This is a great article, Sameeha. What a shame that the university missed the opportunity in hiring someone strong like you! You are on a courageous and admirable journey, and I support you in this.
I do believe that the occupation and the siege has created an atmosphere that is favourable to the cultural conservatism that you and others in the Palestinian society, especially in Gaza, are facing. As such, ending the colonial Western occupation is foremost. Much of the critique in Western media of Islamic conservatism and women’s rights issues is of a patronising and hypocritical nature: they point the finger at the “other” society, but refuse to look in the mirror to see their own role, their own countries’ role in sustaining and supporting the conditions in which secular democratic movements are stifled. (And as a note to OlegR: This also extends to places outside of Palestine. See e.g. the responses to Arab spring uprisings by U.S. allies in the Middle East, with little condemnation from Western powers. It is disingenuous to not see Israel’s role and profit from all this.)
But it is important to hear YOUR voice, as a Palestinian woman writing within Gazan society. Your voice is not divisive. It is a sign that, in spite of being surrounded by colonial occupiers, the society breathes and develops. Diverse voices heard is a sign of a healthy society. By making your voice heard, you are enriching your society. Bravo!