A Golden Gate Bridge march this weekend will be part of a global effort to support Israeli women demanding their voices be included in the Middle East peace process.
The Bay Area march on Sunday, Oct. 16, is being coordinated by Women Wage Peace, a nonpartisan group founded following the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. Members include both Jewish and Arab women.
Hundreds of women in Israel are currently on a two-week “March of Hope” scheduled to end during Sukkot outside the home of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where they will rally for peace and demand 50 percent female inclusion in negotiations.
The Bay Area march is one of several scheduled in the U.S., part of what Women Wage Peace describes as an effort to educate Americans about Israeli women’s desire for peace. There also will be events in countries ranging from Morocco to Japan. Details about the Golden Gate Bridge walk are available at womenwagepeace.org.il/en.
“We are here to raise the voices of women, because it is women who have a particular interest in peace — for our families and our children,” Molly Freeman, a member of Women Wage Peace and of J Street’s Women’s Leadership Forum, said in an interview. “We are marching to inform and inspire U.S. Jews about the peace momentum in Israel — that it is there and it is female.”
The Bay Area chapter was created in April after Yael Admi, a group founder, visited to screen the 2008 movie “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” a documentary describing the role women played in ending Liberia’s civil war.
“This movie is a source of inspiration, and I drove home very emotional that night,” said Neri Choma, a Campbell-based doula and leader of the Bay Area chapter of Women Wage Peace. “As a birth professional, the idea of women taking charge of their lives and protecting the lives of their children is so appealing to me, it motivated me to join this movement. To demand political resolution that will be respectful and safe for all.”
In order to raise funds and awareness for this weekend’s bridge walk, Women Wage Peace members held events for adults and children in the past two months that included Pilates for Peace, Juggling for Peace and Yoga for Peace. They also helped contribute to the organization’s “Piece for Peace” million-square quilt project.
“Peace is something we do, it is not something we find,” said Choma, who grew up in Israel. “Instead of taking a stand about settlements or Israeli policy, we want people to ask themselves: ‘What have I done for peace today?’ And we want to model this to our kids.”