2nd Intifada, 9/ll, Iraq and Disengagement: 2000-to present day

In May, 2000, after an 18 year presence, the IDF withdraws all its forces from Southern Lebanon. In August, 2000 the Camp David Summit, facilitated by U.S. President Clinton, with the participation of Prime Minister Barak and PLO Chairman Arafat, fails to produce a final status agreement, despite Israel’s generous offer.

Following opposition leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, the second intifada erupts.  It is characterized by greater violence than the first intifada, particular suicide bombings, and the growing cycle of violence results in many Israeli civilian deaths and casualties and a steep decline in international tourism.

A “New Anti-Semitism” appears, particularly in France, Germany and the UK, and grows throughout this period.

In August, 2001, the UN Conference to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination and Racism (the Durban Conference) becomes an arena for anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity.

On September ll, 200l (9/11), the Al-Qaeda fundamentalist Islamic group hijacks four planes and attacks the WTC in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.  In response, American President George W. Bush declares a “war on terror,” leading to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

In the spring of 2002, in retaliation against the growing series of suicide bomb attacks, particularly the Park Hotel Passover bombing in Netanya, Israel launches Operation Defensive Shield.  Arafat is besieged in his Ramallah headquarters.

In June, 2002, Bush gives a speech outlining his Middle East policy, calling for a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.  This becomes the basis for the Road Map for Middle East Peace, sponsored by “The Quartet” (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations).

In May, 2003, Kassam rocket attacks against Sderot lead to the reoccupation of Gaza by the IDF.

In November, 2003, Prime Minister Sharon announces a unilateral disengagement plan from Gaza.


In July, 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague gives an advisory opinion declaring that the Israeli separation fence violates international law.  Israel, which built the barrier as a buffer against suicide bombings, says that it was a necessary security move. In November, 2004, Arafat dies and is replaced by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who declares he seeks a political solution to the conflict.

In August, 2005, Israel unilaterally disengages from Gaza, removing the IDF forces and evacuating the settlements from Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank. With the building of the separation barrier, the reduction in suicide bombings and the disengagement, many tourists return to Israel.

In November, 2005, Amir Peretz defeats Shimon Peres for the leadership of the Labor Party. Ariel Sharon leaves the Likud and establishes a new party, Kadima.  New elections will be held on March 28, 2006.  In March, 2006, Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert, leads Kadima to victory in elections and forms a government together with the Labor party.

IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is kidnapped across the Gaza border on June 12th, 2006

After two more Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are kidnapped by Hizbollah Israel launches Lebanon II War in summer of 2006.  With katyusha rockets falling in the north, Israelis flee from their homes.  Many are taken in by WIZO schools and youth villages.  40 days of fighting.

In June 2007, Shimon Peres is elected Israel’s ninth President. In November, 2007, US President George Bush convenes the Annapolis Conference to reopen Palestinian negotiations, with the participation of Prime Minister Olmert, Palestinian President Abbas, leaders of the international community and foreign ministers of almost all the Arab states.

In May 2008, Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary.  WIZO is awarded the Israel Prize, the country’s most prestigious honor, recognition of all it has done and is doing to improve Israeli society, at a ceremony held on Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day).


WIZO Milestones:

2000- 1,000 WIZO women from Israel and around the world come to participate in the 22nd World WIZO Conference 
         in Tel Aviv, marking WIZO’s 80th anniversary, in an extraordinary display of solidarity with WIZO and Israel as 
         we enter the 21st century.  A highlight is the appearance of 13 boy and girl students and graduates of 
         WIZO schools. 
         The World WIZO website www.wizo.org  is launched.
         WIZO Israel opens the first School for Political Leadership for Women in Jerusalem, with the participation of 45 
         women, aged 24-52, left and right, religious and secular, Arab and Jew.  Minister of Immigration Prof. Yuli 
         Tamir gives the opening address.
         WIZO Israel plays a major role in the fight sex trafficking, led by lawyer Meira Segev, chair of the Department 
         for the Status of Women.
         As the second intifada explodes, WIZO’s Jewish-Arab day care center in Jaffa remains a calm oasis in the 
         storm.   WIZO youth clubs in the Jordan valley north of Jericho provide encouragement and psychological help 
         during troubled times.  The WIZO day care center in the Gilo neighborhood of  Jerusalem, which is under fire, 
         provides support for parents and their children.
         Hadassah-WIZO Canada leaders, among them President Marion Mayman and Executive Vice President Lily 
         Frank, participate in a l,000 strong solidarity mission of American and Canadian Jews to Israel. Two 
         delegations from British WIZO, led by British WIZO Chairman Sarah Glyn, inaugurate the new Lily Sieff 
         Community Center in Petach Tikva  and the Gaby Botello Center in Givatayim.

