On May 6th, 2020, at exactly 10 A.M., we replaced our Facebook profile photos with photos of us wearing masks saying #NotOnMyBill. We marched to our respective downtowns in Haifa, Bat Yam, Holon, Lod, Jerusalem, and Beer Sheva, we stood 2 meters apart and kept our masks on, and made our presence known in the name of the murdered women and the current rise in domestic violence under this global pandemic.
Under the specter of Corona, 5 women were murdered in Israel in 7 weeks. These women crossed the ethnic and racial spectrum. They were Muslim and Jewish. They were killed by family members and they were brutally killed in or near their homes. Gender violence in Israel is reaching unimaginable heights — women across the country are paying with blood. Their deaths can be traced to failed government decisions and systematic neglect: Civil society groups and women across the county are demanding that our voices be heard. As one woman wrote on the Facebook event page (in Hebrew):
“There will be no reprieve from the crisis without our action, we pay the price, we are at war for our lives.”
Women will continue to pay and remain at risk under the Corona regulations as long as we are shut out of decision-making circles; as long as the narrative guiding those decision-makers is not representative of the whole of Israel; as long as the voices of those who are most at risk are marginalized and ignored.
We are not prepared to accept this reality. This violence is not a natural phenomenon, nor is it a culturally acceptable one: If you can isolate Corona patients - you can isolate violent men! We announced protests throughout the country – with masks but without silence, with planning but without asking nicely, obeying the rules for demonstrating, but without accepting. It is our right to demand from all parties our security everywhere, and we do not intend to stop until we see a significant change in policy.
We all can and will make an impact — together we will bring about a real change in policy. You can download our brochure here, detailing the urgency of events like last week’s national demonstration. We encourage you to share on social media outlets and to use #NotOnMyBill or the Arabic/Hebrew equivalent: לא-על-חשבוני,#مش-على-حسابنا#. Even as things begin to open up and our routines seemingly go back to the way they were before, we are refusing to go back to a “normal” that is tolerant of gender-based violence and lenient toward its perpetrators. Every time a woman is murdered, we will raise our voices, demanding that steps be taken to prevent such extreme violence.
Despite the sense urgency of urgency we felt knowing the reason for the demonstration, it has been incredibly powerful and motivating to see the trajectories of the groups involved in this movement. Just as we saw that violence against women is not confined to a particular class or group, there were many different groups that publicize the campaign and demonstration and that came together to protest and stand in solidarity. The main organizers – including Na’am – Arab Women in the Center are always ready to show up, prepared to be a directing force providing a platform for the emotions of the many people affected by these murders as well as the people who align themselves with women everywhere. We showed up, safely stood with our signs, masks on, and made the effort to make our voices known. This is no small thing. We will continue to let those in power know: We are not willing to pay the price!