Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Almost completely unheard of and almost impossible to believe


This is a Public Service Announcement -- Guest Posting by Shoshanna

There are things that we hear that immediately bring out the skeptic in us. Things that make us say, ‘No way’, ‘It can’t be’. Whether it’s because of our upbringing, our sensibilities or our desire to push away anything painful, we immediately doubt its veracity and, having discredited it, we move on. Not until we meet someone touched by it does it become real.

There is a phenomenon in Israel so unheard of, so hard to believe that most people think it’s a myth. But, I have met the young women- some as young as 14. I have met the people helping them. I have stood inside the shelter- and still it was hard to believe.

The story of a boy charming his way into young girl’s heart is as old as time. However, this story has an added twist. In this story, the admirer is not as he appears. In this story, most of the young girls are mislead and begin the relationship unaware that their admirer is an Arab, looking specifically for a Jewish girl. Others are aware but are not concerned. But none expect to be abused and mistreated. There are literally hundreds of young Jewish women all across this country caught in abusive relationships with Arab men.

Sara - He told me his name was Nati and that he was 26 years old. I was 21. I come from a family of 6 children whose parents are ultra-orthodox. At the time, I was working as a waitress and helping in an institute for Jews returning to Judaism. Nati took me to movies, wined and dined me, bought me all that I wanted. Within a few months I was in love. We had a great soul connection. After a while he said that he wanted me to meet his parents I agreed and so we traveled to Jaffa to meet them. We stopped in front of an Arab house, I was lost, and I could not believe that he could be an Arab. He had no accent and spoke perfect Hebrew. After my initial shock had worn off, I felt that I just could not leave him. Eventually, it came out that he had a trial going on against him for assault. He received three months in prison. It was then that I learned that his real name is Husan and that he was 38 years old, divorced and had three children. Still, I could not leave him.


A week after he was released from prison we moved in together, I just could not be separated from him. My parents cried and I cried, still I stayed with him. My father called and asked that I not sit shiva for him. I wiped out all of my friends from my phone book, except for one friend who told me I was doing the wrong thing but that she was still with me if I wanted to talk. Months went by without talking to my parents.

We began living like a married couple. He would buy me anything that I wanted and took care of all my needs. Back in Jaffa where his family lives, there are hundreds of Jewish girls living with Arabs. What was different in my case was that I was able to get along with his mother. The other girls told me that all their mothers-in-law cursed and abused them.

After a year of being together, I received my first beating. I could not believe it. Husan went away for a week and I did not hear from him. After four days I called his mother, who told me: "You got a beating - So what? I get them and a lot worse all the time".

He came back to me promising not to repeat the beating. I took him back but things only got worse. He made me leave my job and stay home. Now it was like I was in jail, staying home all day with nowhere to go. By now every other week I was getting slapped around, and afterwards he would once again wine and dine me, treating me like a princess. I was slowly losing my mind.

It was at that time that I called Chemla. Mrs. B. met with me and listened to my story with patience and love. She took me to the women's hostel, where I met other girls with similar stories. Today, with the help of Chemla I'm on the right track and living in the hostel. Once again I'm connected to my family. The first three months, I could not get myself to go out. Husan would try to leave me messages of how much he needed me and could not go on without me. I told the staff to take my phone away, because I could not handle the calls. I feel that I'm one of the lucky ones to have been able to get out of this awful situation. In my time I've meet many Jewish women who were not so fortunate, and stayed with their Arabs - always abused, beaten and without hope.”

Sara is just one of the hundreds of women who turn to Chemla. They come from all over the country- religious and secular homes, Ashkenaz and Sephardic, poor and wealthy families, in mixed neighborhoods and segregated ones. Estranged from their families and friends, these girls need a safe, hidden shelter. At our safe house, each girl is taken in with love and support and evaluated by Ministry of Welfare social workers. All needs are provided for. She meets regularly with a therapist, takes life skills courses, graduates high school, and completes a course in a marketable trade. Since its opening in 2002, 250 women have been rescued and rebuilt their lives through our program.

The shelter’s director travels the country and lectures to auditoriums full of girls to let them know the things to look out for and how to say no. In over 15 years, she has helped over 1,500 young women. Parents do not know what is going on until it is too late. They never believe that the grocery delivery man, the builder from the apartment next door, or the boy in the park has convinced their daughter that he is something he is not.

Our girls depend on Chemla and Chemla depends on the support of people who want to save these girls. The safehouse is full to capacity with 24 girls rebuilding their lives and currently has a list of those waiting to get in.

Below are links to two articles about a woman rescued from where she was being held captive by her abusive partner. While this woman was older, and, being American was helped by her embassy, our girls are in their teens and alone and have no diplomatic ties- only us. Click Here and Here to read the articles.

