Women, Mothers, Soldiers: Protest in the Israeli Context

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 12:45
Oral Presentation
Nura RESH, School of Education, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
The reality of a long-standing intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict, requires both a strong army ready and able to cope with the enemy’s challenges and a ‘patriotic’ civil population that identifies with society’s goals and its ‘existential threats and needs’. When this is the definition of the reality a national ethos arises that attempts to rally all (or most) society’s members around a functional narrative: We are right (and ‘they’ are wrong); We are good, just and moral (and ‘they’ are bad, unjust and immoral), and the like.

Women and especially mothers of the fighting soldiers are put in an emotionally contradictory situation: As mothers, or virtual mothers, they tend to protect their children/soldiers from any risk; But as a patriotic, loyal, devoted member of their society they are supposed to encourage and back the soldiers to fulfil their military duty: fight for their country and even be ready to sacrifice their life. In that sense women/mothers role is socially critical, although they usually are not the actual participant in the fighting.

In this paper I will discuss the periodical change in Israeli women/mothers attitude along time on the background of societal-ideological cracks that gave rise to various forms of women protest.

P.S. MachsoWatch, the largest women protest organization, will serve as a case in point to contextualize my discussion.