2019 Summer Lecture Series: The Resistance Among Palestinian Women Citizens of Israel

Video & Transcript
Dr. Suheir Daoud
 Transcript No. 527 (July 30, 2019)

Good evening, everyone. On behalf of the Jerusalem Fund and The Palestine Center, thank you for joining us today. We’re so excited to welcome you all to the last event of our 2019 summer intern lecture series: Resist my People, Resist Them, centering the voices of Palestinian women in resistance. This summer lecture series focuses its attention on the genealogical transformation of Palestinian women’s resistance, explores the different forms of resistance that Palestinian women have taken, and draws attention to the varied ways Palestinian women have been involved with, led, and shaped resistance. This our last event of the series, and on the behalf of the summer interns and the Jerusalem Fund as a whole, we’re extremely grateful for your support and your attendance of our events. From a movie screening to a panel, we’ve not only learned so much about Palestinian resistance, but hope that all of you have learned a lot as well.

Today, we’re honored to welcome Dr. Suheir Daoud who will be discussing the resistance led by Palestinian women citizens of Israel during different phases since Israel’s establishment. She will then focus on her recent research on women in the Islamic movement and the challenges they face from within the Palestinians society and from the implications of the recently imposed ‘nation state law’. Dr. Daoud is a Palestinian writer and professor from Western Galilee. She holds a PhD in Political Science from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is currently an associate professor of Politics at the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University. Dr. Daoud has authored numerous articles and op-eds in Arabic, Hebrew, and English and has published four volumes of poetry and literature. Her book, Palestinian Women and Politics in Israel, was published by University Press of Florida in 2009.


Dr. Suheir Daoud:

Good evening, and thank you everyone. Thank you to the Jerusalem Fund and for the Palestine Center for inviting me. I am so delighted to have you all here. I am so excited. I was thinking about how I can summarize sixteen years of research about Palestinian women in thirty minutes, right? So I thought of starting with a personal story because the last thing I wanted to do in my life is (was) to research women. So in 1996, I went to the Hebrew University, where I got my first degree there, and I met with (a) PhD advisor, late professor Ehud Sprinzak — (that was) his name — who was the PhD advisor. And I told him I want to do something about Political Islam. Hamas was rising, you know like, political Islam was in rise, and Hamas was taking all the headlines, suicide bombings, all of this. So I told him I want my PhD to be focused on Islamism, political Islam, and all of this. And he said “You know what, we don’t have anyone in Israel who has done women in politics, and that was a politics department, so why wouldn’t, you know, be the first one to do it?” And he said that “Many people now want to do (study) Hamas, many people want to do (study) political Islam. You do women.”

I had to take women you know, you know, and I was stuck with that. Every time I said I want to change my focus, like I want to research something else, somebody emails me and say “can you please write an article about women in identity and space? Can you do women in the Islamic movement? Can you do this and that?” So I got stuck. And when I saw the invitation from The Palestine Center, Jerusalem Fund, I smiled and said “there is no escape, you know?” But I will talk a little bit about, you know, like, how we (Palestinians) inside Israel got so stuck researching ourselves. There is like an Israeli researcher, his name is Carl Dutch, he once said that Israeli scholarship suffers from a severe defect because most Israeli scholarship (scholars), when they write about Israel, they ignore the Palestinians in Israel. So literally you can find a big volume discussing Israel without really mentioning the Palestinians. And what happened is that in the 1980s and the 1990s more and more Palestinians inside Israel graduated from Israeli universities and, you know, Palestinians in Israel became more educated and started to produce scholarship. So they started so much to focus on the Palestinians. Today you barely find a Palestinian inside Israel that does not do anything or does not do something beyond the Palestinians in Israel. Everyone focuses on Palestinians in Israel.

