Disturb the ‘Peace’!

Photo by Michal Fatta of Anat Hoffman arrested for disturbing the peace at West Wall as she lead women in prayers for peaceIn the year 1947, the UN General Assembly declared October 24, the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, as United Nations Day. I am heartened that the Western North Carolina Chapter of the UN Association has chosen to celebrate UN Day with a program honoring women. Promoting women’s equality promotes peace and sustainable development around the world!

Last night at a Sahara Peace Choir rehearsal for our part in the WNC-UN program, I learned of the recent arrest of Anat Hoffman, who was leading prayers for peace at Jerusalem’s Western Wall and charged with, yes, disturbing the peace. Hoffman is the chair of Women of the Wall, a group that brings women to the Wall at the start of each Hebrew month. The Wall is currently under the jurisdiction of an ultra orthodox Haredi rabbi who considers the Wall as an Orthodox synagogue and authorizes only individual women in silent prayer, without tallit (prayer shawl) or Torah, and only at the small portion of the wall set aside for women. Hoffman reports that she was handcuffed, shackled and strip-searched during her detention by Jerusalem police.

This follows on the heels of the story of the teenage Afghan girl, Malala Yousafzai, targeted for promoting education for girls and shot in the head on her school bus by fundamentalist Taliban soldiers in the name of religion. In a UN Day message, the UN Secretary General has invited the world to join as one human family. One can’t join what one is already part of. Anat Hoffman and Malala Yousafzai have acted in their daily lives on the belief that they are inherently included in the human family.

It is actions taken by women and girls like Anat and Malala that disturb a ‘peace’ that must be disturbed, in order to become authentic and inclusive.  It is stories like theirs that are indeed disturbing. May the courage and commitment shown by all such women fighting for our rights be celebrated. May these stories disturb us so profoundly that on UN Day and every day,  we promote women’s equality in small local actions of our own.

One Response to “Disturb the ‘Peace’!

  • Fabulous article, Susa- thank you so much. With their inspiring bravery, these women create more space, more life for women everywhere.