Just How Easy It Is To Give In To Institutionalized Racism

A personal anecdote, which just happened about half an hour ago.

(I think sometimes the small, everyday indicators of how wrong things are hit home more powerfully than the worst horrors we see in pictures or on the news, which are often too gruesome to truly grasp.)

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I sent a shipment to London for a trade show. Brochures, pens.

I get a message that my shipment is held up at security, with a phone number to call. I call.

The security officer asks me a series of expected questions: What is in the boxes, who packed them, were the items special order or from stock in your office, who else knows where the shipment is going… I answer.

Then she asks: Do you have any Arabs employed at your company?

I answer, no.
My stomach is knotted, because I am very unhappy that the level of discrimination against Arabs means that it is pretty obvious that we would have no Arab employees. But I am also relieved, on some level, because I need my shipment to go out, my job depends on successfully getting my projects off the ground.

She asks, do you employ any foreign workers? No.
Not even as cleaners? No.

Okay, your shipment is cleared.

Congratulations to me. I am certified to send brochures to London, all at the tiny price of apartheid.

I feel sick to my stomach.

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Michael Oren Strikes Again, Rewrites History

Ah, Pinkwashing. Is there anything cheerier to wake up to in the morning?

Today, I woke up to to this article, an interview with Israel’s ambassador to the US Michael Oren. Oren, who starred in this blog about a week ago regarding the debacle of trying to forestall CBS News from airing a 60 Minutes piece on the plight of Christian Palestinians.

This time, Oren is preparing for his keynote address at the Equality Forum, an annual LGBTQ conference in Philadelphia. This year, its “featured nation”, inexplicably, is Israel — the nation identified by the UN as the only democracy that limits human rights, the nation carrying out a military occupation of a nation of people for 45 years, the nation doling out wave after wave of anti-democratic legislation aimed at limiting public roles of non-Jews, placing refugees in concentration camps, upholding segregation of women in public spaces, and the list seems endless…

That Israel presents itself as a paradise for LGBT folk is beyond ironic, but it also has a name: PINKWASHING. Pinkwashing is the idea that Israel has conceived of that if it flaunts its relatively good record on LGBT issues, it can divert attention from its anti-democratic, human-rights-violating, occupation-and-conquest-based policies and agendas. (More about pinkwashing here and here.)

And thus, featuring Israel at the Equality Forum, and having the Israeli ambassador as the keynote speaker, has quite rightly been branded the pinkwashing event of the year.

Back to the interview that started this post. It is filled with gems (read: lies, lies, and more lies), but my favorite is this part, which in a nutshell neatly wraps up everything that is wrong, and sick, about how Israel presents the issue:

Michael Oren Reinvents History

What do you say to those that criticize Israel being featured at the Equality Forum?
Israel was fighting for gay rights before the 1967 war. Even when terrorists were blowing up our buses and cafes, there was equality for gays.

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Where do I begin????
(Well, I will just do my best to deconstruct this for you. )

Israel was fighting for gay rights… Really? Fighting? Fighting whom, exactly? Israel is the STATE. If the state wants someone to have rights, it GRANTS them. Who are these nefarious powers FIGHTING with Israel to prevent gay rights?

…before the 1967 war. Again — REALLY?? Two parts here:

  1. Connecting the issue of gay rights and Israeli-Arab war is at the heart of the pinkwashing mentality: What is the relevance? Are the ARABS those evil geniuses preventing Israel from achieving true equality for gays? And,
  2. Gay rights were not a policy issue prior to 1967, given that, for example, sodomy laws were only taken off the law books in 1988, and even then (swear to the spirits!) it was apparently done only through clerical error (accidentally on purpose). When the legislature voted on the new version of the sex crimes law, they didn’t realize that the final bill did not include the sodomy clause. So actually: Israel, the STATE, never actually voted on the issue, never “fought” for inclusion of gay rights in the law.

Note that the vast majority of LGBT rights in Israel were not passed by law — but rather informed by the courts, in which case, the STATE was often the party objecting to those rights. And to the extent that rights have been legislated or incorporated into national policies — NONE of that has been done under the current government, the one Michael Oren represents. So even if there is credit to be handed out, it isn’t credit they get.

