Women in Black 

Once a month, a small group of women dressed in black and holding handwritten signs stand at the base of Monument Circle. "Mothers are grieving in Palestine and Israel," "End the Israeli Occupation" and "Justice brings peace" are all examples of the messages these women hope to convey both with the signs and their silent protest.

The group is part of the international Women in Black peace organization that started in Jerusalem in 1988 with a gathering of Israeli women who opposed the Israeli occupation and have continued to call for a nonviolent resolution to the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict.

Judy King, founder of the Indianapolis WIB, explains why she feels such a connection to the women in the Middle East and a call to join in their mission.

"In much of the world, women are the ones who deal with the results of war and violence. Family members are lost and most refugees are women and children. Women are the ones who get raped. It's very much a statement for women that we make. Men can stand with us, too, but it is a movement empowered by women," King says.

"Here we are in the United States where women, I think, are more empowered than women in other parts of the world," King continues. "There's a sense of sisterhood when you stand together -- not only among us, but with the Women in Black in Jerusalem as well as the Women in Black groups in Italy, Belgium and even China."

King and other members of WIB are committed to continuing their monthly vigil at Monument Circle until there is a change in American policy and Middle Eastern violence.

Creating awareness about the complex and long-standing issue is the main goal of the Women in Black, as well as holding media responsible for better coverage of the issues.

"I would like people to understand how the state of Israel was formed in order to have a place for Jews who were victimized all around the world. That land was given to them [Israelis]; at the same time, the Palestinians feel that their homes were literally taken away.

"[The media should] report on all the facts and how difficult the situation is in that part of the world, instead of constantly concentrating on the latest crisis," King says.

These women are activists who hope to create awareness and spur conversation in Indianapolis. They believe that conflicts touch every nation and that as Americans in a Democracy, it is a part of our duty to speak out when we disagree with our government.

"Personally, I'm very proud as an American woman to have the right to stand up. This, to me, is a patriotic act. It's my patriotic way of saying in my country, I can stand for the disempowered who do not have basic human rights," King says.

"We are a group of women standing together to say that violent actions will not bring peace and justice," King says.

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