Aren’t Ahed and Nariman Tamimi women too?

Activism
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As thousands of women, and men, dust off their pink pussy hats ahead of this weekend’s anniversary Women’s March, we are seeing many of the divisions that riddled last year’s rallies surface again.  Thankfully, we are also witnessing the emergence of a solid alternative to the shortcomings of imperial feminism.

This is most obvious in Los Angeles, where Scarlett Johansson is scheduled to be a featured speaker.  In 2014, Johansson stepped down from her role as an ambassador for the global charity organization Oxfam, which she had represented for eight years, so she would keep endorsing SodaStream, the Israeli sparkling water company with a  factory in an illegal West Bank settlement.  Johansson, who says she does not regret her decision, had also spoken at last year’s march, in DC, but her presence at this year’s rally, in Los Angeles, is being challenged more vigorously.  An Open Letter and petition asking the organizing committee to engage in genuine intersectionality and not erase Palestinian women’s experience has gathered thousands of signatures at the time of this writing and is still going strong as a number of progressive organizations, including the southern California-based PAWA, (the Palestinian American Women’s Association), Jewish Voice for Peace,  Code Pink, and al-Awda: the Palestine Right of Return Organization have endorsed it.  The Open Letter invites marchers interested in featuring Palestinian women’s oppression to join the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist International Women’s Strike, scheduled in March on International Women’s Day. PAWA, which had been invited to speak at the Los Angeles march, later issued its own statement explaining that it “cannot in good conscience partner itself with an organization that fails to genuinely and thoughtfully recognize when their speaker selection contradicts their message” of inclusivity “focused on marginalized voices.”

The 2018 Women’s march in Los Angeles has received sponsorship from the National Jewish Women’s Council, whose chief executive officer, Nancy Kaufman, had declared last year she was satisfied with “assurances the [2017] march is not anti-Trump and not anti-Israel.”

Kaufman’s comments are puzzling, to say the least, since the march was certainly meant as a protest against Trump’s overt misogyny—that was the very impetus behind the march, which was timed one day after his inauguration.   As to the concern that the march would be anti-Israel, it expresses the awareness, amongst Zionists, that progressives are finally moving away from the unquestioning embrace of the Zionist narrative.  (The NWJC identifies “Israel advocacy” as one of its priorities).  Ironically, Kaufman is certainly correct in linking opposition to Trump with opposition to Israel, as white supremacy indeed goes hand in hand with Zionism.

Another organizational participant in the march is the “Zioness Movement,” which formed shortly after last year’s Women’s March, primarily in response to the challenge, by many feminists, of the inclusion of Zionism in progressive circles.  A “Zioness“, according to that movement’ website, is someone who is proud, progressive, and “stands for justice and fights against all forms of oppression”.  Obviously, Zionesses do not view Israel’s seventy years of the violation of Palestinian human rights as a form of oppression.

Indeed, with the rapidly growing global denunciations of Israel’s abuses, the Zioness Movement seems like a desperate attempt to hold on to the glory days, when Zionism went mostly unquestioned as a progressive redemptive movement, and when Feminism (with a capital F) was predominantly about middle class white woman’s concerns.  And yet women of color feminism, a fully developed parallel discourse, has always existed alongside Feminism, asking that troublesome question, “Ain’t I a woman?” Today, the question seems to be “and aren’t Ahed and Nariman Tamimi women?” In this light, Zionists who insist that they are feminists are reactionary, holding on to privileges they wish would not be questioned, disrupted by a counter-narrative they had hitherto kept at bay.

“It is both unsurprising and immensely disappointing that the organizers of the women’s march have decided to cover up Israeli apartheid with the banner of women’s liberation,” Tithi Bhattacharya, National Organizer for the International Women’s Strike, wrote me in a private email.

“It is unsurprising because Scarlett Johansson was a speaker for the women’s march last year when millions of people had come out to resist the Trump presidency.  In other words, the politics of the organizers have not changed. It is disappointing because nearly 4 million people marched on the historic women’s day march in 2017.  I am absolutely sure that the vast majority of them did not march to support Israel’s brutal colonial regime, or to suppress the brilliant history of Palestinian resistance,” Bhattacharya added.

