Women in Black Tel Aviv Vigil

Article excerpt

Women (and Men) in Black brought reality into the heart of affluent, artsy Tel Aviv, and did it on their terms--using music, art, cinema and street theater, all set into a mass Women (and Men) in Black vigil on Dec. 27. Nearly 1,500 people from all over Israel, as well as from Europe and North America, most dressed in black, spread out on the five corners of one of the busiest intersections of Tel Aviv. Our twin slogans--"End the Occupation" and "No to Racism"--called out from every direction: white lettering on black smocks, black umbrellas, black banners, and the traditional black "hands" of Women in Black.

The day was meant to convey a serious message, but the sudden bright, hot sun after a week of cold winter rains, our own need for respite from the horror, and the Tel Aviv escapist state-of-mind all seemed to get the better of us, turning a protest demonstration into a protest "happening, "with action every few meters:

Two drummers, doing Middle Eastern rhythms;

Five "Angry Old Ladies" singing subversive political lyrics they had written to nursery rhymes and Zionist foot-stompers;

A group from Portugal performing much-loved peace songs with guitars and hand-clapping;

Black Laundry: Lesbians and Homosexuals Against the Occupation with an art installation that defies simple description;

Crates of olives and olive oil, packed into empty soda bottles, sold by peace activists who had helped in the harvest;

To counter the racist "Transfer=Security" stickers that have sprouted all over the country, there were "Transfer=War Crime" stickers, against the background of the yellow Jewish star that had been used by the Nazis during the Holocaust;

The Fifth Mother Movement (carrying on the tradition of the Four Mothers Movement that got Israelis out of Lebanon) sold shirts saying, "War is not my language. …