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Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid, Israel

Published on Sep 22, 2010 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for NewsRealBlog

Female Troubles on the West Bank


It's the 1960s all over again, and I am talking about the dark side, not the glamorous, glorious side.

What is happening on the West Bank reminds me of the American 1960s, when idealistic young white and Jewish women, who thought they were volunteering for Martin Luther King's non-violent movement for black civil rights, found themselves up against many angry, sociopathic, criminal, and sexually violent members of the Black Panther Party. I was one. I have my war stories.

Today, privileged, young, white, Jewish, and Arab women who travel to the West Bank to "protect" Palestinians from Israeli soldiers, also seem to be facing similar troubles. According to one recent and very disturbing report, foreign (American and European) and Israeli Jewish and Arab left-feminists are being routinely harassed, raped, and even forced into marriage by the very Palestinians whom they have come to "rescue." More shocking is the alleged pressure brought to bear on those activists who wish to press charges about being raped or abducted into marriage; their own movement presumably pressures them not to do so because the alleged Israeli "occupation" of Palestine is far more important than the violent "occupation" of any woman's body.

Reporter and editor Gil Ronen cites the work of Israeli feminist activist Roni Aloni Sedovnik, who wrote an article titled "The Left's Betrayal of Female Peace Activists Who Were Sexually Assaulted." He also cites the work of Yehudah Bello, a pro-Palestinian blogger who confirms that at least one European non-Jewish leftist, one Red Cross worker, and one young Israeli Arab from Yafo all experienced such assaults.

Sedovnik insists that these are not isolated incidents but are part of a systematic pattern—the Palestinians view all infidel women as prey, as whores—but there is also another aim involved, namely that of forcing marriage and conversion to Islam upon them. Sedovnik accuses the media of "complicity" in refusing to report on the matter. She writes:

"How is it that we do not hear the voice of the radical feminists who repeat, day and night, that occupation is occupation, and it does not matter if it is a nation that is doing the subjugation, or a man who is subjugating a woman?

"It appears that there is a gap between the radical-leftist feminist theory about the active resistance to the occupation of the Territories, and the stuttering self-annulment in the face of the violent conquest of women."

I myself was once pressured by leading left feminists not to reveal that I had been sexually harassed and then assaulted by my United Nations employer."It would not look good for (white) feminists to accuse a black man of what may only have been a cultural misunderstanding, a difference in cultural approaches towards women." I nevertheless continued to demand justice—and was not supported by some of the very same feminists who years later would support Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas.

This was back in 1980, long before cultural relativism came to rule the day. Yes, one day I'll write a Memoir; but not just yet.

In response to the rapes near the towns and villages of Bethlehem, Bil'in, Naalin, and Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon Ha Tzaddik), the Israeli and Palestinian peace activists have urged women to dress modestly and even to wear headscarves!

What is more amazing is the failure of such left feminists to support the Palestinian women who are routinely held captive by just such men and who, at least in Gaza, are being increasingly forced to wear hijab, jilbab, niqab.

Yesterday, I published a piece in Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) in which I discussed this distressing trend. I quote a Palestinian woman, Asmaa Al Ghoul, whom I've interviewed before, who is now furious that a friend of hers was not allowed to graduate from university without donning hijab and that her younger sisters are being forced to do so in secondary school.

I end my piece this way:

It is ironic that so many western "progressive" activists are willing to sign petitions to "free Gaza." But free Gaza from whom? From Hamas, from rigid Islamist misogyny, or from the Israelis who long ago, left Gaza and who are not now imposing such restrictions on women.


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