Haaretz is reporting that Israeli left wing feminists are running into a bit of a problem that doesn’t seem to jibe with their worldview – sexual harassment from Palestinians. The article opens with a letter penned by one of those feminists:
“Hi everyone, I’m writing this here because I’m not really sure when the next meeting will be. At the demonstration today (February 10, 2012) in Kfar a-Dik, I noticed looks and finger pointing from the shabab (nickname for young Palestinians) that made me feel some discomfort. They talked amongst themselves, and not with me, but the word that came up quite a lot was ‘slut,’ with glances directed toward me. When I met A. and H. (two men), I told them about this, and H. stayed by my side. Despite this, there was some ‘accidental’ touching, and some incidents in which people called me a ‘slut.’ In the end of the day, it was a very unpleasant experience.”
Feminists responded by apparently calling for further analysis:
Recently, a special forum was started by a group of women from leftist groups for the purpose of dealing and monitoring such incidents. “The objective is to learn the subject,” says one of the group’s members. “We want to develop tools and guidelines for creating an environment with fewer cases of harassment.”
It apparently didn’t help much:
The joint activity of Israeli leftist activists on one side and local Palestinians on the other has created rare cases of cooperation in this time of conflict. But at the same time, complaints of sexual harassment by Palestinians started to emerge. In April 2010, an American peace activist filed a complaint against a Palestinian, charging he had tried to rape her. The suspect was later freed when the activist withdrew her complaint.
Hanna Beit Halachmi, a longtime leftist feminist activist, says the outcry began in the spring of 2010, when the organization Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity, issued a message requesting that the female activists arrive to the protests dressed in a manner that is considerate toward the residents.
The statement created a rift between the organization’s female activists and male activists who said their response was exaggerated. Soon after, the activists began holding meetings in which they discussed, among other issues, the issue of sexual harassment.
Those meetings didn’t seem to help much but one female activist had a great idea that is rather basic and doesn’t require academic analysis:
“A female foreign activist of the international solidarity movement that was sleeping in one of the Palestinian villages, where protests against the fence take place, said that one night someone entered her room and tried to grab her, she began to shout and one of her friends rushed to help her. Since then I don’t go to places I ‘shouldn’t’ go to alone, as a women,” she said.
Mahmoud Zohara, a member of the Popular Committee of Masra told Haaretz that the town decided to fight the phenomenon in every way possible. “First, the person responsible for the incident was ostracized. In addition, the Popular Committee decided to file a complaint against him at the Palestinian Court. He was fined NIS 5,000 for his deeds.”
Zohara said that the residents of the town will not accept this phenomenon. “It is unacceptable that Israeli or foreign women that come to protest in solidarity with us be harassed and their human rights be infringed upon.”
Zohara added that the Popular Committee has done much to raise awareness about the issue among the town residents and youth. “One must understand that harassment takes place everywhere – in Tel Aviv and in the United States as well. In these protests there is a very open relationship between the Palestinians and Israeli and foreign activists. This creates friendships, love, and yes, incidents of sexual harassment. But we must put an end to this phenomenon, whatever the price.
Ah, yes, friendships, love, and incidents of sexual harassment.
Yes, harassment does take place in the United States, particularly at OWS protests, which are eerily similar to these protests, involving feminists and Palestinians.
h/t Weasel Zippers