On the wide, grassy field by the [kibbutz] dining hall, where the ceremony was to take place, a microcosm of Israeli society — kibbutznik men in sandals, women in hijabs, tattooed and pierced youngsters, ultra-Orthodox men in white button-downs and religious Zionist women in colorful headwraps. A man in a keffiyeh and a t-shirt reading “looking the occupation in the eye” stood a few meters from a woman in a lieutenant colonel’s uniform.
...And, of course, there were the members of Women Wage Peace, who came in white shirts and billowing sky-blue scarves. Silver was one of the Arab-Jewish movement’s founders. “Vivian was an activist for equality, peace, justice for years, even before Women Wage Peace,” said Haya Abbo, a friend of Silver’s from the organization…
...“She was a very clear and strong voice – making peace isn’t ‘lovey-dovey,’ there are all these fantasies around it, but Vivian was very grounded. She knew that there was simply no other option, that this is the only way to live here. She worked with the Bedouin in the Negev – she started a nonprofit there (that empowers Arab youth through higher education, employment and informal education programs) – and she knew how to speak to everyone in their own metaphorical language.”
...Ilan Amit, the co-CEO of the organization [said] “Her spirit is in all of our programs … When Vivian started the organization, it was a little local program in the Negev. Now, we’re a national group that operates in almost every Arab town in Israel.”
Until a couple days earlier, the members of the organization – like the rest of Israel – believed that Silver had been taken hostage by Hamas. “It was a major driving force for us to continue doing, to continue working, so that she’d see that even when she was in captivity, we didn’t stop,” Amit said.
“We’re really hurting from her death –… but Arabs and Jews, we must, more than ever, continue her work,” he said, gesturing to the members of both peoples who came to honor her. “Vivian went through very tough times in her life: rounds of fighting with Gaza as a resident of the border area, violence between Arabs and Jews, periods of difficulty in the coexistence world… and she never stopped. She never stopped and she never paused her work in these organizations, in driving Gazans from the border to Israeli hospitals, no matter what was happening in the country.”
Longtime Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston, a friend of Silver ... said: “I’ve never met anyone who touched so many hearts so deeply. I’ve never met anyone who inspired so many people to work for peace, for equality, and for Arab-Jewish reconciliation and cooperation.” In an era when the Israeli government obstinately opposed peace, “Vivian was everything the government is not – immensely capable, tirelessly proactive, and a force like no one else, for peace, equality and a shared future.”
...Fellow peace activist Ghadir Hani, from Hura, read a letter she wrote to Silver. “For 38 days, we clung to the hope that you’re over there in Gaza, not far from us. We knew you would survive the inferno. We knew you would tell us about how even in the dark tunnels, you continued to smile… ‘You cannot dispel evil with darkness,’ you always said. ‘Evil is dispelled with more and more light. … “Vivian, you were a beacon for all of us… you taught us the most important lesson: How to be human, how to see the other, the disenfranchised, those whose voices are unheard.” Everyone, she said, is in shock. “How do we continue on from here?”
...If Silver could hear them, Hani said, “You would want to know that Hamas hasn’t murdered your vision. You cannot kill compassion, humanity, solidarity, the yearning for a safe life. We must continue your journey, the journey toward everyone living a good and safe life in this homeland,...