Michael D. Lutz, M.D. James D. Relle, M.D.
David M. Steinberger, P.A.-C
`Death By Honor'
Few further details were avail-
report issued not
able at the time, but the pat-
long ago by the
tern seemed obvious.
Under Israel law; of course,
the murderers are subjected to
Pakistan informed the public
maximum punishment. But in
that last year more than 450
Muslim women were killed in
areas, Jordanian law prevails.
that country in the name of
Here the special circum-
are taken into account,
"Honor killings" are a
result that relatively
familiar part of extreme
Muslim tradition. When
on the offenders. The Arabs
young girls become pregnant
prefer not to keep statistics on
out of marriage, or engage in premari- such cases, for obvious reasons, and it
tal sex, or pursue a manner of life con- is generally believed that the figures are
trary to tradition, family honor is sul-
much higher than those reported. Very
lied; close relatives are expected to
often mysterious deaths are reported as
take immediate steps to "eliminate"
"accidents." One observer has stated
that "honor killings are an age-old
All of this has been known for a
phenomenon that causes the deaths of
long time, and has been a source of
thousands of women and girls every
embarrassment to modern, western-
year in the Middle East. Journalists
ized Muslims. Wherever possible,
and human rights groups report that
news of such killings is usually hushed
up or disputed. Even the press in
Israel pays scant attention to reports
that leak out, but it has become
Honor killings are an
knoWn that last year no fewer than 31
women in the areas occupied by the
Palestinians were killed by relatives for
that causes the deaths
violation of family honor.
A particularly tragic case was that of
of thousands of women
a woman . in a Ramallah suburb who
discovered that her daughter had been
and girls every year in
raped by her two older brothers, and
had become pregnant. The solution?
the Middle East.
The mother murdered her daughter.
What about Israel?
A quick search in the files reveals
such cases occur also among Muslim
that there have been many more such
communities in the West."
cases in the Muslim Arab community
It is true that there are organizations in
here than had previously been sur-
the Muslim world that agitate and
mised. This past January, for example,
demonstrate against this practice, but
four relatives of a young Bedouin
apparently to little effect, especially as
woman were arrested for shooting
religious extremism seems to be growing.
dead a 19-year-old girl who was "lead- Here in Israel a small group of Arab and
ing a modern lifestyle." In March, two Jewish women is dedicated to protecting
Muslims in Lod were sentenced to life the rights and honor of women. They
imprisonment for murder of a 14-
have been carrying on a campaign
year-old girl relative who had allegedly against the whole concept of honor
been "dishonoring the family by
killings in the Arab communities, but
improper dress and behavior."
often at risk to themselves. The group
Most recently, the Jerusalem Post
also provides "rescue" facilities for single
reported briefly: "A Jerusalem Arab
Arab girls who become pregnant, remov-
woman and her brother were arrested
ing them from their environment and
Wednesday on suspicion of murdering affording them shelter with health care.
the woman's 19-year-old daughter."
Unfortunately, honor killings is an
accepted norm in the Muslim world,
Carl Alpert is a U.S. native who made and unless cases get in the news the
aliyah in 1952. He is former head of
Jewish community is barely aware of
the Zionist Organization of America's
what is going on because of the almost
education department. His e-mail address complete absence of social contact
between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
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