Journalism Politics & Opinion

Personalizing the conflict – the women in Israel-Palestine

Originally published in The Turban Times

Too often, this conflict has been discussed from a male-dominated “macro” point of view and there has been too little focus on the experiences, the opinions and the voices of the women who live it.”


Sarah Arnd Linder is the founder of the project “Political is Personal / Israel + Palestine” which aims to put focus on the female voices in Israel and Palestine. She herself lives in Israel today and believes that the inclusion of female voices in the conflict happens too rarely – something she hopes she can change with her storytelling project.

Sarah, who is Danish herself but has an Israeli father, lives in Givatayim, next to Tel Aviv, and has been living in Israel for 10 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree with a major in Conflict Resolution from IDC Herzliya and a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern History. After having done different work for peace organizations such as “Peres Center for Peace”, she decided that it was time to focus on the women in the conflict.

Sarah Arnd Linder during the interview in Copenhagen. Photo: Masih Sadat/The Turban Times

What is ”Political is Personal” about?

Basically, it’s interviews I make with Israeli and Palestinian women inside of Israel, in the West Bank, and in Gaza. I interview them about various things but most of it is about their relation to the conflict. I don’t look for specific women or specific stories. Everyone has something to tell. I also ask about their interests and what they do so it doesn’t turn into some sort of a ”victim story”. But I usually never have to ask about too much before the women start sharing their stories with me.

You’ve chosen to focus on the women in the conflict. Why is that?

There’s a lot to deal with in this conflict. Not just the relation between Israel and West Bank, but also how it is to be a leftist in Israel, the racism, the weird relationship between Ashkenazim (Central and Eastern European Jews) and Mizrahim (Oriental Jews) and so on. The reason I chose to focus on women is because it’s a personal matter to me I guess. The first time I became more aware of how it is to be a woman, not just in Israel, but in the world in general, was back when I was studying at IDC Herzliya. Here I became more aware of the dynamics in Israel, the meaning of religion in society and what it means to women, and so on. Also, I’ve had several bad experiences in the whole NGO world, of which most are driven by men, where I generally feel that women don’t have as much of a say. 

Both UN’s resolution 1325 and gender mainstreaming have been to very important inspirations for this project as a whole. 1325 was passed by the UN Security Council in October 2000 calling for the enhanced female participation in the prevent, management and resolution of conflict, recognizing the need to mainstream a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations. This has definitely had influence in the project’s objective of raising female voices, making them visible in this conflict.


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