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What are Israelis willing to do to end violence against Arab women?

Another Arab woman was gunned down by a masked assailant. What are you, Arabs and Jews who respect the police and just want peace, planning to do about it?

Arab women protest the murder of two women in the city in the span of one week, October 28, 2016. (Haim Schwarczenberg)

Arab women protest the murder of two women in Jaffa in the span of one week, October 28, 2016. (Haim Schwarczenberg)

Another woman joins the list. This time it was Siham Azbarqa from Lod who was shot in her home on Monday and died from her wounds the following day. Once again it was a masked gunman with a silenced pistol who managed to take another life, leaving a city of 30,000 Arab citizens in total shock. Siham was murdered not far from where Dua’a Abu Sharkh was killed in front of her four children half a year ago.

Dua’a was also murdered by a masked gunman with a single shot to her head. The same fate put an end to the lives of Lilian Masoud, Yasmin Abu Sa’aluk, Amal Khalili, Abir Abu Katifan, Narmin Mughrabi, Sundus Shamruh, and many others. All of them killed by anonymous gunmen — all of them left to die in a pool of blood that had to be cleaned up by their grieving mothers.

And what are you, the readers, Arabs and Jews who respect the police and just want peace — what do you intend to do about this? Because Siham was murdered. She is no more — just like many other Arab women.

Come to one of our protests and perhaps you will finally feel our desire to live. Your momentary solidarity might provide temporary hope to a woman or young girl who is suffering. But when will you understand that our struggle is for your sake too? For the future of women in this cursed place? For the future of humanity itself?

Let’s start reporting ‘terrorists’

Palestinian women here are fighting for life, others are fighting for freedom of movement, equal pay, freedom of speech, representation in politics, etc. Our struggle belongs to everyone. And anyone who deludes herself into believing that this has nothing to do with her life may find herself facing down patriarchy, oppression, and violence all by herself — either now or further down the road.

Are we, Arab women in Israel, not worthy of a life of safety without guns?

Tell me the truth, because I am willing to accept the ugly truth. I would rather live with the fact that my life does not interest anyone than live a fantasy that I am equal to every other citizen of this state.

Palestinians citizens of Israel Israel participate in a demonstration in the arab town of Ramle on November 26, 2015 against domestic violence and rising number of women getting murdered. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians citizens of Israel participate in a demonstration in the Arab town of Ramle on November 26, 2015 against domestic violence and rising number of women being murdered. (Activestills.org)

Do not run from me, dear readers. Do not ignore me, decision and policy makers. Because I will make sure my voice is heard, that my cries will be heard by all. And do not dare think that violence against women is somehow predestined, that it is cultural, traditional, or any other cliche you choose to hide behind. Both you and I know that Arab women are murdered by firearms, the bullets created by Arab society and the weapons accessible to every violent man.

We, ladies and gentlemen, have almost no “legal” weapons, and those who make those weapons cheap and accessible for the murderers of women and young innocent men need to be held accountable. Henceforth, any time woman comes to Na’am, an NGO that supports Arab women in central Israel, feeling threatened or in danger by a criminal with a handgun, we will simply inform Lod Police that there is a potential “terrorist” who is planning to open fire at the local mall. Perhaps then the police will catch him. Perhaps then the police will actually do something.

After all, Police Chief Roni Alsheikh recently increased the manpower of the police’s spokesperson’s unit, in order to explain what the police isn’t able to get done. The same police chief who loves slapping gag orders on investigations dealing with the murder of women so that we continue to live in darkness, so that the security establishment can continue to control the information doled out to the public. So that they can tell us their version of the story — one in which the “Arab mentality” is the cause of women’s deaths.

This way, we simply won’t know who to blame, we won’t name names. Gag orders are used like anesthesia to soothe the anger against the police; they give the impression that the police are working diligently yet quietly, expecting the loud-mouthed feminists to shut up for a second and calm down. Until the next murder.

Myself and dozens of other activists will continue to educate and empower, to raise awareness and struggle against violence — tomorrow morning, and every morning. And you, members of the security establishment, whose only job is to protect human life — what are you planning to do?

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. i_like_ike52

      A better subject will be “what will Arab men do to end violence against Arab women”. The Arabs need to stop blaming everyone else for their own problems.

      Reply to Comment
    2. R5

      How stupid does someone have to be to think that the medieval patriarchy of Arab society is less of a problem for women than the State of Israel? The answer is extremely stupid.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould


        Residents in the Arab areas complain of inferior municipal services, higher unemployment rates, crowded neighborhoods, inferior health care and unfair allocation of resources in the education system and housing…”Since 1948, there has not been one governmental housing plan in the Arab neighborhoods of Lod … even though there have been hundreds of plans for Jews,” said Faten Zinati, a municipal government employee who works in Lod…As a result, she explains, Arabs have been forced to build homes without permits, many of which have been demolished, and the rest are under threat of demolition…

        Reply to Comment
        • i_like_ike52

          Inferior services? Are you aware that there is traditionally a major problem collecting the arnona/municipal taxes in the Arab towns. Through much of the Arab world, tax evasion is a major problem because many feel they would prefer lower taxes and fewer services. This is because taxation is viewed as a form of tribute paid to the ruler, and not money given in exchange for services, in that they feel the money will be pocketed by the ruler in any event.
          I visit Lod frequently and know Jews living there. There are extensive neighborhoods with middle-class housing that are largely Arab. Yes, there are poor areas, but a dynamic young mayor (who is IIRC National Religious) is improving services for everyone.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            The idea that the vast discrimination in education, housing, land, building, services, etc. that Arab citizens face is rooted in a tax collection problem is laughable.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        I don’t know but that’s not what Samah Salaime is saying.

        Israel wants to keep Arab society uneducated, backwards and divided. On reservations. Just as it wants to keep the Palestinians divided.

        Reply to Comment
        • Firentis

          I presume that is also the explanation for exactly the same phenomena in the Arab countries.

          Reply to Comment
        • i_like_ike52

          A totally, incoherent, untrue comment. While most Israeli young men and women are spending up to 3 years in the IDF, Arabs of the same age are making money while gainfully employed or studying in large numbers in the universities. Why do you think the Israeli Arabs vehemently reject Lieberman’s proposal that in the event of the creation of a Palestinian state, that heavily populated Israeli Arab areas be allowed to be annexed to such a state. They prefer to to live under the “1948 occupation” (as they see it) than live in an supposedly liberated Palestinian state.

          Reply to Comment
    3. JeffB

      Can one of the Israelis explain to me how this is political at all? This editorial is too Israeli for me to follow.

      Here is what I can make out. In some parts it sounds like a woman was shot for unknown reasons by an unknown assailant, there police don’t have many leads and aren’t doing much. Samah also seems to be indicating this was domestic violence based on her rhetoric, i.e. then I’d assume the likely suspect is known the x-boyfriend/x-husband. That there was some sort of domestic violence filing (does Israel have restraining orders)? There is some sort of gag order (though the article never explains what the point of the gag order would be). I’m not sure what feminism has to do with this unless she was saying this was an honor killing. So I’m lost.

      Reply to Comment