Translated from Hebrew by Sarit Bloom
Meet Amal Rihane, one of the four women who leads Women Wage Peace.
Amal lives in Jaffa. She was brought up and educated in the Ajami neighbourhood. Amal is a mother of four and has a MA in Arabic and Islam and works as a teacher. She started her voluntary social work at the age of 17, working with young people, and she still does today. Amal dedicates her time to the community, emphasizing the need to empower women and to advance peace.
Amal initiated, together with the relevant municipal bodies, a special Hebrew learning curriculum for women in Jaffa who have difficulty with the language. She was also a volunteer at an Arab women and girls home for young girls in trouble. Amal has acted in numerous films featuring Jews and Arabs living together. One of the films, Ajami, was nominated for an Oscar.
Amal is a known and respected figure in Jaffa. She was a member of the Jaffa Cultural Committee and has organised cultural events for the Arab community. In 2006, Amal was chosen as ‘Woman of the City’ for her contribution to society and, last year, she received a certificate of appreciation from Ron Huldai, the mayor of Tel-Aviv, for excellence in social activities.
Despite her many activities, Amal manages to find time to support the movement for peace. She was one of the main speakers on the train to Sderot action, and at the launching rally of Women Wage Peace in 2014. In 2015, she initiated and organized an event with the Shirana choir at the Jaffa Arab-Jewish community center which was very moving to all who attended. Today she is one of the leaders of Women Wage Peace.
Amal explains, “I joined WWP after experiencing a traumatic month following Operation Protective Edge. I was born in Israel, I was brought up here and I had always had excellent relationship with my Jewish neighbours. Then suddenly, after Operation Protective Edge, I began feeling the Jewish residents’ animosity, either through their words or their looks. The worst of it was that I felt as if I had no identity – the Arabs in the neighbouring countries hate me because I am Israeli, and the Jews hate me because in their eyes I am not Israeli, but Arab. I could not understand why I was addressed as ‘you’ (in plural). Who are these ‘yous’? I am a human being exactly like everyone else. I have friends in all walks of life. We are all equal, like brothers. I do not wish for that kind of separation.”
Before Yom Haatzmaut, Amal wrote: “After all the difficult years of wars, of hatred and racism, I thought that I cannot just sit there, observing the unpleasant reality, and doing nothing. I decided to stand up and shout out loud, I had enough, halas! I am in favor of co-existence. I want peace! We all deserve to live like human beings with mutual respect and love because we are all equal. We do not need to fight over a land that at the end will rule over us. We all have to be optimistic in order to bring back hope and refuse to live in despair and disappointment. I hope that next year the entire world will celebrate the achievement of a political agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and a true and lasting peace.”
Source: Women Wage Peace Israel