Yet that “brilliant history” is indeed being suppressed, when the oppression of Palestinian women and children is not foregrounded in discussions of systematic abuses by socio-political structures of misogyny.  And the fact that Zionists, despite the #MeToo movement and national conversation it has opened up, still cannot acknowledge Israel’s assault on Palestinian women and children—indeed, on the entire Palestinian people–is yet further proof that Zionism and feminism are incompatible.  Just as white feminists of the 1950s believed a job outside the house would offer them the fulfillment they lacked, and were oblivious to the misery of women of color who juggled two jobs and could not make ends meet, today’s “Zionist feminists” are utterly oblivious to the oppression of Palestinian women, incapable of comprehending that Zionism hinges on the violently-maintained disenfranchisement of another people.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, author of the MuslimGirl blog, described the erasure of Palestinian women’s experiences in an Open Letter explaining why she was declining Revlon’s “changemaker award,” which celebrates Israeli actor Gal Gadot’s “live boldly” campaign. Accepting the award, Al-Khatahtbeh writes, “would have been turning a blind eye to the plight of women and girls like Ahed. I’m writing this because I want to make it clear that this is not about you or me. This is about the moral obligation of privileged women like ourselves to rise to the moment of demanding freedom for Ahed and that of countless other girls like her.

“I believe that there are a few things we should all be able to agree on, and standing against the mass incarceration of children feels like it should be an easy one. Regardless of whatever political convictions you may hold, I have to believe that every woman, especially the current face of Wonder Woman, can agree that Israel must free a 16-year-old girl from its prison system and military courts. There must be some lines drawn upon which our humanity can collectively agree,” Al-Khatahtbeh explains.

Gadot, who is proud of her service in the Israeli military, and has expressed support for the Israeli army during its 2014 assault on Gaza, is viewed by mainstream feminists as a role model for many.  As Bhattacharya put it:  “We need to break this chilling yoking of Zionism with Feminism.  Violence, apartheid, the brutalization of women and children—the hallmarks of Zionism—have no space in the feminist movement.  If we are to fight for women’s rights we cannot do it selectively so that our politics of liberation stops at the apartheid wall of the West Bank. Indeed, when we organized the International Women’s strike last year, a few weeks after the women’s march, we received tremendous popular support even though we had the decolonization of Palestine as one of our central demands,” Bhattacharya added.

Palestinian women and our allies have long pointed out the erasure of our oppression from mainstream feminist discourse.  Hopefully 2018, and the grassroots insistence that Palestine must be included in intersectional struggles for justice, will put an end to that.

About Nada Elia

Nada Elia is a Palestinian scholar-activist, writer, and grassroots organizer, currently completing a book on Palestinian Diaspora activism.

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14 Responses

  1. eljay
    January 19, 2018, 7:13 pm

    … The 2018 Women’s march in Los Angeles has received sponsorship from the National Jewish Women’s Council, whose chief executive officer, Nancy Kaufman, had declared last year she was satisfied with “assurances the [2017] march is not anti-Trump and not anti-Israel.” …

    Shame on Ms. Kaufman for doing what Zionists never fail to do: Anti-Semitically conflate Israel with all Jews and all Jews with Israel.

  2. ritzl
    January 19, 2018, 8:37 pm

    Sandra Tamari, one of the kindest and most determined advocates for Palestinian rights, said back in the Occupy* days that she was told that simply holding workshops for Palestinian advocacy under that “umbrella” protest would be “too divisive.” Too divisive how exactly? And told by whom?

    Now this.

    Don’t these activists know by now that support of Palestinian rights is THE discriminating factor in whether one (and one’s “movement”) is credible or not? Support for Palestinians shows courage, commitment, and consistency, without which nothing that is said or claimed has any meaning whatsoever.

  3. JWalters
    January 20, 2018, 5:24 pm

    Now that Hillary is gone from the scene perhaps the women’s movement can free itself from Zionist control. Hill and Bill were “captured” by the Zionists and banksters, just as federal regulatory agencies get “captured” by the industries they’re supposed to regulate. The bankster process of “capturing” politicians is described from first hand experience by John Perkins in “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”. The leaked DNC emails showed that Hillary intentionally and carefully kept her financial puppeteers hidden from her base. (The actual evidence shows these emails were leaked by a disgruntled insider, probably a Bernie supporter, not hacked by the Russians.)

    The exclusion of Palestinian women and children from the concerns of the women’s movement was always a huge, immoral hole in their agenda. It may normally take a village to raise a child, but it takes the heartless, criminal obliteration of many hundreds of Palestinian villages to raise an Israeli child. This was a bankster project, spearheaded by the Rothschild bank. See “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

    When FDR coined the term “bankster” he was not being cute. He had worked on Wall Street and knew the bankers personally. He was telling the American people that the Wall Street bankers IN FACT operate like gangsters.

    The women’s movement is potentially a HUGE force in waking American voters up to FDR’s understanding. This realization is essential to stop the banksters’ needless, manufactured wars for profit (Iraq and its chaotic aftermath, Vietnam, Iran next?), and their needless, manufactured economic crises for their “record profits” (Great Recession).