Even when terrorists were blowing up our buses and cafes, there was equality for gays. Again, this weird conflation of Arab violence and gay rights. And is this still before 1967? Is Oren claiming there was a state of ongoing terrorism on buses and cafes before the war in which he apparently fought for gay rights? Because there have been spates of terror attacks in Israel, but the worst of them — particularly those aimed at buses and cafes — were after the collapse of the Oslo peace plan, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

So is Oren claiming gays have always has rights in Israel? And yet, oddly, that Israel has had to fight for them? And that the fighting was apparently against Arabs — because otherwise, how does this last sentence even compute? “Even when terrorists were blowing up our buses and cafes (bizarre thought trick connection) there was equality for gays”.

(And the more observant among you already noticed (and are probably biting your tongues) that somehow all we are talking about here is “gay rights”. That is Oren’s level of awareness — in this LGBT heaven! — that “gays” are the only ones who need rights, and BY GOD they already have them! He is giving the keynote address at this LGBTQ convention, and he has no fucking clue what LGBTQ even means. Or rather, to him it is just a means to an end. And the Equality Forum is going along with this.)

Thinking about this made me imagine Oren’s vision of Israel’s war in 1967: Amid exploding buses and cafes, running through the smoke and debris are crack Israeli combat troops — carrying rainbow flags. They halt, and create a phalanx before the Arab enemy with whom they are fighting for their gay rights, and they firmly state: This shall not pass!

Which is how this meme was born :)

Six Day War History According to Michael Oren

Among Oren’s other lies: Israel (or rather “his” ministry) is the only one in the world that grants spousal privileges to gay partners; that Israel provides shelter to Palestinians who are brutally persecuted in their own culture (that has NEVER happened. EVER. Yes, there is an ex-pat Palestinian community in Israel, but they must hide from the authorities because they will be DEPORTED if caught); that Israel is a LIBERAL DEMOCRACY (while his own party is passing laws that create racial, religious, and sex discrimination); Oren claims that proof of this is that groups like alQaws (the Palestinian organization for gender and sexual diversity) are “headquartered in Israel” rather than in the Palestinian territories… Totally ignoring that East Jerusalem is NOT LEGALLY PART OF ISRAEL, and is considered by those very groups to be PALESTINE… The extent of the hijacking of both Palestinian and Israeli queer issues by this most oppressive Israeli government ever is truly staggering.

Here is a statement by Palestinian Queers for BDS (PQBDS) and Pinkwatching Israel.

Here is an open letter by the first LGBTIQ delegation to Palestine.

Community shaken after coordinated attacks on African refugees

It is not likely that if a Jewish kindergarten was so much as threatened, that the police public response would be simply to acknowledge that a complaint was received. Nor would the ENTIRE Israeli media and political machine be completely ignoring that it even happened.

Welcome to apartheid Israel.

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Friday, April 27 2012

Haggai Matar

Four houses and one kindergarten in south Tel Aviv, all serving the African asylum seeker community, were hit  within the same hour by Molotov cocktails. Testimonies from asylum seekers and Israeli neighbors indicate a coordinated pogrom.

Forensic workers take pictures of unused Molotov cocktails

Forensic workers take pictures of unused Molotov cocktails (Oren Ziv / Activestills) (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

“Somebody is trying to get rid of these damn Sudanese,” said an Israeli resident of Shapira neighborhood in south Tel Aviv this morning. The term “Sudanese” is commonly used by Israelis to describe all African asylum seekers. The house adjacent to the house of this Israeli was hit at around 1:30 a.m. by three Molotov cocktails: two were thrown through the window, and one into the entry hall. No one was hurt, as residents and neighbors quickly awoke and extinguished the fire. Another fire bomb was thrown into a neighboring yard, where five asylum seekers sleep outdoors. Furniture was badly burned, but none of the residents were hurt. All of the cases are probably linked, as Mya has noted.

“Whoever did this is right, but he’s doing it the wrong way,” says the neighbor. “This fire almost burned my car, and also – there is a small girl in that house. He should have waited until nobody was home, and then blown the place up to send them a message”.

