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Arabs, Jews pay tribute to peace activist

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Picture: Oren ZIV / AFP / Taken on November 16, 2023 – Nir, left, the brother of killed Israeli-Canadian peace activist Vivian Silver, greets Arab-Israeli Ghadir Hani a fellow peace activist from Acre, during her memorial service in Kibbutz Gezer, in central Israel on November 16, 2023. Silver, 74-year-old, who had been missing since Hamas’s October 7 attacks has been confirmed dead, an Israeli diplomat in Toronto said November 13. A feminist activist advocating for peace with the Palestinians, Silver had set up aid programmes for Gaza residents and helped them obtain medical treatment in Israel.


Hundreds of Jews and Arabs joined relatives of Israeli-Canadian peace activist Vivian Silver to pay tribute to an “extraordinary woman” and “beacon of hope” who was killed by Hamas militants.

They gathered at the Gezer kibbutz in Israel this week where the 74-year-old had lived in the 1970s.

When the Hamas gunmen attacked Israel on October 7, Silver was living in the Beeri kibbutz near the Gaza border. She had been missing since the attack and her death was confirmed by the authorities only this week.

The Beeri kibbutz is less than 5km from the Gaza border and before the war, it had a population of 1,200. But at least 85 of them were killed during the October 7 attacks and another 30 or so were taken hostage by the Islamist militants, or reported missing.

Silver was named as one of the missing. Israel’s consul general in Toronto confirmed her death on Monday.

A feminist activist advocating for peace with the Palestinians, Silver had set up aid programmes for Gaza residents and helped them travel to Israel for medical treatment. She won numerous prizes for her peace work, and in 2014 helped found Women Wage Peace (WWP), a grassroots Israeli peace movement which now counts more than 45,000 members.

A tearful Ghadir Hani, an Arab-Israeli from the port town of Acre who had worked with Silver in the WWP, recalled the last time she spoke to her friend as the deadly Hamas attack unfolded.

“You told me everything was all right, but that you could hear noises. And then there was no reply to my messages,” said Hani, wearing a black veil.

“You said that only light can repel darkness. How I wish you were here to bring light and hope as you always did.”

Gathered on the grass of the kibbutz to remember Silver were Orthodox Jews, Bedouin, women in veils and many wearing the distinctive blue WWP scarf.

“Vivian was a symbol of peace, a bearer of hope,” said the group’s co-founder, Marie-Lyne Smadja.

The idea for Women Wage Peace was born during another Gaza conflict, the Israel-Hamas war of July and August 2014. “The only way to live in security here is to make peace,” Silver’s son Yonatan Zeigen said on Thursday, quoting his mother.

“We, the living, will continue to shine and persevere and strive to bring about the tomorrow that you always spoke of,” he told mourners.

“Now you are gone, I am in love once again with words such as peace, gender equality and brotherhood,” he said. – AFP