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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