Asylum seeker looking at a couch burned in the South Tel Aviv attack

Asylum seeker looking at a couch burned in the south Tel Aviv attack (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Shortly after the first two attacks, two more houses were hit in the center of the neighborhood. “My brother and I were sleeping, and we awoke from the sound of the fire – which started right next to my bed,” says Maskala Masgene, an Eritrean asylum seeker. “They opened the window and threw the bottle in through the bars. When I saw it I took the bottle and threw it right out to the street. I couldn’t go back to sleep since. I’m too scared. I understand they were not caught yet, whoever did this. I’ve experienced hate talk on the street before, but nothing like this.”

The apartment next door was the fourth place hit. Here the bottle exploded on the frame of the window. Another Eritrean woman and her four children were sleeping inside, right under the window.

Maskala Masegne speaking about the attack on her home

Maskala Masegne speaking about the attack on her home (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

The fifth attack, at around 2:30 a.m., targeted a kindergarten that also serves as a home to the Nigerian couple who runs it. The burned playground equipment was still visible in the morning. “We didn’t wake up from of the fire, but actually from the knocks on the door by the firefighters,” says Balsin Baraka. “They told us to stay inside, and now the children are coming and have no games to play with outside. I have no idea who could have done this but it’s terrifying.”

All five locations were visited by police forces, who also located unused Molotov cocktails. The Tel Aviv police spokesperson has been contacted for a response but has yet to respond.

The burned kindergarten (Yotam Ronen / Activestills)

While refugees are uncertain about the identity of the attackers, Israeli residents of Shapira are all very certain that this was a racial attack. In addition to the neighbor interviewed above, several other neighborhood activists said that this is a culmination of a dangerous process that’s been going on for quite some time. “There is racist propaganda that comes down from the government, through members of the Municipal Council, and to the street – and this is the result,” accuses Nir Nader, a resident who is planning a solidarity vigil later on today. “People preaching violence should be in prison, and if the state doesn’t stop them – we shall.”

Asylum seekers at the site of the attack

Asylum seeker at the site of fire bomb attack in south Tel Aviv (Activestills)

Haggai Matar is an Israeli journalist and political activist. After writing for the short-lived Palestine Times and for Ha’ir Tel Aviv he is currently working as the municipal correspondent of Zman Tel Aviv, the local supplement of Ma’ariv, and is a prominent writer at the independent Hebrew website MySay.

In 2002 Matar was part of the Shministim (Seniors’) Letter to then PM Ariel Sharon, and was imprisoned for two years for his refusal to enlist to the Israeli army. Since his release he has been active in various groups against the occupation, as well as in several class-based struggles within the Israeli society.

CONTACT: haggai@hotmail.com

© 2012 +972 Magazine

via Community shaken after coordinated attacks on African refugees.

CBS 60 Minutes, Christian Palestinians, and Michael Oren

Post-surgery fatigue, so we’ll just do this in general order without a lot of commentary:

The 60 Minutes Story

60 Minutes’ Bob Simon does a story on why Christian Palestinians are leaving the “Holy Land”, largely disputing any claims (made by Israel) that the Christians are a non-player, just caught up in the wider Jewish/Muslim conflict, and are fleeing because of MUSLIM fanaticism and persecution.

Bob Simon Story on Christian Palestinians

CBS 60 Minutes story on Christian Palestinians

Israel's Attempts to Quash the Story

Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, placed a call to the CBS Chairman, before the piece is even aired, calling it a hatchet job. This is pretty much unheard of. Bob Simon broadcast an interview with Oren, in which Oren baldly admits that the mere existence of the story, without knowing what’s in it, is already enough of a provocation to excuse one country trying to interfere with another’s free press. Uh, yeah.

But that’s not the first Hasbara attempt — here’s an article on some of the efforts made by the Israeli PR machine.

Here is a letter Oren wrote to the Wall Street Journal in which he tries to scatter blame on everyone but Israel.

And here is an excerpt from 60 Minutes where he tries to divert attention to bad things happening elsewhere in the Middle East (why do Israeli officials think that if someone else is doing something bad, that makes them look good?)

Michael Oren does Hasbara on the Christians of the Middle East

Michael Oren does Hasbara on Christian Palestinians

972 Magazine Gets Extra Footage of the Simon-Oren Interview

Humorous take on the Bob Simon / Michael Oren interview

But Seriously...

