International Women’s Day: Weaving a common future

After a lunch buffet, cooked by the Sindyanna women, the day’s program continued. A panel discussion took place among Arab women striving to change the status of women in Arab...

Hanan Manadreh Zoabi, who co-runs the Sindyanna Visitors Center

After a lunch buffet, cooked by the Sindyanna women, the day’s program continued. A panel discussion took place among Arab women striving to change the status of women in Arab society. They are not afraid of fighting conservatism in their villages while struggling for equality on the broader Jewish-Arab front.

In the intervals between discussions, the women were entertained by Diane Kaplan and Mira Ailabuni from the group “Three Women in Three Languages.” They sang in Arabic, Hebrew and English.

Hanan Manadreh Zoabi, who co-runs the Sindyanna Visitors Center, moderated the panel. She talked about Sindyanna, which was established by Jewish and Arab women as a Fair Trade association. Sindyanna is dedicated to strengthening Arab women via economic empowerment, bridging the gaps between Jewish and Arab women, and fighting extremism on both sides. Sindyanna not only employs women evenhandedly and teaches them the art of weaving, it also markets the products of Galilee’s farmers and small manufacturers, as well as handicrafts made by women in Israel and the West Bank. Hanan said: “Empowering Arab women means being in opposition to the traditions and customs grounded in distorted religious interpretations, which reduce the role of women to raising a family. Being stuck in the home is a death sentence to our aspirations and abilities as women.” She added: “Just as the employment of Arab women strengthens the economy as a whole, so the solidarity of Arab and Jewish women is the only way to overcome the barrier of hate, racism and fear.” Hanan talked about the women’s protests in the United States one hundred and eight years ago not only for bread, but also roses, and the huge women’s protests we see today throughout the United States against the policies of President Trump.

Nadia Giol, who hosts groups of visitors in Sindyanna and is an non violent activist

Another panelist was Nadia Giol, who is multilingual. She hosts groups of visitors in Sindyanna and has been active for ten years as a point person for Arabs and Jews who believe in non-violence. Her story is unique: Her family was compelled to leave the village of Safuria in 1948. She grew up in Nazareth as a refugee in harsh conditions, without running water and electricity. “I felt very bitter when I saw my grandfather’s land transferred into Jewish hands. He remained a refugee and penniless. But over the years I’ve become committed to dialogue and nonviolence in order to achieve coexistence, which is possible when we learn about each other and share experiences. As a Palestinian-Israeli woman, I grew up in a traditional society that didn’t allow me to shape my life and destiny. However, I married the man of my choice, a Spaniard, and paid a personal price. Today I’m working with women who made similar choices and wish to merge their capabilities. So it’s very exciting for me to see so many Palestinian women here. On another level, I am excited about meetings between Jews and Arabs that strengthen the bond between us as human beings. It’s not something you see in everyday life in this country.”

Wafa Tiara, WAC-MAAN’s Project Coordinator for Women and Agriculture in the Triangle, explained why the slogan “Women weave for equality” is on target. “Today there is no equality for women, not

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About Michal Schwarz