Canadian Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver, who was feared to be held hostage following a Hamas-led attack in Israel, has been confirmed as one of the casualties in the deadly assault that took place on October 7. Vivian Silver, 74, dedicated her life to promoting peace and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, leaving an indelible mark on the ongoing Middle East conflict.
Vivian Silver’s son, Yonatan Zeigen, has confirmed his mother’s tragic death. Her remains were discovered at Kibbutz Be’eri, where she resided, more than five weeks after the devastating attack that shook the region. The attack, which was carried out by Hamas militants, claimed the lives of at least 120 other men, women, and children in the community of about 1,100 people, situated just kilometers from the Israel-Gaza border.
Initially, Silver’s family believed that she had been taken hostage along with more than 200 others during the attack. However, new information has emerged, revealing the heartbreaking truth that she was among the victims.
Yonatan Zeigen, in an interview with CBC News, recounted the last communication he had with his mother on the day of the attack. “She knew very early on that Hamas, the militants, came into the kibbutz, but she didn’t know the scope, and we couldn’t understand the magnitude,” he said. They remained in contact as gunshots and chaos unfolded around her, holding onto the hope that the situation would soon resolve itself.
Vivian Silver’s life was dedicated to pursuing peace in the midst of conflict. Born and raised in Winnipeg, she moved to Israel in 1974, shortly after the Yom Kippur War, seeking to contribute to peaceful solutions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She firmly believed in the shared humanity of all people, transcending political agendas and ideologies.
Silver was actively involved in various humanitarian groups throughout her life. She was a founding member of “Women Wage Peace,” a movement advocating for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the inclusion of women in peace efforts. The organization expressed its sorrow on social media, saying, “Our hearts are shattered.”
ויויאן שלנו, אשת השלום, נרצחה בביתה בבארי ב-7.10.
הלב שלנו נשבר לרסיסים.
— נשים עושות שלום (@WomenWagePeace) November 13, 2023
Additionally, Silver served as the co-CEO of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development, an Arab-Jewish organization committed to social change, and was a former board member of the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. She also volunteered with “Road to Recovery,” where she transported Palestinian patients from Gaza to Israeli hospitals for medical care.
The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg also mourned Silver’s death, describing her as “a renowned pacifist who tirelessly advocated for peace and the improvement of the quality of life for Palestinians.”
Global Affairs Canada has been in contact with Silver’s Canadian family members and is providing assistance. The government released a statement expressing deep sadness at the news of her passing, emphasizing the need for justice and extending condolences to her family and friends.
Vivian Silver’s death marks a significant loss for the global peace community, and her memory will continue to inspire those working towards a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As the world mourns the loss of a dedicated peace activist, tributes and condolences continue to pour in from individuals and organizations worldwide. Heather McPherson, the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, described Silver as a “courageous peace activist with friends around the world.” Melanie Joly, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, remembered her as “kind, generous, and selfless,” while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hailed her as a “unifier in times of war.”
Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, called for a pause in the violence and bombings in the region to secure the release of hostages. Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew highlighted Silver’s pursuit of peace, especially during times of conflict, and celebrated her memory as a “bright light” during dark times.
I am so sorry to hear the news that Vivian Silver, a peace activist born in Winnipeg and living in Israel, was killed by Hamas. Her life was devoted to peace and Justice. May her memory be for a blessing, and her courage and conviction be an example for us all. Let the killing… https://t.co/pVuufq27fu
— Bob Rae (@BobRae48) November 14, 2023
Idit Shamir, the Israeli consul-general in Toronto, expressed condolences and described the news of Silver’s death as “tragic.” As the world grieves the loss of Vivian Silver, her legacy as a tireless advocate for peace will continue to resonate.