Why CBS got it wrong -- on the Palestinian Christians Palestinian journalist Omar Rahman has more to say on this. While the subject of Israeli Hasbara efforts is important, somewhere the plight of Christian Palestinians got lost in the shuffle. Rahman wants to tell us that they are PALESTINIANS, and that they suffer the same fate as all Palestinians under the Israeli regime. (read more…)

(Did anyone actually fall for Oren’s “We love our Christians!” routine? You are hereby banned from this blog!).

How I Was Blocked From Facebook

This week, my friend Leehee Rothschild published a record of how she was detained by Israeli security, held, and questioned for hours. Her crime? Political activism on behalf of Palestinians and against Israel’s occupation of that nation. Not surprisingly, some of the responses she got were belittling ones, “boo hoo, you’re quite the martyr, having spent three whole hours in security!”, blatantly ignoring the fact that she was being intimidated, threatened, sexually harassed, her freedom curtailed… Also (as she alluded to in her article) she has had other more intrusive run-ins with Israeli security.

As a matter of fact, Leehee Rothschild is well-known to Israeli security forces because of her ardent and extensive activism, but as long as her politics are on the “wrong” side, she is to be belittled, and reduced to a whining little girl, rather than the powerful, intelligent, political woman she is. (Read more in her blog, Radically Blonde).

Well, Leehee’s story has moved me to do a little whining of my own.

I must admit that while I am also an outspoken, strong, intelligent, and political woman, I have never been arrested for it, or threatened, or tear gassed. I’ve had shouting matches with police, been shoved by them, threatened as part of a group… But so far, I’ve escaped their notice as a focal point. Until, that is, the dreaded FACEBOOK police.

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This week, the Tel Aviv Pride Parade campaign kicked off. Lo and behold, it is entirely based on nationalistic ideas and imagery. Homonationalism is a problematic concept anywhere, but in Israel it takes on special significance, given the sharp divides between Jews and Arabs (whether citizens or not) and the treatment of other marginalized groups.

The reproduction of hegemonic power structures into the “LGBT” community is an ongoing issue. I am fond of calling the LGBT center the “gay-white-man center”, that’s how obvious and blatant the marginalization is. All the men in positions of power there are quick to deny it, and point at the one or two women in the room (somehow, never named, never quoted, never heading up any important projects…). But even the two token white lesbians, does NOT an “LGBT” community make. Nor does it encourage any idea of commitment to equality when Ethiopians, Palestinians, any non-Jews (unless they are cute European gay guys), trans folk of any ethnicity, and others are continually made to feel unwelcome.

So back to the Pride campaign. Based on and inspired by the ultra-nationalist idea of celebrating Israel’s independence, just using the rainbow flag… A white-Jewish-male-gay-guy-spokesman felt obliged to note that “this is not meant to promote nationalist sentiments, and community members from minority sectors are included and invited to participate in the parade.

Well, um. Yeah. Minority sectors = Arabs, right? How kind of you!! I mean, it doesn’t really matter how unfriendly you make it for Arabs, as long as you then add a disclaimer in the small print.

(To put this in context, Arab supreme court justice Salim Joubran was excoriated by Knesset (parliament) members and the public recently for not singing the national anthem (which calls for the *Jewish* national state), and as this is being written, the latest outrage around Arabs (and other minorities) being entirely excluded from Israel’s upcoming Independence Day ceremonies.)

So, back to me, and Facebook. I made a poster/caricature of the Gay Center similar to this one:

It’s not about the WHITE, it’s about the PRIDE, dummy!

Israeli Gay Pride Welcomes Minorities!

Having gotten carried away with my own annoyance at the Center, and my desire to point out the ridiculousness in their assertions of inclusion, I disregarded the fact that Facebook runs bots on your pictures, and can pick out certain symbols. They immediately flagged the klansman, and blocked me indefinitely, putting a dent in my political activism as well as my social life!

So now I know what it feels like to be singled out by the police for my activism for social justice. And just for kicks, here is another draft of the idea.

