On December 4th, tens of thousands of women participated in a general strike across the region to protest the Israeli government’s inaction towards gender-based violence.The strike saw women and men from across the region, along with many ALLMEP member organizations, standing together in solidarity.
Since early this year, 24 women have been murdered by a family member, partner, or acquaintance. Along with these deaths, there are thousands of female domestic abuse victims across the region. Declaring a “state of emergency”, over 50 Jewish and Arab feminist organizations came together to form the Red Flag Coalition in order to organize the massive protests against such gender-based violence. Hundreds of corporations, organizations, and municipalities stated their support for the region-wide protests.
Samah Salaime, one of the strike’s organizers and a director at ALLMEP member Oasis for Peace – Neve Shalom – Wahat al Salam, spoke about the protests in an interview with +972 Magazine, stating that “The strike is happening because of the murder of 24 women this year alone, half of them Arab women. It is happening because the majority of cases of murder of Arab women remain unsolved. It is happening because after the killing of 16-year-old Yara Ayoub in the north and 13-year-old Sylvana Tsegai in Tel Aviv we could no longer remain apathetic. It was time to act.”
While the strike began as an act of protest that was organized by only a few female activists, Salaime stated that the coalition of Palestinian and Jewish women’s groups was needed to spread word of the protests and create such a massive strike across the region.
Specifically, the strike protested the Israeli government’s inaction toward the gender-based violence seen across the region in the past year. Most cases related to gender-based violence remain unsolved, the government killed a law to establish a committee that would have looked into the handling of such cases, and overall, there has been no positive steps made by those in power to address the epidemic of such violence.
In the end, the coalition hope to see the government create real change and enact a national plan to deal with violent crimes against women. Success to the thousands of women that came together for this strike means justice and accountability. Together, Israelis and Palestinians stood up and called out across the region for justice for women across all borders and ideological divides.
In discussing the importance of bringing together both Israeli and Palestinian women, Salaime stated:
I had many concerns about cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians here. I worry that I will pay a heavy price for working with Jewish women, some of whom identify as Zionists, that the movement will be used to present Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East, that our decision to work together will be painful and lead to criticism from both right and left. The pain and political differences are with us everywhere we go, but I hope that the strike will succeed in merging struggles between Israelis and Palestinians and spark a larger protest movement against the violent oppression of the Palestinian people.
Photo Credit: Activestills.org
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