When was the last time you thought about International Women’s Day, the successful women in Arab society and the women who advance a shared life? Outstanding Arab women who have ‘made it’, as well as Arab and Jewish women working towards a shared life. Every year on March 8th International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world. We’ve chosen three aspects of women’s activities as the central themes of this day: celebrating women who have been active and are still active in promoting equal rights, women’s contributions towards world peace and women’s achievements. Israeli society is made up of many women, both Arabs and Jews who are leaders and pioneers. They influence public life in the areas of civics, education, employment, health, economics and society. Sharona Amitai, a volunteer at the Dialog Together site, has collected information about successful women in many areas, particularly in Arab society. If you have other materials, referrals, stories, shared posts, ideas – please include them in the comments below. We may add them to the information links collected by Sharona.

So before we begin with the links and abstracts of selected articles about successful women, I’ll share with you that I had long ago started a section on the blog called Story of an Activist Woman‘. Unlike ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ (the book and television series about women being abused and controlled) we will share the stories of everyday women who are active in the common space of Arabs and Jews.

Advancing a Shared Life

Story of an Activist Woman – Ulfat Haider – Connecting People Through Challenging Activities.

Story of an Activist Woman –  Tamar Verete-Zahavi, Political Activity Through Books.

Story of an Activist Woman –  Sigal Magen – an Activist Working for Connecting Arabs and Jews Through Writing Stories and Magical Projects.

Story of an Activist Woman – Anat Schwarz Weil – Advancing the Unity Day Initiative

Story of an Activist Woman – Vered Eyal Seldinger – Women Making Peace.

Story of Two Activist Women – Rabaa and Sharon Building Bridges Together Through Dance



The Arab Player in Beitar: the Story of Reged Baier. “Racism? I can truthfully say that I’m proud to be an Arab player in Beitar Jerusalem”. Reged Baier (21) fights stigmas and bureaucracies that prevent her team from opening its season. “Give us the right to do what we love”. Mickey Schwartz, Ynet, October 30, 2019 ♦

“Religion doesn’t count in sports”: Arab Basketball Players are Taking Over the League.For the first time four Arabic-speaking players will play on a team of the women’s basketball super league – ASA Ramat Hasharon. While others celebrate the team diversity, they are busy playing good basketball and prefer to leave the issues of religion and nationality outside the court. Article by Yuval Agasi from “Hashavua”, Kan News, October 4, 2019 ♦

Two Christian Women, a Muslim Woman and a Druze Woman Will All Play This Year on the Same Team. Maybe This Will Restore the Fun. Four Arabic speaking players will play this season in the Women’s Basketball Super League, all in Ramat Hasharon. In a league that is failing and a team existing only through inertia, the lifeline maybe far from the public eye. Arie Livnat, Haaretz, September 19, 2019 ♦

Hanin Nasser’s coach: “everyone in the Arab sector loves her”. Anatoly Shefran spoke at the Ynet studio about threats in the social networks towards his athlete, the Israeli champion high jumper (a Muslim from Arraba). “We are trying to disengage and not think about this” Ynet Sports, July 11, 2019. ♦

Pioneer: The First Female Referee from the Arab Sector. Waffa Zuabi-Fahum, who broke the glass ceiling all the way to the Football Association Tribunal, talks about her journey, the reactions, gender differences, ambitions, colleagues and a message for the future. Hadar Akrish, March 8, 2019, One. ♦

For the First Time: a Druze Israeli Athletics Woman Champion. Karouan Halabi (23) from Daliat el-Carmel (Maccabi Haifa) made history today (Friday) when she became the first Druze woman to win the title of Israeli Athletics Champion. Halabi won the Israeli championship in women field races. Avinoam Porat, Ynet January 25, 2019. ♦

