(JTA) — Vivian Silver, a Canadian-Israeli peace activist who had been presumed kidnapped by Hamas, was declared dead after her remains were found at her home.
Her death was confirmed to JTA by multiple activists who said they were in touch with Silver’s family. Shifra Bronznick, a prominent Jewish social justice activist and lifelong friend of Silver’s, learned from Silver’s son that her remains were identified via her DNA.
“Vivian was always persistent in the pursuit of peace and justice,” Bronznick told JTA on Monday evening. “She was a lifelong feminist, a committed activist, a fearless leader, an exceptional friend and a loving mother, wife and grandmother.”
Until Monday, Silver, 74, was assumed to be among the more than 200 people held captive by Hamas. She is now among the approximately 1,200 people murdered by the terror group in its Oct. 7 attack. Hamas terrorists killed more than 100 people at Silver’s home community, Kibbutz Be’eri, in one of the day’s worst massacres.
She is one of several peace activists to have been killed or captured by Hamas on Oct. 7. Hayim Katsman, 32, who worked with Palestinians in the southern West Bank, was killed in his home in another community on the Gaza border. Yocheved Lifschitz, who helped ferry Palestinians from Gaza to medical care in Israel, was taken captive by Hamas and released in late October; her husband Oded, also involved in peace work, remains missing.
“A woman of infinite, deep, ongoing compassion, humanity and dedication to Arab-Jewish partnership and peace. Yes. Peace,” Anat Saragusti, an Israeli writer and feminist activist, wrote on social media in a post announcing Silver’s death. John Lyndon, the executive director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace, wrote that “she wanted to be free & at peace. Rest in power, Vivian.”
Silver’s sons, like the family members of many of those presumed hostage, lobbied extensively for her release, traveling the country and speaking to journalists around the world to call attention to her story. One son, Yonatan Zeigen, stood out for his calls for a ceasefire, an unusual position in Israel. He said he had learned from his mother to seek peace above all else.
“I would tell her, ‘Israel is dead. It’s hopeless,’ and she would say, ‘Peace could come tomorrow,’” Yonatan, a social worker in Tel Aviv told the Washington Post in a story published last week.
Chen Zeigen, her other son, is a doctoral student in archaeology at the University of Connecticut. She is also survived by four grandchildren.
On the day of the massacre, according to the Washington Post story, Silver took a call with a radio station where she pushed back against the idea that the Palestinians were “insane.” In messages with Yonatan, she expressed fear, frustration and love. “I’m with you,” he wrote to her. Her last message back to him was, “I feel you.”
Born in Winnipeg, Canada, she was the longtime director of the Arab Jewish Center For Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation, which organized projects joining communities in Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In 2014, after the last major war between Israel and Hamas, she helped found Women Wage Peace, which promotes peace-building actions among women from all communities and across the political spectrum.
Speaking to Forbes in 2021 for a series on women who assist the vulnerable, Silver said she remembered feeling relief after the government built bomb shelters in Kibbutz Be’eri, which had been subject to rocket fire from Gaza for more than a decade.
“In 2009, the [Israeli] government only built shelters for communities that were four kilometers from the border. The community I live in is four and a half kilometers from the border, so we didn’t have shelters then,” Silver told Forbes. “Now we do, so psychologically we feel better, and we feel safer, and in fact, we are safer, we’re a lot safer than the people in Gaza.”
At a 2018 Women Wage Peace event on the Gaza border in 2018, she said that the Israeli government needed to change its approach in order to bring peace to the area. “Show the required courage that will bring changes of policy that will bring us quiet and security,” she said then, addressing the government. “Returning to the routine is not an option.”
Appealing to women across the border, she said, “Terror does not make anything better for anyone, you too deserve quiet and peace.”
Bronznick first met Silver in the early 1970s when both were involved in organizing a national conference of Jewish women. They remained friends and, for a period of six years, took an annual trip together — the last one was to Santa Fe, New Mexico. When Silver would stay at Bronznick’s home, she would prepare an Israeli breakfast, Bronznick recalled.
“She would be passionately advocating for peace right now,” Bronznick said, referring to Israel’s war against Hamas, launched following the Oct. 7 attack. “She never gave up on bridge-building. She never gave up on making change. She never gave up on people… She always focused on people, children, what motivated them, what meant something to them.”
Before Oct. 7, Silver was due for another stay at Bronznick’s home in New York City in early December. On top of each of the days in Bronznick’s calendar, she had written “Viv.”
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Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta
i24 News – A protester was in critical condition on Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also wounded.
A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference. He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.
JUST IN: A pro-Palestine protester is in critical condition after they set themselves on fire in “political protest” outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta.
The protester was reportedly draped in a Palestine flag.
The protester has severe burns and unfortunately, a… pic.twitter.com/B8nUQAj2nU
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 1, 2023
“We do not see any threat here,” he said. “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.” Everyone inside the consulate building was said to be safe.
Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S., said: “We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way.”
“The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”
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Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed
Israeli hostages released in the past week by Hamas in Gaza called on Saturday for the immediate release of fellow captives left behind, a day after a temporary truce that had allowed scores to come home broke down.
Tens of thousands gathered at a rally in Tel Aviv outside Israel‘s defense headquarters, where they cheered Yelena Trupanov, 50, standing on a stage just two days after being freed.
“I came to thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here. Now we must bring back my (son) Sasha, and everyone. Now.”
Similar pleas from other released hostages were shown on video.
A seven-day truce, during which Hamas had released more than 100 hostages, collapsed on Friday after Hamas breached the ceasefire.
Israel said on Saturday it had recalled a Mossad intelligence agency team from Qatar, host of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing the Palestinian faction of reneging on a deal that would have freed all children and women held hostage.
More than 240 people – Israelis and foreign nationals – were abducted to Gaza on Oct 7. by Hamas terrorists who burst through the border with Israel and killed 1,200 people.
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IDF Foils Stabbing Attack Near Nablus in West Bank, Eliminates Terrorist
i24 News – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported thwarting a stabbing attack on Saturday afternoon against reserve Battalion 7037 at the X junction near Nablus in the West Bank.
According to the IDF spokesperson, the event unfolded when the forces at the roadblock became suspicious of an individual approaching the barricade.
During the questioning process, the suspect suddenly drew a knife and advanced towards the IDF personnel.
ניסיון פיגוע דקירה אירע לפני זמן קצר לעבר כוח צה”ל במילואים מגדוד 7037 שפעל בחסם בצומת האיקס סמוך לעיר שכם שבמרחב חטיבת שומרון.
הכוח חשד במחבל שהגיע לחסם והחל לתחקר אותו, המחבל שלף סכין והחל להתקדם לעבר הכוח.
הלוחמים חתרו למגע והגיבו בירי לעבר המחבל שחוסל. אין נפגעים לכוחותינו. pic.twitter.com/mEaJs58hpE
— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) December 2, 2023
The soldiers, faced with the threat, engaged in contact procedures and ultimately responded by opening fire on the assailant. The spokesperson confirmed that the attacker was neutralized due to the IDF’s action.
It was also noted that there were no casualties among the IDF forces involved in the incident. According to the spokesperson, the situation at the X junction has stabilized, and IDF continues to maintain vigilance in the area to prevent further attacks.
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