For more information, or to arrange for the program director to speak in your town, email Chemla144@gmail.com





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14 comments:

LeahGG said...

And I have friends who are appalled that Arab men aren't allowed in pubs in Jerusalem...

tafka pp said...

Three things:

1) The statistics and demographics of domestic abuse and sexual violence in this country from both the Police and the Crisis Centers (and in the Palestinian territories) do not in any way support this type of propaganda. Even on the assumption that at least 1/3 of abused women never come forward to register a complaint, there is NO EVIDENCE to support the premise that Arab men are any more violent towards a spouse than Jewish men. None.


2) This "emergency" piece by "Shoshanna" is fear-mongering at its worse. Not to say that the phenomenon of violent Arab Men-Jewish Women relationships doesn't exist, but it is minimal in terms of the statistics. Furthermore, I can personally vouch for several Jewish women friends in happy, non-violent, committed relationships with Arab men: Funny how nobody ever writes about them.


3) The amount of attention that the organizations trying to prevent Arab-Jewish relationships, or "support" the "poor women" involved receive in the Orthodox world/press, compared to the attention received by larger Israeli infrastructures seeking to prevent domestic violence is, frankly, laughable. And tragic. Two of my friends (married for many years to Arabs) are regularly harrangued by representatives of these organizations asking if they are ok and need "rescuing". Once, a Rebbetzen even turned up at one of their houses, and when my friend insisted that she was happy in her marriage and asked her to please leave or she'd call the police, the Rebbetzen started calling her all manner of un-holy names... What a good use of the funding they receive as a result of fear-engendering posts like this one by "Shoshanna".

- Jameel, I suggest that you check your sources thoroughly when allowing guests. Your readers deserve to know when racist, misleading, factually incorrect propaganda is being posted.

Shoshanna said...

tafka

I would be pleased to personally bring you to the shelter and allow you to interview the young women living there. Your friends being happy does not make the unhappiness of these young ladies untrue or less tragic.

No one is forced into the shelter- they are taken in ony after asking for help.

Bringing light to a problem does not make it racist, denying it in the name of political correctness brings further pain to already victimized young women.

Anonymous said...

Tafka PP:

The Palestinian WAFA news agency reported today (at 1:38 PM) that 77% of Palestinian women in Gaza are victims of physical and verbal violence.

Did you see that number -- 77% !!!

You cannot honestly say that there's no statistical proof that Arab men are more violent towards women than Jewish men are...its right there in black and white.

I don't know if Shoshana's post was timed to be publicized the same time the PALESTINIANS provided their own statistics, but her post does not seem to smack of propoganda...rather your comments seem to be defending the attackers.

I have no clue what Jameel's editorial policy is on allowing guest postings, but you can't argue with facts like this. If anything, YOUR comments are misleading, factually incorrect propaganda -- trying to paint the Palestinians as a kinder, gentler nation, which they obviously are not.

Lurker said...

Tafka PP:

I would suggest that you take Shoshanna up on her offer to go with her to visit the shelter and personally interview the women there. You can make an informed judgment based upon what you see and hear from them. You can then do a post here telling us your conclusions.

tafka pp said...

Anonymous- I can and I will argue with your "facts", and I will win the argument, but not because I am trying to "defend the attackers". I have the right to object when violence against women is presented in a one-sided, even political, light. I could go into depth like no newspaper article you've ever read about the difference between Israeli and Palestinian abuse, and tell you what trends are more prevalent and where, and which communties (Jewish and Arab) require special efforts to promote violence prevention, but you seem to be keen on accusing me of spreading propaganda, so I conclude that you're not interested in learning the truth.

(Re the statistic you quote- it is about 77% of Gazan women complaining of abuse. That, tragic though it is, still does NOT prove that Arab men are more violent than Jewish men. You need to consider several factors about the region, and the sampling, and the organization running the survey before claiming a victory. Again, I can happily enlighten you on all of the above if you want, but not if you're going to accuse me of "defending the attackers" or- what was the other gem? "trying to paint the Palestinians as kinder"? Lovely.)



Shoshana - I apologize, your post made me very angry, reminding me of all the articles on Arutz Sheva where organizations like this are profiled alongside an outright denial that any Jewish-Jewish violence ever takes place. However, I do stand by my original points, if not by the tone. I truly didn't intend to deny the problems of the women in your shelter, or any other women or men who are victims of violence, in the name of "Political Correctness". G-d Forbid. I simply believe that if you're going to publicise such a phenomenom within a specific sector, it should be presented within the wider context wherein it lies, (in this case of violence against women in Israel and in the PA.) Presenting it otherwise, IMHO, is misleading... Especially being as in terms of the statistics, the women in your shelter comprise a tiny fraction of the abused women and men across Israel who the public (and Jameel's readership) should also know about and start taking seriously. My point, B'Gadol, was that ALL these stories need to come to light, not just the ones which involve a political angle. I'd actually be interested to hear your take on what I mentioned before about how my Jewish friends married to Arabs are actively harrassed by similar organizations...

tafka pp said...

