Those we have lost

Vivian Silver, 74: Lifelong peace activist who drove Gazans to hospitals

Murdered in her home in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7

Canadian-born Israeli activist Vivian Silver (Courtesy)
Canadian-born Israeli activist Vivian Silver (Courtesy)

Canadian-born peace activist Vivian Silver, 74, was killed by Hamas terrorists in her home in Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7.

For more than a month, she was declared missing, and believed to be captured and held hostage in Gaza. But on November 14, her family confirmed that her remains had finally been identified via DNA.

One of her sons, Yonatan Zeigen, was on the phone with his mother when gunmen arrived in Be’eri. When he heard gunshots outside her window, he told her to hang up so she could stay quiet, he told the BBC.

They began to text one other on WhatsApp. He last heard from her around 11 a.m. that Saturday, as Silver hid inside a closet in the house, and told her son that the terrorists were inside the house. She believed that a massacre was happening and told her son that she loved him.

“‘She wrote me, ‘They’re inside the house, it’s time to stop joking and say goodbye.'”

“‘And I wrote back that ‘I love you, Mum. I have no words, I’m with you.'” Vivian responded, “I feel you.”

That was the last message, Zeigen told the BBC.

Zeigen told a Canadian news outlet that her house had been burned to the ground but a body had not been found at that time, nor signs of a struggle, leading the family to believe she was being held hostage in Gaza.

“She was a very busy woman doing good, and she was also a wonderful mother and grandmother,” Zeigen told CBC News last month.

Silver was known for her peace activism, including her involvement in the organization called Women Wage Peace, as well as The Road to Recovery, driving sick Palestinians from Gaza to Israeli hospitals. She held a meeting of international supporters of Women Wage Peace just a few days before the Hamas attacks.

Anat Saragusti, a feminist activist, mourned the loss of Silver in a post on X.

“A woman of compassion and humanity, with an endless, deep and ongoing committment to Jewish-Arab partnership and peace,” she wrote. “Yes, peace.”

Silver’s friend, Shifra Bronznick, a prominent Jewish social justice activist, eulogized her to JTA shortly after her death was confirmed.

“Vivian was always persistent in the pursuit of peace and justice,” Bronznick said. “She was a lifelong feminist, a committed activist, a fearless leader, an exceptional friend and a loving mother, wife and grandmother.”

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