Almost five weeks after the Hamas massacres that swept through southern Israel, the well-known peace activist Vivian Silver has been identified as one of the Israelis murdered.
Her long-time friend and colleague John Lyndon, executive director at the Alliance for Middle East Peace, which the 74-year-old Israeli-Canadian helped to found, described her as “the best of us”.
For weeks since the 7 October attacks, Silver’s family and friends believed her to be among the hostages taken to Gaza by Hamas. However, after forensic sifting through ashes and remains at Kibbutz Be’eri, where 130 people were killed, DNA testing proved that Vivian Silver was the 131st person to die on the kibbutz.
She was involved in a number of peace initiatives including the organisation Women Wage Peace, whose international supporters she hosted only days before the Hamas attacks. Another project, The Road to Recovery, focused on driving sick Palestinians from Gaza to Israeli hospitals.
When the terrorists arrived at the kibbutz, Silver was on the phone to one of her sons, Yonatan Zeigen. He heard gunshots outside his mother’s window and told her to hang up and be quiet. Instead they texted until 11 am on that Saturday, around five hours after the incursion had begun. Hiding inside a cupboard, Silver wrote: “They’re inside the house, it’s time to stop joking and say goodbye.”
Zeigen told the BBC that he had replied: “I love you, Mum. I have no words, I’m with you.” In what was to be her last message, she wrote: “I feel you.”
Peace activists who worked with Silver have paid tribute to a singular woman. John Lyndon vowed: “The people who killed Vivian — a 74 year old woman who spent her entire life working for peace, equality, justice and dignity — will not win”.
Anat Saragusti, a feminist activist, described her friend as “a woman of compassion and humanity, with an endless, deep and ongoing commitment to Jewish-Arab partnership and peace.”
Hannah Weisfeld, the director of Yachad UK, wrote on Twitter/X: “Those who murdered Vivian wanted to destroy any hope of a decent future for Israelis and Palestinians. I hope her life will be avenged by peace. That would be a true testament to her legacy.”
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