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One Woman’s War: Essays Written in War, for Peace – Review by Sheila Triggs

One Woman’s War: Essays Written in War, for Peace by Dana Mills, Introduction by Sally Abed

Five Leaves Publications, 2024, ISBN 978-1-915434-15-9 

This is a challenging, but very interesting and readable book, especially for those of us who have been on the streets calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

It is Dana Mills’ personal diary of her life as an Israeli Jewish woman in Israel between 13 October 2023 and 7 January 2024. Dana is an Israeli feminist peace activist with family in a kibbutz on the border with Gaza, under siege for two days in October. Her family, like many other Israelis, are now displaced in Israel. Israeli peace activists are deeply affected by the conflict in many other ways too. A close friend of Dana’s, also a peace and human rights activist, was killed on 7 October. She previously volunteered to drive patients from the Gaza border to Israeli hospitals. In addition, since all Israelis must do military service, those fighting – and some dying – in Gaza are reservists, and some of those conscripted are known by Dana. 

Dana is a dancer and spent 10 years in Oxford as an academic but returned to Israel a few years ago to take up the position of Director of the organisation “Peace Now”. She has written several books, including a biography of Rosa Luxemburg. She is active in “Standing Together”, a Jewish-Palestinian solidarity organisation.

Although Dana is living in Tel Aviv, you are made aware of the sirens that herald the constant bombardment from Hamas, and the need for the Israeli population to rush to the shelters. 

She challenges both the inability of the international peace community to recognise the suffering of Israelis, AND the kneejerk response of Israeli citizens against Gaza.

Dana ponders on the future of the land that she describes as “from the river to the sea”. She calls on us as marching activists to demand the release of the hostages, and to call out anti-Semitism, to show that we are aware of the universal nature of human rights. She is aware of the human rights crimes committed by the Israeli Defence Force: bombing hospitals, targeting civilians, using starvation as a weapon of war.

At the first legally authorised demonstration against the war in Tel Aviv in November 2023, Dana was invited to speak and ended with the quotation: “There is no path to peace, peace is the path.”

Review by Sheila Triggs

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