Nathalie Cohen-Sheffer

Inferno: The Value of Women’s Lives in Israel

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It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write a blog post for The Times of Israel. I was trying to think about what would be my comeback piece. I thought about something cheerful I wrote about spring or about a short story I wrote about my first memory. However, I couldn’t ignore the headlines this week. An Arab mother of two was slaughtered along with her two young children by the very man she trusted most in the world, her husband. Other headlines caught my eye about women who were murdered but there weren’t any suspects. Those headlines are already long gone, as is the truth regarding what happened to those women.

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How much is an Israeli woman’s life worth in 2023? If you ask Itamar Ben Gvir, the minister of National Security of Israel, who, along with the government’s coalition, pushed off a bill to introduce electronic tracking of domestic violence offenders, not much. As he put it, and I quote, “It is important to prevent the possibility of false complaints, which results in injury to innocent men and also to women and their credibility.”

His proposal instead: a new bill that would require domestic abusers to wear the electronic bracelet only if they already have a criminal conviction or indictment. With 200,000 women being abused annually in Israel (according to The Israel’s Women Network) and many cases of domestic abuse closing due to lack of evidence, this bill does nothing to protect women.

I wrote the poem “Inferno” in 2020. I dedicated it at the time to my late friend, Michal Sela, who was murdered by her husband. May her memory and that of those who’ve suffered a similar fate be a revolution.

The world is ablaze and she watches through the window as cars go by. 

She feels trapped, numbness taking over her. There is no way out. 

He, who she loved so much has betrayed her. 

He, who she dedicated her life to has hurt her. She will never tell a soul. 

If she lives through this inferno, she will never tell. 

Would anyone believe her in any case? 

The perfect girl who found the perfect man. Every Facebook like, every Instagram heart. It’s all been a lie. Or has it? 

She thought she was loved. She still thinks that she is. He just doesn’t know how to express his anger, she tells herself. No one taught him the meaning of true love. She can change all that. 

No, it must be her fault then. Or is it? A little voice whispers in her mind. “You’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Get off!” She finds herself yelling. “Someone help!” 

But no one hears her muffled cries. It’s too late. 

The man she loves has turned into the monstrous creature every Grim Brother’s story has warned her about. 

She is encompassed by his gaze. He won’t let her forget him. She couldn’t if she wanted to. He watches her struggle for her last breath as he burns the last shred of hope she was clinging on to. 

The world is ablaze and she watches through the window as cars go by. 

She knows people will write stories about her but can’t shake the feeling that they will also quickly forget she ever existed.

About the Author
I've been writing since I can remember in both my native tongues, English and Hebrew. After graduating with honors from TAU having studied English Literature, Theater and Art Theory as well as receiving an MFA in Script Writing my next step was to delve into the writing world. Since then, I've had over 2,000 articles published online and have worked as a freelancer or a full-time employee with leading companies, including Mako, Saloona, Onlife,, Viber, Crazy Labs, Biogal, Yehoshua TBWA, Cellosite, SysAid, and more.
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