word “security” is a key symbol that refers mainly to national security issues seen as the highest interest of the country. This perception is evident in the “Herzliya Conference”, an annual high-profile event which provides a platform for politicians and generals, including the Israeli prime minister and general chief of staff. This year, the Herzliya Conference focused on Israeli security in the wake of the Second Lebanon War and the Iranian nuclear threat. The feminist symposium in Haifa was held in parallel as an alternative to the Herzliya Conference in order to provoke a public debate about the hegemonic notion of “security”.
Since very few women hold decision-making positions in the Israeli political system, it has been difficult for local women’s organizations to gain power from the “inside”. The absence of a public debate regarding women’s perspectives about national security has triggered a small group of feminists and peace activists to create an independent space for reflection and action. The Alternative Conference was designed to focus on issues that have been silenced and neglected by the dominant discourses of security, and to discuss the consequences of Israel’s “security policies” for the residents of Israel and the region in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War.
In their opening remarks, Nabila Espanioly, director of the Altufula Center in Nazareth, and Prof. Dalia Sachs of the Haifa University jointly expressed the need to formulate an alternative definition of “security” by “deconstructing the term itself”. According to them, this alternative definition needs to take into account the diverse experiences of civilians, including women, children, national minorities (i.e. Israeli-Palestinians) and people with low incomes. They also questioned the silence of local women and men regarding the effects of Israeli bombings in Lebanon, stressing that we need to understand the long-term connections between the lives and well being of people on both sides of the border.
A similar view was presented by Parliament Member Zehava Galon, one of the only Israeli politicians to speak out against the war. Criticizing Israeli politicians for being inexperienced, arrogant and irresponsible in their disregard for the lives of soldiers and civilians, the PM claimed that the war could have ended faster—or been avoided altogether—if diplomatic measures were taken more seriously. On a personal note, she shared with the audience the difficult emotional experience of being alone, as a woman politician talking about peace in the midst of war.
It is clear that in order to present an alternative definition of “security” we need a systematic understanding of women’s lives and experiences. The work done by Isha L’Isha during the past five years has taught us that the particular effects of the ongoing conflict on the lives of Israeli women need to be treated as historically and culturally situated. This means that those working to assist and empower women and girls in conflict zones cannot assume the specific vulnerability of women, but rather they need to document it constantly. This was the rational behind a report presented for the first time at the Alternative Conference entitled “The negative impact of the Second Lebanon War on the economic and social status of disadvantaged women in the north”.
The report was compiled by the Mahut Center in order to outline the personal stories of 130 Israeli women from low socio-economic backgrounds. These women had suffered severe economic, occupational and emotional hardships due to the fact that all governmental support, including the welfare system, failed to aid the Israeli civilian population during Hezbollah’s rocket attacks. The report highlighted the fact that the war left many of these women in a state of desperation accompanied by an overall loss of trust in the government. Strong military measures have been the focus of local and regional security policies for years. This has had a tremendous effect upon the political power of the Israeli military elite, lead by the army, which paradoxically became stronger during the period of the “peace process” (1993-2000). However, other means of controlling and policing populations do exist. For example, fear of the “demographic threat” (the numeric balance between Jews and Palestinians) has been used to created legislation meant to minimize the number of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The Palestinian activist Terry Boullata explained in detail the result of these measures, especially the fact that tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank have restricted access to basic services, due to the lack of official residency documents. These practices are presented by Israeli decision makers as a necessity, resulting from “national security” concerns, and are neither questioned nor criticized by most of the Israeli public.
An even deeper silence exists when it comes to Israel’s nuclear arms strategy. Attorney Merav Datan from Greenpeace International and Dr. Helen Caldicott, president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute (Australia), spoke about the link between nuclear arms and security. Both stressed the fact that nuclear arms pose a global threat and should not be perceived as a local matter, or as a way to achieve actual security. The ecological and physical effects of nuclear weapons should be better acknowledged, and international mechanisms are needed to encourage disarmament. Merav Datan expressed the view that NGOs need to express a clear demand for a Middle East that is free from all nuclear arms. She also recommended that Israel and the Arab countries revive negotiations about arms control.