Twenty Inspiring Women in Sports ♦


This is Jaffa, Girl – and There are Successful Women Here Who No One Knows. Ayat Abou Shmeiss wanted to show that her hometown wasn’t only about violence and restaurants and dedicated a project to notable residents. She can be proud of her own successes as a poet and social activist…in her Facebook project, “Successful Arab Women in Jaffa”, she brings emotional and surprising life stories which most of us have never heard before. Zohar Turiel, January 1, 2020, Xnet. ♦

The Tamra Investigator Who Wanted Muslim Women to Regain Their Dignity. It happens secretly, in underground WhatsApp groups run from Saudi Arabia, Morocco or Jordan: Arab-Israeli women delve into Islam, searching for feminist aspects. Nahed Ashkar Sharary, a PhD candidate from Ben Gurion University, is one of the few who dares, even openly, to talk about another interpretation of the Koran’s attitude towards divorced women, abusive husbands and murder caused by ‘family honor’. She is determined to share this message of female empowerment at lectures and discussions with Sheiks, even at the cost of threats to her. Yishai Friedman, Makor Rishon, December 12, 2019.♦

A Day in the Life of Maissa Garabli. There is Never a Day When my Parents Don’t See Their Grandchildren. 32 years old, married to Fadi and the mother of three, lives in Jaffa, an attorney and the manager of the Israel Women’s Network hot line in Arabic for women’s rights at work, she prays five times daily and is a big talker (and that gets in the way of sports). Sivan Klingbail, Haaretz, December 15, 2019. ♦

From Divorcee to Pioneer. من مُطلَّقة إلى مُنطلقة “I got married. And more importantly – I was able to avoid the questionable epithet “eans” (old maid). In other words, I didn’t miss the train. I got married at 23,…but one bright day that same train that I managed to climb on at the last minute, crashed, with me in it…I remember when I went to the Interior Ministry to change my status, I was amazed to find that my status had already changed to ” mutlaqa” (divorced). It’s a terrible word, and it in no way defines who I am…” Jamila Siksek, (Muntaliqa Association), Haaretz / Hazira / الساحة December 12, 2019 ♦

Maisam Jaljuli, Winner of The Gallanter Prize – “Guardian of Democracy” From the New Israel Fund “…Last Sunday, September 22nd, I was awarded the Gallanter Guardian of Democracy Prize from the New Israel Fund at an impressive ceremony in San Francisco. As I told the large audience in the hall, the prize symbolizes for me both recognition and hope, recognition of the importance of my and my friends’ activities towards peace, equality and social justice. And hope, that my struggles through the different organizations where I’m active, could bring on a change…”. (Na’amat, Standing Together, Sikkuy, etc.) Taken from a Facebook post September 30, 2019 ♦

A Day in the Life of Ghadir Hani: I found Myself in the Middle of the Road With a Megaphone. 42 years old, single, lives in Be’er Sheva, winner of the Sami Michael award for connecting different communities in Israeli society. Voting for Bedouin women is the first step towards integration into decision making epicenters, Sivan Klingbail, Haaretz, Septmber 23, 2019 ♦

Heroine (Batala) podcast. “I think that you can throw into the cultural garbage can any gender-based murder…and they’ll say that for Russians it’s alcohol, and for Sephardic Jews it’s drugs and crime and…where will it end? This attribution of pretext for women’s murders must end.” These are the words of Samah Salaime – feminist, activist, blogger and the manager of the Noam association – Arab Women in the Forefront – who fights against discrimination and women’s oppression. From the Shtil Podcast, August 30, 2019. ♦

TV and Film

She Will Soon Become a Role Model in Arab Society.  Milania Matar, 26 years old, actress and nurse, lives in Tel Aviv. May Palti, Haaretz, Jan. 16, 2020 ♦

Lucy Aharish and Lucy Ayoub on Their Complicated Lives as Israeli Arabs. Both are Israeli Arabs born into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ayoub got her big break as the Eurovision host, Aharish is a leading actress and journalist who took part in the Torch-lighting ceremony marking the end of Memorial Day and the beginning of Independence Day celebrations. A heart-to-heart conversation between Lucies. Lucy Aharish, Channel 12 News, February 1, 2020 ♦

