It’s been merely days since his mother Vivian Silver was confirmed killed in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, but Yonatan Zeigen says coping with her loss has been easier to do knowing how strongly her cause resonated with people.
“Personally, it made me stronger through this period of time to witness how much people relate to my mother as a human being and to (her) message and to the way she lived her life,” he said in an interview on CTV’s Power Play with Vassy Kapelos Thursday.
“And I think that’s a big point, that her values and her way of thinking does speak for a lot of people.”
Silver was initially believed to be one of the roughly 240 people taken captive by Hamas gunmen during the Oct. 7 attack, but Zeigen confirmed her remains were located and eventually identified weeks afterward.
Prior to her death, Winnipeg-born Silver, 74, was living in Kibbutz Be’eri, on the edge of the Gaza Strip. She had left her home in Winnipeg more than 50 years ago to live in Israel and work on peace initiatives.
During her free time, Silver volunteered to drive Palestinian patients and their families from Gaza to Israeli hospitals for medical care.
She was also involved in numerous humanitarian groups. She co-founded Women Wage Peace, which advocates for a unified demand for diplomatic negotiation, with full representation of women, to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Zeigen said his mother “dedicated her life to causes of equality and justice and peace,” which he described as her lasting legacy.
“She would always see peace as the only viable option,” he said.
“Because the only way for people to have safe lives, and in times of peril and pain, (is) the fact that we can overlook our own pain and not turn to the way of vengeance, but to understand that the only way to do so … is through reconciliation.”
Pictured is the late Canadian Vivian Silver, who was confirmed kill in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. (Contributed)
Israeli authorities say some 1,200 people were killed in the Oct. 6 attack. The ensuing war has killed more than 11,470 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry. Zeigen said his mother’s death has given him “stronger conviction” for a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Living through this war made me stronger and I feel my mother’s spirit in me,” he said.
He added that he hopes more people will vouch for peace and an end to human suffering.
“I think when we … experience violence that it’s very hard to see something different, but I always know that it’s pretty simple, actually,” Zeigen said.
“It’s just a question of wanting, and then I think if I am able to want non-violence, and other people as well, … like we said, circling back to the beginning of the interview, how many people related to Vivian, then we just need some more people to want it and then it can be done.”
Zeigen said he’ll remember Silver as a “wonderful” person, mother and grandmother.
“She was deep, her way of thinking, her way of viewing life and people, and she was also very assertive, but always lovable and sensitive and empathetic. And she always took into consideration how she affects others or how something affects others.”