It’s no secret that Israel leads the Middle East in women’s rights. In honor of International Women’s Day, I picked a few from a list of 20 Israeli women who have influenced or are influencing the world. Text and picture credit: 20 Incredible Israeli Women…
1. Golda Meir
As the first female Prime Minister of the State of Israel, before most western countries ever had a female head of state, Golda was a fearless Zionist and a feminist too. When she was Prime Minister a cabinet minister asked her to establish a curfew for women to end a series of rapes. She refused and said:
“It is the men who are attacking the women – if there is a curfew, let the men stay at home.”
2. Lucy Aharish
Lucy Aharish, a proud Israeli-Arab, Muslim, and successful journalist. Aharish has gained both criticism and praise for her outspokenness when it comes to Israel. She hosts a daily news broadcast on i24 News and made headlines this year when she passionately spoke out against the incitement to violence that members of the Joint Arab List in Israeli parliament are taking part in. Aharish was also one of the torch lighters for the Israel Independence Day ceremony last year. Aharish was selected because of her work to “advance social pluralism and positions calling for coexistence in our country.” She is not only a trailblazer for Arab-Israelis, but for all women as well.
3. Gal Gadot
Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot: the talented actress has made waves this year with her upcoming role as Wonder Woman – and how could ‘Wonder Woman’ NOT appear on this list? Gal also has been outspoken about her support for Israel taking to Facebook when Israel was under attack from thousands of Hamas rockets from Gaza to support the IDF.
4. Dr. Ruth
You’ve probably heard of the famous sex therapist, Dr. Ruth, who hosts her own TV show providing advice – but what you probably didn’t know about her, is that she was a sniper in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948.
In her own words: “When I was in my routine training for the Israeli army as a teenager, they discovered completely by chance that I was a lethal sniper. I could hit the target smack in the center further away than anyone could believe. Not just that, even though I was tiny and not even much of an athlete, I was incredibly accurate throwing hand grenades too. Even today I can load a Sten automatic rifle in a single minute, blindfolded.”
5. Sivan Ya’ari
Sivan Ya’ari is the Founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa, an incredible organization that utilizes Israeli technology to provide better, cleaner, safer, and more reliable resources to the people of Africa. In the past 8 years, Innovation: Africa has brought Israeli solar and agricultural technologies to African villages and has improved the lives of nearly 1 million people. This is an Israeli woman truly making the world a better place for all.
6. Pnina Tamano Shata
Member of Israeli Parliament (Knesset) Pnina Tamano Shata made history by becoming the first female Ethiopian member of the Israeli Knesset. From Ethiopia to Sudan to Israel, MK Tamano-Shata has an incredible story of triumph that truly demonstrates what Israel stands for!
7. Miriram Naor
Miriam Naor is the current Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court. What more explanation is needed?
8. Nechama Leibovitz
Nechama Leibovitz was a legendary female biblical scholar who dedicated her life to teaching Torah and Jewish law. Another field primarily dominated by males, Nechama was a trailblazer in Jewish education. In 1956, Leibowitz was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in education, for her work in furthering understanding and appreciation of the Bible.
9. Rinal Seif
Rinal Seif is the widow of slain Druze police officer Zidan Saif, who was killed last year in the Har Nof massacre trying to save his fellow Israelis. This year, she formed a new initiative to expand relations because the Israeli Orthodox Jewish community and the Druze community.
Just a few months ago, as part of the initiative, Druze leaders including Saif’s widow joined a Jewish community in Arnona Jerusalem for a day of learning and friendship: “Instead of a blood pact, we should form an alliance of life, she said.
10. Dr. Hagit Padova
“There’s no other country in the world which has the capability Israel does, to send out a search-and-rescue team and a medical crew with a field hospital so fast and efficiently. It’s extraordinary….We don’t ask: ‘Can we go?’ We go where we’re needed, so when there is a disaster, we start preparing a mission. We don’t ask why, because Israel has a humanitarian responsibility, a moral obligation to save lives. We can relate it to our history as refugees, of being in danger time and again and with no one helping us.”
Dr. Hagit Padova may not be a name you’ve heard of, but it’s one you should know. As the top medic in the IDF, Dr. Padova was the senior physician on the Israeli Army’s humanitarian mission to Nepal following the tragic earthquake.
260 IDF personnel – more than from any other country apart from India – touched down 48 hours after Nepal’s greatest natural disaster in 81 years.
11. Dafna Meir
Another tragic loss Israel suffered this year with the brutal murder of Dafna Meir. Dafna was stabbed to death inside her home in Otniel by a Palestinian terrorist.
Dafna dedicated her life to helping foster children and had a passion for adoption. Even after her tragic death, Dafna made the world a better place when the Knesset passed Israel’s first foster care law, in memory of Dafna Meir. At the time of her murder, Dafna, who was a nurse, was studying Arabic so as to be able to provide even better care for her patients.
At her funeral, her husband Natan stated, “My Dafna is one in a million, who grew up in a house that wasn’t a home and still managed to rehabilitate. She decided to give back grace to the world, and she did.” Meir was the mother of six, including two foster children.
12. Sarah Zoabi
Sarah Zoabi is an Israeli-Arab Muslim and proud Zionist who speaks out about life as an Arab in the Jewish state. She is also the mother of Israeli-Arab Mohammad Zoabi, who went viral after expressing his support for the state of Israel in the face of Hamas terrorists in 2014.
13. Luba Samri
Luba Samri is another remarkable Israeli-Arab woman. As a spokeswoman for the Israeli police, she’s a trailblazer as well as an advocate for justice.
14. Hadar Cohen
Hadar Cohen is a 19-year-old Israeli border policewoman who laid down her life for the state of Israel, fighting off 3 Palestinian terrorists equipped with guns, knives, and pipe bombs in a terror attack during the recent wave of Palestinian violence.
Though she was gravely injured after being shot in the head by a Palestinian terrorist, she managed to fire at the terrorists before losing consciousness. Because of her bravery, Israelis are safer today.
15. The Women of the Israel Defense Forces
They’re the women, the mothers, the sisters, the daughters, whose names we may never know – yet they put their lives on the line to defend the one and only Jewish and democratic state in the Middle East. Whether in the Mossad, as an Israeli Air Force Pilot, or as combat soldiers in the IDF, these women are at the front lines when it comes to protecting the state of Israel.