My Partner Always Says That Our Children Will be a Little More Jewish Than Me and a Little More Arab Than Him. She watched for the first time the Eurovision that she had hosted only two months ago, and that only after her boyfriend made her. She had recurring nightmares of dying and decided against taking a job as an engineer following the earthquake in Nepal. Lucy Ayoub talks about dealing with having apparently already achieved the pinnacle of her career at 27. Raz Shechnik,  Yedioth Ahronoth, October 23, 2019 ♦

One of My Sisters Outted Me to My Mother. Samira Samia lived in a violent home permeated with emotional and physical terror. Today at 43, an admired and award-winning actress, Samia talks about her difficulties right after the outing (“I got beat up by my siblings and with time developed self-defense capabilities), and talks about the gay community’s attitude towards the Arab sector (“I’ve had dates cancel on me because I’m an Arab”). Tomer Aldoubi, Mako Pride, October 13, 2019 ♦

Divorcees مُطلقات. Sorry for Asking  بلا مؤاخذة Director: Ibtisam Mara’ana from Kan 33, October 18, 2019. Ibtisam Mara’ana, award-winning director, in an interview to Ayelett Shani, before the airing of the series she made about Arab society (“Sorry for asking“), Haaretz, September 20, 2019 ♦

Luna Mansour: If the Palestinian Side doesn’t See Me as the Israeli Side, Let Them Deal With It. Luna Mansour starred in ‘Survivor’, played in ‘Fauda’ and will soon take part in ‘Doctor Karage’. She has said in the past that she isn’t interested in Politics – up until the passing of the Nationality Bill. Why she isn’t afraid, as an Arab woman, to be seen in a bathing suit, and how Lihi Greener, her Reality Show nemesis, co-signed for her apartment. Itay Stern, Haaretz, September 4, 2019 ♦Shireen Younis, 39, Editor and Host of i24 News in Arabic, 40 stars from forty under 40, Ice, Dec. 2018 ♦


The Winner of the Trump Award for Quality Teaching, Majdolin Haziran. Majdolin has taught Math for 17 years, she is the Math and Pedagogy coordinator at the Darca Junior High School in the Druze municipality of Yarka. It’s Education Time. January 9, 2020 ♦

She’s Lived in Jerusalem for 30 Years, Ran a School at Age 24, and is the First Woman to Head the YMCA. Rana Fahoum (46), CEO of the Jerusalem YMCA, producer of Christmas Week that begins next week. 30 years in town, Yaron Lupo Moskowitz, November 22, 2019, Ynet ♦

“I Don’t Believe in Luck, She Who Plans Her Life, Succeeds.” Haja Azia built and headed the Academic College Ofek that trains Arab students in different professions, herself with only eight years of formal education. In an interview for the 50 Influencers issue of ‘Lady Globes’ she shares her motivations. Tsipi Chaushu, September 30, 2019 ♦

“I decided to raise a new generation of Arabs who neither apologize nor victimize themselves” Dahlia Fadila, head of the Elkasimi College of Engineering and Science and the founder of the Q Schools network. She said these things at the Conference of Business in Arab society  and spoke about the long road she had from teaching in Tira to the key roles she holds today. Dotan Levy, Calcalist, Feb. 12, 2018 ♦

Police and the Military

Cover story. En route road to an historical appointment. She lives in an Arab village, grew up in a religious household and prays five times a day. First Sergeant Saverine Saadi is the first hijab-wearing Muslim who will undergo officer training in the police. Although she has in the past been life-threatened, it didn’t hold her back from climbing the organizational hierarchy. “My message to other orthodox Muslim girls is that they can prove themselves and feel equal.” Israel Moskowitz, Yediot Achronot, Feb. 16, 2020 ♦

The legendary warrior’s daughter who made history. All her life she was torn between cultures, but she never agreed to give up her ambitions. She followed in her father’s footsteps, he was the founder of the scouts’ unit of the IDF, and despite the prevailing societal racism and the opposition of the Bedouin sector – she proudly stood at the military parade grounds of Bahad 1: “I’ve come a long way to get here”, Tamir Steinman, Channel 12 News, July 28, 2019 ♦

