Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sexual Harrassment at Kfar A-Dik

Remember this video, "Arab Men Should Rape Jewish Women Says Egyptian Lawyer"? And the rape in Tahrir Square?

Well, welcome to the reality:

Israeli leftist activists: We are being sexually harassed in the West Bank

I posted originally here, on August 10, 2010.

(Muqata posted this also then)

In essence:

Female activists accuse leftist organizations of belittling cases of harassment by Palestinians for the sake of the struggle against the occupation; Palestinian activist: It is unacceptable that Israeli or foreign women that come to protest in solidarity with us be harassed.

And note the location of this complaint written by an Israeli leftist activist and sent to her friends at Anarchists Against the Wall:

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.”

There is

a wider phenomenon of sexual harassment and assault of Israeli and foreign protesters in the West Bank. In the past two years, at least six incidents were recorded in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: two in Sheikh Jarrah, four more in the Mount Hebron area, in Masra, in Kfar a-Dik, and an alleged case of attempted rape in Umm Salmona, near Bethlehem, that was revealed in Haaretz.

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.”

As some of us bloggers noted at the 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.

And
One activist, who in the past used to frequent the protests in the West Bank but no longer participates, told Haaretz, “Two years ago we had a meeting of women who took part in the struggle against the occupation. It took place in an apartment in Jerusalem, and disturbing things were brought up. Nearly all the women that attended told of cases of harassment or discrimination. One of the women recounted how one night, in a tent set up to help Sheikh Jarrah families, someone tried to grab her. She shouted for help and Palestinians came and asked who it was so that they could ‘take care of him.’”

“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.

I guess that "liberation" needs still to be disconnected from subjugation.

The International Solidarity Movement trains its activists:

The training costs 180 shekels, which includes 4 meals, a place to stay for one night, transportation to Ramallah and the training itself. Any leftover money helps to pay our rent, electricity and water expenses.

...The training will include the following sections:

Hopes and Fears

We will discuss what are our hopes and fears of coming to Palestine are and with working with ISM. Throughout the training we will try to make sure that everyone’s fears are addressed.

Culture

Palestinian culture is very different from western cultures that many of the internationals come from. In this section we will talk about how internationals can respect the culture. We will discuss cultural considerations regarding gender, eating, greeting people, and living/working in Palestinian villages and cities...

Sexual Harassment and Assault

Sexual harassment and assault happens all over the world and can happen to anyone. Unfortunately we have heard about a lot of sexual harassment and assault specifically towards women in the West Bank recently. We have included this section to address how women can hopefully avoid sexual assault and harassment, what to do in case it happens, and how we can all help to stop this and support people that it has happened to.

And here is how is was dealt with last September, in part:

Hannah Beit Halahmi, a well-known activists and feminist blogger...recently mentioned enraged responses that she and others received after they “dared” discuss the phenomenon. These included demands and even threats to avoid the issue...and claims that “they tried to silence it and I foresaw that it would blow up in their faces.”

Beit Halahmi specifically accuses a Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity activists named Avner of calling her, shouting at her, threatening her and demanding that she stop publishing articles about the issue. Avner denies this...



Good luck, girls.


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