To those that know her, it’s a painful irony that Vivian Silver, 74, was kidnapped by Hamas and apparently taken into the Gaza Strip. Diminutive, her grey hair cropped brief, she is thought amongst activists in Israel and overseas for her seemingly endless power, dedication, and inventive efforts to advertise peace with Palestinians and equality between Jews and Arabs inside Israel.
Silver is long-time member of Kibbutz Be’eri, only some kilometers from the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel. Within the early morning on Oct. 7, as terrorists invaded the kibbutz, Silver, who’s widowed and lives alone, hid behind a closet in her protected room and commenced texting household and pals. At 11:07, her son, Yonatan Zeigen, who lives along with his spouse and three youngsters in Tel Aviv, texted her, I’m with you.
I really feel you, Silver responded.
She has not been heard from since. We do not know the place she is, Zeigen says. I can solely hope that she is being held in Gaza. What a horrible hope that’s, however it’s higher than having no hope.
Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Silver got here to Israel in 1974 and moved to Kibbutz Be’eri in 1990, the place she and her American-born husband raised their two sons. Silver quickly grew to become conscious about the discrimination in opposition to Bedouin communities in southern Israel and initiated a number of initiatives to advertise equality, together with one wherein she matched Arab and Jewish ladies to supply objects they may promote for revenue. Remembers Susan Levinstein, a buddy who got here to Israel across the identical time as Silver, “She put collectively a Jewish poet and an Arab illustrator, who made a ebook collectively; an Arab lady who made cleaning soap with a Jewish ceramicist who made cleaning soap dishes; and a Jewish jeweler with an Arab lady who carved olive-wood jewellery packing containers.”
In 2000, she based the Arab-Jewish Middle for Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation (recognized regionally as AJEEC-NISPED), which consists of joint groups of Arabs and Jews working to create a shared, equal society. For over a decade, she co-directed AJEEC-NISPED with Kher Albaz, a resident of the Bedouin city, Tel Sheva. “It has been a privilege and an honor to work with Vivian,” says Albaz. “She embodies true morality and perception in human equality, not as slogans however in the best way she lives her on a regular basis life.”
Till 2005, Silver often traveled to the Gaza Strip to satisfy with like-minded feminine Palestinian activists. And even after Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad started to incessantly shell Israeli civilians, together with Kibbutz Beeri, and Israel responded with incursions into the Gaza Strip, Silver maintained common phone contact with these ladies. She stopped calling solely when the ladies from Gaza grew to become fearful that they’d be at risk from Hamas militants. “Vivian was capable of maintain onto the actual complexities of actuality,” says Ariella Giniger, a buddy and co-activist who lives in Israel’s central area. “She acknowledged injustice of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian folks, additionally remained a Zionist, absolutely satisfied that the Jewish folks have the fitting to their homeland. She noticed no contradiction between these stands, so long as we search for well-intended options.”
Silver retired just a few years in the past, however remained energetic, together with in Highway to Restoration, an Israeli NGO that enlists Israeli volunteers to drive Palestinian sufferers who require medical therapy from the border to Israeli hospitals. Most prominently, she was additionally a founding member of the Israeli-Palestinian Ladies Wage Peace (WWP) motion, established in late 2014. She is conscious about ladies’s historic function to alter actuality and problem accepted pondering, says Yael Admi, who helped to co-found WWP with Silver. In founding WWP, she was difficult the prevalent paradigm that solely battle will convey us safety. As a lady, she is aware of that battle will solely convey extra battle, and solely peace will convey us safety.”
Distinguished U.S. feminist Prof. Carol Gilligan, who has supported peace work in Israel for many years, is aware of Silver properly and agrees. “Vivian is, above all, an excellent particular person and a stupendous human being, and she or he embodies this in every part she does, Gilligan says. She is the antithesis of using drive, and, as a lady, she would see that this tragedy is proof that it’s vital to incorporate ladies, and the ways in which ladies attempt to remedy conflicts, in all choices and negotiations.”
On Oct. 4, simply days earlier than her kidnapping, Silver helped to arrange, along with WWP’s sister Palestinian motion, Ladies of the Solar, “The Mom’s Name,” an annual occasion that rallies tons of of Israeli, Palestinian and worldwide ladies and activists in help of a peaceable future for Israel and Palestine. Says Admi, “The occasion succeeded past even our expectations, and Vivian was so glad. There was a lot optimistic power for peace. How can we fathom that solely days later, she was taken?”
A gaggle of Silver’s family and friends members have mobilized, attempting to acquire data and to help one another. Giniger is looking for the prescription for Silver’s glasses, within the hope of giving them to the Pink Cross or one other group that will convey them to her. “Vivian is a lady of deep rules and commitments, a lady of peace. However she additionally wants her glasses,” she says ruefully.
Her pals, household, and supporters all agree that Israel’s present assault on Gaza just isn’t what Silver would need. “I’m certain she wouldn’t need the violence to proceed, actually not in her identify or within the identify of saving her and the opposite hostages,” Giniger says. Albaz says that he tries to console himself with a fantasy. “I see Vivian being held with a bunch of different hostages, attempting to persuade their captors that this isn’t the fitting method. And he or she’s in all probability already divided all of them into break-out teams, to allow them to speak about how one can make the state of affairs higher for everybody.”
Sadly, Zeigen concludes, “I do know that the Hamasnik who got here to kill wasn’t searching for my mom. However that’s who he took. It’s a infantile fantasy to imagine that any of us can one way or the other keep away from the ache of battle, irrespective of how a lot good you will have finished in your life. Struggle is absurd, but in addition very private. My mom is an Israeli, a Jew, a hostage. However she can also be a grandmother who makes scrapbooks and specifically designed truffles for her grandchildren.”