Benzi presents another girl’s testimonial for the video project of recording the testimonials of three girls who were rescued from Arabs —
*She was attacked for months at the pharmacy – and she was afraid to complain
How did it happen that a young girl who came to a pharmacy with a prescription to get medications, has become a victim of serial attacks?*
Arutz 7 with Lehava. 26 Kislev 5781/12 Dec, 2020
Elisheva (assumed name), a young 17 y.o. girl from the north, started getting ill about a year ago with a complicated disease which caused her to go every week to a pharmacy and buy a lot of medications that she had to take to cope with the illness.
Except that the place where she simply had to show her prescriptions and get liquids and pills in exchange, turned into hell on earth for her: An Arab pharmacist working there started trying to make a connection with her, against her will. Elisheva adamantly refused time after time, but he kept on harassing and bothering her. Until one time, when he had the opportunity – he attacked her.
He threatened her that she dare not complain, and turned the one-time attack into a serial mask of torment for her. The nightmare continued for awhile, until her teacher noticed that she was depressed and moody. The Lehava organization came into the picture, and Elisheva got her life back.
She now tells about the fear that paralyzed her, the way she was rescued from the horrible contact, and calls on girls in her situation not to keep quiet and not to be ashamed to go for help. A new testimonial of Lehava’s project of girls reading out their testimonials.
How did all this start?
“First of all, I’ll say that I’m really not the girl you would think would get to these places”, she began. “I’m from a large, loving religious family from the north, and the most regular and ‘boring’ girl that could be, at my age; I’m most of the time in ulpana (high school for religious girls), studying for my Bagrut exams and going out with friends. Nothing special.
“One day I got up in the morning and felt very weak. I thought I was just a little sick, and I simply did not go to ulpana that day. But a few days went by at home like that, and I see that my condition isn’t improving. I made an appointment with my family doctor and went to him together with my mother. He examined me, explained that I had a specific illness (I prefer not to go into detail), and that I would have to take a whole lot of medicines permanently and to go at least twice a week to the pharmacy to buy them, because they are not medications you can store at home over time.”
But if Elisheva thought that the illness was the nightmare in this whole story, it quickly became clear that the real nightmare lay precisely in the pharmacy itself. “In the pharmacy there was a permanent Arab pharmacist by the name of Fadi. At first he played it nice and polite, but a few minutes later I understood what he really wanted. He started asking me how old I am, whether I had a boyfriend, what I like to do, and all kinds of other such questions. I told him I wasn’t interested in giving details, and that I would be happy to get my medicines and leave. He said ‘OK, OK’ and gave me the medicine, a little angrily.”
Elisheva, as mentioned, needed to go to the pharmacy twice a week. “The next time I arrived there that same week, he was there again, and the whole story from the first time, repeated itself: The questions and the harassment. I, for my part, stood my ground, but this started to feel not too nice.”
“Did you consider going to another pharmacy?
“I did, but gave up that idea. I live in an area where there are not a lot of shops, and this is the only pharmacy close to my home. Another pharmacy was a 20 minute bus ride away, so I gave up on that idea.”
After a number of times when Fadi the pharmacist’s harassment repeated itself, the situation got really worse: “One day, as I was on the way to see my friend, I passed by the pharmacy. That was at a relatively late hour, and there was nobody on the street. Fadi was standing outside the pharmacy, smoking a cigarette. I lowered my head and tried to show that I didn’t see him, but he immediately saw me and called out to me.
“He asked me how I was, and where I was going. I told him politely, ‘good evening’ and that I was on the way to a friend. Except that then he blocked my way and didn’t let me pass. I tried to pass anyway, and he pulled me forcefully into a side alley, where he attacked me”, she relates tearfully.”I was in shock. I froze, I didn’t react. When it was over, I ran away from there.”
What happened since then?
“After a few days, I realize he got my phone number, I have no idea how. He sent me a message: ‘Come now to this address, you shouldn’t say no’. I didn’t know what to do, and then he sent me a photo he had taken from that time he attacked me, and threatened to post it if I didn’t come. I felt terrible, I was very afraid, I couldn’t say anything. And since then, every time he was around he would call me and I would come, I didn’t have any choice.
“I was full of guilt feelings, in spite of knowing that I wasn’t guilty of anything in this. I thought, for example, that ‘maybe I invited this on myself’, ‘maybe I shouldn’t have gone by there’, ‘maybe I should have been more careful.’”
What was your life like at that time?
“I was 17 then, and my whole life changed from end to end. I lost trust in people. And that’s the way it was for several months; I said every time that I was going to another friend.”
When did people notice that the situation was not ok by you?
“My teacher started noticing that something was going on with me, she saw that I had changed. She approached me and tried to understand what was happening, and I told her. I just swore her to secrecy that she wouldn’t say anything to my parents. I was afraid of their reaction. But the teacher did tell them. They were in shock, but they were the most supportive people in the world. They suggested contacting the Lehava organization, which deals with relations between Jewish girls and Arab men.”
How did Lehava handle your inquiry?
The Lehava people wrapped me in love. I don’t have any other words to describe it. Anat Gopstein and Atty. Revaya Ohana accompanied me from the very first moment, and enveloped me as much as I needed it. With Anat, I went through a process of rehabilitation, to understand that I was a victim and I was absolutely not to blame for what happened to me. Revaya came with me to submit a complaint to the police, and thanks to her intervention with the pharmacy, Fadi was fired from there.
“This was a long road, to deal with the recent past, to understand that I’m not the problem. It took me time to raise my sef-confidence, to discover the strengths buried inside of me, to lower the defense mechanisms I imposed on myself. Now I feel protected”, she says excitedly.
Elisheva concludes her words with a message to other girls watching, and their parents: “Dear viewers, especially the girls, please protect yourselves. Share what’s going on with you, don’t keep it in your heart. You can tell your parents, your friends – that’s what they’re there for, they’re there for you. To the parents I say: Watch your daughters carefully. Ask them what’s going on with them, always be interested in their wellbeing, get it into their heads that if they are in trouble, you are the first address for them.”
(The girl in the video is an actress. The words she says were transcribed exactly from Elisheva’s testimony and are brought down to you as they are. The video shows the main things – the article shows a fuller version.)