Protesting Violence in Arab Communities

13 September 2023

Photo credit: Itzick Biran

Palestinian Israeli actress Samar Qupty made headlines this week at the Ophir Awards Ceremony, the Israeli version of the Oscars. Qupty came dressed in a long white gown, designed for the occasion by Mervat Hakroush, with a bullet hole by her chest and a streak of blood dripping down the front. She was accompanied by Watfa Jabali, a bereaved mother of a murdered 26 year-old son. Jabali is one of the founders of NIF-grantee Mothers for Life, which fights the growing violence in Israel’s Arab community and helps the families of murder victims. The two cut a striking pair on the red carpet: Qupty in her bloodied white dress next to Jabali in all black. 

Qupty was nominated in the best supporting actress category for her role in the movie “The Future.” Although she did not win the award, her picture was featured extensively in the Israeli media as it protested the mounting murderous violence in Israeli Arab society.  She said, “I am nominated for a film called ‘The Future,’ but tonight I am here representing the present, because if we don’t deal with the violence of the present, there will be no future.”

Qupty told Israeli website N12, “I come dressed like this as a cry of help for women and mothers who have lost their children and for children who have lost their fathers because of what is happening. This is our daily life and not something that should be appearing in the margins of the news.”

Other nominees joined the protest by wearing black bracelets in solidarity with more and more Arab Israeli families who are grieving loved ones. So far this year over 175 Israeli Arabs have been murdered, double the number at this time last year. 

Reymond Amsalem, who won the award for best actress, stood alongside Jabali when she gave her acceptance speech and said, “Arab society is not separate from us, it is us, and it is our responsibility to share in the pain and seek justice.”