Ada Aharoni(Ph.D), THE BRIDGE -
ADDRESS: 57 Horev Street, HAIFA, ISRAEL 34343.
Phone: (972)4- 8243230
Fax: (972)4- 8261288
In 1975, two
years after the Yom Kippur War, together with the late
Ruth Lys, Violet Khouri, Ruth Dayan, Yardena Cohen, Eugenie Khlef, and
other Israeli and Arab/Palestinian women, we founded in Haifa, Israel,
a Voluntary Association: THE BRIDGE: JEWISH AND ARAB WOMEN FOR THE PROMOTION OF WOMEN AND PEACE. This was the first association of its kind in Israel, that dared to gather Jewish and Arab women in the same organization, to promote the status of women, and peace in the Middle East. We met with much criticism and resistance, sometimes violent,in
both sectors. However, we knew we were promoting a just cause which
required courage and perseverance, and it gave us strength to act and
struggle to promote our goals. To this day, twenty three years later, we
are still working hard but quietly, to promote women and peace in the
Middle East, and in our entire global village.
"THE BRIDGE" is a women's organization whose members originate from
Israel's various ethnic and religious communities, and who work together
for the promotion of the status of women, and the attainment of peace in
the Middle East. Its legal status is: a non-profit organization.
Members: 240 fully paid members. 1860 Affiliated members.
Yearly Membership: $25. Financial Sources: membership, donations.
Structure: The organization is run by an executive Board of four women,
two Jewish and two Arab/ Palestinian. It is elected by the General Board
which comprises twenty members. The yearly General Meeting elects the
two Boards, as well as the President, the Director, and the Treasurer.
awaken the consciousness of every woman as to her power in
promoting women's rights, and in taking an active part in the peace
process. In our region, both goals are inextricably linked, for when
there is war, conflict and unrest, the problem of women's rights gets
shoved aside as "not the most important just now." As mothers, and
educators of the new generation, we have to ensure peace in our region
and in the world, so that life on earth may continue.
lectures, presentations and discussions.
2. Meetings in Jewish, Arab and Druze towns and villages, for the
building of "Bridges" of culture and understanding with the local women.
3. Exchange visits of Israeli and Arab pupils in schools.
4. Group dynamics: the Jews act the roles of Arab/ Palestinians, and the
Arabs the roles of Jews.
5. Radio and television programs on The Bridge in Arabic, Hebrew,
English and French.
6. Arabic (for the Jews), and Hebrew language courses for the Arab
7. Picnics, outings, weekends with the families.
8. Seminars, Common Feasts and Happenings, and International
joint activism of Israeli and Arab women, helped to
advance the status of Arab/ Palestinian women, who based their claims
for greater freedom and rights in the home and in society,on the example
of their Israeli counterparts and women colleagues. Indeed,
the first Arab women who obtained the right to vote in the whole of the
Middle East,were the Arab/ Palestinian citizens of Israel.
One of our
successful projects was our help in organizing the
campaign to run (late) Violet Khouri as Mayor of the Galilean town, Kafr
Yassif. To some people's surprise and dismay, she was elected, and she
became the first Arab Mayor in the whole of the Middle East, and the
whole world. At the beginnning, her male colleagues in the Municipal
Board refused to cooperate with her, arguing: "It is the worst insult
for an Arab to be governed by a "mara" - a mere woman!" But with the
help of the women and men of the town, who believed in her and in her
message, and with the help of THE BRIDGE, Violet Khouri became a
successful and efficient Mayor. She raised the standard of living not
only in her town, but in the whole of the Galilee, from all the points
of view: economic, health and education, especially of girls and women.
established college and university stipends and grants for both
male and female students, and the result is that today, Kfar Yassif has
the highest percentage in the whole of the Middle East of academic
educated women, who are motivated and know how to struggle for equal
rights in all fields and disciplines. Violet Khouri was Mayor of Kfar
Yassif for eight harmonious years, and her positive influence and
spirit stemming from her dedication to peace and to the promotion of
women, bears fruit to this day.
