In honour of international women’s day, HaMoked is highlighting its women staff members, who work so hard to promote and protect Palestinians’ rights. The human rights community in Israel is in fact led by women. That has been the case for as long as I can remember, and it is inspiring to see a younger generation of women choosing to devote themselves to the human rights field.
Twenty years ago, I received an award from Rabbis for Human Rights-North America (now called T’ruah). At the awards ceremony, Marge Piercy read her poem “To Be of Use”, dedicating it to me and other human rights activists:
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
This past year I have returned to this poem again and again. Human rights advocacy is frustrating. Sometimes it can seem hopeless. But it is also a privilege to be able to do this work, particularly in this pandemic year. “The pitcher cries for water to carry/and a person for work that is real.” It is a blessing to get up every morning knowing that I am helping people.
So on International Women’s Day, I dedicate the poem to the women of HaMoked, and to all women human rights defenders. To the women who listen to the personal stories of suffering, who do their homework and learn the legal precedents, who strategize on how best to make a difference, and then roll up their sleeves and get to work. In short, to all those who “do what has to be done, again and again”.
Click on the links below to hear from three of HaMoked’s staff, and to learn about what drives them to continue doing this difficult, yet extremely rewarding work.
Executive Director of HaMoked
Maisa Abo-Saleh Abu Akar: Maisa has been an attorney since 2009, and has been working at HaMoked for the past 18 months. She writes: “As a human rights lawyer, I don’t look at my cases as “files” – I think about the person I’m representing. Their story, their pain. I do everything I can to reduce the pain they’re experiencing, and to protect others from experiencing it too.”
Saja Darzi: Saja joined HaMoked’s client intake department about a year ago. She writes: “I am honoured to be part of an organization that empowers its employees and gives equal opportunities regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender. As a woman at HaMoked I am proud to share my ideas, my point of view and my criticism, but most importantly to have my voice heard, along with many other Palestinian women.”
Lee Caspi: Lee is HaMoked’s Development Director. She tells of her encounter with one of our beneficiaries, early on in her time at HaMoked: “I was blown away by the situation her family is in. I found myself thinking about how similar we are – she’s only slightly younger than me and has a similar educational background and interests. We even lived in vaguely the same part of Jerusalem. But unlike her, I don’t have to deal every day with the consequences of Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip, and the policies designed to divide Palestinian families.”
Nadia Daqqa: Nadia has been working as an attorney at HaMoked for the past six years. She writes: “As a university student, I knew I wanted to work in the human rights field. The idea of bringing a powerful tool like legal work to disempowered communities was very appealing to me. I wanted to use this tool on behalf of my own community – the Palestinian community – which in my mind is the most oppressed, and which is living under prolonged occupation. That’s why I chose to work at HaMoked."