Arab Society Is Ripe for Action Against Violence. Now Its Leaders Must Act

Some see the murder of 16-year-old Yara Ayoub as a possible turning point in the community’s attitude toward violence against women

16-year-old Yara Ayoub,  murdered in Jish, northern Israel.
Police Spokesperson's Office

“If it could happen in a village like Jish, it could happen anywhere.” This statement has been declaimed repeatedly in the Arab community since the murder of 16-year-old Yara Ayoub in the Upper Galilee village last week.

Some see the murder as a possible turning point in the community’s attitude toward violence against women. Her violent and inexplicable murder has stirred many, and there have been spontaneous marches and gatherings since her murder.

Fifty-nine people have been murdered in the past year in the Arab community of Israel, including 12 women.

Ayoub's murder stands out: Not only is Jish far from the crime and violence hubs in the Arab community, but Ayoub's death occurred at a time when violence against women is getting a lot of coverage, giving a tailwind to the protests.

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In many Arab women’s organizations it was understood that another press statement was not going to be enough, and so the call for a nationwide protest strike Tuesday fell on willing ears.

Many local councils have announced they will join the strike, although the fact that schools aren’t closing will force thousands of Arab teachers to miss it.

Tuesday's strike may convey the right message regarding the need for the government to combat violence in Arab communities in general and against Arab women in particular, but it will not necessarily solve the main problem with social struggles in Arab society – the lack of strategy and long-term planning.

Moreover, although there is consensus on the issue, the strike is still seen as being a protest for women only.

To achieve real results, Arab politicians and civil society organizations that support the strike must prevent the message from waning after a few days, when the cameras focus on the next storm. The struggle against violence isn’t a matter of right or left, and Arab society is ripe for action.