The stories of pain and torture chill every bone in my body. Trembling, I sit before half-a-dozen women in the Lev L'Achim rehabilitation center for battered women, learning about how they lost their independence, lost their happiness, lost their lives. These women have been rescued from the misery of life in their husbands' Arab villages.

I learned a lot during my investigation into Jewish-Arab intermarriage, but mostly I have come to realize this: the Arabs are trying to steal our land. Through their rhetoric, they are trying to do away with the inherent Jewish connection to Eretz Yisrael, and through their violence, eradicate the Jewish people. In the same way, the Arabs aim to steal our women, to slowly disconnect them from the whole world, until it is as if they don't exist. Like the struggle for Eretz Yisrael, the battle against Jewish-Arab intermarriage is a war we cannot afford to lose. It's a fight for the future of the Jewish people.

According to Lev L'Achim's Zeev Shtigletz, there are currently more than 25,000 Jewish women married to or involved with Arab men. They are from all walks of life. They find their Arab boyfriends at work, on the bus or even on the street. They are courted and catered to. They are flattered and furnished with the best - until they consummate their relationship.

"Violence." V-I-O-L-E-N-C-E. As I interview the various women, this is the word most utilized. Whether verbal or physical, nearly every Jewish woman who marries an Arab man experiences some degree of neglect or abuse. These girls are treated as slaves.

Shtigletz cites a recent survey conducted in the Arab sector that claims 93 percent of all Arab men use violence against their wives. He says that in 1998 alone, for example, Lev L'Achim received over 900 distress calls from Jewish women who were experiencing brutal and systematic abuse at the hands of their Arab husbands - and the numbers have only been growing since then. An Arab sociologist tells me that "spankings" are an inherent part of Arab culture, and admits that Jewish women are beaten by their Arab husbands even more than Arab wives. The Jewish women have nowhere to turn; the Arabs take advantage of this.

"I see only darkness," one woman tells me as she tries to envision herself in five years. After bearing multiple children for an Arab who would beat her if a male passerby even looked in her direction, she barely has the confidence to continue with her life. Choosing to escape just before she was sucked into moving to her husband's Arab village in Gaza, she is a single mother with no family, no income and intense anxiety.

I swallow my tears.

"Can you see yourself in one month?" I ask, hoping for a more encouraging response.

"I can't see anything," she sobs, her frail face buried in her palms. If only my hug could reassure her.

I interview another girl, and then another. One woman was beaten with iron rods. She was even forced to watch as her brother-in-law burnt her sister-in-law to death. She attempted to escape three times, but her husband would find her, bring her back and torture her even more. She recognized she had made a mistake, but could not manage to make a change on her own.

This is where Lev L'Achim comes in. Members of the anti-assimilation division of Lev L'Achim launch clandestine missions to rescue women who are trapped in their husbands' Arab villages. Once liberated, the girls are generally brought to the organization's unmarked hostel where a security camera monitors the electrically locked door. At the hostel, the women undergo psychological treatment and counseling. They are given the opportunity to begin new lives.

But the transition from living in an Arab village to living in the hostel is not an easy one. Hostel director Chaya Stashevsky says the women are in constant conflict. Sometimes, the woman thinks she still harbors affection for her former Arab husband. After all, she has lived with him for who knows how many years; she has had children with him.

"We don't have everything at the hostel. We give a lot of love, but their time with us is seen as temporary. The anxiety of what awaits a woman when she leaves this shelter sometimes psychologically paralyzes her," Mrs. Stashevsky explains.

Still, says Shtigletz, the results are generally positive. Most of the women gain independence. Lev L'Achim helps them find and marry good Jewish men with whom they can start afresh.

Thank God for Lev L'Achim.

But the sad truth is that if Lev L'Achim has to launch a rescue mission, our parents, rabbis and educators have already failed. While Lev L'Achim is picking up the pieces, we need to reflect on our own methods of child-rearing and teaching. We need to ask ourselves - what are we doing wrong? What are our daughters not getting at home that makes them needy for an Arab's attention, and why is this not a topic of discussion in our schools?

Shtigletz says that secular schools have accused him of bigotry for bringing up the subject. He explains that religious schools often shy away from the subject; if you discuss intermarriage, this means you admit it exists. Well, guess what? It does. Even in the Jewish state.

Education is the key.

We cannot sit by idly and let Jewish women fall into Arab hands. We can't allow even one daughter or sister to be lost. Each woman stolen by an Arab abuser is a generation of children vanished.

[Lev L'Achim is a not-for-profit outreach organization dedicated to bringing the lost souls of Israel home. The anti-assimilation division offers lectures on the subject of intermarriage, missionary activity and more. To contact Lev L'Achim: [email protected]]