By Jody Williams
Tuesday, 5 October 2010, Ambassador Hotel, East Jerusalem
In about two and a half hours, some of us will be departing for Tel Aviv and the airport to begin our trips home. It has been an intense time here. All delegations that I have ever been part of have had their individual intensity. The intensity here has a different texture, tone and nuance for all the reasons I’d imagine many of you can imagine or have experienced yourselves in visiting this very ancient land with its century, upon century, upon century of conquest, re-conquest, and on and on and on to the current situation of Israel and the Occupied Territories.
I’m sad to be leaving. There is so much more to see, to experience – so many more perspectives to listen to, thoughts to share. As much as I am sad to be leaving, I am also sort of ready to go. I’ll appreciate the time back home with a bit of time and space to think about this trip, the people I’ve met, the things I’ve seen and the thing’s I’ve heard – as well as sometimes the things left not quite said, but palpable in the absence of words.
What can I do to try to contribute to a just and equitable peace here? Working with the women’s organizations – and others – that we’ve met here to try to support and advance their work is clear and obvious. But what else?
Given US support – my tax dollars – to support the interests of the state of Israel over most everything else here, I feel a very specific obligation to raise my voice more for the end of occupation. For a Palestinian state worthy of the name. And a just peace between the two on equitable terms and not the asymmetrical power here that cannot possibly result in a fair and just solution.
Becoming more involved will likely mean saying some things that some are either not ready or unwilling to open their minds and hearts to hearing – either here or in the US. “Peace” here is a very, very difficult word. “Security” is more important than peace. But I can in a teeny tiny way relate to that part because I think that the case is not much different in the US – most seem to value “security” – as expressed by the government and military – over peace and justice.
I have lots of thoughts and lots of ideas of what might be done. But time and space and reflection are necessary before moving forward. Unlike too many of the people we’ve met here on this trip, I have that luxury.
A couple more bits before I stop and finish up the little bits I need to do to leave the hotel for the airport and home. Delegations can be difficult and contentious. The wonderful women who have made up this delegation have been a complete pleasure to be with. This one has really “worked” – in the sense of worked well and smoothly together – well, and we also really have worked. I look forward to continuing efforts together to support a just resolution here.
It has to be said that the fantastic sense of being a cohesive group was made all the easier by the outstanding, as always, work of everyone who works with Nobel Women’s Initiative. Nothing is flawless, but Liz and Janhabi and Kim and Leslie and Judy – and those who had to stay back in the office and couldn’t be here on the trip itself but also worked to make it possible – are women who bring joy and commitment to our work. It is a privilege to work with them on a daily basis – and I’m sure every member of the delegation recognizes that to be a fact.
The other thing I carry with me in leaving is that I expect to be able to come back. I’m already beginning thinking about what that next trip might look like. At the same time, I think of my friend and Nobel colleague, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who was held in detention at the Tel Aviv airport the entire time we were here, until exhausting the legal remedies available to her at this point – including appearing before the Supreme Court – before being deported and banned from entering the state of Israel for the next decade.
This can only be painful not only for Mairead, but also for all of the Israeli and Palestinian people that she has come to know and love and support over her many years of coming here to work with those who press for peace. This delegation is the direct result of that work and her encouraging the Nobel Women’s Initiative to bring other women here to experience what we’ve experience so they can go back home and be new voices for a just solution here. Of course we can’t replace the love and joy Mairead has brought with her to Palestine and Israel, but we will do the best we can.
I hope those of you who have followed this delegation on our trip will consider learning more about the situation here, if you don’t know it already, and joining with us in raising our voices and taking concrete action for peace with justice and equality for Israel and a future Palestinian state. If we work together, we can help make that future happen very much sooner than many believe is possible. Thank you. ####