Dear TalkMatters Supporters,

On Sunday, I stood in Trafalgar Square to mark the hundred days since the massacre and hostage taking in South Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza.  I stood in harmony with the calls to ‘bring them home’, I stood in harmony with the freedom and democracy that allows us to state our cause and protest in public.  Yet there was something out of sync.  I would have liked us all  – the pro-Israelis and the pro-Palestinians – to have come together in solidarity and sympathy for the horrific trauma that both Peoples are going through.  

The nearest I can get to that is to support the initiatives, be they music, ecology, high-tech, religion, etc. that enable moderate Palestinians and Israelis to connect with each other’s pain and suffering.  I am once again thankful for TalkMatters’s community of cooperative Israeli Palestinian initiatives that cultivate empathy and open communication.  A long, slow process but the only way forward: building bridges of compassion and understanding together with, of course, a massively needed new political direction.

Despite what is going on, TalkMatters together with Oasis of Peace UK are looking ahead to more peaceful times and we are planning our next interfaith trip to Wahat al Salam/Neve Shalom/Oasis of PeaceThis is a wonderful initiative that I have been involved with for a very long timeIt is a village that supports three educational institutions half-way between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where Jews andArabslive in a shared, equitable society.   Postponed since last November due to the war, we are hoping to visit this November.  To register your interest and/or for more information please contact hello@talkmatters.info or office@oasisofpeace.org.uk

Today I would like to tell you about two exceptional human beings and their initiatives: Firstly, the founder of Women Wage Peace Vivian Silver (who was murdered on October 7th) and the director of The Road to Recovery Yael Noy.

TalkMatters remains one of the few spaces for people who want to resist the pressure to take sides.  For people who recognise the humanity of all moderate individuals living in this troubled land.  For people who want to learn from both narratives.  If you think this is important, take a moment right now to send this link to your family WhatsApp group, or please pass this email on to friends and colleagues and invite them to join the TalkMatters mailing list

All good wishes, Jenny and the TalkMatters Team.

Women Wage Peace

Women Wage Peace is a grassroots movement, founded by Vivian Silver in November 2014 in the aftermath of the Gaza War. Their mission is to reach an honourable and bilaterally acceptable political agreement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and increase the active participation of women in all aspects of negotiation.

Sometimes truth comes from the mouths of babes.  This time it came from Vivian Silver’s two small sons.  They had made a friend of Nassar, a Palestinian labourer who worked at their kibbutz, and wondered why, after the second intifada (2000-2005), he wasn’t with them any more.  Vivian told them that he had no permit to come over now.  “Why not?” one son wondered.  “Because there is a big conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis” “What is it over?”  “Land”, she told him. 

In Hebrew the words for “earth” and “land” are the same.  So her son went off, fetched a bucket, filled it with earth, and returned.  “Here” he said.  “Give it to Nassar, so he can come back”.

Vivian Silver spent her entire adult life trying to make it that simple.  Knowing that if it were only a matter of talking, sharing and helping, the situation would be different.   For the next fifty years she didn’t stop.   Bringing the local Bedouins and Gazans to her home and working with Palestinians in any way she could, because that gave peace more of a chance.  Despite Hamas taking over Gaza in 2007, bombs falling around her whilst walking in the fields in 2009, war with Gaza in 2014 and kite-bombs destroying her beloved local nature reserve in 2018, Vivian carried on.  She founded a group called “Creating Peace” which encouraged cross-border links between traders and artisans. She organised training programmes for Gazans and ensured fair wages for construction workers.  In 1998 Vivian became executive director of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development and in partnership with Palestinian, Amal Elsana Alh’jooj won an international award.   

2014 was a special year for Vivian.  She had turned 65, retired and became a grand-mother.  But still the seemingly eternal conflict between Israelis and Palestinians carried on.  What was the answer?  As her feminist mind suggested, it was to turn to the strength of women.  She would help build up a movement of Israeli and Palestinian women who would keep in the public eye by marching and appealing  (including every Monday outside the Knesset), for negotiated agreement rather than war.   So Women WagePeace – one of TalkMatters very first initiatives – was born with now around 45,000 Jewish and Arab-Israeli women.  On the 4th October several thousand women walked hand-in-hand to the Dead Sea shore. “We cannot go on without apolitical horizon,” Vivian told the rally.  “We call upon our sisters in Gaza: join us and call upon your leaders, enough.  Terror benefits no one.  You, too, deserve peace and security”

Three days later, Hamas broke into Vivian’s kibbutz.  For five weeks she was missing and thought to be a hostage.   Now we know on that first fateful day she was taken from her home and brutally killed.

Women Wage Peace is featured in our directory,  has their own website and joined us for our very first webinar in August 2020.  There are details of how you can donate to help support their work on this page of their website.  

Road to Recovery

Road to Recovery is an organisation of about 1900 volunteers donating time and the use of their own vehicles on a regular basis to transport Palestinian patients and their family guardians between checkpoints and hospitals all over Israel. They believe that the assistance, besides being motivated by compassion, will generate good will, deepen human connections and contribute to peace between the two Peoples.

This article is based on the BBC News article “We can’t stop – The Israeli woman still helping sick Palestinians” and Jenny Nemko’s telephone conversation with Yael. 

Yael Noy

This article is based on the BBC News article “We can’t stop – The Israeli woman still helping sick Palestinians” and Jenny Nemko’s telephone conversation with Yael.  The Road to Recovery is featured in our directory has their own website  There are details on this page of their website which show how you can donate to help support their work. 

Please pass on this information

Please pass on this information to your friends and colleagues.  Please talk about the human stories that we share with you. In the horrendous circumstances we all find ourselves, TalkMatters continues to introduce the UK public to the people who refuse to see one another as enemies.  We believe in supporting the grass-roots work in Israel and Palestine and we know that it is only by working together with you – our UK supporters – and with our Israeli-Palestinian Associates that we can ever walk another path.  A path that leads to a future of peace, justice and equality for everyone. 

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Thank you for your support.

Jenny and the TalkMatters Team.