Ruth Matar, co-founder of Israeli women’s group opposing land concessions after Oslo, dies


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ruth Matar, co-founder of the Women in Green movement that opposed land concessions following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, has died.

Matar, who founded the movement with her husband, died Saturday. She reportedly was in her late 80s.

She was a child Holocaust survivor born in Vienna and lived in the United States, where she worked as a jewelry designer, before moving to Israel.

Ruth and Michael Matar founded the organization originally called Women for Israel’s Tomorrow in opposition to the Oslo Accords, and the idea of a Palestinian state under the Palestinian Authority in the Israel-controlled West Bank. The group sought to counter media stereotypes of the people opposing the two-state solution by showing mothers, housewives and career women who could articulate their cause. It became known as the Women in Green due to the green hats its followers wore during group activities.

The group continues to hold educational programs, tree plantings and an annual march around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on the fast day of Tisha b’Av that attracts thousands of participants. It also created the Oz veGaon Nature Reserve in the forest near the Gush Etzion junction in memory of the three Israeli teens who were kidnapped from there by Palestinian terrorists and killed.

“The media in Israel has traditionally portrayed anyone who demonstrates against concessions to the Arabs as settlers and right-wing fanatics,” Matar told JTA in 1994, soon after the group was founded.

“We’re not settlers,” she insisted. “We’re ordinary Israelis who oppose the agreement between” former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat.

Matar stopped working with Women in Green in 2005 for health reasons. Her daughter-in-law, Nadia, assumed leadership of the group and runs it with Yehudit Katzover.

Matar was buried Saturday night at the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem.

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