GREER FAY CASHMAN: Ruth Matar, cofounder of an enduring grass roots movement, passes away
Ruth Matar, cofounder of an enduring grass roots movement, passes away
By GREER FAY CASHMAN, The Jerusalem Post
October 21, 2018
Matar, who was in her late eighties, passed away on Saturday and was
buried late that night at the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem,
following a service at the Sanhedria funeral parlor.
A Vienna-born jewelry designer who developed her talents in America
before moving to Israel, Matar had a studio and showroom in her home
in the capital's Yemin Moshe, which in her time was well populated by
artists, craftspeople, novelists and poets.
Not everyone knew that she was also a child Holocaust survivor, who at
age eight had witnessed Nazi stormtroopers come to her home, knock
down the door and beat her mother, who had turned back to get warm
jackets for the children.
Distinctly right-wing in her political persuasion, Matar was not only
shocked but outraged by the Oslo Accords. She had never been
well-disposed towards the Labor Party, and even when it was in
opposition, she wrote scathing articles about what she perceived as
the negative influence it had on life in Israel.
But before that, she was determined to do everything in her power to
prevent the implementation of the Oslo agreements. Nothing could
persuade her to cede territory which she believed belonged to Israel.
To her, there was no such thing as the disputed territories. The
disputes were among people, and the territories were part of the State
Matar and her husband gathered like-minded people around them, and in
1993, almost as an instant response to Oslo, established what was
initially called "Women for Israel's Tomorrow.' Matar saw it not only
as a protest movement, but as a defense movement safeguarding Israel's
territorial integrity for future generations.
Rather than come up with uniforms that not everyone would be willing
to wear, Matar hit upon peaked green caps for supporters to wear so
that when engaging in any kind of activity as a group, they would
stand out and be noticed.
Although men were among the members, they were heavily outnumbered by
women, and when the name of the organization was changed in relation
to its head hear, its new appellation was and is "Women in Green."
Aside from its primary purpose, Women in Green has also had
educational projects, tree planting events and an annual encircling
of the Old City walls of Jerusalem on Tisha Be'Av, and has been a
networking movement for new immigrants and for English speakers and
more recently French speakers who have difficulty in mastering Hebrew.
Whenever the movement needed to make a statement, small clusters of
Women in Green holding up placards with the message of the day could
be seen on street corners.
Matar was a great admirer of Ariel Sharon's until he ordered the
evacuation of Gush Katif, after which she called him a traitor and
accused him of betraying the country.
She was very close to former tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi and was
devastated when he was assassinated.
Almost everyone who passionately espouses a cause wants to be sure
that someone will carry the ball when they are no longer in the
position to do so.
Matar was fortunate in a having a charismatic, eloquent, multi-lingual
daughter-in-law whom she was able to imbue with her worldview.
Nadia Matar currently heads Women in Green together with Yehudit
Katzover, and has done so for several years. While the two share equal
responsibility, Matar is the more convincing speaker, who can
instantly switch languages depending on her audience.
Ruth Matar willed them to keep fighting for Israeli sovereignty over
Judea and Samaria and they have every intention of continuing her
legacy, and her belief that the Land of Israel belongs to the people