Telling Israel Like It Is - in Arabic

(Times of Israel) Philippe Assouline - Boshra Khalaila, a secular, independent and patriotic Israeli Arab woman, grew up in the Arab village of Deir Hana, in the Galilee. Her first contact with Jewish Israelis came at age 18 when she enrolled in Haifa University. "I am a liberal, free woman, with all the rights that I could enjoy. I compare myself to other women my age in Jordan, the territories, Egypt, any Arab country. They don't have the rights that I have: freedom of expression, the right to vote. They are forced into marriage at a young age, and religious head covering, despite their own convictions. With me it's the opposite; I have everything." When I asked her why she feels the need to speak up for Israel so publicly, she answered: "To sacrifice from myself for the country that I live in and that gives me rights, that's a natural price." Boshra was part of a team of five people, including another Israeli Arab and a Druze, who were sent to South Africa with "Faces of Israel" during Israel Apartheid Week. "I study in the same educational institutions, ride the same buses, shop in the same supermarkets. Everything that they say is absolutely false. And I do feel that I belong to my country." At an Islamic, Arabic-language radio station in Johannesburg, the interviewer, a religious Saudi man, asked her why Israel doesn't let Muslims pray or go to Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. "I told them that in my own small village in the Galilee there are not only one but two mosques and two imams who both get a monthly salary from the state. The interviewer was in shock. I added that I could go pray at Al Aqsa mosque at will, freely." "I said to him: 'In Saudi Arabia, can a woman drive a car?' He said no. I said: 'I can.' And he was silent. I asked: 'Can a woman in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia meet a man and get to know him before getting married or is she just forced into marriage at a young age?' He said no, she can't. I said: 'I can.'"

2012-10-18 00:00:00

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