Women hold up half the sky: Palestinian women in the struggle against Zionism

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“Palestine, our souls will not rust in exile”

Join us today on March 5th at 1 pm in front of the Harriet Tubman Statue – 122 St and St Nicholas Av/Frederick Douglass Blvd, in  Harlem New York to commemorate International Working Women’s Day as an inseparable aspect of the fight for Palestinian liberation. NYC SJP along with many other student and community organizations will be out in full force to affirm our commitment in the fight against patriarchy and zionism. The struggle against patriarchy is inextricably linked to the struggle against racism, colonialism, and capitalism: The very core of the settler colonial state of Israel. As we voiced in our article about Mordechai Kedar’s appearance at Hunter, Israel’s patriarchal roots go back to the mass rapes committed during the Nakba as a psychological weapon to colonize and wipe out Palestinians, as well as the daily assault and sexual harassment of Palestinian women to this day by the Zionist state. This is evident from sexual assault and harassment of Palestinian women, to IDF soldiers custom printing t-shirts with misogynistic messages such as “a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, “1 shot, 2 kills.” And “a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, “Bet you got raped!” These shirts were made during the 2008 military attack on Gaza, and have gotten approval from IDF commanders as part of a military tradition. Zionism uses patriarchy, just as it uses racism, imperialism, and other systems of oppression, to ensure its continued survival. It is therefore our duty as advocates and supporters of the Palestinian people to unite with all those fighting gender oppression from Palestine, to the United States, and at our own college campuses.

Israel is a state that was built on the murder and rape of Palestinian women, a state that forces women to give birth at checkpoints, where more than half of the babies died as a result. It is a state that imprisons Palestinian students and folkloric dancers like Lina khattab, who had an Israeli judge point at her saying “she looks like a leader” as she was sentenced to prison just for protesting against Israel. Khattab was accused of “throwing stones” and sentenced to six months in Israeli prison in December 2014; her case won international attention and solidarity from student organizations and activists around the world. After her release in June of 2014, Khattab changed her major course of study at Bir Zeit from journalism to law, noting that she planned to become a lawyer to defend Palestinian political prisoners and advocate for their freedom after witnessing their conditions first hand. The U.S and Israel know the power of organized Palestinian women, with identical goals of targeting revolutionaries to suppress political organizing. Lina Khattab is among many Palestinian women imprisoned for being a leader in their community. Another being Khalida Jarrar who has defended political prisoners under the PFLP. Khalida has been arrested in her home and held in indefinite detention by Israeli occupation forces multiple times. Her first arrest was at a protest marking International Working Women’s Day in Ramallah, Palestine, 1989. She was detained in Israeli prison for one month and subsequently became involved in human rights organizing and advocacy as a student at Birzeit University. Khalida Jarrar was actively involved in community-based and university organizing, for self determination. As a Palestinian immigrant to the U.S, Rasmea Odeh has made it her life’s work struggling for an end to Israeli colonization. She was first targeted by the Israeli state, sexually abused by Zionist occupation forces until she signed a document confessing to a bombing in Jerusalem. In moving to the U.S, she did not mark her bogus confession when asked if she has been convicted of a crime on her immigration papers. 11 years after grassroots work in Chicago, the U.S says she committed immigration fraud. In reality, this was a concentrated state effort to suppress the support she has been extending the Arab population of Chicago. Her treatment in both the Israeli and U.S court system reveal the misogyny a part of these institutions. On the one hand, she was raped by Israeli interrogators. On the other, the reality and evidence of her rape was held from the jury when she went on trial.

The Zionist movement is contingent on upholding patriarchy as a justification of their colonization and occupation of Palestine, with officials like Ayelet Shaked the Israeli minister of Justice spewing violent rhetoric against Palestinian women by saying “if she sends her son to to hell she should know she’s going with him, along with the house, and everything inside it.” The struggle for Palestinian liberation is indivisible with the struggle for women’s liberation. We reject the idea that women should support each other solely based on “womanhood”. Women who facilitate Zionist aggression in Palestine do not have any common ground with women resisting it. We reject any ideology which delegitimizes or ignores oppressed peoples right to rebel against colonial conditions. Similarly, we recognize the domestic call for “women’s equality and opportunity” from U.S “feminist” politicians is empty rhetoric. From NYC to Honduras, their actions continue the U.S legacy of white supremacy and dominance. The 1994 “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act”, with the support of First Lady Hillary Clinton, put more police on patrol in working class Black and Latino communities, also enacting a “mandatory minimum” for nonviolent drug related sentences. Prisons today are filled with people of all genders scooped up by this legislation. Under the policy of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the U.S. funneled funds and support to overthrow then Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in 2009. After the U.S backed coup, femicide accelerated among other drug cartels and state police violence. Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Caceres faced repeated death threats from state security forces because of her role organizing against the 2009 coup and her work with the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. She cofounded COPINH in 1993 to address the growing threats posed to indigenous Lena communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods. Cáceres mounted campaigns and lead protests to demand the Lena people have autonomy over their lands. March 3rd, of 2016 she was killed in her home. The assailant is unknown but it is highly likely this is a state sanctioned assassination and almost certain there will be no adequate investigation. This is a clear example of the farce that is “global sisterhood” after all, what do women like Leila Khaled and Golda Meir have in common when they are at the opposite sides of a struggle, with Golda Meir an Israeli Prime minister colonizing Palestinian land through zionist Ideology, and Leila Khaled committing her life to be a freedom fighter in the struggle for Palestinian liberation.

To stand against imperialism, capitalism, and patriarchy is to stand with political prisoners, indigenous women, and those struggling against all systems of oppression around the world.

Smash the Patriarchy!

Smash the Settler Zionist State!

Free Palestine, and Free Women EVERYWHERE!

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