But when they started to speak and to write about Palestinians in Israel, they totally ignored the voice of Palestinian women. So at the beginning I wasn’t happy I was doing about Palestinian. Later I realized that you cannot understand the experience of Palestinians in Israel without the voice of women inside that minority. Actually, I could say that (you) cannot understand the voice of any people without understanding the voice of women. So this is why I said okay. You know, like, I started to like that but I wanted to do something also different because what happened is that in the 1970s more and more women also started to join universities. In Israel there is (are) no Arab universities; all universities are Jewish universities. So a new generation of women who studied in Israeli campuses they were very much influenced by Israeli feminism, for example. And this is why later they produced a scholarship where they focus so much on the subordination of women to Arab tradition, culture, and family and Islam. Okay, where is (are) Israeli policies from impacting Palestinians inside Israel? I am not saying that culture or religion or you know, these type(s) of values do not have effect(s). They have big effect(s). But you cannot, you know, take the experience of women inside Israel outside of the whole experience of the Palestinians who became a minority overnight.

So this is what is special to Palestinians inside Israel. The minority today is not just like any minority. It’s not like refugee minority, you know, people who travel to (a) different country, you know, because of persecution or whatever. These are indigineous people and they were the majority in Palestine until the war, and overnight, suddenly, they became a minority under a majority hostile rule that saw them as a security risk. How all (did all of) this impacted the Palestinians? So it was (a) dramatic change in 1948 because (from) 1948 until 1966, Israel viewed the Arabs, the Palestinians who remained in their country, in Palestine, that became Israel, the State of Israel, as disloyal, as, you know, like a risk, a security risk that they can align anytime with the surrounding Arab countries and harm Israel’s security. So security was the main focus for Israel in the early decades of the state. Of course there was immigration too, but you know, in terms of us, as Palestinians, security was so important.

How (did) the Palestinians lived those 20 years, post the creation of Israel, and how (did) this impacted women? And again, you know, you cannot discuss women in Israel/Palestine, you know, its citizens of Israel, without again discussing the whole transformation of the Palestinian society inside Israel, who (which) were (was) granted Israeli citizenship. But at the same time, they were restricted to their villages because most of the Palestinians who remained, 156,000 out of about 1 million people remained in Israel, eight of every ten people became refugees. So most of these people were villagers, uneducated. The ruling elite escaped, okay? Or let’s say some of them had to leave, but many of them escaped. They had the means to escape. The people who had the means to escape, they just ran away. The elite, I am speaking about the elite, not the kind of regular people who were forced and put on buses, you know, outside of the border.

All the institutions that were founded during the mandate period basically were closed, many institutions. Even the religion, the Islamic religion; mosques and religious centers and access to Islam was hindered. Palestinians in Israel became isolated from the rest of the Arab world. So all (of) this and women groups, for example, who were active during the mandate also deceased, kind of, to be (being). Israel only allowed the Communist Party, the Israeli Communist Party, to function in Israel and did not allow any other nationalist or Arab group, Palestinian group, to kind of be organized during those first twenty years. And how come, you know, Israel allowed (the) Communist Party? And remember, we’re speaking about the Cold War, right? And we’re speaking about (the) Soviet Union vs (the) United States when communism was viewed as the enemy, right? And when (the) United States was the first country to recognize Israel — six minutes. Six minutes after the creation of Israel, the United States recognized Israel. And for (the) United States, Soviet Union was the main enemy. But for Israel, it was so smart to say ‘okay these are two superpowers, and we want the two superpowers to support us. And this continues until today. Like, you see, for example, Putin today in Syria the biggest supporter of Assad, and he is the biggest supporter of Israel, you know? So it’s very similar.

