Yad L'Achim 311.
(photo credit: C)
Every few months, we are presented with media reports about Jewish women rescued
from their Muslim husbands in the Palestinian Authority or within
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
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
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.”
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.
whether one agrees or disagrees with the religious precepts that guide Yad
L’Achim’s actions, the fact is they are not saving a principle. They are saving
women and children. Shouldn’t that be enough to earn them the respect of the
Left that is supposed to be motivated by concern for the weak and downtrodden?
IN HER interview with Channel 10, Dana said that in Gaza, “what they do is curse
the Jews 24 hours a day.”
The fact is that both misogyny and Jew-hatred
are facts of life throughout the Muslim world. This state of affairs renders
marriage to Muslim men a particularly dangerous prospect for Jewish
But the feminists throughout the Jewish world are silent on this
issue. And this isn’t surprising. The egregious mistreatment of Jewish women by
their Arab husbands involves two issues that the Left – which encompasses most
feminist groups – is intent on ignoring: Islamic misogyny and Islamic Jew
hatred. Just as the Left ignores, underplays, trivializes or justifies the fact
that hatred of Jews is the most universal sentiment in the Muslim world today,
so it systematically ignores, underplays or trivializes the endemic
brutalization of women and girls throughout the Islamic world.
purportedly feminist discussion of the impact of the Arab revolt on the position
of women in the Arab world from ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour on
Sunday. In a segment that lasted roughly 15 minutes, Amanpour said essentially
nothing about the appalling lives of women and girls under Islamic
When Newsweek editor Tina Brown mentioned “the barbaric custom of
child brides,” in Yemen, Amanpour didn’t ask her to elaborate. In accordance
with that Yemeni custom, little girls are routinely married off to grown
When Iraqi women’s rights activist Zainab Salbi noted that the key
issue for women in the Muslim world is changing the family law that governs
their societies, Amanpour didn’t ask her what she meant.
What she meant
was that under Islamic family law, women and girls are considered the property
of their male relatives. And their “owners” can legally beat them and rape them
and genitally mutilate them and force them into marriages they object to. If the
women and girls are “disobedient,” their male relatives can expect little or no
punishment for murdering them.
Rather than discuss the real, truly
life-threatening dangers faced by women and girls throughout the Islamic world,
Amanpour presented her viewers with a superficial and false depiction of recent
events in which a few well-dressed, perfectly coiffed, pretty young women in
Egypt and two Western dressed women in Libya are supposedly transforming the
position of women in their societies one tweet at a time.
It was a
complete lie. But it wasn’t shocking. It would have been shocking if Amanpour
had provided her viewers with any relevant facts about the subject she was
The contrast between Yad L’Achim and traditional
feminist groups and icons worldwide is statement on the state of the free world
today. Whereas the feminists obscure the plight of women living in the Muslim
world, a haredi group is saving women living in the Muslim world.
years the New Israel Fund and countless other Jewish and non-Jewish leftist
organizations have waged a culture war against the haredim for what they allege
is their mistreatment of women.
Many women – both Orthodox and
non-Orthodox – disagree with the position of women in the haredi world. But it
cannot be denied that today haredim are the only ones rescuing battered Jewish
women from their abusive Muslim husbands.