Women Building a World beyond War
By Ada Aharoni
Reprinted with permission from Strategies for Peace (Bruce L. Cook and Maria Cristina Azcona, eds.), Elgin, IL: Cook Communication, 2016)
Peace Is a Woman
How do you know
peace is a woman?
I know, for
I met her yesterday
on my winding way
to the world's fare.
She had such a sorrowful face
just like a golden flower faded
before her prime.
I asked her why
she was so sad?
She told me her baby
was killed in Auschwitz,
her daughter in Hiroshima
and her sons in Vietnam,
India and Pakistan
Ireland, Israel, Lebanon,
Bosnia, Rwanda and Chechnya.
All the rest of her children, she said,
are on the nuclear
black-list of the dead,
all the rest, unless
the whole world understands --
that peace is a woman
A thousand candles then lit
in her starry eyes, and I saw --
Peace is indeed a pregnant woman,
Peace is a mother.
“As a woman, my country is the whole world”
There is a close link between peace and gender. It is women who can usher social change in the Age of Globalization. Women give life and are on the side of life, and they seem to believe in the possibility of creating a world beyond war more than men do. Women leaders have expressed themselves accordingly throughout history.
Golda Meir, the Prime Minister of Israel, wrote in her memoirs: "I'm sure that someday children in schools will study the history of the men who made war as you study an absurdity. They'll be shocked, just as today we're shocked with cannibalism." And Jehan Sadat, wife of President Sadat of Egypt wrote in her letter to "The Bridge: Jewish and Arab Women for Peace in the Middle East" published in my book "Women Creating A World Beyond War and Violence" (amazon kdp): "I firmly believe that woman, as a mother, a wife, a daughter and a sister, can play an active role in protecting humanity from the horrors, dangers and damages of war. I do wish that the word 'War' would be cancelled from the dictionary of human relations."
In our globalized era, when there are profound cultural shifts and new social relations, the necessity for women to be equal partners in the building of a world beyond war, is becoming more obvious and urgent. The Russian writer, Tatyana Mamonova writes: “Women give life and appreciate life… they are organically against war, and they can really save the world if they are permitted to play an equally active part in government."
Women also have the ability to regard themselves as citizens of the world, and they mourn for every child who is killed in wars. In this context, the Palestinian Sai'da Nusseibeh writes about the Palestinian Israeli Conflict: "What price is peace? How many more must be killed, before the two nations wake up to look at their blood-soaked hands? There is so much anger, hatred and fear, and the wall between the two nations (the Palestinians and the Israelis), is getting higher – both sides are getting away from reality, and closing their ears, eyes and heart to the suffering of the ‘other’. We should look into ways to bring down the wall of fear, brick by brick, for all the mosques, synagogues and churches in the world – are not worth the blood of one killed child." If the men leaders too, like woman leader Sa’ida Nusseibeh, would think and feel like her, and understand the sanctity of life is above all, there would be better chances for peace in the Middle East and in the world.
The question of women and peace, and the meaning of peace for women, cannot be separated from the broader question of relationships between women and men in all spheres of life, including the family. Discriminatory practices and negative attitudes towards women should be eliminated, and traditional gender norms changed to enhance women's participation in building the new culture of peace system, and in full participation of women in the governance of the world.
Abusive practices against women, like forcing women to wear the demeaning BURKA, are still rampant in our world - as those against the women in Afghanistan by the oppressive Taliban - who have fortunately, recently been overthrown. These discriminatory practices are justified in the context of cultural norms, religious beliefs and unfounded theories and assumptions. Whatever its political or religious system, a society patterned on dominance inevitably gives rise to such distortions of power as violence against women. The building and promotion of a culture of peace can help in overcoming such dominance and discrimination and violence against women.
Women can be a tremendous force. They are half the citizens of the world, and are just as intelligent and hard working as the men, if not more so. If the women of the world unite, together with all the democratic men who yearn for a world beyond war, peace would have a better chance. If women can succeed in reaching peak positions in relation to their fates, and hold equal key positions in governments, municipalities, educational institutions - violence against them would disappear Their contribution to the culture of peace through their creative power would then freely flourish and be a benefit to the whole of humanity.
Women are a good ally for promoting peace through all channels, and mainly through their outstanding creative efforts. My newly republished book, describing women's contribution to peace, especially in the Middle East, titled "Women Creating A World Beyond War and Violence," (which has now been published as an eBook on amazon), depicts several important and authentic aspects of women's struggle for peace through their various multiple organizations, peacebuilding activities, peace research, articles, poems, stories, letters and pictures. This book is widely used in peace education programs and in women studies departments. It shows the power of women to creatively build a world beyond war. There is no greater challenge in the world today than that of living in peace, respect, and harmony with one's neighbours, and women can show the world how to do it.
