Every few months, we are presented with media reports about Jewish women rescued from their Muslim husbands in the Palestinian Authority or within Israel.
The stories are always similar. The women were tortured by their husbands, often locked in their homes or under constant guard by members of their husbands’ families. Either with or without the help of their Jewish families, they reached out to Yad L’Achim which rescues Jewish women and their children from Muslim husbands. Yad L’Achim volunteers plan and carry out often dangerous rescue operations and bring these women and their children to safety.
In January, Channel 10 presented live footage of one such rescue. Viewers saw relatives of a mother of four named Dana waiting anxiously at the Erez checkpoint as she and her children fled her husband and his family in Gaza and took their first steps of freedom.
During their courtship, Dana’s husband showed her every courtesy. After their marriage, he began regularly beating her and kept her under around the clock surveillance. A visit to Yad L’Achim’s website makes clear that her story is anything but unique.
Yad L’Achim’s work in saving Jewish women from violent Muslim husbands is especially notable given the nature of the organization. It is an anti-missionary haredi organization led by Rabbi Dov Lipshitz. It is not feminism that motivates its members to save these women. It is Jewish law. And specifically, the halachic command of the ransoming of Jewish hostages. According to the organization, it carries out scores of rescue missions like the one that rescued Dana every year.
The question naturally arises, why do haredim dominate what by rights ought to be a field occupied by secular feminists? Why aren’t Israeli and American Jewish feminists at the forefront of efforts to save these women from their violent husbands? Where, for instance, is the New Israel Fund? Its website brags, “The New Israel Fund founded or funded most of Israel’s women’s rights organizations and networks.”
Obviously Yad L’Achim, which defends these women’s right to live without fear is a women’s rights group. So why doesn’t NIF fund it? Yad L’Achim and other religious groups have been pilloried with allegations of racism in recent months for their public calls for Jewish girls and women not to date Arabs. In principle, these attacks seem fair. Blanket denunciations of Jewish-Muslim dating and intermarriage are problematic, even if they are justified from a religious perspective.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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