The New York Times stated on June 3, 2000, shortly after the Israeli army pulled its troops out ending more than 20 years of war, "Today many Israelis celebrated with the ‘Four Mothers,' the most successful grass-roots movements in Israeli history that shaped the Lebanon pullout. The women took a classic Israeli stereotype — the silent, suffering soldier's mother — stood it on its head and dared to challenge the military.”
How it all started?
"In 1997, two Israeli Army helicopters collided on the way to Lebanon, killing 73 soldiers as they crashed in the front yard of the school that Rachel Ben Dor's children attended. At the time, Ms. Ben Dor's oldest son was a soldier in Lebanon, and several of his former classmates, recent graduates like him, died" (New York Times).
"The women began with small street protests at traffic junctions. They wrote letters to lawmakers. They organized debates at northern kibbutzim. After the first story about them appeared on national television, they received calls from all over the country. Working women all, they found themselves at the vanguard of a movement, without any organization, time or money. And they knew that what they were doing would take all that plus endurance" (New York Times).
"It also took its toll on their families. One mother quit when her soldier son demanded it. Ms. Ben Dor had a hard time figuring out how to react when her son, Or, won a medal for his fighting in Lebanon . He asked her whether she was proud, With difficulty she told him she was because "his reality was the war" and she had raised him to excel at whatever he did" (New York Times).
"On talk shows, the mothers were placed opposite generals who patted them on the shoulders and rolled their eyes when the women spoke. ‘It was a tremendous miscalculation,' said Ms. Ben Zvi, a professor. Eventually, the military understood that the women were shaping national opinion and began to attack their movement as bad for the morale of the soldiers and the country (New York Times).
"Understanding the shift in public sentiment, the three leading candidates for Prime Minister in the last election promised to bring the boys home from Lebanon. Mr. Barak, who took office last July, made it a pledge with a date: by July 7, 2000, he said" (New York Times).
"Today, in imitation of a military custom, Ms. Ben Dor pinned a medal on Mr. Barak's chest — with force. It was a Four Mothers button. ‘There we were inside the Defense Ministry that we used to picket, kissing and hugging with the Prime Minister and the army chief," said Ms. Ben Dor, 42. "And all the generals were standing there, thinking I don't know what. It was so amazing" (New York Times).
"Four mothers" shaped Israeli public opinion on pulling the military out of the so-called security zone that the Jewish nation had occupied since 1978. Barak, Israeli Prime Minister, immediately talked with “Four Mothers”, along with members of his ruling coalition, and promised that all troops would be home by the end of July 2000 (Jerusalem Post).
The movement's chairwoman and founder Rachel Ben-Dor said yesterday, "It is a momentous occasion," said Ben-Dor, whose eldest son saw action in south Lebanon as a member of a commando unit. He was recently demobilized. "He did not feel that Israel should be in Lebanon , but he did his duty and received several commendations. My own feeling is that one era has ended and we are entering a period that could be difficult, but we all hope that with good sense and steadfastness, we will overcome that as well and look forward to better and brighter days," she said (Jerusalem Post June 1, 2000).