Some of the questions posed and examined in this important book, are: At a time when the world is still caught up in the clutches of wars, terror and violence, will humankind know how to “listen to women for a change?” Can the women of the world unite and throw the thwarted belief that wars can solve conflicts, into the anachronistic dustbin of history, where it belongs? War is not democratic, as most of the people of the world do not want wars. Will women, who are the majority of the citizens of the world - together with all the men who also yearn for a world beyond war - succeed in achieving their democratic right to live in peace?
Among the various subjects covered by this new book is also a description of a quarter of a century of peace activity by: "IFLAC: INTERNATIONAL FORUM FOR THE LITERATURE AND CULTURE OF PEACE, that includes The Bridge: “Jewish and Arab/Palestinian Women for Peace in the Middle-East", the first movement of its kind in Israel. It also includes, among other important documents, correspondence with Mrs. Jehan Sadat, wife of the late President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, as well as a section on "The Four Mothers'" organization, and their successful campaign “Leave Lebanon in Peace”. Thanks to this women organization Israeli soldiers retreated from Lebanon after twenty years. The young soldiers were delighted that the "Four Mothers" had freed them!
The "Poems from Lebanon," in the book, are inspired by moving letters that protest against war, written by Israeli soldiers while they were still in Lebanon. The following four poems pertinently illustrate all that has been said above:
Think of the pity, cruelty and horror of war that takes away the life of young people:
I'm Not Returning Home
I'm so sorry, my love,
I'm not returning home
for I can't return
I love you so,
want to be with you so,
but somewhere there -
among Lebanon's majestic cedars
so far from you my love -
I was hit by a murderous bullet
in the very center of
the fallow of my heart
where I first fell for you -
and I fell forever.
I so want to be with you my love,
so want to hug you
my love, my life -
but cannot return home.
They have uselessly, pitifully,
spilled my young life, my blood,
under Lebanon's blue sky,
and now I cannot,
The anger, frustration and the utter futility of war:
The Hell With War
They announced a cease - fire
But we continued to bomb
The Beyrut Airport
And the streets and the houses,
What is it with us?
I loathe killing, I hate destroying,
Horrible, pitiful war!
Why should we allow them
To force us to be here?
And what hence?
And when will it end?
The Hell with War!
The moving Plea to leaders to end the war that destroys so cruelly:
Mr. Prime Minister When Will The Nightmare End?
Mr. Prime Minister,
when will the nightmare end?
What absolute misery -
I want to go home!
Instead of home's warmth -
anguished cold in my frozen bones
while watching the dreadful shock of a man
who has just discovered his dead wife's body
under his wrecked home
We came back from the nightmare
with horror in our hearts
and imploring in our eyes -
Mr. Prime Minister, we were born
for creation, for joy and life -
not for destruction!
Please, Mr. Prime Minister,
end this nightmare that really kills -
and not only in nightmares.
Culture, music and art can accomplish miracles, like stopping the advancement of troops, that no other media can accomplish:
Bach In Beyrut
A moment of harmony in Beyrut -
We suddenly heard from one of the houses
Bach music beautifully played -
The whole company stopped
to hear the music.
The pianist played beautifully
and the whole company stopped and
listened to the exquisite harmony.
The bombs did not succeed to stop us -
but a sixteen year old girl
playing Bach music
Women are very good at creative art and they well know its power. Women organizations all over the world, such as UNIFEM and WILPF, are struggling for their basic right to live in peace, and safety, and to attain fully equal rights in society. Will women succeed to be at the summit of their fate? Will the media, worldwide, give women's struggle for peace and equality, the backing, coverage, and credit they deserve? With determination, vision and united action, it could indeed become possible. Let us hope it will indeed be so. If the women of the world unite under the umbrella of a resourceful and effective "culture of peace system and network"- which would have its special women's branch - and take it into their hands to bravely work together for peace and equality, their vision of a world beyond war could indeed become a reality.
Our major challenge in relation to the capability of women to build a world beyond war, terror and violence, in the second decade of our new twenty first millennium, is to search out new strategies and adopt fresh models capable of eliminating terror and wars as a means to solve conflicts, and to encourage a more peaceful, equal, healthier, and more democratic society. The building of an effective "Culture of Peace System" and network, can facilitate these important goals. It can create bridges of understanding and respect among various ethnic groups and nations, and moreover, it could function as the antidote to violence, conflicts, terror and war, regionally and globally.
The role of governments in developing this needed new system is primordial. Governmental bodies and institutions should take urgent steps to curb the growing violent culture and terror in our global village, and to replace it with a powerful and influential peace culture system. There should be a thorough rethinking and reform of governance and financial support of culture and of NGO's promoting the culture of peace, and especially full support of women's organizations promoting the culture of peace, regionally and globally.
The creation of a regional and global culture of peace that would create an atmosphere conducive to peacemaking and to promote a world beyond war, is yearned for by the majority of the people in our global village. A comprehensive innovative peace culture system that includes: peace studies, peacemaking, peace literature, art, philosophy, and an objective media, which involve both regional and global scopes and implications, should be the number one order of the day in national and international agendas of governments and responsible institutions all over the world.
