[News] Palestine: How subcontracting the occupation fuels gendered violence

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Fri Jul 2 18:53:49 EDT 2021


middleeasteye.net
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/israel-palestine-subcontracting-occupation-gendered-violence-fuels>
Israel-Palestine:
How subcontracting the occupation fuels gendered violence
Nada Elia - July 2, 2021
------------------------------

Palestine is a feminist issue
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/how-palestine-critical-feminist-issue>:
this statement is a truism, and should need no elaboration. Yet, as with so
much that relates to Palestine, it has necessitated long discussions,
clarifications, analyses and ample documentation, again and again.

There seems to be some consensus that colonialism itself is always gendered
- an observation that numerous scholars have argued persuasively over the
past few decades, analysing the many ways in which women’s bodies
become battlegrounds
of power <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2374623816680622>,
either as proof of conquest or as prime targets of the settler’s desire to
“eliminate the native”. The expression “rape, loot and pillage”
<https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274371702_The_global_the_ethnic_and_the_gendered_war_women_and_rape_in_eastern_Democratic_Republic_of_Congo>
is sadly an apt descriptor of conquests from Africa, to the Americas, to
Australia, Europe and Asia.

Zionism, however, has never exoticised them - never aspired to 'save',
'modernise' or 'liberate' them. It has always wanted them dead

In addition to the violence of sexual assault, gendered violence takes on
specific forms depending on the political, social and cultural context of
the colonial assault. In India, for example, colonialism took the form of
“white men saving brown women
<https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/340888?journalCode=signs>
from brown men”. In Algeria, French colonisers would round up Muslim women
and publicly strip them of their headdresses
<https://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/responses/unveil-them-to-save-them-france-and-the-ongoing-colonization-of-muslim-women-s-bodies>
in a demonstration of how they were “modernising” Algerian society.

The veil, rather than imperialism, was viewed as oppressive - a trend that
has continued into modern-day Europe, where Muslim women are often barred
from veiling <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/9/a-law-against-islam>
in official and public spaces, in a gesture of cultural imposition that
disrespects their piety in order to “liberate” them from the directives of
their faith.

Palestinian women have fared no better under Israeli colonialism. Zionism,
however, has never exoticised them - never aspired to “save”, “modernise”
or “liberate” them. It has always wanted them dead.
Demographic threat

Zionism views Palestinian women as a demographic threat
<https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/israels-exaggerated-fears-of-a-demographic-threat-1.1541784588244>,
the progenitors of future terrorists, raising “little snakes”
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/05/07/israels-new-justice-minister-considers-all-palestinians-to-be-the-enemy/>,
as Israeli interior minister and far-right Yamina party member Ayelet
Shaked once put it. In a post in Hebrew that has since been translated into
English, Shaked basically advocated genocide, writing
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-lawmakers-call-genocide-palestinians-gets-thousands-facebook-likes>:
“Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he
could not engage in terrorism … They are all enemy combatants, and their
blood shall be on all their heads.

“Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell
with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be
more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they
raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

[image: Hundreds of Palestinian women march in Gaza in 2018 (MEE/Mohammed
Asad)]
Hundreds of Palestinian women march in Gaza in 2018 (MEE/Mohammed Asad)

Other Zionists have pointed to the rape of Palestinian women as a weapon of
war. A lecturer and former military official once said
<https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-prof-s-words-on-stopping-terror-draws-ire-1.5256331>
that one way to coerce Hamas militants into ending their resistance was to
rape their mothers and sisters: “The only thing that can deter terrorists,
like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge
that their sister or their mother will be raped.”

Israel also has a longstanding and multifaceted practice of manipulating
patriarchal and homophobic Palestinian structures, especially conservative
perceptions of “honour”, to recruit collaborators and fragment Palestinian
society. There are reports
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/12/israeli-intelligence-unit-testimonies>
of Israeli police taking photos of young women secretly meeting boyfriends,
and threatening to report them to their parents; or of women being drugged,
photographed in compromising poses, and then blackmailed into revealing
vital information about the resistance.

Interrogators have also threatened to sexually assault women unless they
provided information about resistance initiatives. The slogan “land before
honour
<https://www.amazon.com/Before-Honour-Palestinian-Occupied-Territories/dp/0333471547>”,
which first became popular after 1967, was meant to encourage Palestinian
women not to be “shamed” into collaboration through such threats and
blackmail.
National betrayal

Cultures under attack frequently become regressive. This tendency could
come from an impetus to “conserve” pre-conquest ways, resulting in a time
freeze and blocking what would be society’s natural progress. And the more
Israel proclaims itself to be a “liberal democracy”
<https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/israel-rsquo-s-liberal-democracy> -
pro-women and pro-gay - the more reactionary elements within Palestinian
society register gender and sexual justice as colonial.

<https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/how-palestine-critical-feminist-issue>

How Palestine is a critical feminist issue

Read More »
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/how-palestine-critical-feminist-issue>

Coupled with the masculinist colonial and militaristic environment in which
Palestinians live, the consequences are fatal. The intensification of
patriarchal norms resulting from Zionist colonialism has translated into
horrific instances of femicide <https://www.jstor.org/stable/1512163>, as
young women have been killed simply for being seen with a
non-family-related male.

Today, as we see Palestinian Authority thugs attacking Palestinian women for
their opposition
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/palestine-nizar-banat-killing-violent-crackdown-protests-women-journalists-target>
to the PA’s assassination of Nizar Banat
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/palestine-nizar-banat-killing-why-pa-days-numbered>,
we must understand that, as it is basically tasked with subcontracting the
occupation, the PA is also subcontracting the occupation’s weapons of war
against liberation, which include intelligence-gathering that relies on
exploiting the details of private lives as bait to silence dissent.

For the past week, PA thugs have been arresting
<https://www.facebook.com/palestinianfeministcollective/posts/198355625629687>Palestinian
women, stealing their mobile phones, and threatening to publish their
private messages and photos if they failed to comply with PA security
demands.

This is a duplication of colonial tactics - an egregious form of national
betrayal, and yet another reminder that Palestine will not be free until
Palestinian women and gender non-conforming individuals are free not only
of Zionist settler-colonialism, but also of the restrictions imposed by
militarised, violent masculinities within Palestinian society.

*The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not
necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.*
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