In a militaristic society in which most of the population serves in the army and is educated to unreservedly support its actions, it is very difficult for women to raise a civil voice. The heart of this dilemma was presented at the end of the symposium by Hedva Eyal, general coordinator of Isha L’Isha. She spoke about the ways in which Israeli women are educated to become “mothers of soldiers” while many men from low socio-economic backgrounds join the army in order to gain a better future for themselves and their families. These are among the main obstacles that prevent the civil society in Israel from developing an effective anti-war movement or a new peace camp.
The women who attended the conference were primarily activists. For them, this was another step in the ongoing effort to break the hegemonic, masculine perceptions of security and to challenge the notion that only “real men” can talk about nuclear arms or decision making processes. But above all, it was meant to show that some women do not accept the role that assigned to them by culture and society vis-à-vis security issues—they do not wish to remain silent. Approximately 200 women and men arrived in Haifa to prove that despite the persistent silencing of women within the hegemonic discourse on national security, women in Israel have a political voice.
Monday, August 7th, 2006
(Address by Yali Hashash to a mass rally for peace in Copenhagen on 7 August 2006)
My name is Yali Hashash. I represent today the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) in Israel, in which the feminist organization I belong to is a member. My organization is called Ahoti – Sister, and it stands for social justice, peace, and ethnic equality for women.
Women from CWP were the first to protest the Second Lebanon War. A few weeks into the war, thousands in Israel are joining the women’s initiative. And indeed women have much to lose and little to gain from any war situation in the region. While we can all agree that Hizbullah’s threats and actions against the civilian population are intolerable, we cannot understand why Lebanese civilians should pay the price of the conflict, or how massive bombing on a civilian population and infrastructure can promote any attempts to achieve a long lasting peace.
Previous attempts to achieve stability in the region, whether in the north through peace negotiations with Syria and Lebanon, or whether through peace settlements with the Palestinians, have all failed so far. It is my belief that one of the main reasons for that failure is that these attempts have failed to take into account any considerations of economic security for the vast population on all sides of the conflict. In Ahoti – my organization – we strongly believe that any discussion of peace in the Middle East is futile unless it gives people a sense of future prospects, both of physical safety, but also of economic stability.
Peace agreement attempts seem to fail in gaining large supporters with all sides partly because they seem to deteriorate rather better the economic security of large populations. Factories in the periphery in israel have been shut and moved to Jordan and Egypt for low cost labor, making the periphery pay for the peace costs. The Oslo agreement suggested solving most territorial issues, yet offered no economic future prospects for Palestinians. Thus, support for militaristic action at least gives a sense of belonging and solidarity, and perhaps a hope for social mobility to people, which peace, as practiced so far has failed to do.
So today, while opposing the aggression against civilians in northern Israel and southern Lebanon, and Israel’s disproportionate retaliation against the civilian population, I wish to remind you that a temporary ceasefire or even a peace agreement is not enough. Only massive investments in local economy throughout the middle east, while opposing a neoliberal economy, can recruit people once again into believing that peace holds any future for them and their children. Indeed, only a strong alternative to the American “new order” policy, an alternative that promotes coexistence rather than constant forcing of a neocolonial order, can bring true peace to the region.
Unfortunately, some leaders in my country have adopted the “evil axis” rhetoric promoted by Bush. It is a rhetoric that leads to a dead end, and goes against all that we know about true negotiation. Jews and Arabs have long rich traditions of negotiating. Both have been the carriers of goods, knowledge and culture to the whole world, using negotiation as a skill that is crucial for survival in a heterogenous reality, and developed it to an art. Given the right economic terms, I am confident that negotiating peace in the middle east is not beyond us.
We need your help today to continue our work tomorrow!