We keep getting so many lovely messages at Price of Silence asking how Israeli apartheid in Palestine is a women’s issue?
Let’s skip the obvious talk about how structural violence and dehumanization disproportionately affects women and girls. How’s this for a starting and ending point: Do you know the girl in the picture above?
Let me help you out, she didn’t appear in a news column by Kristof and nobody anywhere rose for her life or her justice. The audiences who attended #TimeToAct weren’t regaled with her story.
You probably have no clue who she is, nor are you familiar with her ordeal which speaks to the experience of so many, too many women across the land of milk, honey, olives, and illegal settlements, but never reaches across the oceans to the land of mediated intellectual apartheid.
Muntaha al-Khekh, the girl in the picture below, spent four weeks in in jail – some of it in isolation – for striking back after being sexually harassed, groped, leered and threatened with rape by an Israeli policeman.
Here’s how a journalist (using the word journalist very, very loosely) from HAARETZ the Israeli publication covered Muntaha al-Khekh’s ordeal:
“She has a nice-looking, smiling, 20-year old girl, who has decided to pluck up her courage and relate what happened to her−− not a trivial matter in the traditional society in which she lives…”
The article opens with objectifying her as a woman, while dehumanizing her as a Palestinian woman. “She has a nice-looking smile…” A nice-looking smile for what, one of “them,” an “other?” She has decided to “pluck” up her “courage?” Comparing her as an “other” to a “chicken.” When she retaliated against her aggressor’s attempt at molestation and for responding to his harassment, it wasn’t “trivial” in her society? Not “trivial” in relation to her “traditional society?” So…In this Israeli developed modernity, rape and street harassment are what, trivialities? Jokes? What is it called when a police officer attempts to over power a woman in Israel?
Now, I will let those statement stand on there own. I will not juxtapose them to the Islamophobia of the US, UK and French commercial press.
I will not point out how no one, next to no one, puts a mic in front of these women and decides to hear, listen, to what they have to add to the larger women’s rights human rights scandal and by way of muting deny their humanity.
The silent asphyxiation of this opportunity to inhale a the breath of unity perpetuates the very equation of dehumanization, objectification, subjugation, and violence which man uses to usher, justify and rationalize violence against women EVERYWHERE!
The pilfering of these women’s voices is mugging all of humanity of an opportunity to address the common threads of oppressive entitlement, which advances apartheid and violence against women, elucidating the clear and present danger of all oppression to our common claim to humanity. This is a result of no real dialogue to deconstruct the division which Islamophobia perpetrated by the lame stream press has cemented in the psyches of the masses,
Even worse, is when so called women’s advocates comment on this and other injustices against Palestinian women with politically and ideologically polarizing messages that evaporate the very principles for which human rights were constructed to combat.
We see so many women and men who speak, “no excuses for rape;” and “doesn’t matter who she is, or what she was wearing, or drinking,” who make an about-face on violence against Palestinian women, or violence perpetrated by Israeli Offensive Forces. Some how these very activists who decried ‘no excuse’ feel the need to create excuses in the library of cases of rape and harassment of Palestinian women. They somehow are obliged, bulldozed into responding with something like, ‘well they voted for Hamass…’ Why is when a Palestinian woman is raped there somehow becomes another side of the story that needs to be constructed to give equal voice between rapist and raped.
When John Kerry was talking about ending ‘rape in conflict’ in England, and preaching “#TimeToAct” alongside Angelina Jolie, , why aren’t the plights of women like Muntaha al-Khekh talked about? Where is Kristof on women like Muntaha al-Khekh? Where is anyone? I know, when judging your missions, you have to worry about where the donation and grant money will come from, and that doesn’t leave any wiggle room to talk about Palestinian women, but as long as that is the model, we are facilitating sham responses to violence against women. As long as Palestinian Women’s Rights aren’t Human Rights, than all we are doing is perpetuating a cycle of indignity while aggrandizing our own celebrity. So, let’s make women’s right mean something for all women, everywhere, including Palestinian women, and that begins by ending the umbrella of apartheid which subjugated these women live under. Let these Palestinian women of strength embolden our her-story, and give women and men female heroes to learn from, in this day, in this time.
Photo Credit & Quotes from A Palestinian woman’s reaction to sexual harassment lands her in jail By Gideon Levy; Published in HAARETZ 30/11/2013