A few hundred people gathered in Gezer Kibbutz to honour the life of Israeli Canadian peace activist Vivian Silver.
“I can’t believe Vivian won’t personally witness her advocacy for a better world bear real fruit. I will miss hearing her voice and above all, hearing her wonderful laugh. I can’t believe I won’t see her again,” Neil Silver said during his older sister’s eulogy.
On Monday, it was confirmed that the 74-year-old peace activist was among the 1,200 people Israeli officials say were killed during Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
In the weeks since then, her family believed she’d been taken hostage after they were told the Israeli government geolocated her cellphone in Gaza.
Originally from Winnipeg, Silver moved to Israel in the 1970s and became a fierce advocate for peace in the region.
Since the Oct. 7 attacks, both her brother and her son, Chen Zeigen, told Global News that the faith in peace has been shaken for members of her community, Be’eri Kibbutz. However, Neil says he believes the attacks and their aftermath would have only strengthened his sister’s resolve.
“She would have been more steadfast believing that there are people on the other side who really do want the same thing, that the people on this side want peace and a peaceful future for their children, that she would have held fast. I am convinced of that,” he said.
Silver helped form and run the organization Women Wage Peace (WWP), which advocates for a peaceful, non-violent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In 2017, Silver organized a march for peace on the shores of the Jordan River in the West Bank, condemning an earlier Israeli attack that killed Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Even into her 70s, she would drive sick Palestinians from Gaza to hospitals in Israel.
Many women at the ceremony to honour Silver’s life wore white shirts with blue scarves, an outfit that serves as a symbol for WWP.
This includes working with women like Hadir Hani, who knew Silver for 20 years. Through an interpreter, Hani told Global News she had been sending Silver messages to come to her during the attacks.
“In times when there really was no hope, she always found hope,” Hani said through an interpreter.
“There’s no way to peace, peace is the way. That was one of her sayings.”
By the end of the attacks, Silver’s house was left burned beyond recognition.
“She was so involved in trying to help the Palestinians and the people in Gaza, and it’s just so unfair,” WWP activist Peggy Ginsburg said.
Silver’s friends and family all say she tried to work with people of all backgrounds with respect and understanding.
“She touched so many lives and it was true to her nature that this was really who she was, looking for opportunities for co-operation, looking for the best of people, and really believing that there was a better way, that there was a better way,” Neil Silver said.
“I just hope, I hope that she was right and that, you know, that peace can come to this region and that everyone can kind of live in there, can be respected. They’ve been there in their own national homes. I just, I just hope for the best.”
— with files from Global News’ Daniele Hamamdjian and Sean Boynton.
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