Women Changing Outcomes In The Middle East

Women in the Middle East have demonstrated the ability to transcend barriers, sit down with their counterparts, and begin to share experiences. Our decades of meetings in Israel and the Palestinian territories, along with working in the Balkans with Bosnian, Serb, Kosovar, and Croatian women, has confirmed our intuition that women can construct societies across ethnic and political differences, regardless of sectarian divides.

An Urgent Call to Action - In late summer, 2013, at the request of the Center for Freedom and Justice in Palestine and We Will Not Obey in Israel, we gathered emerging young Palestinian women leaders from all sectors of society for a meeting in Jordan. The attendees included women from all walks of life: student activists from the West Bank, former elected officials, writers, journalists, artists and farmers. They represented the wide range of social, political, and religious identities that make up Palestinian society. The objective was an exploration of grass-roots strategies for shifting the now dead diplomatic process away from piecemeal approaches to one of systemic change. 

The initial meeting used a group process facilitated by CED to generate a collective strategy for collaboration among competing strands of Palestinian society: the Palestinian Authority, the PLO, and the civil society groups insisting on innovative non-violent response to the latest deadlock. An important outcome was a new strategic understanding that Palestinian activists are not alone. The group identified and discussed potential alliances with a new network of support.

Civil society groups on both sides of the conflict are in desperate need of strategies and frameworks for breaking loose a new peace process that does not rely on the diplomatic failures of the past and present. An exciting new generation of young Palestinian and Israeli women are ready to lead the way.

The world's attention is focused on Syria, Iraq, and ISIL. Now is the time to take advantage of the absence of diplomatic activity on The Palestine/Israel issue. The time is ripe for new energy and new strategies. Nothing thus far has worked, and there is a dearth of current plans to alter the status quo.

Women Changing Outcomes in the Middle East is a unique opportunity for women to shift the old diplomatic paradigm from piecemeal approaches to one of systemic change. Only new ideas will break this impasse.

Peace between Palestinians and Israelis, the cornerstone for stability in the critical arena of the Middle East, requires perseverance and passion. The elements for reduction in tensions and pursuit of peace are all there, even tacit agreement by the parties from time to time. Missing is the opportunity for a critical shift in perspective, an epiphany that unlocks an emergent awareness of what it will take to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians and break the impasse. The Center for Emergent Diplomacy, with its partners in the Middle East will continue to meet with young women leaders to shift the social and political context of the Middle East dilemma, finding a new path to resolution and reconciliation.

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