[News] Palestinian Women Struggle for Liberation and Return

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 26 08:58:11 EDT 2006


Reply-To: njsolidarity-announcements at lists.riseup.net



As part of Palestine Awareness Week 2006, we are providing some facts
and information about Palestine that do not appear in the mainstream
corporate press. We will send a different email daily providing this
information. Please read and forward.

Remember, Palestine Awareness Week continues with an event on
Thursday, April 27. Join us to meet, view and discuss "Paradise Now,"
director Hany Abu-Assad's Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated
Palestinian film, at 6:30 PM in Room 411A of the Rutgers Student
Center, on the 4th Floor, at 126 College Ave. in New Brunswick.

PALESTINE AWARENESS WEEK 2006
PALESTINE: Be AWARE.

Palestinian Women Struggle for Liberation and Return

"Concerning the women...they were the first to lead demonstrations
asking for withdrawal, rejecting occupation, asking for something.
They were the first prisoners. They were the first to ask for
strikes..." - Isam Abdelhadi

Palestinian women feel the cruelest stings of poverty, oppression and
terror: their homes destroyed, their land stolen, their families
impoverished; they were made refugees, prohibited to return to their
homes and properties. As providers of food, education and Palestinian
identity, Palestinian women have suffered tremendously from Zionist
brutality. Yet they have also always been at the forefront of
Palestinian resistance, from the revolts against British colonialism
to today's Intifada.

A History of Struggle

In 1884, Palestinian women were among the peasants who acted to uproot
the first agricultural settlement which the Zionists tried to build
near Affouleh. In 1920, women were active in demonstrations demanding
cancellation of the Balfour declaration; the first women's union was
established in 1921, which organized women's efforts in social groups
and organizations, as well as demonstrations demanding a halt to
zionist colonialism. During the revolt in 1929, Palestinian women
participated actively in demonstrations which were brutally repressed
by the British. The women martyrs included Jamile Azaar, Aisha Abu
Hasan and Azba Salame. In 1928, the Arab Women's Association was
founded as a Palestinian association to work side by side with the men
in the common struggle, and in 1929, a women's conference was held in
Jerusalem; hundreds attended and condemned British repression in
Palestine.

In 1936, women were active participants in the 1936-39 revolution, and
took on various roles. Women collected and distributed financial and
material aid to Palestinian rebels, and to the families of martyrs and
prisoners; they sewed clothes, carried food and water to rebels and
administered first aid. Fatima Gazal was the first Palestinian woman
martyred in combat in a battle with British soldiers on October 25,
2936.

Throughout the 30s and 40s, women worked in societies emphasizing
education and women's participation in politics.In 1942, women's
solidarity associations were formed, with branches in the main
Palestinian cities. And when the war and occupation of 1947-48 began,
Palestinian women were active - "building barricades and
fortifications, digging trenches, transporting weapons and forming
more associations, like the one called Daisy Flower in Jaffa, which
provided medical care, food and water to those fighting to defend the
land. Members of this association included Yusra Toukan, Fatima Abdul
Huda, Juhenia Khorshid, and Arabia Khorshid. Women also joined the
fighters in their attacks. Many were martyred, including Juliet Zakka,
Jamile Ahmad, Deba Atyeh, and Helwe Zaidan. The latter had taken the
gun of her husband afer he and their son were martyred; she continued
shooting at the Zionist gangs until her martyrdom on April 9, 1948,"
as was chronicled in Democratic Palestine in 1984.

Since 1948, throughout the history of the Palestinian national
movement, women have been involved in all areas on a political level.
At the same time, they have borne the primary responsibility for
caring for Palestinian families, raising and educating Palestinian
children, and ensuring the continuity of Palestinian national
identity, in Palestine and in exile. Reem Alnuweiri, Palestinian
activist, wrote: "[The] Palestinian woman also became a refugee and
her critical mission was keeping the Palestinian national identity
intact. She had to heal the pains, re-unify the dispersed family,
secure food on the table with her partner, and above all, keep the
memory. ... Palestinians raised by refugee families, who never saw
Palestine, have a very clear picture of it, just from the memories of
their mothers and grandmothers, and the transcendence through
generations continues."

With the upsurge in the Palestinian national movement after the
further occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and the
development of Palestinian political and military organizations, and
the rise of the Palestine Liberation Organization as a unified
national liberation front, Palestinian women continued their leading
role in the struggle. Women were deeply involved in building community
organizations and Popular Struggle Committees, and the General Union
of Palestinian Women, the women's union of the PLO, was formed as a
constituent union of the PLO. Every major Palestinian political
faction had women's committees that focused on organizing women as
part of the Palestinian national movement; all of the resistance
organizations recognized that the liberation and participation of
women was critical to the struggle for national liberation.

Women were involved in all means of struggle, from social services
organizing to educational work to military activities. Famous women
fighters, like Leila Khaled, Shadia Abu Ghazaleh, Dalal al-Mughrabi,
Amine Dabour and Abla Taha, took part in resistance operations, while
other Palestinian women were in the leadership of unions, clubs and
social committees. In Palestine '48, women were active participants in
struggle; in the first Land Day demonstration in 1976, Khadijeh
Shawahneh was marrtyred.

Throughout the Intifada in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Palestinian
women were the backbone of the movement in the West Bank and Gaza. The
boycott of "Israeli" products - so effective - was carried out by
women who did the shopping and refused to purchase the goods of the
occupier. Palestinian women were leaders in establishing alternative
economic activity, including cheese making, bread baking and community
gardens. When Palestinian children were arrested, women would come
into the street demanding the child's release, calling out for "their
son." Many times, soldiers were pressured to release the child.
Palestinian women were at the center of popular committees and the
popular movement, a role that has continued to the present day.

Women are heavily active in all spheres of politics and society; major
social and political organizations and institutions are led by women,
such as Addameer, the political prisoner support association.
Palestinian women are political prisoners; today, there are 116 women
political prisoners in Zionist jails. Women's associations in
Palestine, such as the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees,
organize employment for women, children's committees and
kindergartens, and work to provide health care. Palestinian women
transmit culture and identity, hold together the family and the
community, educate children and take active and leading roles in the
political struggle. Mariam Abu-Dakkah, of the Union of Palestinian
Women's Committees, said that "The Palestinian woman is making sure
that for every funeral there is a wedding and for every death, there
is a birth".  In exile, Palestinian women and women's organizations
are at the forefront of the struggle for liberation and return.

The struggle of Palestinian women is the struggle for the liberation
of Palestine; the two intersect, and achieving liberation for
Palestinian women is an inextricable part of achieving national
liberation.

Find out more about the struggle of Palestinian women:

http://www.newjerseysolidarity.org/resources/palestinianwomen.html

For more information:
New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine
http://www.newjerseysolidarity.org/
info at newjerseysolidarity.org
973-954-2521




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