Israel Gay Pride -- Minorities Welcom

Highlighting Women

The more I get involved with feminist activism and the more I read and research for this blog, the more I discover how many women are out there every day in every aspect of public and private life, dedicating themselves to changing the order of things.

Isn’t this beautiful?

2010 performance highlighting women’s rights in Tajikistan. The show, Three Stories, emphasizes issues affecting rural Tajik women. The first scene focuses on women’s right to education. The second scene shows the consequences of being in an unregistered marriage, and the third illustrates how mothers can get child support payments from their children’s fathers.

One of the pitfalls of any activism that wants to change existing power structures is falling into the place of a victim: On one hand, the “system” does victimize the other, whoever is defined as lower in the hierarchy. Such as women, transgender people, people of color, atheists… The list, of course, goes on and on. On the other hand, developing a victim mentality is not necessarily the best way to get out of that morass, IMHO. (Not that everyone has the luxury of making that choice.)

So I believe in highlighting not only the injustices, rife as they are. I want to put a bright shining spotlight on the women who can and do stand up and insist their voice be heard. I really can’t do enough to give credit to these women. But I promise to continue featuring them as they come across my desktop and consciousness.

Haneen Zoabi

Haneen Zoabi is the first woman to be elected to the Israeli parliament (Knesset) on an Arab party’s list – the Balad (National Democratic Assembly) party.

Zoabi first came to public prominence because of her participation in the controversial 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. In the ensuing raid on the flotilla, Zoabi mediated the evacuation of the wounded from the flotilla, and was subsequently among those arrested by the Israeli military. She was later censured by the Knesset for her participation, and stripped of parliamentary privileges. An investigation of Israeli nationals (including Zoabi) who participated in the flotilla took place, but ultimately was closed without charging anyone. Public opinion ran strongly against Zoabi (among Jewish Israelis, that is); she received death threats, and was jeered in the Knesset, and even faced a physical attack by fellow member of parliament Anastassia Michaeli.

See some great coverage of the entire saga in the Tikun Olam blog, including articles, pictures, and videos.

→ Here is an interview with Haneen Zoabi on challenging Zionism and demanding co-existence ←

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

“Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.”

“I cannot emphasize enough how wrongheaded this is. Withholding criticism and ignoring differences are racism in its purest form. Yet these cultural experts fail to notice that, through their anxious avoidance of criticizing non-Western countries, they trap the people who represent these cultures in a state of backwardness. The experts may have the best of intentions, but as we all know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Caged Virgin:
An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam

“I would like to be judged on the validity of my arguments, not as a victim.”
― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a controversial figure, to say the least.

Born into a traditional Muslim family, Hirsi Ali was raised in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, and like most girls of her background, underwent genital mutilation. When in her early twenties she found herself being forced into marriage with a distant cousin she’d never met, Hirsi Ali escaped and sought political asylum in The Netherlands (under circumstances that were later a subject of controversy as well, though the issue has since been put to rest).

She has since become an author, politician, feminist and anti- female genital incision activist, and outspoken critic of Islam, having renounced her religion and become an atheist. She was a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. She founded the AHA Foundation, whose mission is to protect the rights of girls and women in the west from oppression justified by religion and culture.

The controversy surrounding Hirsi Ali centers primarily on her opposition to Islam. Some critics accuse her of playing into right-wing Christian hands with her anti-Islamic stances. Others accuse her of over-generalization on the topic.

In 2004, together with director Theo van Gogh, she made Submission, a film about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures. The film resulted in van Gogh’s assassination by an Islamic extremist, who pinned a death threat against Hirsi Ali to his victim’s chest. Because of the ongoing death threats against her (she is under fatwa for apostasy), Hirsi Ali subsequently announced that she would not make the planned sequel Submission II out of fear for her life. She now lives in the US in safe houses, under constant police protection.

Hedy Lamarr

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“Any girl can be glamorous,” Hedy Lamarr once said. “All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.” Lamarr would know — the film star hid a brilliant, inventive mind beneath her photogenic exterior. In 1942, at the height of her Hollywood career, she patented a frequency-switching system for torpedo guidance that was decades ahead of its time.

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If you are a fan of Hollywood’s glamour era, you probably know one of its major sex symbols, Hedy Lamarr. However, beyond being crowned by some the most beautiful woman in the world, and being famous for the first on-film simulated orgasm, Lamarr was a brilliant mind and a groundbreaking inventor.