2001- 21 youngsters are killed in a suicide attack at the Dolphinarium Disco in Tel Aviv, among them Marina 
         Berkovski, a 17 year old who attended the WIZO youth club in Yad Eliyahu, Tel Aviv.  During the ensuing 
         period, many WIZO pupils, staff and service receivers are killed and injured.

         Despite the difficult atmosphere, 41 women from around the world and 23 Israelis participated in the 
         International WIZO Aviv and Lapid Seminars.

         At the Durban Anti-Racist conference, Brenda Katten, chairperson of World WIZO’s Public Affairs and NGO 
         department and WIZO South Africa chaverot, led by Tamar Lazarus, are at the forefront of the struggle against 
         anti-Semitic and anti-Israel demonstrations.

         Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visits the WIZO Battered Women’s Shelter during Hanukkah, emphasizing the 
         importance of the struggle against violence.

2002- 9/11 and the second intifada do not prevent  delegates from 26 countries from joining their Israeli colleagues at 
         the annual Plenary, now the Annual General Meeting (AGM) the concept used for a not-for-profit Amuta 

         Security Campaign launched by Helena Glaser, to reinforce shelters, provide gates and guards at WIZO 

         Re-branding of WIZO by the World WIZO Publicity and Information Department promotes a fresh, up-to-date 
         image for the 21st century. 

         Pamela Meron, the wife of the Israeli Ambassador, founds a WIZO group in Moscow.

         Former President Bill Clinton says “I want to thank WIZO for 80 years of wonderful work for children, women, 
         values and family” at a special gala honoring WIZO Florida’s 20th anniversary.

         WIZO staff, teachers and students are killed in Haifa suicide bombings.

         Ravid Ben-Ze’ev, 17, from WIZO Nir Haemek School and Youth Village, elected first female chairperson of the 
         National Student Youth Council.

         The Girls’ Basketball Team at the Hadassah-WIZO Canada Hadassim Youth Village wins the Israeli national 
         high school championship and plays in the World Championship in Brazil.

2003- 17 former Soviet Union orphans find a home at WIZO Hadassim.

         With difficult economic times, and every 4th child living under the poverty line, WIZO launches a “Poverty is not 
         only Food” campaign, initiated by Vice President and Chairperson Helena Glaser.

         Suicide bomber hits at the doorstep of WIZO Haifa, and 17 year old Smadar Firstater, a student at the WIZO 
         Art and Design High School in the name of Henrietta Irwell, sponsored by WIZO Belgium, Luxembourg and 
         Uruguay, is among the victims.

         A record number of leaders from around the world come to WIZO’s Annual General Meeting  to demonstrate 
         solidarity with Israel and WIZO.

         Thousands of  chaverot  from all over Israel attend an extraordinary demonstration of Women Power at a park 
         near Tel Aviv, organized by WIZO Israel Chairperson Yochy Feller.

         The Neri Bloomfield WIZO College of Design, sponsored by Hadassah-WIZO Canada, moves to new 
         picturesque location in German Colony quarter, with aid of generous donation from Neri Bloomfield.

         Family Club for single parents in Jaffa site of Jewish-Arab cooperation.

2004- 800 delegates from WIZO Federations around the world attend the 23rd World WIZO Conference, now called 
         the Enlarged General Meeting (EGM).

         Helena Glaser is elected the 4th President of World WIZO.
         Graduates of WIZO School for Political Leadership begin to succeed in municipal politics – Ayelet Cohen in 
         Petach Tikva and Meital Lahavi in Tel Aviv

         Outgoing World WIZO President Michal Modai becomes Distinguished Citizen of Tel Aviv, joining veteran WIZO 
         activist Yedida Lahav (2003) and Raya Jaglom. 

         Former WIZO Hadassim student actress Gila Almagor and music teacher Gil Aldema win the prestigious 
         Israel Prize.

         World WIZO begins a campaign to fight the New Anti-Semitism, initiated by Helena Glaser. 

