Women in Black

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WOMEN IN BLACK

Israeli movement in support of the first Intifada (19871991), promoting a network of women's peace activities in Israel, the Occupied Territories, and the world.

In 1988, a small group of Israeli women responded to the outbreak of the first Palestinian Intifada by protesting in the streets of cities and towns across the country, dressed in black as a sign of mourning. Their regular vigils have inspired protest groups across the Western world. The Women in Black have worked together with other feminist and nonfeminist peace groups in protests against all aspects of the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and have given their name and support to groups of women opposed to engagement in other military conflicts as well. In Israel, they are opposed by Women in Green and other right-wing settler movements riled by the apparent success of the women's peace movements in capturing public attention.

The first Jewish Women in Black movement was organized against the oppression of Soviet Jews in the 1970s; it was, in turn, inspired by South African women who stood silently, wearing black sashes, in protest against apartheid. Both the Jewish and the South African groups, often made up of middle aged and middle-class women, successfully demonstrated the power of activism by women's groups standing against the compromise and complacency of the largely male establishments in South Africa and the Jewish community.

Israeli women's groups have drafted a series of peace platforms, formed committees to monitor the treatment of civilians, and engaged from the outsetat first illegallyin dialogues with Palestinian women. The Israeli Women in Black have sought to maintain the spontaneous nature of their demonstrations, aiming to draw together women of different political beliefs and from different organizations. Their efforts were reinvigorated in the late 1990s by the success of the Four Mothers movement in shifting public opinion in favor of Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon. The Four Mothers movement was founded by four Israeli mothers who had sons serving in Lebanon in 1997, after a helicopter crash in that country that left seventy-three soldiers dead.

see also gaza strip; intifada (19871991); west bank.


Bibliography


Women in Black. Available from <http://www.womeninblack.net>.

george r. wilkes

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