Okay, so during those twenty years, basically, the Communist Party, because Israel wanted a channel to the Soviets, because the new state faced so many problems and the economic situation was so hard, so it reached (out) to the Soviets and opened its doors to both. Another reason is that the Communist Party, which was founded during the British Mandate in Palestine, had both components; it had Jewish members and Palestinian members. And for Israel, they felt safe. ‘Okay this is not a purely Palestinian organization,’ so they felt safe, even if those member inside of the Communist Party were kind of socialists or whatever. Okay, so this is why we see women in the beginning, the women who were really active in the first twenty years of the creation of Israel, when Israel imposed a military rule — so many restrictions for the Palestinians. You cannot leave your village without a daily permit. You want to go to your work in the next villages? You need a permit, a daily permit. You want to go to the hospital? Everything. Because in the villages, basically, now people (have) lost their lands. They owned around 50% when Israel was created, 50% of the land. Today they own less than 3%. So huge expropriation of the Palestinian land made Palestinians basically workers in Jewish towns and Jewish communities outside of their village.

Okay, so women now, they became involved first in the Communist Party because this was the only organization that was allowed by Israel to function. In 1966, Eshkol which (who) was the new Prime Minister of Israel decided to end those restrictions and the military rule. And many scholars, you know, for them, they argue that this decision was (made) because Israel reached a conclusion that the Arabs in Israel are now broken. Some researchers say that Palestinians in Israel are the most silent minority in the 21st Century, a minority that didn’t really resist so much, didn’t really, you know, confront the state so much. So some theories say this is due to the fear, the huge fear that the Palestinians who were left inside without any guidance, without any leadership, you know had to face. They had basically to adopt to that. Many of the women who became active first in politics, they were kind of the sisters and the daughters of males that are (who were) active in the Communist Party. So their brother will take them, for example, the sister to the meeting, and it started from that base. This is why you will see that the small number of women that entered politics, for example, in Israel, most of them until late 70s were mostly Christians because the Christian component of the Israeli Communist Party was really high. During the mandate, most of the people who entered the Communist Party and supported, you know, the Soviet Union and communism were Christians.

That started to change in the 1980s. So today, you will see like more Muslim dominance, you know, over Nazareth, which is the biggest city in Israel — was dominated by, it’s called, you know, DFPE, which is the democratic party, which is associated with the Communist Party, and the mayor there for more than 25 years was a Christian. He was later challenged by the Islamic movement, and one of the interviews with one woman from the Islamic movement in the city, started you know, to say — she didn’t speak much politics between communism and Islamism — but she spoke about how he is, as a mayor, as a Christian mayor, discriminate against Muslims in the city. You know so the talk was more religious than political talk.

In 1966, the restrictions were lifted, and another thing happened in 1967 — the war of 1967. This war is considered the war that changed the face of the Middle East, for the first time Israel became a fact. Everyone, until that moment, doubted that Israel would continue. Remember Jamal Abd Elnasser and the rhetoric, you know ‘and we will do this, and you know? Now, Israel established itself as the most powerful country in the Middle East. And even (the) United States became (began) to treat Israel seriously. After that, and investments, money, you know, like everything started after this war. But for the Palestinians in Israel, you know, in one hand (on the one hand), for the Arabs, ‘wow, Israel is taking more, you know, the rest of Palestine’ during that talk. You know, Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Right? This is the rest of Palestine that Israel did not take in 1948. So now, Israel is dominating full 100%.

For the Arabs in Israel, actually, that was kind of a positive thing. How it was positive (how was it positive)? After 20 years of isolation, Arabs could not really communicate with the other Palestinians, with their people. Right? With their families outside of the border. In the West Bank for example with the Arab, you know, didn’t know what was happening, you know, outside of this place. No, you know, the war opened up all these territories in front of the Palestinians. Now they started to have access. They could go now to Gaza. They could go to the West Bank. They could travel and study in Islamist universities in Hebron and Khalil and in Nablus, for example. And later on, we will see how this brought to the establishment of the Islamic movement in Israel. Because before that, everything was not allowed for the Palestinians. But in terms of economy, that was (a) really big thing for Palestinians. Now, because most of the Palestinian men, they could not live out of land, because land was expropriated. They started to become workers in other villages. But their salary was so small. They couldn’t really support, and that brought the need for women to go and work. So here we will see. In one hand (on the one hand), what Israel did is, like a lot of contradictions here. Israel wanted to control the Arabs. Put military rule for 20 years. Restricted their movement. Did not develop their villages. No industry. You know? No work, nothing. They have to go and work for Jews.

