ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Eilat Maoz « Pour l’autodétermination des Palestiniens »
by Robin Assous
Translated Saturday 31 January 2009, by
Israeli Eilat Maoz coordinates the coalition of women for peace and oversees the cooperation of some thirty anti-war organisations.
HUMA: How is the coalition against the war reacting to the prolongation of the offensive on Gaza?
EILAT MAOZ: We are intensifying our mobilisation. On Thursday 15 January four demonstrations took place. One was in front of a prison to demand the immediate release of 250 Palestinians arrested for having protested against the Israeli offensive. Another was in Sderot, the town most often targeted by the rockets fired from Gaza. The third was at Ni’lin, a village in the West Bank where Palestinian and Israeli women demonstrated together. Every day in Tel-Aviv-Jaffa we organize a wake for the victims of this war. We hope there will be more of us demonstrating this Saturday (17 January) than there were on 3 January. There were some 10,000 of us at Tel-Aviv.
HUMA: How is it that, at such a young age, you have taken on the organisation of a movement against the war in Israel?
EILAT MAOZ: After the 2006 attack on Lebanon, the Coalition of Women for Peace was given the role of leading the anti-war movement because it’s a non-partisan organisation centred on direct action and political mobilisation. I’ve taken up the role of coordinator of this collective of women and feminist groups.
I became aware of the conflict with the Palestinians at 12 years of age as part of the Zionist movement Peace Now. I left at age 15 because I decided to refuse to be part of an occupying army. I was exempted by the committee for conscientious objectors, but five of my refusenik friends spent nearly two years in prison. Notably I was a member of Ta’ayush, a Judeo-Arab organisation whose name means “living together” in Arabic.
HUMA: How has your political engagement impacted your personal life?
EILAT MAOZ: I broke off my studies. It would be difficult for me to find a stable job. I haven’t kept a single friend from high school, due to my refusal to join the army. I get insulting anonymous phone calls.
HUMA: What is the reaction in the street to the campaign against the war?
EILAT MAOZ: We’re faced with great hostility from Israeli society. We’ve had fascists throw eggs at us and call us traitors.
HUMA: Are you in favour of a peacekeeping force being sent to the Egyptian border with Gaza to hasten the cease-fire?
EILAT MAOZ: I’m not opposed to an international intervention, however, before UN troops are sent, we have to ask ourselves who will gain the most from their presence…. The most urgent need is for the siege of Gaza and the massacres to stop. In this regard, on Friday 16 January we are sending a convoy of medicine and food for those living in Gaza with the Israeli organisation Doctors for Human Rights.