Women in the Front Line: radical Islam’s version

Many of the recent terror attack executors are women, and many girls committed to Jihad fighting are joining ISIS. In response we should locate moderate Muslim women who understand that the sword of terror might turn in their direction as well.

A major part of the participants in the American-Israelis conference in Washington in October, were women. In one of the panels, the audience was asked how many women have moved to the US following their husbands’ work, and 80% of the women raised their hands. Based on conversations I’ve had with a non-representative sample of Israeli women, I found out that many of them chose, following their immigration to the states, to focus on home care, child raising, and supporting their husbands’ career. The passion for being active which they brought from home, these women has implemented into volunteering activity within the Israeli or Jewish community. On their way to America, the feminism was somehow lost in the Atlantic Ocean.


Every woman’s choice is respecting her will, yet the 2 years I’ve spent in the gender department / class are an inseparable part of me and remind me a very simple, essential saying: in every couple’s relationship there’s a great significance to the woman’s financial independence, even when their socio-economic status is great.


But while for some of the women who immigrated to the states, a financial independence is not a concept they yearn for, only 12 hours flight away from there other women has found their way to financial independence: hundreds of Arab-Israeli women as well as women from east Jerusalem has already joined the lines of the Morbitaat group – the female parallel version of the males group, the Morbitun. These groups are called this way based on a verse in the Koran, obligating every Muslim to become a Morbit (protector) over the holy places for the Islam.


These groups have more than 1000 members each, and their members’ income is up to 4,000 NIS per month for their activity. The funding arrives mostly from the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, and perhaps also from Hamas.

The women of Morbitat can be found in the study rooms in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the prayer rooms around it, and are taking part in Koran classes. When Jews arrive the temple mount, these women receive a sign from the men, go out dressed in black, start calling “Allahu Akbar” together and gather around the Jewish groups in a threatening way, including laud, continuous yells, swearing and pushing. They do it while wearing a veil, so the police cannot identify them.


About 1.5 month ago, Ministry of Defense Moshe (Bugi) Yaalon has signed a regulation defining these groups as “unauthorized organizations”. Based on this regulation, anyone participating in their activity or donate money, will go on trial. How this regulation is implemented is unclear, yet it is obvious we are seeing a new type of a fight against us, which is both financially rewarded as well as making hundreds of women – many of them are older than 40, with husbands and kids – take a part in an extreme nationalist activity and say they wish to become a Shahid and fight for Al-Aqsa


Even in the current heavy terror wave hitting us now, there’s a notable representation of the female sector. Out of dozens of attacks taking place in recent years, at least 8 of them were executed by terrorist women. Hebron, Afula, Be’er-Sheba, Ma’ale-Adumim and Jerusalem are just a small part of the list of places where women with knives or explosive devices has arrived to, aiming to murder Jews. Even if it is what we call “a lone terrorist”, it is important we notice the new species of terrorist women and try to figure out where did it come from and how can we handle it.


Although these Muslim women are part of a radicalizing world, pushing women to the sides and providing horror groups such as ISIS, they step to the front of the stage and choose to join the religious war and terror. Their inspiration could very well be sourced in the fighting women of ISIS: this terror group has two regiments called “Al-Hansa” and “Um Alrian”’ to which 18-25 single women are recruited. The group is paying them a monthly payment 25 thousand Syrian Pounds (around 570 NIS), and they join as fighting women to ISIS, who calls for the restriction of women’s rights and using a harsh violence and oppression against women in general.


The “Foreign Affairs” journal wrote that in order to understand the motives behind the joining of women to these regiments, the western commentators should set aside gender stereotypes, by which women would rather avoid violence and membership in violent groups. The western world must understand that for women in war zones, issues like personal security and a threat over a religion, ethnic or a political identity can in fact be more significant or urgent than fighting the gendered oppression they experience.


Stories from ISIS activity areas clarify that the female fighters in these regiments, are in fact directing a major part of their fighting passion towards other Muslim women. They test their familiarity with prayer verses, religion laws, fasting days and modesty requirements; they stop women who don’t wear the Hijab properly in public, and throw them to ISIS jail.


Perhaps the current feminine terror wave in Israel can be stopped by moderate Muslim women, who will understand they might be damaged by the feminine Islamic terror just like the Iraqi and Syrian women are being harmed by ISIS enlisted women. The religion terror’s sword has 2 blades, and even if one of them is currently directed mostly towards Jews in Israel, there’s a good chance that the other side of it may be turned against the Muslim women here. Therefor it is recommended that they will be the first ones to stand up against the new wave of the Islamic terror.

Miri Shalem is the CEO of the Institute for Zionist Strategies. This column is being translated from her weekly column in Makor Rishon.

About the Author
Miri Shalem is CEO of the Institute for Zionist Strategies and Blue & White Human Rights movement. The Institute is a Right winged, Zionist, Liberal Think and Do Tank that works in the Checkpoints and in East Jerusalem..Miri was for many years an activist for social change for women. Her activities in this field include organizing the national dance conference for Orthodox women and initiating a flashmob protest by Bet Shemesh women against gender segregation in the public space. She worked to establish a women's counseling center in Beit Shemesh, for which she won the Yaffa London Award in 2012. Prior to her current position, Miri was the Director of the Ramat Beit Shemesh Community Center where she was the founder and the chairperson of the city's Women's Council. on 2014, she was one of the heads of the campaign of Eli Cohen, a mayoral candidate in Bet Shemesh. Miri was a columnist for "Makor Rishon" and now she writes for "Yedioth Achronot" She has a BA in Economics and Political Science and an MA in Gender Studies. Miri has lived in Beit Shemesh for almost twenty years and, despite the city's difficulties, reaffirms daily her choice to stay there and continue her activism. She is married and a mother of 4.
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