and male friends of the members of The Bridge, requested to
join our struggle for peace and the promotion of women. In 1985 we
founded a parallel organization entitled: PAVE PEACE: IFLAC: The
International Friends of Literature, which includes both women and
men.The Bridge served as a model for Pave Peace, and it is, organized
in much the same way. It includes: weekly programs, monthly symposia,
conferences and congresses. (See details of 1999 International Congress
attached). We also organize exchanges of visits by Israeli and
Palestinian pupils and students in schools and colleges, picnics and
1998 for instance, as in previous years, we organized a
common festive conference of Jews, Christians and Moslems, under the
banner of: HANOUKAH, CHRISTMAS and RAMADAN in "Beit Hagefen," The House
of the Vine, in Haifa. Our families and the general public were invited,
and we enjoyed together the excellent presentations and the cultural
entertainment. The "Bridges" of respect and understanding between the
various people, creeds and cultures, were indeed powerfully
strengthened again on this special occasion, thanks to the leadership
and efforts of the Israeli and Arab/ Palestinian women who work
together to bring hope of peace and harmony to the region.
One of our outstanding successes in the last three years, is the
founding and establishing of the TENT OF PEACE, in the Druze and
Bedouin village, Ussfiya), where we hold regular meetings of "Creative
Women," to promote the status of women in both the Jewish and Arab/
Palestinian sectors. We also organize meetings of women (and men)
writers, poets, lecturers, intellectuals, teachers, journalists, media,
of all creeds and denominations, toward the building of bridges of
understanding through culture and literature of "the other." The
promotion of peace and the status of women are the main themes in those
meetings, and they have had a strong impact in the families of the
participants, and in society in general.
Thanks to the
activities of the women of THE BRIDGE and PAVE PEACE,
as well as other organizations and institutions, like the House of the
Vine, the mixed city of Jews and Arabs, Haifa, has always been peaceful.
There has never been an "Intefada" in Haifa, and there have always been
harmonious relationships and respect between Jews and Arabs
in this beautiful city on the slopes of green Mount Carmel, and by the
shores of the blue Mediterranean. Haifa can indeed serve as an example
of creative and harmonious relations between Jews and Arabs/
Palestinians, in the whole of the Middle East. The spirit of THE BRIDGE
and PAVE PEACE has in many ways spread to the whole of the country, and
there are today, branches in ten major cities and towns, half of them in
the Jewish sector, and half of them in the Arab/Palestinian sector.
Many people among both the Jewish and Arab population say today,
that if the women of The Bridge and Pave Peace were in charge of the
peace process in the Middle East, there would have been peace a long
In addition to
the above mentioned activities, we encourage research
and literature on women, and we organize literary presentations of new
books, mostly on women and their struggle toward achieving equal rights
and freedom. We believe that the written word has a crucial role and
impact in the promotion of women and peace. Two latest published books
that will soon be celebrated are: NOT IN VAIN:AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE,and
THE PEACE FLOWER: A Nuclear Space Adventure. The first book is a
biography of Thea Woolf, a vivid and universal role model for women; and
the second book is a futuristic fantasy,and an educational peace
adventure for young and old. The heroine, Lee, together with her friend
Ron, succeeds, despite Nuki, the Nuclear Dragon, to bring the Peace
Flower from the Future in space, to the Present on Earth. Both these
books were translated from Hebrew
into several languages, including English, Arabic and French, and they
have had a strong impact in the education and promotion of women and
In addition to
IFLAC: PAVE PEACE,The Bridge has through the years,
collaborated with various women's organizations, including NAAMAT,
HADASSAH, WIZO, and the ISRAEL'S WOMEN'S NETWORK, for the advancement of
women's rights. It includes: lobbying and writing articles for the
promotion of equal rights and representation in the Rabbinate and other
institutions, the passing of laws against violence in the family and
against women, sexual harassment, equal pay and opportunities,
education, health, and political representation of women.
I strongly believe
that change is possible, and that through
courageous and innovative action, hard work, perseverance, and the
raising of the consciousness of both women and men to the crucial
necessity of equal rights and freedom for women - we shall succeed.I
feel that the two organizations I have founded and I direct: The
Bridge and Pave peace, as well as the International Ban-War Campaign I
initiated and coordinate, give voice to all women, and hope to all
CHALLENGES ARE THE MOST DIFFICULT TO OVERCOME IN THE STRUGGLE
TOWARD ACHIEVING EQUAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOM FOR WOMEN?
