Israel/Palestine: Women Uniting Against War and Occupation

Journeyman Pictures
The empowering story of the ‘Women in Black’ movement. An organisation set-up by Israeli women, but now joined by women the world over, all trying to bring peace through non-violent direct activism.
WIB is an organisation set-up by Israeli women, but now joined by women the world over, all trying to bring peace through non-violent direct activism. In this documentary, we see ordinary women from all sides going to extra-ordinary lengths to help and highlight the plight of the Palestinians. And we witness first hand the struggle to maintain normal life surrounded by tanks and snipers.
The documentary was shot in 2002, so it does not cover or reflect upon recent events in Israel/Palestine. However, the power and courage of the women's movement, WIB, and the harsh opposition they face, is so beautifully captured that it serves as a reminder to us all as to what we can and must do NOW to stand up to the increasing militarisation and macho warmongering of governments and armed groups worldwide.

You can watch a clip of the 52-minute documentary on YouTube here: You can order the dvd here:

"Everyone in the Palestinian quarter has a story to tell. A girl pulls back her hair to reveal a large bruise. “They hit me because they wanted to step on the Koran and I wanted to stop them,” she claims, recalling the night Israeli soldiers ransacked her house. Another woman recounts how her young daughter discovered their neighbour’s body “splattered all over the wall.” An aid worker describes how Israeli soldiers fired at journalists to prevent them recording Israelis looting Palestinian shops. Every house bears telltale signs of snipers or bombs.

"Sharon may have come to power by championing an aggressive Palestinian policy but not all Israeli Jews agree with him. The Women in Black movement, founded by a group of Israelis in 1988, believe that ending the occupation is the only way that Israel will achieve peace. As the traditional view of Israel as a haven for the oppressed is challenged, many Israelis are struggling to come to terms with the actions of their government. Anna Colombo’s family were murdered at Auschwitz. Despite this, she declares that “ever since I learned what was happening here, I have been suffering terribly … I don’t want to cause Arabs to suffer because of me being here.” Israeli Batya Makover agrees. “I hate what we are doing now, I hate it. I am very worried about what this means to these soldiers as they destroy houses and kill people.”

"Enthusiasm for the movement rapidly spread and there are now over 150 groups worldwide. They have pioneered a way of encouraging a more humanitarian course of action. We spend five months with the London Women in Black (affectionately dubbed ‘Hell’s Grannies’ by one British newspaper) as they go to the West Bank to form a human shield around Palestinian civilians. As well as dismantling roadblocks and flypostering ‘Return to Sender’ on Israeli tanks, they become caught up in the attack of Jenin and the siege of the Nativity, braving mines and the army to take aid to besieged Palestinians.

"One of the main aims of the international Women in Black is to relay information about conditions in the occupied territories. “I have never seen such an injustice take place,” states member Liz Khan, describing the way of life that Palestinians have been reduced to. “How can you have peace when you’re blockading people within their villages?” questions member Julie Slowik. “Their families are hungry and they’re desperate. They’re absolutely desperate.” Unfortunately, not everyone is sympathetic to their plight. “God owns this land and he gave it to the Jewish people!” shouts one opponent. “How dare you be on the side of Hitler number two? … You’re the worst, you’re Jew haters, Nazis, self-hating Jews.”

"It is clear that the current stalemate is benefiting nobody. While most coverage of the situation focuses on extremists from both sides of this conflict, this thought-provoking documentary shows normal people caught up in a cycle of violence, trying to make a difference and lend their voice to the suffering Palestinians. It’s heartening to see that there are Israelis and Palestinians working together with the international community towards peace.

By: Donna Baillie

Source: Journeyman Pictures