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Women In Black - Politics as Ritual in the Street

Women In Black came on the protest scene sometime in January 1988 when a group of women, active in Dai La'Kibush (End the Occupation) decided, as part of the search for innovative forms of activity, to initiate a separate women's vigil. The group initiated a weekly vigil at different sites in Jerusalem and eventually decided on a fixed locality, Paris Square, a busy five-way intersection, five minutes from downtown Jerusalem, and a hundred yards from the Prime Minister's residence.

From week to week, the number of participants grew and the vigil took on its permanent form: all the women wore black and each held a small sign, in the form of a hand, carrying a single slogan: Dai La'kibush (End the Occupation). One of the organizers and founders, Ruth Cohen, explained that black was associated with mourning, loss of morality and rational thought, and that the group intended to keep up the vigil as long as the violence and repression continued.

One of the first press reports on Women In Black cited the decision of the group to dedicate a vigil to International Women's Day, March 1988. As the work of the group became known, more than 24 organizations responded to the call for solidarity vigils in various places in Europe, North America and South America. In addition, many organizations sent expressions of solidarity and support.
Thus, Women In Black found its way onto the international protest map. The main achievement was that Women In Black became a highly visible and well-known international symbol, and sent a powerful message from Israeli women to women abroad: first, women in Israel were speaking out against the occupation and the repression of the Palestinian people and secondly, women everywhere can, if they so wish, play an independent role and make a unique contribution to the fight against violence and for peace.

To view the Women In Black periodical, click here or enter the Periodical Collection.


This collection contains about 200 items. The material includes press clippings and photographs, material authored by WIB groups - including WIB news bulletins, leaflets and organizational lists and documents.
The main archive language is English, while the items may be in Hebrew, English or Arabic.

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