But that had kind of indicted impact, which is positive, kind of positive, on women too. It’s contradictory too because now women became so important in the household. You know, their salaries, so important. And more and more, you know, actually the household started to depend on women. So women started to leave their villages, go and work with Jewish, in Jewish towns. And you will see (a) huge, total transformation of the family system, of the relationship, of the attire, the language. They started to take public transportation because many of them could not afford buying cars and at the time, women could not drive. So women became more independent. It’s true that it brought, you know like, (a) double burden on women and now they have to work inside and they have to work outside. But on the other hand, it empowered women. And that also had its impact on politics. Because before that, the man would tell his wife ‘you have to vote for such and such list during elections.’ But now when the woman is independent, you know, (a) contributor to the house, now she’s saying ‘no, but I don’t like this candidate.’ So again, you know, you will see all types of contradictory that, on (the) one hand, it emancipated women in certain ways. On the other hand, you know, it brought more kind of exploitation to women. And that process continues until this day.

So again, what Israel wanted to achieve, it brought a contradictory thing because more and more the Palestinian individual in Israel could say to his hamullah, his big extended family, ‘We don’t have land any more. I don’t work in the land. The land is not my source. I can support myself individually. You cannot impose your ideas on me.’ So more and more it became the focus, the nuclear family in Israel. In the 1970s, after all these restrictions were removed, you will see (a) huge wave, a new wave of Palestinians , male, but also women, started to enter Israeli universities. Most of them, especially women, would go to Haifa University. Why Haifa? Because most of the Palestinians who remained in Israel after the Nakba concentrated in the Galilee. So Haifa was the closest university, and Arab people, the Arab families, preferred a place where a girl could go and come back to the village, even if she travels a lot. The brother, sometimes, will take her and bring her back, you know. They feel safe. Sending her to Jerusalem, you know, sending their girls to Jerusalem, to sleep in dorms, you know, they never know what happens. So that was something that they did not want.

What happened inside Israeli universities and campuses is that for the first time, women started to get not only education and certificate(s), but they opened, you know, the Israeli campuses opened their eyes to two things. One is feminism. They didn’t what does that mean (what that meant). When in the Arab world, you know, they knew feminism from who [inaudible] in the 1920s, right? But because they were closed, they were alienated. Even the scholarship, they didn’t know about it, they were not open about these ideas. So what happened is that most of the girls who went to study in Haifa, for example, or some of them, very few in Jerusalem, they never returned to their villages. They remained in Haifa, in the cities, because the cities give them a lot of freedom. Right? And then they sought, you know, jobs and many of them were taken into Israeli feminist organizations. And they became really kind of big voices. So on (the) one hand, they got to kind of be exposed to feminism. On the other hand, they were exposed to racism inside the Israeli campuses. So feminism and, you know, nationalism.

When they were absorbed in Israeli feminist groups, they now faced something else: that Jewish feminists looked down at (upon) Palestinian feminists and make (made) them make copies, do coffee. All the big decisions, you know, the Palestinian women were not really part of it. So there was this discrimination inside the feminist, the Israeli feminist movement against those women. But not only like that. Inside the feminist, Israeli feminist movement, which was mostly white, mostly American, you know, like Ashkenazi women, high class, high-educated, they also discriminated against Jewish women who originated from the Arab countries. Right? The Mizrahi, the Middle Eastern women. So in the ‘80s we will see that Mizrahi women split from the main Ashkenazi, feministic group and formed their own. And then also the Palestinian women split from them and did form their own groups too.

