Countries such as the United States, India, and the U.K. often hail Israel as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, but this view often veils the truth of the violence, prejudice, and impoverishment going on inside its borders amongst one of the most discriminated against groups in the world: Palestinian women.
For over 500,000 Palestinian women living in Israel and the Occupied Territories, this discrimination is the reality of their everyday life. Palestinian women must face the dangers of not only living life as a national minority but as a minority in gender.
Israel National Insurance Institute calculates that only 18 percent of Arab women work compared to 55 percent of Jewish women. This is a lower rate of female employment than any Middle Eastern nation, including Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Palestinian Women Face Sexual Violence
For women, these checkpoints are especially dangerous. Sansur faces up to six hours a day in checkpoints while going to work. “When it is hot they turn on the heat and when it is cold they turn on the air conditioning … because they love it when the Arabs start fighting with each other,” she said. “Sometimes people touch you; there are perverts everywhere.”
Many of these courts are even placed outside of Israeland the Palestinian Territories in Lebanon, a country technically at war with Israel, which keeps Palestinians from arguing their case.
“There are very few domains of Palestinian social, cultural, and legal autonomy left in this country, and any threat or any change or any challenge to these systems that we might make on behalf of women will be perceived by the nationalist group … as undermining that national autonomy,” Thomas said.