We are two women and mothers – one Irish and the one American – who have experienced the loss of children in our families to the senseless violence of war. We hope that none of you will experience such pain. However, we know that our experience is hardly unique, and we have formed advocacy groups to end the violence and hold the leaders, militaries and paramilitaries of our societies accountable for robbing us of our loved ones.
Among those who know the sadness are thousands of Palestinian and Israeli mothers, many of whom we have met in person. We have made common cause with them to end the grief, which is why we both support nonviolent solutions to a conflict that has taken their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters.
We therefore endorse and wish to encourage participation in the Global March to Jerusalem, a movement to end, through nonviolent means, the expulsions and human rights violations in Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine. We recognize that the narratives of the movement may not be the same as those of the societies they are challenging, and that different elements of this very broad movement may not always speak with the same voice. However, they are agreed on the basics, which include respect for human rights and a commitment to nonviolence.
That is enough for us. The rest can and should be worked out. However, if the mothers of today and tomorrow throughout all the territories controlled and governed by Israel can believe that their children and family members will be spared and that they will not have to grieve for them, this is a huge step along the path to resolution.
We believe that the Global March to Jerusalem is a beacon of hope for both the present and the future, as are the many nonviolent movements and actions to date, including the popular nonviolent resistance committees, the boats to Gaza, the caravans and convoys to Gaza, and many other peaceful challenges to the policies responsible for the suffering of all peoples in the region.
We have heard the doubts and criticisms delivered by the skeptics, but we do not believe in unrealistic standards. One of the most powerful dimensions of this movement is its inclusivity. If some people or groups do not find that the march meets their requirements, let them alter the dynamics through their participation in all aspects of the movement.
We cannot afford to let this opportunity pass. The Global March to Jerusalem gives voice to many who have been voiceless in the past and who are beginning to feel the empowerment of mass popular action, as did the Tunisian and Egyptian peoples before them. It also invites and encourages people from across the globe to participate in an unprecedented show of unity with their brothers and sisters in Palestine.
We find this act of international solidarity compelling, and we hope you do, too. Until now our Palestinian and Israeli brothers and sisters have been unable to end the injustice on their own, and there is no guarantee that our support will make the difference or that they might not be able to achieve resolution without our support. However, we believe in showing that we care and that we are serious about supporting a restoration of justice to this important community.
Let’s all give peace – and the Global March to Jerusalem – a chance.
Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire’s sister Anne lost three of her children to the fighting in Northern Ireland and Cindy Sheehan lost her son, Casey to the Iraq war. Both started antiwar movements in their communities.