I had a professor. She’s very vocal about defending the rights of Mizrahi Jews in Israel, and she speaks a lot about the discrimination of Western Ashkenazi Jews against (the) Mizrahi ones and how they faced all this, you know, inside the movement. And she was my professor in the Hebrew University when I was doing my PhD, and just until, you know, like, an example of hypocrisy because in one of my papers that I wrote, it was for us, you couldn’t stay in Israel that we are (because we were) Palestinians. It was not allowed for us to say that we are Palestinians until really late. I think, I’m almost certain, the first Israeli politician who called us Palestinians was Sharon. And remember who was Sharon. We considered (him) the biggest criminal for, you know, for Palestinians. You know, the ‘butcher’ of the Palestinians. Because they would call us so many names. The Israeli-Arabs, the Arabs in Israel, Arabs of ‘48, whatever, but you’re not Palestinian. And in my paper, I wrote Palestinian , about us, and she said, “you have to change that. You cannot say that you’re Palestinian.” And she’s the one who kind of speaks about discrimination inside Ashkenazi feminist groups and she’s a feminist that speaks about all types of things. So that shows also some of the problems that other Palestinian women, you know, faced inside those Jewish groups that also, you know, could not be recognized. Their special experience as indigenous, and they did not want to recognize them as a national minority that had rights in the land.

I want to speak a little bit about how also economy was also big for Palestinian women that was (were) influenced by some political developments. For example, Israeli factories, or Israeli businessmen, opened clothing, small manufacturers in Arab villages. It was described, you know, it attracted a lot of women who couldn’t, you know, leave their villages because in Arab villages, also for example, it’s very hard to have daycare, for example. The state doesn’t support daycare the way it supports other Jewish communities. So many women would kind of look for work inside their villages. So this type of clothing, you know, factories opened in so many places that it was described as worse than cleaning in shops in Jewish places. It was huge (type of) exploitation. But even those places that give some extra money, you know, to families, to people who could not live there, in 1995, when Israel and Jordan signed the Oslo II agreement, you know, with Israel between Jordan, all (of) these factories moved to Jordan. So now, today, a lot of the fabrics, the products that say ‘made in Jordan,’ pans, you know, things, they’re made in Jordan, but these are Israeli. They don’t put Israel. This way they can kind of cheat in terms of, you know.

But this kind of harmed women, you know like, because now they lost their, even their tiny…Women in Israel, Palestinian women in Israel, have the lowest participating rate in (the) labor force in the world. 17-18% relative to about 60% of Jewish women, which is considered more than in the United States and one of the highest in the world. This is because, again, not because tradition, or because the families do not want their women to interact with men. This is because the state worked not to develop the Arab villages and localities because it wanted to keep them dependent economically on the Jewish sector. And because buses do not enter Arab villages, many of them, and because the economic situation many times does not allow, you know, women to have their own, you know, cars and drive. With all that said, still, women in Israel, Palestinian women in Israel, are doing (making) huge, huge progress. You will see them today. Lawyers, doctors. You see them in the cinema. Everywhere. Because they’re really (they really are) fighters. They are fighters, and because also, Israel created the condition for them, you know, in one hand, to exploit them, and on the other hand, without meaning to do that, it emancipated them in certain ways.

In the past few years, I was called, you know like, from (the) Palestine Center, no — Palestine Democracy Center in Ramallah to do an article about Islamic, about women in the Islamic movement. And I liked this opportunity, and I started to research Muslim women. I had a problem, kind of a problem, how to reach really women in the Islamic movement because I come from a village which is Old Christian. I’m Christian-Catholic. And there are two Catholic, purely Catholic, you know, Catholic villages in Israel. So we don’t have, you know, a lot of interaction with Muslims. So I was looking, you know like, with some women that I interviewed before, but I really wanted somebody from (who was) really poor, from the Islamic movement in Israel. And there was kind of a nice surprise when I was invited to give a talk about women in politics at Haifa University, and among the people who sat in the room was a woman with a veil, and (it) wasn’t just a veil. She was like heavily (heavy) with long dress, with, you know, pants, you know, beneath it. And jilbab. It’s called jilbab in Arabi. And this woman, I always think about, oh my God, you know, what a special connection, I built with this special woman, so much active (so active) in the Islamic movement, so much anti-feminist, so much anti, everything you could think about has a little … you know. And you’ll be so surprised. So in every kind of research, I started to interview her.

