Hands-off approach

Jerusalem women protest civil violence #NotInMyName

Ad hoc sisterhood starts social media campaign of ‘love, patience and hope’ amid frustration over Jewish-Arab strife in mixed towns

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Some of the women saying no to violence in the 'Lo B'shmi' grassroots effort begun by a small sisterhood of Jerusalemites (Courtesy Heftzi Zion Mozes)
Some of the women saying no to violence in the 'Lo B'shmi' grassroots effort begun by a small sisterhood of Jerusalemites (Courtesy Heftzi Zion Mozes)

Lo b’shmi. “Not in my name.”

Hundreds of Jerusalem women took to Facebook last week posting selfies of their faces and hands held up to the camera, with the words Lo b’shmi, “Not in my name,” scrawled in ink on their palms.

Their posts, in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, included the following text:

Women from all sectors are saying: Not in our name.
From the horrible events we are witnessing these days, we choose life and say no to violence.
We call on all of you to join.
This evening, together, we raise our hands to say *Not in my Name*

This ad hoc sisterhood was protesting the violence and civil disobedience that has ripped through Israel’s mixed Jewish-Arab cities in recent days.

The grassroots effort was begun by three Jerusalem women, Heftzi Zion Mozes, Ariel Markose and Eliraz Shifman Berman.

Zion Mozes, 38, who was born and raised and lives in Jerusalem, was walking home with her husband last Wednesday night when she felt an eerie quiet in the city.

“I came home and started reading the news again and let reality come back to us,” she said. “And then I did something I never do: I opened Facebook.”

She wrote a post in Hebrew about her frustration and anger at the violence and tension, and went to sleep.

Speak up!

Posted by Heftzi Zion Mozes on Thursday, May 13, 2021

“In the midst of the hate and violence that’s exposing itself from every side… I’m convinced that we’re the majority. The majority that believe in humanity. I believe that there is also love, patience and hope… Do you know of a local Jerusalem initiative that could express the sisterhood’s hope of life? Do you want to raise your hand with me?”

By morning, the post had received dozens of comments, and Markose and Shifman Berman had contacted her, letting her know they were feeling the same way and wanted to do something about their feelings of frustration and impotence.

The three started a small WhatsApp group that morning, which filled up with 300 women within hours.

“It was really about this feeling of despair, of a silent majority,” said Zion Mozes, who works in a special education kindergarten. “For years, I have felt like I have nothing to say because it’s so complicated, but it’s so clear that all this violence is done by men and that we, as women, live in a different way. We have something to say here — with our bodies and voices we can say something else.”

That evening, a small group of women, joined by fellow Jerusalemite and former Knesset member Rachel Azaria, began brainstorming about what they could organize. They contemplated a demonstration held on the seam line between East and West Jerusalem, but it did not seem possible with tensions running so high.

It seemed clear they needed something strong, something visual, and something that could be used immediately.

לא בשמי!המצב כל כך קשה, אנחנו רואים תמונות מרחבי הארץ שלא דמיינו שנראה, ערבים נגד יהודים ובחזרה.לאורך ההיסטוריה, כל…

Posted by ‎רחל עזריה‎ on Thursday, May 13, 2021

Some of the English speakers among the group came up with the saying, “Not in my name,” which translated well into Hebrew and Arabic.

“We wanted to create a common denominator, we wanted to say something clear against violence, without even specifying which kind of violence,” said Zion Mozes.

Writing Lo b’shmi on their hands felt like they were putting their bodies and faces into the sentiment as well, said Zion Mozes.

There are women of all stripes, religious and secular, and from different backgrounds and political camps in the WhatsApp group, which has helped with sharing ideas, spreading the word, and having conversations, said Zion Mozes.

There are a few Muslim women in the WhatsApp group, but not many, at least not yet, she said, noting that it is not easy for Arab women in Jerusalem to join an initiative created by Jewish women, particularly during this period of tension.

לא בשמי!נשים מכל הגוונים אומרות לא בשמנו!בתוך הארועים הקשים שאנו חוות בימים אלו אנו בוחרות לשמור על החיים ולומר לא…

Posted by Heftzi Zion Mozes on Thursday, May 13, 2021

“I hope something else happens, although I don’t know what that is yet,” she said. “It gives us hope that it’s not only the extremists but also our voices that matter. I want to bring hope into this situation for myself, for our kids, for our neighbors.”

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