Arab criminals refuse to have her investigate them: the policewoman who wouldn’t follow conventions. Her family severed all ties with her, and her fiancé cancelled their wedding, but First Sergeant Maureen Baanoya has no regrets. She serves as an investigator at Mesubim station and will shortly begin officer training. Alon Hachmon, Maariv March 7, 2019 ♦


Raida Adon has arrived at the Israel Museum. “I feel safe inside a suitcase”. Her video-art piece “Strangeness”, was screened at Banksy’s Hotel in Bethlehem, was thrown out of a Palestinian festival in Paris and today arrives for the first one-person show for a Palestinian at the Israel Museum. Artist and actress Raida Adon explains why she’s a stranger in Jaffa but not in Acre and Haifa, why she prefers models to actresses and how she came to the decision not to have children. Naama Riva, Haaretz, Feb. 19, 2020. ♦

It’s not a joke: a Palestinian artist embroiders “Inshallah” in Hebrew on prayer surfaces. Artist and Visual Designer Noel Arafat unraveled prayer rugs and embroidered on them among other things questions posed by her parents, such as, when will you get married? In the interview she explains the complex tie between Arabic and Hebrew that manifests in her works, Ines Elias, Spoken Mizrachi, Haaretz, Feb. 13, 2020 ♦

“I’m still looking for but not finding a home”. Samah Shihadi’s drawings thrill with their intense quiet, showcasing Palestinian refugees and criticizing  the status of women. “It’s starting to choke me”, she says of her exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum, and explains why she decided to create political art, and the slow changes that she observes occurring in Arab society. Vered Lee, Haaretz, Sep. 17, 2019. ♦

Artist Hannan Abu Hussein: “I take everything that’s thrown at me and use it in my art”. As a girl Hannan Abu Hussein tried to cover up all her feminine characteristics. It was during her art studies has she learned to love who she is and has become one of the first artists in Israel who has explored female sexuality and oppression in Arab society. “I’m a stranger on all fronts”, she says about her new exhibition…Abu Hussein, 46, born in Umm Al-Fahm, now living in Beit Safafa in Jerusalem, is a feminist artist, active in the artistic scene since the end of the 90s. Vered Lee, Haaretz, Aug. 15, 2019 ♦

Association for Women’s Art and Gender Research in Israel. Women and gender in Israeli art – list of sources ♦

Business & Hi-Tech

Jasmine Association – success stories ♦

From the Tabun to Hi-Tech – the Story of Druze Women in Hi-Tech. Meet Mayssa Al-Sheikh. She wants to change the world, and when she says it out loud you can be sure that she believes it with every fiber of her being. Inbal Orpaz, June 12, 2019. ♦

Reem Younis, Entrepreneur and Co-Creator of “Alpha Omega”, a Medical Technology Company She is one of the Forbes Fifty Influential Women of 2019. They impact our lives, control giant corporations, manage thousands of employees, invent ground-breaking technology and are a force in Israeli culture and society. Reem Younis was awarded the 2018 Israeli Industry Award in a ceremony attended by the Israeli president, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin at his residence. Channel 7, July 8, 2018. ♦

A Day in the Life of Ranin Salameh-Sammour, Women Shouldn’t Fear Hi-Tech Hours. 39 years-old, married and mother of three, lives in Haifa, product manager for Microsoft Israel, carefully manages her time (otherwise you drown), loves data and maintains the amazing skill of being able to ignore late-night phone calls. Sivan Klingbail, Haaretz, December 24, 2019. ♦

A Day in the Life of Jumana Nsier Hakim, Today it’s so Much Easier to be an Arab Woman in Hi-Tech. Married and mother of two, lives in Nazareth, northern project manager for Microsoft R&D, she draws, prefers a studio to the gym, a good living means being independent and strong. Sivan Klingbail, Haaretz, October 15, 2019. ♦


