Yet another murder took place on Sunday in Rameh, in the Upper Galilee, and social media is already filled with posts from furious Arab citizens fulminating with righteous indignation over police ineffectiveness, government neglect and the way that Israel is ushering its Arab minority toward an abyss of violence and crime.
Many Arab Israelis consider the wave of crime and violence in Arab society a direct result of being a minority community within a hostile state. If we didn’t live under this racist and discriminatory regime, they believe, the crime and violence would completely disappear. While it is true that the state bears responsibility for its citizens and has an obligation to ensure their welfare and security, the case of the Palestinian minority in Israel is more complex than that, and this minority also bears more than a little responsibility for its dire predicament.
Conservative Arab society is chauvinistic and patriarchal, with all that that implies, and is still (centuries after we left the desert) based on tribal values and herd culture – which at its core is founded on violence, non-acceptance and hatred of the other. The violence that derives from this manifests in different ways, from the murder of women to violent clashes between clans tied to local elections, as has occurred in Kafr Manda, Yarka and other places.
The murder of women is another dimension and also a direct result of this same mentality. The murder of women in Arab society is based on the notion that women are portable property that go from the possession of the father to that of the brother and husband. A woman cannot live on her own; she needs a patron to supervise her and ensure that she behaves “the right way.” This is the reason for the numerous cases of fathers or brothers murdering their daughters and sisters, and sometimes even for sons murdering their mothers.
There are many examples of this: the murder of the mother from Kafr Zarzir last week; the murder of Shadia Misrati in Ramle, which her family is suspected of committing; the murder of Ranin Rahal by her brother because of his “dissatisfaction with her way of life” and many more. Misogyny and the objectification of women in Arab society are not a result of it being a minority community, but a direct continuation of a conservative and patriarchal mentality that requires that women be controlled at any cost.
Even worse are the liberal Jews who won’t dare to criticize Arab society, who shamefully victimize it in a way that diminishes it and only exposes the fact that they are two-faced. These same enlightened Jews would demand action and foment a revolution if such a thing was happening in their midst. They would not merely whine and call on the police to come and save them. In other words: Leftist Jews, free us.
None of the above is meant to absolve the state of its responsibility. The State of Israel, with its racist and discriminatory policies, observes the chaos in Arab society without any real desire to offer salvation. The state must be called upon to fulfill its role in law enforcement and solving crimes in a way that will meet the needs of the bleeding Arab society and of all of Israel.
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Nonetheless, the Arab community must also have a reckoning and make urgent and far-reaching internal changes. It must accept responsibility and change its patterns of education, starting from a young age. We must raise our children to understand that a last name is just a name and not a tribe that must be served at all costs. We must teach them that there is no difference between girls and boys, that women are not men’s property and that disagreements are no reason for a violent brawl.
Without taking responsibility, without soberly addressing the dire situation and making drastic cultural and educational changes, Arab society cannot lay all the blame at the government’s doorstep. Salvation will not come from the state and is not dependent solely on its actions.