The Kiryat Gat municipality has decided to act against a phenomenon it has been dealing with for years: The southern town's female teenagers fall in love with young Bedouins and leave home.
An "emergency conference" held in the city on Sunday was aimed at "preventing a disaster," according to Haim Shalom, the conference's initiator, who heads the municipality's community, welfare and health department.
At the start of the conference, the organizers presented a 10-minute film titled 'Sleeping with the enemy'. The film included testimonies from young women whose Bedouin boyfriends did not let them return home after they asked to end the relationship.
During the conference, the organizers presented quotes which they claimed appeared in the Koran, such as "a woman can be beaten as long as her bones are not broken and no blood is spilled."
The Yad L'Achim non-profit organization handed out leaflets containing controversial messages at the entrance to the conference. The leaflet was titled, "One day he will break your heart and ruin your life. 500 cases. You don't want to be the 501st case."
The leaflet includes alleged quotes from the Koran: "One can beat and abandon a woman in order to ensure that she behaves in a disciplined manner", "The Muslim husband treats his wife like a slave" and "A Muslim wife is considered the husband's sole property."
According to the leaflet, "No matter how advanced and educated he is, this is the Muslim perception toward women, which he grew up on. Does this suit you?"
Representatives of the Kiryat Gat police also took part in the conference and addressed the audience.
"Their goal is to take advantage of the girls," the officers said. "There is no element of love or an innocent friendly relationship here."
Attorney Micha Gabai, a Kiryat Gat resident who presented the legal aspect of the phenomenon, was not as extreme as the other speakers.
"Let's not forget that there are also good Arabs. There are also Jews who act like these Bedouins," he said.
One of the reasons for the conference was the 2006 murder of 16-year-old Mika Dabab, whose body was found burned near the Bedouin community of Rahat. An investigation revealed that Dabab was romantically involved with a young Rahat resident, and tried to break up with him several days before she was murdered. The young man refused, kidnapped her from a discotheque and murdered her.
"We in the Bedouin sector do not encourage romantic relations between Bedouins and Jews as well. It hurts our families just like it hurts the Jews. It causes a lot of difficult problems and internal conflicts which often end in violence," Rahat Mayor Talal al-Krenawi said in response to the Kiryat Gat conference.
"If there are children as a result of these relationships, it becomes a burden on our society. The difference is that we oppose this just like the Jews, but we never used racist expressions.
"If a romantic relationship develops and it is pure and real, I would say that we live in a democratic country and that a person is allowed to live with whomever he wants. In any case, one can oppose something without presenting racist opinions."
As for the quotes from the Koran, al-Krenawi said, "All the quotes presented are not real and are absolute nonsense. On the contrary, the Koran supports women's rights and has said more than once that a woman must not be harmed.
"In general, the Koran does not present violent stances. I suggest to those who brought these quotes to go study before they write nonsense. The Koran is holy, and the person who wrote those quotes does not understand anything."