Mothers Standing Up for the Right to Protest

17 February 2022

Anybody attending a demonstration in Israel in recent months might have noticed the presence of a number of women in yellow vests. These activists belong to the burgeoning group, Wall of Moms, a new movement that received an emergency grant from NIF last year. The organization was formed in the wake of the Balfour protests against government corruption under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The new movement’s mission is “to protect the demonstrators against police violence — in particular young people,” said 59-year-old Hamutal Guri, one of the organization’s founders and a veteran social change activist.

Hamutal added, “We have seen police violate the rights of demonstrators many times using water cannons and skunk spray, and dragging protestors along violently without dignity so that intimate parts of their body are exposed for all to see. Seeing this brutality encouraged us to organize the movement.”

She recently told Haaretz newspaper that the members of Wall of Moms form a buffer between the police and the demonstrators in order to provide a human and maternal dimension of opposition to violence. She said, “Very often we simply give a hug or put a hand on the shoulder of the demonstrators. We also bring games to children in Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills and play with them, or lower the level of violence at a demonstration by bringing in a calmer atmosphere. I always get very emotional and even start crying when demonstrators come and say to us, ‘thank you. You don’t understand what your presence brings.’”

Hamutal, a mother of two herself, said that. “Motherhood is a political and moral statement of deep caring towards the next generation.” She added that fathers are also encouraged to join the movement.

Photo credit: Tzipi Menashe