Lurker- I must say, I find it interesting that you would presume that I haven't been to that shelter.

... I can see where this whole thread appears to be going, so I'll be leaving this conversation now. (In fact, Jameel, if you wouldn't mind deleting all my comments from the thread, I'd appreciate it.)

Shoshanna said...

Hi Tafka-

I will try to relate to your raised points. You mention violence in general needing a larger audience and understanding: agreed.

However, that isn't within my power or expertise. Perhaps you could write a post discussing it?

As for presenting it in a certain light. Nothing I wrote was false or a lie or propoganda. I had a certain number of words (which I exceeded :) to tell these girls' stories and I tried to do my best. This precluded any grander, broader statistics or additional information. But, what I did present is accurate.

I would be just as angered by Jewish violence.

I think something that needs to be remenbered is that most of these relationships we deal with began with deliberate deceit and that because of the politics/religious issues of Arab-Jew these girls are estranged from their families and so far gone that they need a framework and 24/7 care to rehabilitate. This adds a significant factor in the aid they need.

I'm not sure what you mean by misleading or who I misled to thinking what, so I can't respond to that.

In terms of your friends being harassed- there are all kinds of people who try to save others. Jehovah witnesses, Jews for Jesus, Christian missionaries, I say No, thank you. It's annoying, but it happens.

Baby needs me but, don't leave, we're on the same side.

Lurker said...

tafka pp: ...your post made me very angry, reminding me of all the articles on Arutz Sheva where organizations like this are profiled alongside an outright denial that any Jewish-Jewish violence ever takes place.

I am not a big fan of Arutz-7, but I can't recall having ever seen them present "an outright denial that any Jewish-Jewish violence ever takes place". Obviously, such an absurd claim would be completely laughable. Can you point me to a place where they said such a thing?

Lurker said...

tafka pp: I must say, I find it interesting that you would presume that I haven't been to that shelter.

I "presumed" that you hadn't been to that shelter because you made no statement at all to that effect in this discussion. Am I missing something? What reason would I have to assume that you had been to there?

Does your remark mean that you have, in fact, been to that particular shelter? If you have been, I am interested in what your impressions were of the women there and their stories.

tafka pp: ... I can see where this whole thread appears to be going, so I'll be leaving this conversation now.

Was there something that I wrote that you found offensive? If so, I don't understand what it was. You took issue with Shoshanna's post about the Chemla shelter, and she responded by offering to bring you there personally where you could meet the women for yourself. That sounded to me like an eminently sensible way to address the points under dispute, and to allow you to draw your own conclusions based upon first-hand contact with these women. And needless to say, had I known that you had already visited it (did you?), I would have simply asked you what your impressions were.

Furthermore, I meant what I said sincerely: I regard you as a person who is knowledgeable and informed regarding the issues involved here, and I would be very interested in your impressions of a direct face-to-face meeting with the women under discussion.

I don't know what I said that was offensive; but if something was understood that way, then I apologize.

Gila said...

Just a very quick two cents.... I know Tafka in real life, and something of her professional background, and her comments in respect to this particular topic should be taken seriously and with respect.

Just sayin'

jameel said...

Gila: If anything, Shoshana and Lurker (I thought) tried to address TAFKAPP rather respectfully.

I know that Shoshana's request to post didn't stem from blatant animosity -- rather from a sincere attempt to help these women who she sees in the shelter...

Gila said...

My point was not that they should address Tafka respectfully (though they should) but rather that they should give respect to WHAT she said. AKA--if she is disputing some aspect of the article, there is probably a good reason. She has done a hell of a lot more than just visit a shelter--she actually worked in this field for a number of years. (Just finished confirming this with her). I think it is wonderful and commendable that Shoshana visited a shelter and wants to help, but if I want to know what the real deal is, I am going to listen to Tafka and not Shoshana.

Look at it this way--how do you react when you see articles covering violence in the settler community in which it is implied that ALL settlers are violent and attacking their neighbors? But it is okay to demonize Arabs?

Shoshanna said...

Gila-

Now who is making assumptions?

My experience is not 'visiting a shelter'. But I am not here to argue. Only to say that I never, not once, said, or even implied that all Arabs do this. I did not demonize anyone. You are accusing me of something I did not do and I do not appreciate it.

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