Together with avant-garde composer George Antheil, Lamarr invented and patented a frequency-hopping radio signal intended to prevent jamming by the enemy of torpedo guidance systems (they called it the “Secret Communications System”). While the Navy didn’t immediately put the technology into use, they eventually dusted it off and found new applications for it. The kind that most of us now use.

Like wireless communications (ever heard of Bluetooth?). Yep, based on the invention of Hedy Lamarr.

…………..

“Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World,” by Pulitzer prize winning author Richard Rhodes

NPR: ‘Most Beautiful Woman’ By Day, Inventor By Night

Palestine-Israel Medley

Selected posts and articles from the Israel/Palestine frontier. Mostly about women, of course. 

Palestinian artist is removed from art competition

Larissa Sansour is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist, who uses Middle-East politics in her work. Sansour was shortlisted for the 2011 Lacoste Elysée Prize, an art competition hosted by the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée, with funding from the Lacoste clothing brand.

The theme of the competition this year was la joie de vivre, and participants were given free rein to interpret this any way they desired. Sansour’s project, Nation Estate, envisioned “a Palestinian state rising from the ashes of the peace process.” The project depicted a science fiction-style Palestinian state in the form of a single skyscraper housing the entire Palestinian population.

Sansour was then notified that Lacoste requested she be removed from the competition, as her work was too “pro-Palestinian”. Controversy ensued, with accusations of censorship against Lacoste and the Musée de l’Elysée. The museum eventually withdrew from hosting the competition. The museum and Lacoste stated that Sansour’s work did not fit the theme. The museum offered to do a separate exhibit of Sansour’s work.

♦ Larissa Sansour Speaks Out
 Detailed interview with Larissa Sansour
 Larissa Sansour’s Nation Estate

Palestine: Women First / Photographic Exhibition

Photographed by Mati Milstein and curated by Saher Saman, the exhibition will open May 25th at Marji Gallery & Contemporary Projects, in Santa Fe, New Mexico

“This is the story of a new generation of radical Palestinian activists who stand out from their society in the most distinct way: they are women. These activists are on the front lines of West Bank protest, they are beaten and face arrest and sexual harassment for their bold role. “ Read more…

Palestine: Women First II from Mati Milstein on Vimeo.

Milstein was inspired to do this project by the following analysis by Gila Danino-Yona, on photographic documentation of women in the Arab Spring:

Women of the Revolution, or Revolutionary Women?

How have women been depicted in these Arab Spring uprisings? Danino-Yonah identified several typical categories.

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Category I – Weakened Femininity

Women crying, women frightened, women throwing up, women screaming….


.Category II – A Woman is Always a Woman

Women cleaning, women preening, women pretty in pink and chatting on the phone…

Category III – Thanks to Our Men

Women being grateful, women being worshipful, women swelling with maternal pride…

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Category IV – Female Gaddafi supporters beyond the consensus

The “good” women are represented according to the feminine stereotypes above. But when a woman supports, say, Gaddafi, she is shown ugly, angry, scary, crazed, violent…

.

But – if you look for them – you will find revolutionary women, too.

Maybe not the typical image shown, but they were certainly there!

(You can see my personal take on some revolutionary women here)

Reflections of an Arab Jew

This article is by an American, but it relates directly to the Israeli-Arab conflict. One of the major casualties of this conflict is the identity of millions of Jews who are from Arab countries. In today’s political climate, “Arab” and “Jew” are deemed opposites. What does that do to someone who is both? Especially when the “Jew” in that equation is assumed to be European — related to via European literature, humor, art, food, music… That they have nothing to do with?

Ella Habiba Shohat is only the second person I have had the privilege to read on this greatly underrepresented topic, and I am so glad I found this short, but poignant article.

B’Tselem West Bank Video

B’Tselem is the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

In January 2007, B’Tselem launched its camera distribution project, a video advocacy project, providing Palestinians living in high-conflict areas with video cameras, with the goal of bringing the reality of their lives under occupation to the attention of the Israeli and international public.

