An Idyllic childhood on kibbutz
A young girl grows up on Kibbutz Zikim, a small kibbutz in the Northern Negev. Life is peaceful and free. An idyllic childhood. This young girl grows up, gets married, has children and moves to the nearby moshav, Netiv HaAsara. The young mother develops as an artist while caring for her growing family. Her children, like her, enjoy a Norman Rockwell existence. Doors are unlocked. Children ride their bikes all afternoon only to drop them on the front lawn when the sun dips below the horizon. No fear of theft. Another generation of an idyllic childhood.
Life changes in 2005
In 2005, Israel, in a gesture of good will to the Palestinians, unilaterally disengaged from Gaza; a disengagement from land only 400 meters to the south of Netiv HaAsara. As the petite Tzameret Zamir describes, the serene life of moshav living came to a jolting halt. Suddenly, Gazan missiles were aimed directly at her home and the ground beneath her feet was 'excavated' so that Hamas terrorists could infiltrate Israel. Something had to be done to protect the residents of southern Israel. And so, a concrete wall was erected. Actually two walls were erected to protect the homes of Netiv HaAsara, the closest Israeli community to the border with Gaza. They were critical. They were life saving. They were ugly. They were and are a necessary reality.
But remember, Tzameret is an artist, and her preferred medium is clay ceramics. Tzameret has surrounded herself with beauty. Beauty in the natural surroundings of the moshav and beauty of the green fields that lie just beyond the houses. Tzameret is grateful for the walls. But as an artist and as a mother trying to shield her children from the ugliness of the situation, she stumbles upon an idea. Don't think of the walls as ugly. Think of them as a blank canvas waiting to be decorated. And so, Netiv Ha Shalom (Path to Peace) was born.
Tzameret - a woman on a mission!
Tzameret, quiet, understated, with strawberry-blond curls cascading down her neck seems like an unlikely candidate to take on the Israeli army but that's exactly what she does in order to decorate the security barrier. Decorate a concrete security barrier? Are you crazy? These were the initial responses Tzameret received from the army. Let's be honest, the idea does seem outlandish. But Tzameret was a woman on a mission and, after a great deal of persistence, the required permission was granted.
Netiv HaShalom is born
Using ceramic tiles, Tzameret wrote Netiv HaShalom, Path to Peace, in enormous letters, under the iconic sign of peace, an enormous white dove. She wrote the phrase in Hebrew, English and Arabic so that the people of Gaza, just four hundred meters away, would understand that Israelis want peace. Yes, the people in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza can see this wall. They see it everyday!
But Tzameret didn't want this project to be hers alone. She wanted others to join her in her message of peace. She has welcomed guests across the globe to come to her studio in back of her house. After hearing her story, people are invited to take ceramic pieces, write messages of peace on them, travel the short distance to the security wall and glue their own messages of peace to to the concrete barrier.
The Path to Peace project
The Path to Peace project is one that everyone visiting Israel should see. Tzameret Zamir is a woman who has inspired Israelis and people around the world . She truly believes that the majority of people in Israel, Gaza and around the world, want peace. She continues to express her beliefs and allows all of us to share in that expression of faith.
During International Women's Month, Israel is Beautiful will continue to share stories of inspiring Israeli women with you.
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