Meet the Arab-Israeli, Palestinian women making an impact on society: Khaled Abu Toame

NADIA HARHASH, a Palestinian journalist and author from east Jerusalem, is known for her criticism of Palestinian Authority leaders and corruption. As a result, the mother of four has received numerous threats. Last year, an unidentified arsonist set her car on fire in front of her home in the Beit Hanina neighborhood.

“Palestinian women continue to face many challenges,” Harhash said. “Our entire life is one big challenge. However, I am here to live up to my expectations. I cannot do that without fulfilling my own aspirations. We are born to be free, to make life better. In my case, it is not taken for granted. 

“Life is a daily struggle for women like me. After all, I am a mother, and it is not just about me; it is about this generation that is growing and deserves a better life, to live better.”

Harhash is determined to pursue her role as a writer with the hope of improving living conditions for women and all Palestinians. 

“My role is to write, and I’m doing it with all my might,” she affirmed. “It is not an option. I cannot sit aside and blame destiny or politicians for my miserable life. I cannot wait for a savior that will take us to safety and freedom. I see injustice, suppression and corruption, and I resist them and face them through my writing. If I don’t write about these issues, I will be complicit in them. 

“It is often risky, but somehow the more fearless you become, the more powerful you are seen.”

Harhash is not afraid of threats and intimidation. 

“Fear is our worst enemy and I try not to allow it to find its way into me,” she added. “I am a mother who wants a good future for her children. This does not happen by providing proper shelter, education and a sophisticated lifestyle. Rather, this happens in a society that respects its people through equality and justice. And as a human being, woman, mother and Palestinian, I don’t accept less than this.”

As far as Harhash is concerned, the status of Palestinian women is no less grave than the status of Palestinian men.

“You cannot have a healthy society without having strong, capable women,” she said. “Strength needs freedom. Freedom, unfortunately, is not a term that is simply practiced in Palestinian society. We live in a vicious cycle of oppression from all directions. Consequently, the struggle of women has become one of survival, and not liberation. 

“Ideologies covered with fundamentalist and religious slogans have infiltrated our society in the last decade. When we look around us, we see a whole different set of rules that are imposed on us. It’s as if we’ve been hijacked by ideological norms that became the law; tribal norms have become part of the law. One can only imagine where women are situated in such a set of rules, where patriarchy is the only given rule.”

The past year, Harhash said, will be remembered as the year when everyone wondered about the pandemic’s impact on their lives. 

“The outbreak of the coronavirus has forced us to come face-to-face with our weakness and helplessness as arrogant human beings. On the other hand, the pandemic also gave us the opportunity to reconnect with nature and realize how simple life is. For me, this was an amazing experience. Staying at home helped me develop my own capabilities. I experienced creativity as I never dared before. I was able to reconnect with my own breath and my hands. 

“My soul was out there celebrating a breath of life with nature. I could hear birds sing as the noise in the streets stopped.”

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