In 2011, volunteers in the camera project filmed over 500 hours of footage in the West Bank. The video was edited into two minutes meant to sum up the passing year

Women, women, & women

I’m not a fan of hierarchical lists. I think there are millions of brave and inspiring women who are unknown and unrecognized, whose bravery is in standing up every day to oppressive cultures, governments, and families; who go to work, protect their children, survive violence, and more. I am publishing these lists to give recognition where I can, and to encourage more recognition, and more women to step up and step out – as much as they can. Because I firmly believe we are the ones who can, and will, bring the changes we want and need.

And because these women bring tears to my eyes and joy to my heart.

Amnesty International’s 50 Bravest Women in the World

From every continent, from every walk of life – these are women who have stood up to oppression on various fronts: Rape, women’s rights, political oppression, war, the environment, poverty, disease…

At any place and for any issue that needs righting, you will find women fighting.

Check out this online magazine by and about Kashmiri people, with great focus on women

Nobel Women

+972 Magazine chose a list of women activists from the Arab world as Person of the Year

Huffington Posts list of the 50 Best Moments for Women in 2011

Free birth control, girl-on-girl sailor action, Elizabeth Warren, the indomitable Rachel Maddow, the British monarchy goes modern, dancers, comedians, and women heading companies… Fun slideshow.

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Standout performance here is Anne Marsen in Girl Walk All Day – if you don’t want to feel good, don’t watch this!

More info at http://girlwalkallday.com/

Forbes top 100 websites for women

Yes, it includes some mommy and lifestyle sites, but it also includes business/entrepreneurial websites, and feminist blogs (that are already on my blogroll! Check them out).

The Huff objects to how women are left off lists of the most important people of the year (noting that to even make the Times runner-up list, you need to be a princess. No other women were apparently outstanding this year. The Huff disagrees, and so do I). Here’s the Huffington list of top women.

Some additional women on MY list:

Daphne Leef and Stav Shafir are the two women leaders of Israel’s J14 social movement that was born when Leef staked a tent on a central Tel Aviv boulevard last summer, to protest out-of-control rent increases. The movement caught fire as Israelis from all walks of life joined to protest the cost of living, decreasing social rights, and increasing economic gaps. The protest wave brought hundreds of thousands of people out into the street in a way never seen before in the country.

What Occupy Wall Street Can Learn from Occupy Tel Aviv

Other links

Facebook page: Women Resisters to Authority

The Huff’s list of most ridiculous quotes about women in 2011, and who said them

Revolutionary women in this blog

After the Fall

Back to Nabi Saleh, after the murder of Mustafa Tamimi:
Sexual intimidation by the military, and the double standard for Israelis and Palestinians — even Israelis on the “wrong” side.

This post was begun the week after Mustafa Tamimi was killed, when local Palestinians and supporting activists went out again for their weekly protest. Tension was fierce, I am told, as everyone wondered if there would be more violence (there was).

Meanwhile, other events took over, and another weekly protest or two have come and gone. Ho hum. Back to the normal business of occupation and resistance. Which of course takes place in many other places, not only Nabi Saleh.

I want to share with you the testimony of activist Sahar Vardi, of that first time back after Tamimi’s murder (December 16, 2011):

A few minutes before I was arrested in Nabi Saleh on Friday, we were walking near the soldiers. I kept pretty close to them while they approached the main road, mainly because I knew that the other soldiers would not shoot tear gas in the vicinity of the soldiers – a sort of reverse human shield strategy. Anyway, I was walking, and I don’t remember anymore whether I spoke with them or not. I think I did, I think I asked them why they were there, and if they feel they are protecting something, someone, or me? And then one of the soldiers turned to me and asked: “How big is the Arab cock you’re getting?” Many answers ran through my mind, most if not all of them at the same level as his question. And no, I don’t answer, it’s better not to answer. I will gain nothing from it, I will be speaking with myself only if I say anything. And still, it echoes in my head for hours. It doesn’t harm me. It doesn’t bother me at that level. Or maybe it does, it harms me not as “me” but as a woman – and a political woman. It harms me because, as I explained to the interrogator later at my interrogation, at the point where they ask “Do you have anything to add” – and I had what to add – I want to add that a soldier asked me, “How big is the Arab cock I’m getting.”And the investigator stopped short in astonishment. Not so much because of the fact that the soldier asked me that, but more because of the fact that I said it. And he asked me why I said it, as I knew he would, and I had my answer ready, and I answered him, but fuck it, what does that mean, why did I say it? Why did HE say it?!