One of the
most difficult challenges to overcome, is the ignoring by
the media of women's struggles and achievements in both fields: the
promotion of women, and the struggle for peace.
One of the
blatant examples of the latter was the ignoring
by the media of the recent MARCH OF WOMEN, in which hundreds of Israeli
and Arab/Palestinian women marched together for peace, through three
Jewish and Arab villages. We invited the different TV stations: CNN,
NBC, BBC, etc. but none came to cover this unique and important event.
It was so sad to realize that when one Palestinian kills an Israeli, or
the other way round, all the media is there, but when hundreds of
Israeli and Arab/Palestinian women walk together for the first time, for
Peace in the Middle East, the media is not interested.
o Another major challenge and drawback is the
lack of funds,
governmental and otherwise. We all work voluntarily, and have had great
difficulties in raising funds for the smooth running, organizing and
publicizing of our activities, and most of the funding of the Bridge and
Pave Peace, comes from the efforts and donations of our own members. If
we had a paid secretary to do the paper work, and to publicize what we
are doing, we would have been able to do still more.
Bridge" and "Pave Peace" are the initiators and
coordinators of the "BAN_WAR CAMPAIGN AND PETITION," for building a
world beyond war and violence. The women of those two organizations
fully understand that if war and violence are overcome, it would give
women a greater chance of attaining fully equal rights. War dwarfs all
other issues, including the issue of the promotion of women.
(For a fuller
Biography and details of activities, please see Homepage
For Details see
is international in scope, and will include women and men
from the Middle East, USA, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the
Americas. It will embrace a range of discourses and topics, combining
scholarly work with position papers, and creative peace literature
stories, poems and plays. It will also include background briefings,
testimonial accounts, workshops, videos, and musical and artistic
creative pieces. This purposely heterogeneous range of media and
"languages" will appeal to the many communities,within and beyond the
academy, concerned with issues involving conflict resolution, women and
Women Paving Peace Through Culture and Literature.
The Bridge: Jewish and Arab Women for Peace in the Middle East.
Conflict Resolution in the Palestinian Authority, and Lebanon. Conflict Resolution in Ireland, Bosnia, and Rwanda.
Women Resistance to Violence Against Women.
Women, Sexuality, and the Military.
Conflict Resolution Through the Building of Cultural Bridges.
The BAN - WAR Campaign and Petition.
Women in the Military.
Democratization and Nation Building.
Hidden Links Between Military and Domestic Violence.
Refugees and Immigration.
Capitalism and the Gendered World Order.
Technology as Opportunity for Women.
Organization of Conflict Resolution through the Internet.
Practicing Women's Rights as Human Rights.
Ways for Violence Reduction in: TV, Films, Media.
The Peace Flower and other stories by Ada Aharoni,
& Aiesha and Other Palestinian Stories, by Christine Ahmed.
o 1. Georgia Jones, 349 Northam Ave., San
Carlos, CA. 94070, USA.
Phone: (650)591-6212 FAX: (650)591-1123
o 2. Vardina Berdugo, 1 Amatsia Street # 10
In the Framework of "50 Days of Women"
PAVE PEACE and
THE BRIDGE, in collaboration with the Center for Women in
Coalition, has organized a conference on: Women and Conflict Resolution.
The Panel will discuss the forging of new creative
feminism in the context of Conflict Resolution through Culture. The
conference will link feminist and peace activists and grass-root
organizers engaged in innovative programs, with a gathering of scholars
and policy-makers engaged in theorizing conflict and promoting
Judith Zilbershtein, Director of Israel IFLAC: The Friends of
Culture and Literature for paving peace.
q Ada Aharoni, founder and Coordinator of The
Bridge: Jewish and Arab
Women for Peace in the Middle East, and International IFLAC:PAVE PEACE.
q Eugenie Khlef, President of The Bridge, and one of its founders.
q And others.
Music & Refreshments.
q The Conference is open to the public, all are welcome.