Nobody talks about Golda Meir anymore.
The ways in which Israeli women see themselves — and how others see them — are changing. The opinions and profiles in LILITH’s special section, “Israeli Women: Shaping a Feminist Future,” highlight some of these shifts as Israel marks the 40th anniversary of its statehood.
When Golda was at the helm in Israel, those who would pretend that women had already achieved equality in that country said that having her in the Prime Minister’s office proved the case.
Many still feel that motherhood is a necessary precondition for women to speak out on political issues. It’s OK to protest a military action, say, by claiming that you do not want your sons’ lives endangered, but if you as an individual find it a reprehensible action, your voice ceases to carry.
But at least some Israeli women are now discovering their own voices, suggesting a new and important wave of empowerment and political activism, in which women speak out — not just for their own children, but for a just society.
The features on Israel here in LILITH were prepared before — and during — the current “unrest.” In the weeks since these stories went off to the typesetter, Israeli women — Jewish and Arab — have met to discuss political change, to assert their right to protest government policies and even to visit the Palestinians injured in the confrontations.
One such group is Dai LaKibbush — “Enough of the Occupation” — a group of women in Jerusalem who meet regularly to picket the Israeli Parliament. An alliance of New York Jewish women has met in solidarity with the Jerusalem action.
In LILITH’s first statement of purpose (circa 1974), we wrote that we were concerned not only for the survival of the Jewish people, but about how that people survives. An answer to the how may be found in the politicization of Jewish women in Israel and North America this season.
How we shape our future as women is formulated also in the articles exposing the violence against women in Jewish homes. Thanks to the courage of the few women who have relentlessly spoken out on this issue over the past few years, we see here not only the horrors that they have uncovered, but also the healing work that they do with the victims and even the perpetrators of violence.