I came to Israel and Palestine to understand the conflict by means of interviewing women, hearing their stories, understanding their perspectives. Now I’m realizing that I’m learning about myself just as much as the women I’ve met.
Tonight I went to a women’s circle in Jerusalem. I was invited by a woman who runs an NGO called WinWinJerusalem that brings together all types of women- Israeli, Palestinian, Bedouin, Gypsy, Druze and works on peace building through a number of different projects. I met her at the Jericho Peace Conference and this evening she brought me to this lovely circle of women. This circle contained only American and Israeli women, inviting Palestinian women has become somewhat of an obstacle due to both government and transportation restrictions and sometimes also cultural ones.
95% of the women were my mother’s age. Very open-minded, spiritual, active in some sort of peace building or community work, yet all unique, individual souls, bringing something new to the table.
We discussed the power of the goddess, and how the coming together of female energy could be used as a powerful tool to reach women from different cultures and belief systems. This connection women share can transcend all boundaries, checkpoints, cultural and/or religious restrictions.
Yet we were also reminded in this circle, by a professor of women’s studies, that we must not exclude the men. If we want to bring change, we must not let gender divide us, but let it be a tool to bring us together as humans, to change humanity as a whole.
We must learn about the oppressions of women, but at the same time, not let the stories and oppressive traditions further contribute to the oppression. The more we are reminded and we share the oppression, the more we let it define us. Instead, moving forward, talking about the positive, the transformational, we can begin to erase the oppression, to put it behind us. Yet we need to find a balance, we need to learn, be heard, and move forward at the same time. Reconciling these needs is difficult.
One woman reminded us at the beginning of the circle, that we must always remember and find strength in our choice and ability to think. Despite oppressive cultural practices, corporate worlds, abusive relationships, etc. we can all find a sense of control within our minds. No one can hear our thoughts so no one can judge or punish what our minds produce. We have the choice to think how we want to think, this within itself gives us power.