Later in 2015, Israel outlawed the Islamic movement. The Islamic movement has two kind(s) of wings, and she was from the very radical wing. So Israel outlawed that wing, and now they are illegal in Israel, you know. And it put in jail, you know, the founder of that. So her name is Ayesha, and I was talking to Ayesha that she now lives in Umm al-Fahm. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Umm al-Fahm. If you could… there it is. It’s so close to the West Bank. Umm al-Fahm is the second-biggest city, Arab-Palestinian city, in Israel, and it’s all Muslim. So Nazareth, you could say today, have (has) half Muslim and Christian. But Umm al-Fahm purely is purely Muslim. There is some of the core of the radical Islamic movement. Like some of the people in that city, for example, joined ISIS. Okay, some of them went to Styria. You know, very few, but, you know, you have this radicalism. And Ayesha lives in there, and she’s very radical in her opinions, and she’s very, you know, Islamist, but at the same time, in one of, you know, the interviews with her, she said “I’m leaving Umm al-Fahm. I cannot live among Muslims. I’m going to live in Tel Aviv. And you what is Tel Aviv (do you know what Tel Aviv is) Tel Aviv is like New York. And I was like, and she started to pursue her PhD without, you know, neglecting her ideas because now she cannot live in Umm al-Fahm with her mother-in-law interfering without the family interfering and telling her what to do. And because of the growing violence also in the Arab villages and localities, which is unbelievable, unbelievable.

Some policymakers that I interviewed in the past two years have been saying that Israel have (has) been encouraging violence among Palestinians, have been allowing them to arm, so, and you will be very surprised too. You will see more and more Palestinians, men and women, even women, joining the Israeli police, and the more you have Palestinians in the Israeli police, the more you have violence in their villages. Unbelievable, you know. And she says — Ayesha told me — “I cannot even take my little boy to balcony because there is shooting all the time.” And also she said now there is so much pressure on Palestinians to build the huge houses like mansions, although she is like middle-class. And she says, “I built a very huge house, but this is in a part of this city that there are no roads, no internet, no nothing. And it takes me, daily, six to seven hours just to clean the house. Why? Because it’s open space. It’s so modern, and the visitors, when they sit in the salon, see the kitchen, and the kitchen has to be all the time clean (clean all the time).” And she said, “I cannot do that anymore.” You know. And she said, “That’s it. I’m going to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv gives me more freedom. I can live in a very small apartment, you know, and I can do whatever I want without no one, you know, bothering me.”

So I found (that) this is really fascinating. And that research about space and woman, about how space can affect women. There is another woman in the Islamic movement that told me her husband divorced her and then married another woman. But she had to live in the same house as divorced with her husband and the woman because there is no space to go and rent or money to rent a place for her and for her kids. Because it’s so suffocating in Arab villages. They do not allow them to build. They don’t give them permits. If you want to go live in the city with your kids without a husband, that’s so hard. So some women have to live in that situation. Many women also said “in Arab villages, we go, we want to take our kids in (on) a walk. There is (are) no sidewalks. It’s so dangerous. We cannot go for a walk. We want to go and sit in a cafe.” it’s not easy for girls and women to sit in cafes. So there are a lot of these type(s) of problems inside the Arab localities that Israel is responsible for part of them, but also not only Israel. We cannot blame Israel for everything because the mayors of all Arab localities, or at least 98% of them, are Arabs. But there is so much corruption. So they’re not really doing for women, they’re not really… “One of the women, for example, was disabled, and she said, “Unfortunately, in my locality, no one really cared about disabled people.” So she works in, you know, in an institution in the local municipality. And there is like, in (on) the second floor, there is no elevator, for example. You know, these types of things that also lack inside it, and Palestinian women have to find ways kind of to get into it.