So here’s the explanation to the interrogator for what bothers me so much, and why I have to say it, and why I should file a complaint for sexual harassment if I identify the soldier: Because that soldier, in a single sentence that was to him just an insult and nothing more, removed from me, as a woman, any idea of free choice, any possibility of being a political being, of having positions and thoughts and ideas of my own. I am a tool. I am a sexual tool in the hands, or thoughts, or bed of a man. That’s what I know how to do, and that’s how my thoughts, ideas, and ideologies are formed. I am a woman – I am a sexual object – and anything I do, including protesting, is the result of a man objectifying me. I am a woman, I am a sexual object of the soldier or the Arab, ours or the enemy’s, but either way, it doesn’t matter which side I sleep with, their cock is what determines my opinions and thoughts. Their size it what determines whether I protest here, or enlist there. So that’s what aggravates me so much, that with just one sentence, without even thinking about it, that soldier put me back in the position of an object with no desires other than its sexual desires. An object that must be the property or objective for conquest of an instrument, and of course, it is size that determines whose instrument it will be; an object whose every thought, idea, or action is ultimately determined by one thing – a cock.

And to today’s double standard — emphasized by the heroism of two women: 

Vardi was arrested along with other protesters. As usual – the Israeli protesters were let go within a day, while the Palestinians were held over.

This time, Vardi and another woman – Ayala Shah – refused to be released until the Palestinians were released. Let’s just say it took a while.

See a video from the protest here: Who’s Afraid of Women’s Song?

Tahrir and Beyond

By now, the image of the Egyptian “woman in the blue bra”, being stripped, dragged, and kicked by soldiers is probably seared onto your retinas. It is on mine. Few images of women protesting for their rights have ever sparked that degree of coverage. I’m not exactly sure if the prurient aspect of her bra being revealed is the reason, or her presumed humiliation for being undressed that way… After all, women are often humiliated, with no international consequences.

I also wonder why three weeks of protests against the military government, and then escalation to violence where many women and men were beaten, shocked, and humiliated, and at least 10 people were killed (10 at that point; the number is now at least 17) – didn’t evoke a particular response.

Either way, what was astounding and wonderful in my eyes, beyond the recognition of the brutality and the reason for it – this brave woman standing up for her freedom – is the tremendous wave of protests by women in Egypt in response. For almost a week now, thousands and thousands of women are taking to the streets, saying – we are drawing a red line, and you may no longer cross it! (View video)

           “It is your eyes that are cheap”

And in the spirit of the Tahrir, here are some other women’s protests from around the world this past week:

Late edit: I am happy to report that women were everywhere this week, so this is far from comprehensive. Let’s call it a very significant sample.

Belarus          December 19

The Ukrainian feminist group Femen organized a protest in Minsk against Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko. In addition to commemorating the brutal shut-down of the protest of his fraudulent re-election last year, Femen protests sex trafficking carried out via Belarus. Protesters were teargassed, beaten, and many were arrested. Three of the protesters have reported that they were taken by the KGB, blindfolded, stripped, doused with gasoline and threatened with immolation. The KGB agents then beat them, cut their hair, took their money, clothes, and passports, and left them in the woods, 120 miles from Minsk. In addition, at least a dozen reporters were detained, including Australian reporter Kitty Green, and several Belarusian reporters. Though no charges were filed, the reporters were fingerprinted and interrogated, and the photos on their cameras were erased. In that spirit — view a photo album of the protest.

Yemen             December 20

A women’s march in Yemen on Tuesday

Bahrain             December 15-17

Bahraini women occupy a roundabout on December 15 — simply sitting there, asserting their right to be. Nevertheless, authorities violently removed the women, and beat and arrested activists Zainab AlKhawaja (shown above) and Fathiya Abduali. On December 17, the third day of anti-government protests, protesters react to tear gas fired by riot police.

India          December 14

A sit-in demanding fair compensation for farmland seized by the government for private development.