Israeli cities, towns and companies fall in behind nationwide women’s strike

A protest advocating more government involvement to stop violence against women gains backing from municipalities, private companies and major unions.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Dozens of municipalities, regional authorities, women’s organizations, unions and private companies have announced that they will allow their female staff to join a nation-wide strike called for Tuesday to protest violence against women and the government’s failure to take action to confront the problem.

In some areas, all employees regardless of gender will get time off to either strike or meet for a few hours in an effort to raise awareness about domestic violence.

The strike has been approved by all the major Jewish cities and many minor ones, as well as at least nine Arab local authorities, where violence against women is well out of proportion to their numbers in the Israeli population.

Ha’aretz reported that Naila Awwad, head of the Association of Women Against violence, said “The proportion of Arab women murdered is double their share of the population. Ten of the 24 women murdered this year were Arabs.”

In addition to the strike, there will be a demonstration in Tel Aviv, on Tuesday evening.

On Friday another protest will take place in northern Israel, called by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee. Many authorities noted the importance of the struggle as one for Israeli society as a whole, and not just to protect women.

Employees of chains Rami Levy (supermarkets), Fattal (hotels), Ha’aretz (publishing) will be allowed to join the strike without forfeiting pay or vacation time.

The Histadrut Labor Federation, national teachers’ and students’ unions, and women’s organizations like WIZO, Na’amat and Emunah, will also all be allowed to support the strike without sacrificing pay or vacation.

The impetus for the mass action was the discovery last week of two young teenagers’ bodies. In one case, the girl was allegedly killed by her mother’s ex-boyfriend.

This brought the number of female victims of domestic violence in 2018 to 24.

Three women, Stav Arnon, Ruty Klein and Dror Sadot, initiated a Facebook page calling for a protest the day after Sylvana Tsegai and Yara Ayoub were found dead, to demand action by the government.

“Last year NIS 250 million was earmarked for countering violence against women, but the government is delaying the funds and so far less than 10 percent has been provided,” Arnon told the Ynet news site.

This means that women’s shelters were not opened, extra help hotlines were not set up, additional manpower for police investigations into domestic violence was not budgeted, and much-needed public awareness was not heightened – all of which have been demanded by women’s organizations for years.

“If you are a woman – you’re in. If you are a man – join in,” reads the “I’m a Woman – I’m Striking” Facebook page.

Given the outpouring of support, it’s likely that tens of thousands of Israeli citizens from across the political spectrum will be doing that come Tuesday.