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Jerusalemite women and girls targeted for their activism

Jerusalem24– In this episode of Vibes, we examine some of the challenges faced by a particularly vulnerable subsegment of the East Jerusalem community: women activists. Palestinian organization MIFTAH tells us about some of the research they have done in support of these women and girls.

MIFTAH, The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, was established in 1998 and dedicates itself to Palestinian nation-building and empowerment on the basis of the principles of democracy, human rights, rule of law, and participatory governance.

MIFTAH says it was one of the first Palestinian NGOs to realize the importance of institution building and democracy to ensure state building, in parallel with the political peace process. This point of focus was further emphasized with the failure of the Camp David peace negotiations in 2000.

The organization also seeks to advocate for the Palestinian cause on the local and international level, and for that purpose released last week two factsheets addressing violations and discriminatory policies against women and girls in East Jerusalem, in the areas of health and politics.

Nina Atallah, project coordinator at MIFTAH, explains to Jerusalem24 that some of these women are targeted specifically because they are political activists, and are regularly threatened with arrest or with the revocation of their Jerusalem residency status. Atallah says that when you empower young women, in education, in politics, “they will face a lot of violations from the occupation.”

Atallah says that out of the women activists interviewed for their research, 100% experienced interrogation, physical and psychological torture, and the institutions which they run in East Jerusalem have all been closed by Israeli authorities at some time or another. These institutions mainly focus on supporting families in East Jerusalem, making them aware of their rights under occupation, and giving social and psychological support for parents.

“They [the occupation] don’t want Palestinian organizations working in Jerusalem,” says Atallah. “Anybody who is trying to empower people or make people aware of their rights, they will stop them.”

Listen to the full interview below.

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