Gun Free Kitchen Tables: challenging civilian armament in Israel

Editor’s Introduction

Members of the Global Campaign for Peace Education are aware of the concern of peace education with the rise in violence against women, with special reference to its relationship to authoritarianism and militarism. We look also to the domestic and intimate violence integral to patriarchal militarism and its effects on women; in Israel, such violence is often a consequence of military-issued guns brought into homes.

Another alarming development is the Israeli government’s encouraging civilians to be armed, raising fears of the potential for “the gun culture” that regularly produces mayhem in the US.

Gun Free Kitchen Tables, an Israeli feminist movement to counter domestic violence committed by military-issued weapons provides their unique view on what underlies the current pro-democracy manifestations on the streets of Tel Aviv. We hope readers will attend to this call for support of their efforts in whatever ways are available to them. (BAR, 5/31/23)

Gun Free Kitchen Tables Needs Your Support

(Reposted from the newsletter of Gun Free Kitchen Kitchen Tables – GFKT)

Dear friends,

It may seem odd to receive a letter from us about the dangerous and rapid proliferation of guns in Israel. When we hear about guns in Israel and Palestine, it’s usually about military hardware – soldiers, checkpoints, the army. That’s a different perspective than the one many of us have in the U.S., where the Gun Violence Archive has counted more than 200 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year and documented 647 mass shootings across the country in 2022. We have, in many senses, normalized an extremely disturbing vision for American society, shaping our society in a way that leaves life somehow compatible with the mass proliferation of firearms.

Today we’re writing you because Gun Free Kitchen Tables (GFKT) and its coalition are trying to prevent Israel from fully embracing U.S.-style gun culture – and they have the potential to succeed. While the most right-wing government in Israel’s history brands itself as hardline by loosening gun laws and arming thousands of Jewish Israelis, GFKT is leading the opposition and fighting for genuine human security.

GFKT is demanding that Israel’s government limit the guns in their society – and they need our support now more than ever.

Guns in civil spaces, the incidence of armed violence and, specifically, gun crime, destroys human security – as they already have among Israel’s Palestinian citizenry, which is now experiencing gun murders and crime at unprecedented and shocking levels. Guns in civil spaces disrupt trust-building efforts inside and between communities, feed increased police and military brutality and generally accelerate spirals of violence.

Positioning itself at this precarious intersection, GFKT has been making meaningful inroads in the media, the courts, and at the municipal government level. They are raising these issues in a most public way and their messages are gaining traction in today’s protest movements.

GFKT recently produced an intensive ad campaign with strong, memorable graphics, slogans and texts.

GFKT recently produced an intensive ad campaign with strong, memorable graphics, slogans and texts illustrating the damages and dangers of proliferating firearms and emphasizing the threats from police and Public Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s right-wing henchmen who are either carrying out or are poised to carry out violent responses against participants in the anti-judicial coup protests. The dangers of mass armament of right-wing Jewish Israeli civilians cannot be overstated. The ad campaign, which mobilized the 19 organizations of the GFKT Coalition as well as other organizations now joining the fight for gun control, placed civilian armament squarely among the urgent and essential reasons for Israelis to resist this government.

GFKT can expand and intensify this battle against civilian armament – but they need our support to do so. Please join us at this critical time by providing a gift in support of our work today (click here to visit the GFKT and learn how you might support their efforts).

When Gun Free Kitchen Tables took on small arms disarmament and gun control, they introduced the notion of human security into the public sphere, and today they are disrupting the normalization of guns and militarism embedded within Israeli society. Their success is grounded in bold, strategic organizing and in the extraordinary coalition of 19 social change and human rights organizations – who recognized the significance of this work-and jumped on board.

We hope you are inspired by their work and join this effort. Thank you!

Terry Greenblatt and Sarah Anne Minkin
on behalf of the Sustainers Circle

Thanks to Jamelle Bouie’s NY Times article, “A Gun-Filled America Is a World of Fear and Alienation”, May 2023.

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