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Women Wage Peace – A Heartfelt Message from the PEN International Women Writers Committee on the Palestinian Israeli Conflict

October 24, 2023 IN WIP
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Dear Friends,
This week has broken all our hearts.
Already reeling from the horrific wars being waged in Ukraine, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Libya, the Central African Republic,
among terrible, terrible others—now the Middle East has erupted
and become an epicenter of yet another humanitarian crisis.
Innocents on both sides are now fodder for the inexorable destruction, loss,
and unbearable grief wrought by war.
The brutal escalation of the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel,
while most immediately caused by the atrocities committed by Hamas,
is the outcome of decades of unresolved wrongs and wounds on both sides.
Wherever we may stand on the complicated issues that have brought us to this moment, the members of PEN International Women Writers Committee
stand together on the side of a negotiated permanent solution
bringing peace, dignity, and justice to the peoples of Palestine and Israel.
We stand in mourning with and for the families, the mothers and fathers,
sisters and brothers, elders and babies, suffering through these horrific times.
We know there is a long road ahead.
But we hold out hope for repair, for healing, for a just resolution for all.
For all of us wondering what we might do to support the lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace that is all of our best outcome, we suggest looking into:
the largest grassroots peace movement in Israel— with more than 44,000 members— of Israeli and Palestinian women working together to promote a political agreement, involving women in the process. The movement focuses on two main objectives:


1.     To encourage peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority
2.     To urge the enforcement of UN resolution 1325 which “reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts”


For information on a recent initiative:


Sulha Peace Project: established in 2000 in the midst of the Second Intifada with the goal of creating eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart encounters between Palestinians and Israelis. When the smoke clears — this will be one of the first grassroots organizations to bring people together to help heal.
From Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie of Lab Shul in Brooklyn, NY, is this:
“Two religious leaders who are mothers and lovers of peace came together this past difficult week to compose a new prayer for peace: The Prayer of the Mothers.
Sheikha Ibtisam Mahameed and Rabba Tamar Elad-Appelbaum invite us to take their prayer into our hearts and into the world.”
“Sheikha Ibtisam Mahameed and Rabba Tamar Elad-Appelbaum created a new ritual:
Inviting us all to light a candle on Fridays – for peace.
Another candle for Sabbath Keeping Jews, a candle for Muslims on their sacred day.
See the invocation for this new ritual below.
Please help spread this precious new prayer and ritual.
May we not light this extra candle for the rest of our lives.”
But let us start lighting it now.
Shalom. Salaam. Peace.
Let us Light Candles for Peace
Two mothers, one plea:
Now, more than ever, during these days of so much crying
on the day that is sacred to both our religions, Friday, Sabbath Eve
Let us light a candle in every home – for peace:
A candle to illuminate our future, face to face,
A candle across borders, beyond fear.
From our family homes and houses of worship
Let us light each other up,
Let these candles be a lighthouse to our spirit
Until we all arrive at the sanctuary of
Ibtisam Mahameed ~ Tamar Elad-Appelbaum
!تعالوﻭاﺍ نضﯾﻳئ شمعاتﺕ اﺍلسلامﻡ
وﻭاﺍلدﺩتانﻥ وﻭطﻁلبﺏ وﻭاﺍحدﺩ: خصﯾﻳصا اﺍلانﻥ, في ھﮪﮬﻫذﺫهﻩ اﺍلاﯾﻳامﻡ, اﺍﯾﻳامﻡ اﺍلبكاء اﺍلكبﯾﻳرﺭ, في اﺍلﯾﻳوﻭمﻡ اﺍلمقدﺩسﺱ لدﺩﯾﻳاناتنا, في ﯾﻳوﻭمﻡ اﺍلجمعة وﻭمساء اﺍلسبتﺕ, نضﯾﻳئ فيكلﻝ بﯾﻳتﺕ شمعة للسلامﻡ: شمعة تطﻁالبﺏ بوﻭجﮫﻪ اﺍلمستقبلﻝ, وﻭجﮫﻪ اﺍلانسانﻥ. شمعﮫﻪ تنتصرﺭ على اﺍلحدﺩوﻭدﺩ وﻭاﺍلرﺭعبﺏ. منﻥ بﯾﻳوﻭتﺕ عائلاتنا وﻭبﯾﻳوﻭتﺕ صلوﻭاﺍتنا نضﯾﻳئاﺍحدﺩنا للاخرﺭ وﻭاﺍلشموﻭعﻉ تكوﻭنﻥ اﺍلبرﺭوﻭجﺝ وﻭاﺍلفنارﺭ لارﺭوﻭاﺍحنا
!حتى نصلﻝ لمعبدﺩ اﺍلسلامﻡ. اﺍبتسامﻡ محامﯾﻳدﺩ
!تمارﺭ اﺍلعادﺩ-اﺍفالبوﻭمﻡ !!!
!בואו נאיר נרות שלום
שתי אמהות ובקשה אחת: שדווקא עכשיו, בימי הבכייה הגדולה האלה, בימים המקודשים לדתות שלנו, בשישי ובערב שבת, נדליק בכל בית נר לשלום: נרשמבקש פני עתיד, פני אדם. נר שצולח גבולות ואימה. מבתי המשפחות ומבתי התפילה שלנו נאיר זה לזה והנרות יהיו מגדלור לרוחנו
עד שנבוא אל היכל השלום
איבתיסאם מחמיד
תמר אלעד–אפלבום


In solidarity with all who long for peace, justice, and freedom, 
PEN International Women Writers Committee
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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International