Modern telecommunications and technologies such as satellite television, radio, the internet and smart phones, shared equally with women, can facilitate harmonious inter-cultural relations, as well as the bond and dialogue between people, nations, and civilizations. These modern technologies can also promote the consciousness of a new global citizenship based on a shared peace culture, which women are so good at. With commitment, determination and vision, and with the aid of the media, it is indeed possible to create and promote a resourceful, effective and influential new ethical culture of peace, both regionally and globally, to the satisfaction of both men and women.
This colossal task should be considered one of the major goals of humankind at the commencement of our third millennium. The creation and promotion of a global peace culture system, equally shared by women, and based on the pursuit of peace, should be urgently carried out as a defensive measure of the very existence and sustainability of life on earth.
Selected Books by Ada Aharoni (1979 - 2016)
Aharoni A. (1979). From the Pyramids to Mount Carmel, Eked, Tel Aviv.
Aharoni A. (1983). The Second Exodus, Bryn Mawr: Pennsylvania, ISBN 0-8059-2862-6.
Aharoni A. (1984). THEA: To Alexandria Jerusalem and Freedom, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, ISBN0-8059-2922-3.(Published also in a Hebrew edition, and an Arabic edition, M. Abassi, Shfaram, Galilee). amazon.com
Aharoni A. (1985). Shin Shalom: New Poems (A Bi-Lingual edition), Eked, Tel Aviv. amazon.com
Aharoni A. (1987). Metal et Violettes. Caracteres, Paris, France (Poems in French).
Aharoni A. ed. (1992) and Cronin G., Goldman, L., Saul Bellow: A Mosaic. New York: Peter Lang, ISBN: 0-8204-1572-3.
Aharoni A. ed. et al (1993). A Song to Life and to World Peace: Selected essays and poems presented at the XIII World Congress of Poets of the World Academy of Arts and Culture, Jerusalem: Posner and Sons, Jerusalem (Jerusalem Books: firstname.lastname@example.org), ISBN 965-219-0136. amazon.com
Aharoni A. (1995) Peace Flower: A Space Adventure, A Quest for World Peace for young and old, 119 pp. Haifa: M. Lachman (Iflac: POB 9934, Haifa 34341, Israel), ISBN: 965-9013930. amazon.com
Aharoni A. ed. (1997). Galim 8: Waves of Peace, In Memory of Yitzhak Rabin., Selected essays and poems presented at IFLAC activities, in the Tent of Peace (Ussfiya), and a Meeting of Israeli and Arab/ Palestinian writers in Jordan. Shfaram Galilee: Hatichon (Jerusalem Books: Tel. 972-2-6426576), ISBN 965-222-774-9. (In Hebrew, English and Arabic). amazon.com
Aharoni A. (1998). The Theory of Peace Culture, in: Not in Vain: An Extraordinary Life, 218 pp. CA: Ladybug Press, ISBN: 1-889409-18-9. amazon.com
Aharoni A. (1998) Not In Vain: An Extraordinary Life, 218 pp. CA: Ladybug Press, ISBN: 1-889409-18-9. amazon.com
Aharoni A. (1999). From the Nile to the Jordan, 146 pp. (Jerusalem Books: JERBOOKS@NETMEDIA.CO.IL), ISBN: 965-9013981 amazon.com
Aharoni, A. ed. (1996-1999). Horizon: Pave Peace, Peace Culture Online Magazine, nos. 1–4, IPRA: The International Peace Research Association. HYPERLINK "http://tx.technion.ac.il/~ada/home.html" http://tx.technion.ac.il/~ada/home.html
Aharoni A. (2000). Peacemaking through Culture: A New Approach to the Arab/Palestinian–Israeli Conflict, in Peace Studies from a Global Perspective: Human Needs in a Cooperative World, ed. Ursula Oswald Spring, pp. 252-280. Delhi: Maadhyam Book Services, email@example.com
Aharoni A. ed. (1999-2004). Women, Children and Peace. Horizon: Pave Peace, nos. 1-10 (2004)IFLAC: HORIZON PAVE PEACE: The Online "International Peace Research" Anthology. HYPERLINK http://iflac.comwww.iflac.com/ada
Aharoni. A, Peace Flower, Dignity Press, USA.
Aharoni A., ed. The Golden Age of the Jews from Egypt, Uprooting and Revival in Israel (Orion, Holon, 2014),
Aharoni A. The Pomegranate – Harimon, Hadarim, 2014.
Aharoni, A. "Women in the Pursuit of Peace", in UNESCO EOLSS: Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems.
Aharoni, A. Editor of the UNESCO EOLSS chapter: Peace, Literature, and Art. Also published as a book, and as an eBook on KDP Amazon.
Aharoni Ed. 10 new eBooks by Ada Aharoni, on KDP – amazon.com.
By Prof. Ada Aharoni (IFLAC President, Conflict Resolution, Technician), Haifa, Israel Tel: 972-4-8243230, Homepage: http://iflac.com/ada www.iflac.com/ada