Sisterhood Blog

Sister of Druze Miss Israel Contestant is Murdered

By Nathan Burstein

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Courtesy Heymann Films
Angelina Duah Fares

The most famous Miss Israel contestant not to win the national pageant has returned to the headlines in Israel.

Duah Fares, a Druze Israeli who made waves before withdrawing from the 2007 Miss Israel pageant, is back in the news after the murder of her younger sister, Maya.

Jamila Fares, a 21-year-old who went by the name Maya, disappeared in mid-July. Her body was discovered July 15 in a forest and showing signs of physical violence that preceded her shooting. Maya’s husband, Said, was initially arrested, but was released after passing a polygraph test, and neither Duah nor her mother, Dalia, suspect him.

While the case remains open, the killing has refocused attention on the status of Israel’s non-Jewish women, who face discrimination within both their own communities and Israeli society at large. The elder Fares pulled out of the Miss Israel contest because of death threats from her own community.

Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot put Duah Fares on the cover of its most recent weekend magazine, headlining the article “The Rebel,” (it is not yet available online) and detailing the challenges she faced before and after her sister’s murder. An aspiring model, Duah effectively maintains two identities, adopting the name Angelina - after Angelina Jolie - before the Miss Israel pageant, and abandoning her small Druze hometown for the less restrictive environment of Tel Aviv. Now only 22, she was forced out of the Miss Israel pageant because of communal disapproval over the swimsuit competition, and says she has failed to find modeling work because of continued threats against her, her agent and her agent’s family.

While coverage in the Hebrew-language Yediot is surely a good thing, a disproportionate amount of violence against Israeli women takes place outside the Jewish community.

So it’s encouraging to see an Arabic-language radio station taking action on the issue, launching a petition against so-called “honor killings” and calling for open discussion of the problem. “Killing women is not acceptable in the 21st century,” said Suhel Karram, the chief executive of Radio Ashams. “Not for so-called family honor, or any other reason.”

Filmmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana, who made a documentary about Angelina’s ill-fated Miss Israel bid, goes even further, describing the practice as “terrorism.”

“”What is happening in Arab society with regard to murdering women is real terrorism,” she says.

Yediot Aharonot reports that Mara’ana, in partnership with Angelina Fares, is establishing a new foundation “for the empowerment of Arab women who break the silence against murder and violence.”


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