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April 2016. Sitting in the historical parlor of the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem, four energetic women, three Israeli and one West Bank Palestinian, leaders in Women Wage Peace, are excitedly describing plans for the upcoming March of Hope in October, which includes many events all over the country. In Ofakim, 400 women are coming together with their shared desire to end the conflict, despite hostilities across ethnic and class lines. Hundreds of women have already submitted peace squares for the quilt that will stretch from Jerusalem to Ramallah, and thousands more are being prepared. Women are training to walk from the Lebanon border to Jerusalem and to cycle from the Gaza border to Jerusalem.
These incredible women are asking for one thing: Elected leaders need to negotiate an end to the conflict, acceptable to both sides. This seems like an impossible dream to me, but they are insistent that the March of Hope will be a game-changer because thousands and thousands of Israelis, from the far stretches of the country, will march together, demonstrating strongly that enough is enough.
Our half-hour meeting runs for three hours. I am hooked. When they leave, my husband says, “We are going aren’t we?” Of course we are, it’s a no-brainer. For the next six months, I and the other members of the Women’s Leadership Forum Steering Committee work hard to publicize the March of Hope, raise money and help create solidarity events in the US.
As Rosh Hashana faded into night time, a torchlight gathering of 2000 Israelis launched the March of Hope at Rosh Hanikra, the northern tip of Israel at the Lebanon border. 1000 participants, dressed in white, walked together towards Jerusalem, singing for peace. Watching the video of women and men speaking their hearts and singing and dancing during the first days of the March, I could hardly believe that what we have been hoping for these many months, is happening, energizing us all.
I so wish I could be there, dancing in the middle of the circle! I will have to wait until I am in Israel, participating in the final three days of the March of Hope. On October 19, tens of thousands of Israelis will march from the Allenby Bridge together with hundreds of West Bank Palestinians to Qsar al Yahud, which is the lowest sacred site on earth, near the Dead Sea. They will bring the message of hope and urgency back to Jerusalem when Women Wage Peace present their demands to Prime Minister Netanyahu at his home.
I am participating in this March of Hope because I am giving myself permission to believe that peace is really possible. PEACE IS REALLY POSSIBLE!!!