The interesting thing is that, when in the 1970s, when Israel was more open (than) now to allow different political organizations, not only now the Communist Party. Several other groups were founded. Many Muslims, Muslim youth, went to the occupied territories and started learning and studying in Hebron and Nablus, and they got very much influenced (influenced very much) with (by) the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt. They came back to Israel in the 1970(s), and they formed (a) secret, underground organization, Usra al jihad, the family of jihad, which became later the Islamic movement. But the Shabat, the Israeli secret police caught them and put them in jail. After three years, the leader(s) of that organization were released and suddenly they appeared in the Israeli media and they started to speak about coexistence and Israel and “we accept the rules.” And you know, some accuse (accused) them that the Shabat, somehow, during their jailing time, recruited them. But theories, you know. But again, their discourse changed. So they said, “We accept (that) we are an Islamist movement. We are kind of an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood. But now we live in a special reality. We accept Israel. And we want to play according to the rules of Israel.” So they started to compete in elections in Israel.

The very kind of interesting thing (is) that someone would think that this Islamist movement won’t (wouldn’t) mobilize women. But the opposite happened. From the beginning, they started to put focus on recruiting and mobilizing women in their kind of organization. And they, similar to Hamas, similar to Hezbollah, for example, were the social welfare, you know, activities. They open(ed) all type(s) of, you know, activities for sport, for education, for all of this. So they recruited women and later actually started to put women in political position(s). So they surprised every one of whom they thought, ‘no they will actually be more repressive to women.’ So they were kind of the opposite. But some researchers are saying, ‘okay, this is what the Islamic movement did.’ For the first time (of) in the history of so many Muslim women in Israel, they started, hundreds of them, to leave their home for the first time. Just wives, you know, and household wives leaving their home(s) and going outside for activities. You know, women getting together and, you know, attending lectures.

Here, again, this is a contradiction. Some say, ‘Okay, the Muslim Islamic movement mobilized women. Now she opened position(s) for them — activities, sport(s) , and art, even going to the mosque, doing some social things.’ But the others (are) seeing this, actually, negatively. They’re saying, ‘Making women go out is not necessarily is freeing women because these women go, for example, to lectures that lecture, those lectures, you know, tell them that the women’s first place is the home. That women(’s), you know, first responsibility are the children, you know. So it’s basically doing the opposite. Being outside (is) not necessarily being emancipated.’ You know, so again, there is kind of a discussion on this. On the other hand, for example, the Islamic movement built a huge, only female school, named Khadijah in Umm al-Fahm. Only women, only girls, could go to this. And again, there is a criticism. Some said, ‘No, this is a good thing because that encourages conservative parents to send their daughters to school.’ The others are saying, ‘No, that reinforce(s) that image, that separation.’ But the interesting thing (is) that many women, you know, are doing so excellent in that, you know, school, and they’re becoming a lot of other things. Now the question is what type of ideas they will bring back to the table to their society.

Is my time up, or (do) I still have some time? I still have five minutes? Let me think (about) what I want… let me speak a little bit maybe about what’s going on recently (currently) in Israel after Israel — basically we’re going (holding) to (a) new election in Israel. We do (the) election in (on) September 17. And Israel had passed this — of course, Israel doesn’t have a constitution, one of very few democracies in the world that no (without a) constitution, right? But my new research is is (would) having a constitution in Israel will be good for Palestinians or not. So I had some discussion with some policymakers there, and they said the Constitution eventually will reflect the will of the people, right? And if most of the people in Israel are becoming extremely far right, and very, you know, racist, so (then) the Constitution will basically reflect that. So it’s not going to be on (to) our benefit. But Israel passed this nation law, which is a basic law, which Israel think(s), you know, it will build basic laws together to become, one day, a constitution. And that basic law took a lot of headlines, you know. One of the things that It said (is) that ‘Israel is the homeland for only the Jews.’ And the, you know, Palestinian leadership started to shout and to do, okay, you know. What’s new, right? What’s new?

