Blossoms on the Olive Tree: Israeli and Palestinian Women Working for Peace

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Overview

Blossoms on the Olive Tree is an American woman's account of work that Israeli and Palestinian women are doing to educate themselves and their societies about militarization, human rights, women's rights, and the democratic process. The book highlights women on both sides of the political divide who reach out to each other, engage in bi-national dialogue, and challenge ongoing violence.

Blossoms on the Olive Tree is an American woman's account of work that Israeli and Palestinian women are doing to educate themselves and their societies about militarization, human rights, women's rights, and the democratic process. The book highlights women on both sides of the political divide who reach out to each other, engage in bi-national dialogue, and challenge ongoing violence. Despite severe societal restraints in carving out political space for themselves, women in both societies have devised creative opportunities. Powers documents the women's working committees attached to Palestinian political parties and the creativity of Israeli women striving to civil-ize their society. Ironically, it is their marginalization that offers women space to engage in their peace-building efforts. The book ends with a clarion call for the implementation of UN Resolution 1325, which requires the presences of women at the highest levels of peace negotiations. Women, with their commitment to reconciliation and healing, bring a significant vision to the enterprise of peace-building, and Powers suggests that it's high time they be taken seriously.

In the course of researching this book, Powers stayed in Jewish homes, Muslim homes, and Christian homes, observing women going about their daily tasks. She shared Shabbat dinners and Christmas dinners, Muslim family celebrations, herbal tea and Arab coffee, benefiting from extraordinary hospitality, and learning that Israeli and Palestinian are more alike than they are different. Like women everywhere, Jewish and Arab women care deeply for their children, put up with anger and abuse from their husbands, and try to negotiate a path between societal expectations and personal convictions. Virtually all of them yearn to live in peace, to raise their families without fear, and to enjoy the small pleasures of life without anxiety for the future. These are their stories, and they impart a measure of humanity to the occupation, the Separation Wall, and living with the fear of suicide bombings that is difficult to glean from nightly news reports. Most important, these remarkable women are succeeding in changing from within the way in which their own societies think about themselves.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Powers had done extensive research in South Asia before her first trip to the Middle East in 2002. On that trip and later ones, she met Israeli and Palestinian women who were articulate, effective organizers, and committed to building personal and organizational connections to prepare the way for peace. Here she offers a collection of stories and essays describing the women she met and their peaceful responses to the hatred and violence in the region….[t]he book is a humane and moving presentation of women managing to work with courage and optimism for a better world. Libraries will want to make this volume available for readers seeking the human side of the harsh news from the Middle East."

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Library Journal

"Powers has gathered the stories of ordinary women on both sides of the Separation Wall and the even deeper political divide between Israelis and Palestinians. Working at the grass roots and primarily amongst other women by societal mandate as well as by preference, the women are engaging in peacemaking while also carving out a political space for themselves as Jews, Muslims and Christians. This is also a personal account of how an American woman perceived women whose experiences were so different, yet in some ways the same, as her own. Powers closes by advocating enforcement of UN Resolution 1325, which requires the presence of women at the highest levels of peace negotiations."

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Reference & Research Book News

"US scholar Powers recounts recent grassroots efforts by Israeli and Palestinian women to educate themselves and their societies about building peace and solving problems nonviolently in the region. The author bases her study on research in 2002-05 in Israel and the occupied territories, including interviews, participation in demonstrations, and observations of the work of NGOs, feminist organizations, female politicians, and women's wings of political parties. She includes women's life histories and the testimonials of activist women among Israelis and Palestinians, demonstrating the difficulties of life for both sides because of the long-term military occupation of Palestine, human-rights violations, the new separation wall, and the violent political context. However, Powers never forgets the asymmetry of power between Israelis and Palestinians. The author bases her analysis on notions of women's marginalization, the way women are excluded from decision-making processes, and a context now allowing women an opportunity to engage in peace-building efforts. The volume includes photographs of key interviewees. The study's best feature is the way the author includes the human dimensions of the struggle for effective participation in the emerging binational dialogue. Recommended. All academic levels/libraries."

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Choice

"Janet Powers….[o]ffers an American academic's account of living and engaging in dialogue with Palestinian and Israeli women who have been pushing for dialogue and peacemaking across the Israeli-Palestinian divide….The result of her time spent in the Middle East is a collection of stories and essays describing how inividual women and NGOs struggle to offer peaceful responses to conflict, violence, and hatred….The book also discusses numerous other gendered and nongendered peace and justice organizations among Palestinians and Israelis."

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Journal of Palestine Studies

"[A] collection of stories and essays about the work that Israeli and Palestinian women are doing, in spite of societal restraints, to engage in bi-national dialogue. The first section introduces four organizations that work to bridge the divide between Israelis and Palestinians. The second section depicts the daily lives of Israeli and Palestinian women. The third section focuses on some of the peacebuilding organizations formed by women. The book concludes with a compelling argument in favor of including women at the peace table."

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Middle East Journal

"In the end, the question is not, 'Why haven't these women produced peace and a resolution to this conflict?' but rather, 'How much worse would this be without these Palestinian and Israeli women working for peace and justice?' Powers also helps us ask, 'How much have these women helped to create the conditions that make sustainable peace more likely?' To the extent that Palestinians, Israelis, and people of the world ask and answer that question, the power and influence of these powerless and invisible women will grow, producing more of the peace and justice they work for in the most dire circumstances. Powers is helping us see that those are the questions and she provides instances that help us glimpse some parts of the answers."

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International Journal on World Peace

Library Journal
Powers (interdisciplinary & women's studies, emerita, Gettysburg Coll.) had done extensive research in South Asia before her first trip to the Middle East in 2002. On that trip and later ones, she met Israeli and Palestinian women who were articulate, effective organizers, and committed to building personal and organizational connections to prepare the way for peace. Here she offers a collection of stories and essays describing the women she met and their peaceful responses to the hatred and violence in the region. The first section, "Extending the Olive Branch," introduces four current organizations at the forefront of the women's effort to foster a civil society and the extraordinary women who lead them. Part 2, "Living in a Time of Conflict," presents the daily lives of other courageous women in different parts of Palestine and Israel, and Part 3, "Defining Political Space," looks more closely at several women and agencies and their efforts to influence the official political structures. Overall, the book is a humane and moving presentation of women managing to work with courage and optimism for a better world. Libraries will want to make this volume available for readers seeking the human side of the harsh news from the Middle East. Elizabeth R. Hayford, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, Chicago Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275990015
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/30/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

JANET M. POWERS is Professor Emerita, Interdisciplinary Studies and Women's Studies, Gettysburg College. She has published extensively on literature from the Indian sub-continent. In recent years, her interests in peace studies and women's studies have converged in her research on Palestinian and Israeli women's peace-building efforts. She has also worked directly with women's organizations in Haiti, South Africa, Estonia, and India. She is a certified mediator.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Women and the peace dialogue 5
Ch. 2 Ruth's story 21
Ch. 3 Nazmieh's story 35
Ch. 4 Refugee camps and kibbutzim 49
Ch. 5 A city divided : Jerusalem, west and east 57
Ch. 6 Tales of two cities : Ramallah and Tel Aviv 67
Ch. 7 Bethlehem, Haifa, and Hebron 79
Ch. 8 Rebels in and out of the Knesset 95
Ch. 9 Patiently preparing for statehood 107
Ch. 10 Running for office on both sides 123
Ch. 11 Finding room at the peace table 135
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