         WIZO Holland plays central role in Hague protests outside International Court of Justice supporting Israel’s 
         right to build a security fence, joining WIZO France and other Federations in activity against the 
         New Anti-Semitism.
         WIZO Israel visits Poland, “a journey in the footsteps of a Federation that disappeared.”
         British WIZO is now called WIZO.uk, a new brand for the 21st century.

         Beautiful new campus is launched at the WIZO Nahalal School and Youth Village, sponsored by Hadassah-
         WIZO Canada.

         WIZO Israel holds its first General Assembly in Haifa, with hundreds of delegates from WIZO chapters around 
         the country.

2005- Chairperson Tova Ben-Dov leads a new working agreement between the Histadrut, WIZO and the worker’s 

         As 652,000 children fall below the poverty line, WIZO’s Anti-Poverty Fund serves as a lifesaver for thousands of 
         Israeli families.

         World WIZO launches its first International Membership Campaign, under the slogan “We’ve been expecting 
         you,” initiated by Helena Glaser.

         Mrs. Tova Ben Dov launches an EduCaution Campaign to help Israel’s many children at risk.

         With the change of leadership among the Palestinians and the disengagement plan, many WIZO tourist groups 
         come to visit Israel, including a large delegation to the 17th Maccabiah annual Jewish sports Olympics.

         The WIZO Baby Home, now the Rebecca Sieff Center for the Family, sponsored by WIZO.uk, celebrates its 
         jubilee, with many graduates and a large delegation from WIZO.uk led by Michele Vogel and Ruth Sotnick.

         WIZO Israel launches first national emergency hotline for women who suffer from violence in the family and 
         children at risk.

2006- Annual General Meeting dedicated to WIZO’s 85th Anniversary, with celebrations at the President’s Residence 
         and the Knesset.

         Graduates of the Neri Bloomfield WIZO Academy of Design and Education in Haifa will be authorized to receive 
         BA degrees in their fields of study.

         WIZO organizes pioneering training program for 23 Bedouin women from the Negev town of Rahat to run 
         educational frameworks in their homes for preschoolers at a WIZO day care center in Beersheva.

         WIZO builds a protected day care center against Kassam missiles in Sderot.

         25 chaverot from WIZO Israel participate in a special seminar in Poland – "In the Footsteps of a Lost 

         Mrs. Tova Ben-Dov, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive, initiates an emergency campaign, with the 
         outbreak of the second Lebanon War in July and August, to help evacuees from the  North. 

         WIZO opened its schools and youth villages throughout the country to receive thousands of Jewish and Arab 
         residents seeking refuge from the Katyusha rockets. 

         A special WIZO  emergency team led by Tova Ben-Dov functioned throughout the war to help meet the 
         challenges, and WIZO volunteers provided both necessities and warmth to the relocated families. 

         Over 900 chaverot from WIZO Israel celebrated WIZO's 85th anniversary in Jaffa in a wonderful pageant of word, 
         song and dance.

2007- The pupils at WIZO Hadassim organized a special project to aid the children of Darfur.

         Noted Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman designs a special Haggadah for WIZO Israel to support  women and 

         As Israel marked the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, and the taking down of the walls between West and 
         East Jerusalem, many of WIZO's activities were devoted to WIZO's role in the capital city, past and present.

         In a special interview to WIZO Review, Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski says that "WIZO is one of the most 
         important social organizations, not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Israel."

         The 23rd WIZO Israel Conference in Kfar Hamaccabiah in Ramat Gan is organized around the  theme 
         of "Women for the Benefit of Everyone."
2008- At the initiative of Helena Glaser, a new WIZO Federation is opened in India.

         Over l,000 delegates from Israel and around the Jewish world participate in the 24th World WIZO Enlarged 
         General Meeting (EGM) coinciding with WIZO's 88th anniversary and Israel's 60th, the largest conference ever. 
         The theme is "Investing in People for Israel's Future." 

         Following the ongoing firing of Katyusha rockets at the Negev development town of Sderot, a  Saving Sderot 
         campaign is launched at the World WIZO EGM.

         WIZO is awarded the Israel Prize, the country's most prestigious award, granted annually on Independence 
         Day at a special ceremony in Jerusalem.  The award was granted for WIZO's efforts "to promote gender 
         equality and its struggle to promote humanitarian social, cultural and educational issues, while focusing on the 
         central position of women in society and the need for equality between the sexes within Israeli society."