    The American people have been lied to by these financial power centers through their control of the mainstream news outlets for decades.

  4. JosephA
    January 20, 2018, 11:09 pm

    Thanks for the excellent article, Nada.

    May the “Progressive, except Palestine” creed be destroyed in 2018!

  5. StanleyHeller
    January 21, 2018, 10:38 am

    To publicize the persecution of Tamimis at the Hartford march we bought two banners and stationed them where thousands passed by. We also gave out 1,000 half page flyers 0:35 video here https://youtu.be/ZMr3d1nZHRs

  6. LHunter
    January 21, 2018, 6:23 pm

    Thank you so very much Nada – I so enjoyed reading your article. Wonderfully written about perhaps the most exciting arm of the movement for Palestinian rights. Women’s rights and Palestinian rights converging to liberate the oppressed – nothing could be better.

    Perhaps it’s more befitting for Scarlett Johansson to be the spokesperson for the Zioness Movement – handing out SodaStream cola’s to quench their thirst for supremacy.

    • JWalters
      January 24, 2018, 9:32 pm

      Scarlett Johansson services the Hollywood Zionist cabal on whom her career depends.

      In stark contrast is Linda Sarsour, an intelligent, thoughtful, courageous woman who is playing an instrumental role in organizing women for social justice. Sarsour is interviewed about her recent book on C-SPAN here:
      https://www.c-span.org/video/?439545-1/after-words-linda-sarsour

      Let’s see a debate between Scarlett Johansson and Linda Sarsour. No contest.

      • LHunter
        January 31, 2018, 12:47 pm

        JWalters – Does a Zionist Hollywood cabal exist? Some notable Hollywood actors have had their careers disrupted and or ended for answering that question in the affirmative. They were accused, of course, of being antisemitic. Hope you don’t have any plans to act on the big screen.

        I’d pay to see a debate between Linda Sarsour and Scarlett Johansson – give Scarlett the new Wonder Woman bigot, Natalie Portman, and Roseane Barr and still no contest. The truth is the truth and bigotry is bigotry.

  7. Talkback
    January 21, 2018, 8:24 pm

    Listen: How Israel “couldn’t bear” Ahed Tamimi’s slap
    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/listen-how-israel-couldnt-bear-ahed-tamimis-slap

    What a rotten Apartheid Junta.

  8. Marnie
    January 21, 2018, 11:38 pm

    Bravo to Amani Al-Khatahtbeh for refusing to accept the prize offered by Revlon, who’ve chosen a zionist priestess to represent their ‘brand’ and are probably scraching their heads trying to figure out WTF this hijabi girl is rattling on about, just shut up and take your award FFS. Maybe Gal will explain it all to them. I was particularly sickened to see #MeToo being hogtied by other zionist priestess’ and apologists, including, natalie portman, scarlett johanson and others but these 3 shouldn’t be guests at anyone’s table when the discussion is human rights until they’ve divorced themselves from zionism, so I think that means never. They’re being involved in any fashion ruins it. Be as brave as Amani and disinvite these zionist whores, who never should have been allowed in, in the first place. They obviously believe, like zionists do, that they can go wherever they want irrespective of who is there first. signed that petition – thanks for including it!

  9. Marnie
    January 22, 2018, 12:25 am

    It begins ….

    Revlon Award Winner Has History of Anti-Semitism
    As both editor and performer, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh endorsed blood libels against Jews and 9/11 Truther conspiracies
    By John-Paul Pagano Tablet Magazine

    “Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder and editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl—an online magazine where “Muslim women talk back” to combat “misconceptions surrounding Islam”—made headlines last week when she turned down an award from multinational beauty giant Revlon because of the company’s engagement with Israeli actress Gal Gadot.

    “I cannot accept this award from Revlon with Gal Gadot as the ambassador,” Al-Khatahtbeh announced in a statement on Twitter. “Her vocal support of the Israel Defense Forces’ actions in Palestine goes against MuslimGirl’s morals and values.”

    The rejection, of course, is well within Al-Khatahtbeh’s rights, but it’s also an invitation to examine precisely what MuslimGirl’s morals and values truly are. A good place to start may be a piece, published by MuslimGirl in 2016, entitled “Israel’s Organ Harvesting and the UK’s BDS Movement”.