One of the other things is that the Arabic language lost its status as an official language, you know, because it was interesting too that Israel kind of gave the Arabic language a status of (an) official language since the creation of Israel really early. So now it put it kind of in — it has a “special status,” okay. So I interviewed people who live in Israeli-Jewish institutions, and I asked them how this — if this changed something practically, you know. And one told me, you know, even when the Arabic language was official, all Arabs who come, maybe 99% of the Arabs who would come to these institutions, let’s say IRS, something like that, would never fill (in) the form in Arabic. Everyone would fill it in Hebrew, so it didn’t really have any, an actual thing. So we heard, kind of, a lot of discussion about it, but many, many feel that it just reinforces what everyone knew about the nature of Israel — as the state of the Jews and not the state of all its citizens. And this is kind of a dilemma of (to) democracy because democracy is supposed to be open to all citizens without discrimination, and this what actually Israel itself and the Declaration of Independence — it stated that all people of Israel should face no discrimination based on ethnicity, sex, or gender or whatever. But of course, you know, what happened later, it was not that.
The problem inside Israel now among the Arabs that — so much (is) fragmented. And they fight over seats. And you know, with everything — (the) deterioration that is happening — with this law (that) is going on, with Netanyahu making Israel more far-right, with a lot of challenges facing (being faced), you know. What is happening is the Arab — the main four Arab parties — they continue to fight over seats in the parliament. And that alienated more and more, you know, the Palestinian citizens from their leadership. This has now created new voices that want to form new parties in Israel. Unfortunately, you know, they are also opportunistic because they’ll, like, they also want seats over it. That bring(s) the people who has (have) been boycotting elections saying, ‘Hey, where are you going? We will never become Israelis. Israel, you know, especially with that law, will never recognize us as Palestinian(s) and will never recognize out part.’ So being in the Israeli Knesset will never, basically — does anything, you know, to improve our status as a national minority. So they are calling basically for struggle from (the) outside of the Israeli Knesset.

I interviewed a woman who is part of the Labour Party. She’s from, yeah, from Jaffa, and she said ‘We are like from the United States. If Arabs want to fight, it’s better for them to be in one of the main parties because otherwise, if they join (a) smaller party, no one will hear them. No one will listen.’ So she says instead of me joining Arab parties who fight for seats, I go directly and join one of the main parties that maybe I will have an effect in these parties. On the other hand, this woman, for example, is seen as a traitor to her, you know, to her people, to her this. And there, this is (a) constant, you know, like, fight and question over identity. Should we become part of the Israeli establishment when Israel itself does not recognize us? If we want to become part of the Arab parties, Arab parties themselves are not really taking, you know, the situation seriously. So we’re really kind of in a very difficult situation, and I came from Israel last week extremely frustrated, especially knowing, you know, some social things that are happening that the mafia now is entering (into) to play (a) big part in Arab villages.

Fights between families over really stupid thing(s) like constructing a building, and someone didn’t pay. So the guy would go, for example, the one who didn’t get his money, will go to the mafia and ask them to get the money for him. They’re kind of opening the villages for violence, for (the) mafia. And it made me really worry because I believe that resistance, if we want to resist our situation in Israel against racism, against whatever, you know, we have to build up and to unite inside and to fix what is going (on) inside. What is happening actually more, you know, (is) fragmentation. (The) economic situation is becoming better with more people now are (being) educated because Palestinians, you know, view education as the weapon. They said ‘only education can change our lives’ similarly to all, probably all Palestinians all over the world. They knew that this is the weapon. But on the other hand, you know, they’re facing more challenges with everything that is coming from inside and from outside. And again, you know, the problem is that the leadership is not really aware of the seriousness of the situation, and it’s not doing much, kind of, to solve it.