Op-ed

A Mother’s - an Arab Mother’s - Voice

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Anarchy reigns in Arab localities, terrorizing law-abiding residents who fear for their lives - it absolutely essential to put Arab families’ lost sense of security on the national agenda. The time has come to join hands

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In Israel, when a mother’s voice cries out in pain it is usually that of a Jewish woman and is broadcast on the IDF radio channel. But after the appalling murder of 15-year old Muhammad Adas and the severe injury of his 12-year-old friend, I must ask the Jewish public to lend their ears to the voice of an Arab mother, in the hope that what I write here will reflect, at least a bit, the mood of so many Arab mothers (and fathers too, of course)—especially today.

As mothers, we want to protect our children from all harm, starting from the day they come into our world. We try to provide them with a protected and sheltered environment that will keep them safe and sound. But this task has become all but impossible in Arab society. When illegal firearms that frequently target and sometimes wound innocent bystanders abound on the street, even the most determined and protective mother cannot react in real time and rush to shield her children from the stray bullet that threatens them without warning.

Even if our children escape injury—who can guarantee that they will not be (perish the thought) among the assailants? How we raise them at home certainly has an impact. But when violence and crime are rampant outside, they reach the children as well—even at school.

A recent study by Adim Masarwa and Mona Khoury-Kasabri, “Violent Behavior among Adolescents in Palestinian-Arab Society: Risk Factors and Protective Factors,” noted this connection: “Among Arab teenagers in Israel there is a high level of exposure to violence in the community. As a result, they are at high risk of being harmed by violence, but also to harm others.”

Is There an Option for Normal Life?

Please understand: the feeling that anarchy reigns in Arab localities terrifies all of us, especially the women. We know that at any moment any one of us might lose her husband, her brother, her sons and daughters, even if they are law-abiding citizens. We have deteriorated to the point that crime rings have no qualms about mistakenly harming innocent people This is dismissed as “trivial damage.” They feel they are in total control of the street—and with good reason. Experience has taught them that they can do as they please without paying any price and without facing a day in court.

 

I'm aware of the fact that some Jews, at best have a degrading and stereotypical image of Arab mothers; and at worst, see them as a threat. Nevertheless, I still believe that there are fundamental human values that must guide us, irrespective of the conflict. I believe that women who carry children in their bodies can feel compassion for others who do the same—compassion for us; that they can hear a mother’s voice, even if she is an Arab mother.

So, I am asking you, and all my Jewish friends, to stand by our side at protests and demonstrations. Join with us to demand the basic right to live in peace and security, in our homes and in our communities. Alas, our cries do not pierce the impenetrable walls of the Prime Minister’s Office. But perhaps they will, if we shout loud and clear—and together.

The article was published in the Times of Israel.