Opinion |

For the Women Under Israeli Occupation, It's Time for #AnaKaman (#MeToo)

The next global social media campaign should bring the stories of Palestinian women who live (or were killed) under the Israeli occupation

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

When the #MeToo global campaign against sexual harassment and assault ebbs, a different campaign, no less just and no less important, can begin.

#MeToo was launched on social media in response to the allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and it brought testimony from Hollywood. It reached Israel due to the generosity of Yedioth Ahronoth, a newspaper that holds nothing dearer than women’s equality, body and soul. The 12 million women around the world who have joined the campaign have described their own sexual assault experiences and expressed solidarity with Beverly Hills celebrities.

The next campaign should also address respect for women and their bodies, their fates, their rights, their life and death. It must start in Israel and spread throughout the world. A single Weinstein will not ignite this campaign. It will accuse an entire state. And the testimonies will not come only from the rich and famous. They will come from female victims who never dreamed of Hollywood, or even of the beach in Tel Aviv.

The next campaign should be called #وأنا كمان, ana kaman, "me too" in Arabic. Let’s see how the world responds to this campaign, especially Israelis – the same Israelis who took part in #MeToo and are now tut-tutting in the streets of Ramat Hasharon and Ramat Aviv over the painful testimonies of Limor Livnat, Meital Dohan, Orna Banai and Yael Abecassis.

#AnaKaman will bring the testimonies of Palestinian women who live (or were killed) under the Israeli occupation. We provide the first ones below. All are from this summer, a relatively quiet one in the history of the occupation.

Nazzal Abu Kharma's wife, Asma, and their 7-month-old son, Ilian.Credit: Alex Levac

“Me too,” Zeinab Salhi of the Deheisheh refugee camp will write despairingly. She is 52, a single mother who for years cleaned the homes of Jews in Jerusalem, until illness forced her to quit. She lives in the West Bank refugee camp in nearly indescribable poverty and neglect. Her live-in partner, an Israeli Jew from Jerusalem, suffers from cancer.

One night this summer, she watched as soldiers fired seven bullets into her son Raad Salhi, 22, as he tried to flee. As he lay dying in Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, she sought to see him one last time, but soldiers stationed outside his room chased her away.

Zeinab Salhi, Raad Salhi's mother, at home in the Deheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank. Credit: Alex Levac

A week after Raad was shot, soldiers came and arrested his brother Mohammed, again in the middle of the night and with the brutality of those who snatch people from their bed. Raad died a few days later; his mother never had a chance to say goodbye.

“Me too,” Asma Abu Kharma, a young mother from Kafr Ein, will say. Because her musician husband, Nazzal, was involved in recording a song praising July’s terror attack in Halamish, Israeli forces raided the family’s home on two consecutive nights, first to arrest her husband and then to confiscate his electric organ.

“Me too,” the Israeli voice of Raba Abu al-Kiyan will chime in. For nearly a year, she has been living in a tent with her 10 children, after Israeli police killed her husband Yakub, a teacher, while demolishing their home in Umm al-Hiran in order to build the Jewish town of Hiran there.

“Me too,” Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar will write from prison, where she was ordered to remain for six months, without trial, on account of her political activity. That, after serving a 15-month sentence for a series of ridiculous offenses, including participating in a book fair and paying a condolence call.

Nouf Enfeat won’t be able to participate in the campaign. She was just 15 when she was shot to death after brandishing a knife at the Mevo Dotan checkpoint. “Die, suffer, you kahba [whore, in Arabic],” shouted soldiers and settlers who celebrated around her as she lay dying on the road.

The same is true of Fatima Hajiji. “Mother, please don’t be angry,” said a note the 16-year-old girl left in her bookbag. She, too, brandished a knife at a checkpoint, wearing her school uniform. Israeli soldiers fired some 20 bullets into her, even after she was already lying on the ground, bleeding.

All this is just the start of the campaign that will never happen, certainly not in Israel.

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