Despite the hardships, Arab women are making gains in the Israeli legal establishment, local politics, academia, and even in the Islamic Movement.
I watched as Hollywood stars collectively came out of the feminist closet during the Academy Awards this week. They spoke with pride about the recent #MeToo campaign, and demanded more respect and more funds for films made by women about women.
But why envy the women of Hollywood? There’s enough work to do back home. This past week we also learned that the Israel Prize Committee could not find a single woman who was worthy of receiving the prize, just as an Israeli judicial appointments committee failed in the same seemingly insurmountable task.
Truthfully, as a Palestinian feminist, I don’t care very much about the prize. And yet, as a feminist I still stand alongside Jewish women who demand representation for the vaunted Zionist prize, and wish them success in their struggle to give Israel’s multicultural democracy a facelift.
Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a closer look at my own society — at how Palestinian women in Israel fared in the past year.
A women’s Islamic revolution
Two months ago, the southern branch of the Islamic Movement decided to increase the representation of women on its Knesset slate, including guaranteeing a spot specifically for women, as well as integrating women in its decision-making process. Unsurprisingly, such a dramatic announcement hardly made headlines in either the Hebrew or the Arabic press.
As talk of general elections grows, I decided to see for myself what has changed. It turns out the Islamic Movement has a new party constitution, which was passed overwhelmingly during its last general assembly. And according to the constitution, the fifth and sixth places on the list will hereby be reserved for women.
I asked Islamic Movement spokesperson Mansour Abbas why women are worthy of only the fifth and sixth places.
“Today we are only four representatives in the Knesset. We did not want it to be seen as a woman taking the place of a sitting member of Knesset,” he responded. “This would have led to opposition to the move.”
Before I managed to yell “So what if a woman replaces a man?” he responded: “Women can compete for the first four seats, but the fifth and sixth seats are guaranteed for them. Moreover, the movement decided that it will guarantee a spot for them among the...Read More