    Written by “Yelena,” a mysterious doula from San Francisco, the piece is mostly a rehash of professional anti-Semite Alison Weir’s riff on the blood-libel—a conspiracy theory in which Israel occupies Palestinian territory in order to murder the locals and loot their body parts. But like all knockoffs, the piece’s craftsmanship is poor, so Yelena’s version is helpful in that it sheds Weir’s usual scrupulosness and directly cites anti-Semites as sources. What sources does “Yelena” offer to document the ghoulish crimes of which she accuses the Jewish state? These include Iran’s PressTV and 9/11 Truther Michel Chussodovsky’s conspiracist web site, GlobalResearch. Both are classic “fake news” media, distributing anti-Jewish conspiracy theories by the shipping container throughout the Internet. Most troubling, however, is the article’s quotation of retired Cal State psychology professor Kevin MacDonald, a darling of far-Right anti-Semites, who couches standard white-supremacist teachings about Jewish “white genocide” in trappings of evolutionary psychology. Here’s what “Yelena” took from MacDonald: “Organized American Jewish lobbying groups and deeply committed Jews in the media are behind the pro-Israel U.S. foreign policy that is leading to war against virtually the entire Arab world.”

    Of course, even the most scrupulous publications sometime publish regrettable pieces, although it’s hard to imagine how Al-Khatahtbeh, in her role as editor-in-chief, could let such blatant hate speech see the light of day. And it’s even harder to absolve Al-Khatahtbeh of responsibility considering that she had also published, in her past capacity as editor of Rutgers University’s Daily Targum, a piece by a student named Colleen Jolly which complained about the “Jewish nature” of Hillel and Jewish misuse of money.

    Sadly, Al-Khatahtbeh’s history of bigotry doesn’t end there. In a 2012 video, which Al-Khatahtbeh has apparently tried to scrub off of her YouTube account but which remains archived online, she is seen boarding a C Train in Manhattan and delivering a spoken word piece called, “This is a Verbal Vendetta.” Spitting out angry and vaguely threatening lines like “You made us all one face of terror / You created the problems ensuing / And the mask you placed upon us, will be your own undoing,” Al-Khatahtbeh soon starts talking about “the puppet media” and at one points barks out “9/11 was an inside job!”

    These vile examples of anti-Semitism weren’t concealed, and took no more than a moderate search online to find. That neither Revlon nor the media covering Al-Khatahtbeh’s rejection of Gal Gadot bothered doing minimum due diligence to accurately report on Al-Khatahtbeh’s views and beliefs is deeply troubling.

    The implicit assumption here is that honoring a young Muslim woman means embracing stomach-turning extremes of racism, anti-semitism and conspiratorial lunacy. Luckily, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The cultural ignorance and condescension displayed by misguided people who honor outspoken bigots as token “representatives” of large population groups is both a symptom and a cause of bigotry.”

    The paternalism dripping off every word of this article is nauseating, especially “The rejection, of course, is well within Al-Khatahtbeh’s rights” is duh-obvious, but his real point “but it’s also an invitation to examine precisely what MuslimGirl’s morals and values truly are” is just infuriating. But I guess ‘due diligence’ is what Pagano had in mind when he decided to carry the cross for Tablet’s ‘journalism’ and create the real story of course, a story chock full of antisemitism carried out by a wicked little semite MuslimGirl. No one has, even if they are pronounced by a zionist rag, to be ‘well within (name of your antisemite here) rights” the right to actually exercise that right if it has anything at all to do with the zionist state. What a laugh. And every single person who is villianized by Tablet or any other prozionist rag is done with the same handful of words, their views and beliefs are “deeply disturbing”. But Gal Gadot’s love of the IDF is right as the rain of terror unleased on Gaza all of her military and civilian life – God Bless the IDF!!! God bless the bloody bastards. God bless the english, for leaving their horrifying existence in europe, to create a horror and terror never known before in an edenic land untouched by filthy european hands. Oh and god bless the americans, who battled for their freedom against english tyranny to create a haven of freedom and liberty, a democracy, for all white men, on the backs of black men, between the legs of black women, on what remained of the land of the human beings, the only ‘americans’ that ever were.

    • LHunter
      January 23, 2018, 8:12 pm

      Marnie – it doesn’t take long for the zionist criminals to paint everything antizionist as antisemitic. Thanks for sharing that.

  10. NorthCascadian
    January 24, 2018, 12:00 pm

    Here in Portland, it was PEP all the way during the women’s marches, depressingly so. Recently I was at a Palestinian Solidarity group meeting, I asked “what is the Zionist agenda for Palestine and the United States?” Fear and silence was the response. It is clear from the Jewish/Israeli brutal,brutish, crude, violent, genocidal actions in Palestine what their agenda is. Here in the states, the Zionist agenda is also clear, but a little less visible, which is how they like it. No discussion of the mighty spirit of resistance displayed by Ahed and the other Palestinians struggling for Liberation. Crushing and intimidating what few organizations are even addressing the Palestinian cause is another approach. What else do the Zionists have in store for Americans? Are we all Palestinians?

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