Over the course of the past few weeks, thousands of Palestinian youth have been protesting against Israeli forces and settlers all around the occupied territories, leading many to believe the Third Intifada is around the corner. Per usual when the violence escalates, the same narrative is perpetuated in Western media – ruthless Palestinian terrorists are attacking innocent settlers, resisting Israeli soldiers, and disturbing the peace of the “only democracy in the Middle East.” What is not covered is the presence of Palestinian women participating in the resistance, a presence integral to the ongoing struggle against the occupation and one that emerged with the first Jewish settlement ever built, towards the end of the twentieth century.
Major news agencies around the West Bank and Gaza are reporting on and applauding the large presence of women in the protests taking place, mostly in the al-Bireh municipality, adjacent to the major city of Ramallah. Most of the women are college students from local universities where they normally partake in political activism on campus to protest against the occupation. The online conversation in Palestine surrounding these women’s efforts is one of respect and admiration. They are not simply assisting their male counterparts, but leading their own movement to prove their heroism and their desire to fight for their homeland.
“The free women of Palestine are washing the Arab’s shame with stone” – tweeted a Palestinian man from Gaza – Twitter User Mahmoud
Another Gazan man tweeted – “The days when the women stand in the kitchen are over” with the popular hashtag #SisterofHeroism.
The presence of young and old Palestinian women in the resistance proves that the occupation affects people of every sex and age. This movement does not only consist of the angry, barbaric Palestinian men depicted in Western media. Women are at the front lines masked with the kuffiya, a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, as well as the Palestinian flag, while holding up signs reading “Homeland is not restricted to a particular gender.”
This historical female participation in the Palestinian national struggle dispels many stereotypes of Arab women, particularly Arab Muslim women, being voiceless and oppressed. Are they oppressed? Yes. They are victims of a 67-year-old ethnic cleansing, and a 48-year-old occupation. While the Western feminist conversation on Arab Muslim women is one of “saving” them from Islam, the veil, or Arab culture, the occupation is a REAL problem that Palestinians need saving from – and these women are saving themselves. They are defining their own liberation. The social, legal, and economic forces that oppress women in Palestinian society are not mutually exclusive of the Israeli occupation; they are first and foremost victims of apartheid.
Israeli propaganda loves to celebrate the presence of women in the Israeli Defense Forces under the guise of being feminist; both men and women are required to serve at the age of 18. But there is nothing feminist about women participating in such an oppressive and violent system that abuses and humiliates Palestinians and that has proven more and more racist to non-Jews in their “democracy.” Male and female Israeli soldiers routinely demolish Palestinian homes, confiscate their land, systematically violate their human rights, and kill innocent civilians. The lengths that Israeli policy goes to to dominate Palestinians goes far beyond taking land and using force; all Palestinians, young and old, male and female, are collectively resisting their occupiers.
Written by Anonymous
Image via Twitter