(Text: Dina G.) The past few months were very troubling and intense on the socio-political level in Israel. Covid 19 had not only affected the public health and financial situation but also vastly highlighted the inequality between different groups in our society and their access to resources. Whether it’s the Palestinian community in Israel who is even more deeply discriminated against in times of emergency or minority groups inside the Jewish society who’s struggles are even more strongly silenced in times of crisis.
At times like this, as politically involved women we feel an even stronger need in a sense of community, and a political home where it would be legitimate to express despair, anger and support each other. This is why we decided, as the leading team of the project to reach out to our former participants in the seminar from recent years, and try to create a platform for them to meet and share their thought, emotions and ideas at this difficult time.
25 women from the past 4 years of the program gladly applied to take part in a follow up program, and the first meeting took place last month, in Jaffa, where the participants took part in a political tour lead by the System Ali musical group. The group performs songs in 4 languages: Arabic, Hebrew, English and Russian, and in the tour they address the complexity of Jaffa as a mixed city, with a troubling history of the elimination of the Palestinian identity, and a troubling present of gentrification and discrimination of Palestinians living in it today, as well as alienation and racism against all non-Ashkenazi identities, such as Russian, Ethiopians and Mizrahi Jews.
System Ali’s artists had met each other in Sadaka Reut, an NGO that works to bring Jewish underprivileged groups and Palestinians together, whilst bringing to discussion structures of power and societal hierarchy, which all are brought to life in the personal stories the artists bring to the tour.
The strongest understanding, I believe we as political women can embrace is that the personal is political. That our personal experiences have a meaning and a context from which we must learn and can teach others. This is what we also base our educational approach in the seminar on, by sharing our experiences and learning from them, as we consider them a valuable knowledge.
Having the former participants continue to discuss the complexities in their society, understanding more deeply their own identities and the identities of the „other“ is something we strive to preserve. And it is inspiring and encouraging to be able to see this group of women continuing to engage in socio-political issues together, despite the challenges, both technical and psychological we face at this time.