If Women Remain Behind There Won’t be any Progress. النساء أولا There are winds of change blowing through Israeli-Arab politics, and Arab women are leading the charge. At the last elections there were four Arab women with a realistic chance compared to two in the 2015 elections. In the local municipal elections in 2015 there were 214 women running compared to 165 in 2013, and 47 in 2009. The last five years have seen a significant growth in the number of Arab women in key roles in local Arab government: CEOs, engineers and treasurers. Jaida Rinawi-Zuabi, Haaretz, October 28, 2019 ♦

Chefs – Food

From Yarka to Tel Aviv: the Surprising Chef Who Upgrades Druze Cuisine to Gourmet Level. At 30 years old and with two daughters, Naifa Mulla‎, member of the Druze ethnic group, was appointed chef of the L28 restaurant. Her fare relies on her home kitchen traditions along with quite a few innovations. “I don’t want to be extraordinary – it should be routine”. Amit Aharonson, Channel 13 News, October 24, 2019 ♦

“Israeli Chefs Invented Nothing”. Five years after winning the ‘Master Chef’ television program, Nof AtamnaIsmaeel is mainly angry. At the star chefs of Tel Aviv restaurants cooking classic Arab dishes and labeling them “Israeli Cuisine”. At the TV executives who refused to give her a program even after she became a household name. And at all Israelis who are sure that Jews invented shakshuka and hreimeh. Now, with a new documentary film about her to be shown at the Haifa Festival, she fights to return to Palestinian cooking its stolen status, and no longer dreams to be part of the consensus. Alon Hadar, Yedioth Ahronoth‏, October 11, 2019. ♦

13 Successful Female Chefs, Shiri Katz, Time Out, September 29, 2016 ♦


Female Groundbreakers in Israeli Medicine, Jews and Arabs ♦

Other Misc. Articles

The Women of Rahat – a Journey of Strong Women and Enchanting Desert Food. Ariela Aflalo writes about a fascinating journey in Rahat – the only Bedouin city in Israel, as seen through the eyes of Rahat’s women. They’re strong, daring and inspiring, and their food is to-die-for, Ariela Aflalo, Foody, January 15, 2020. ♦

Testimonies are Racking Up: the ‘Me Too’ Campaign is Heading for the Arab Community is Israel. A feminist association has opened a website for women to upload testimonies of sexual harassment and assault, even celebrities. Responses came soon after. One woman’s testimony was labeled revenge for the boss who fired her, others were said to have political connotations, Noa Spiegel and Jackie Huri, Haaretz, December 23, 2019 ♦

The Director General of the Education Ministry Visited the ‘Entelaka Institute’ for Female Arab Leadership in Haifa. Twenty-one Arab girls from Haifa and the surrounding area take part in the unique program, the vision is to create an empowering alternative for young Arab women with leadership potential who wish to lead in various fields and want to bring a change of perception to Israeli Arab society. Samar Odeh, Hai Po, November 5, 2019 ♦

Bedouin Women are Joining the ERAN Organization: “Our Sector has no Awareness of Mental Health Resources”. Eleven Bedouin women and one man familiar with the unique causes of distress in their society and who will try to provide emotional responses, have been trained to aid the Bedouin minority and the Arab sector in general. Ilana Shtotland, Maariv, August 7, 2019. ♦

A Galilean Jewish-Arab Leadership Group ♦

Data from a 2018 Social Poll – Family Status Mobility (Central Bureau of Statistics June 18, 2019)

  • 35% of Jewish women married by age 21 compared to 59% of Arab women
  • 19% of Jewish women bore their first child by age 21 compared to 41% of Arab women
  • 30% of married Jewish couples lived together prior to their marriage, compared to less than 1% of Arab couples.
  • 18% of Jewish women and 33% of Arab women became grandmothers before age 49 ♦

More on International Women’s Day in the Ministry of Education’s Web Site

Please share relevant stories and links in the comments below