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 Statement in Solidarity with Palestine

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PostSubject: Statement in Solidarity with Palestine   Wed Dec 31, 2008 2:54 pm

Tuesday, March 18, 2008






Statement in Solidarity with Palestine











INCITE!
Women of Color Against Violence endorses the following statement (and
so do i!) ~~~ Given that International Women's Day coincided with the
catastrophic events in Gaza, please show your solidarity by signing the
statement below from the Campaign of Solidarity with Women Resisting
U.S. Wars and Occupation. You can send your name, affiliation, and
place of residence to: solidaritywomen@yahoo..com. Piya Chatterjee & Sunaina Maira


An Open Letter to All Feminists:

Statement of Solidarity with Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim Women

Facing War and Occupation



As
feminists and people of conscience, we call for solidarity with
Palestinian women in Gaza suffering due to the escalating military
attacks that Israel turned into an open war on civilians. This war has
targeted women and children, and all those who live under Israeli
occupation in the West Bank, and are also denied the right to freedom
of movement, health, and education. We stand in solidarity with Iraqi
women whose daughters, sisters, brothers, or sons have been abused,
tortured, and raped in U.S. prisons such as Abu Ghraib. Women in Iraq
continue to live under a U.S. occupation that has devastated families
and homes, and are experiencing a rise in religious extremism and
restrictions on their freedom that were unheard of before the U.S.
invasion, "Operation Iraqi Freedom," in 2003. At this moment in
Afghanistan, women are living with the return of the Taliban and other
misogynistic groups such as the Northern Alliance, a U.S. ally, and
with the violence of continuing U.S. and NATO attacks on civilians,
despite the U.S. war to "liberate" Afghan women in 2001. As of March 6,
2008, over 120 Palestinians, including 39 children and 6 women (more
than a third of the victims), in Gaza were killed by Israeli air
strikes and escalated attacks on civilians over a period of five days,
according to human rights groups.[1] Hospitals have been struggling to
treat 370 injured children, as reported by medical officials. Homes
have been destroyed as well as civilian facilities including the
headquarters of the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions.[2]
On February 29, 2008, Israel's Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Valnai,
threatened Palestinians in Gaza with a "bigger Shoah," the Hebrew word
usually used only for the Holocaust.[3] What does it mean that the
international community is standing by while this is happening?
Valnai's threat of a Holocaust against Palestinians was not just a slip
of the tongue, for the war on Gaza is a continuation of genocidal
activities against the indigenous population. Israel has controlled the
land and sea borders and airspace of Gaza for more than a year and a
half, confining 1.5 million Palestinians to a giant prison. Supported
by the U.S., Israel has imposed a near total blockade on Gaza since
June 2007 which has led to a breakdown in basic services, including
water and sanitation, lack of electricity, fuel, and medical supplies.
As a result of these sanctions, 30% of children under 5 years suffer
from stunted growth and malnutrition. Over 80% of the population cannot
afford a balanced meal.[4] Is this humanitarian crisis going to
approach a situation similar to that of the sanctions against Iraq from
1991-2003, when an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children died to lack of
nutrition and medical supplies, and the woman who was then Secretary of
State, Madeline Albright, proclaimed that the death of a half million
Iraqi children was worth the price of U.S. national security? As
feminists and anti-imperialist people of conscience, we oppose direct
and indirect policies of ethnic cleansing and decimation of native
populations by all nation-states. In the current climate of
U.S.-initiated or U.S.-backed assaults on women in Palestine, Iraq, and
Afghanistan, we are deeply troubled by one kind of hypocritical Western
feminist discourse that continues to be preoccupied with particular
kinds of violence against Muslim or Middle Eastern women, while choosing to remain silent
on the lethal violence inflicted on women and families by military
occupation, F-16s, Apache helicopters, and missiles paid for by U.S.
tax payers. This is a moment when U.S. imperialism brazenly uses direct
colonial occupation, masked in a civilizational discourse of bringing
Western "freedom" and "democracy." Such acts echo the language of
Manifest Destiny that was used to justify U.S. colonization of the
Philippines and Pacific territories in the 19th century, not
to mention the genocide of Native Americans. U.S. covert, and not so
covert, interventions in Central, South America, Africa, Asia, and the
Caribbean have devastated the lives of countless indigenous peoples,
and other civilians, in this region throughout the 20th
century. The U.S., as well its proxy militias or client regimes, has
inflicted violence on women and girls from Vietnam, Okinawa, and
Pakistan to Chile, El Salvador, and Somalia and has avenged the deaths
of its soldiers by its own "honor killings" that lay siege to entire
towns, such as Fallujah in Iraq. It is appalling that in these
catastrophic times, many U.S. liberal feminists are focused only on
misogynistic practices associated with particular local cultures, as if
these exist in capsules, far from the arena of imperial occupation.
Indeed, imperial violence has given fuel to some of these patriarchal
practices of misogyny and sexism. They should also know that such a
narrow vision furthers a much older tradition of feminist mobilizing in
the service of colonialism—"saving brown, or black women, from brown
men," as observed by Gayatri Spivak. While we too oppose abuses
including domestic violence, "honor killings," forced marriage, and
brutal punishment, we are disturbed that some U.S. feminists—as well as
Muslim or Middle Eastern women who claim to be "authorities" on Islam
and are employed by right-wing think tanks—are participating in a
selective discourse of universal women's rights that ignores U.S. war
crimes and abuses of human rights. While some progressive U.S.
feminists claim to oppose the hijacking of women's rights to justify
U.S. invasions, they simultaneously evade any mention about the plight
of women in Palestine, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Their statements continue
to focus only on female genital mutilation or dowry deaths under the
guise of breaking the "politically correct" silence on abuses of women
in the "Muslim world" that the Right disingenuously laments.[5] Some
progressives may support such statements with good intentions, but
these critiques ignore the fact that Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim
feminists have been working on these issues for generations, focusing
on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and
nationalism. Their work is ignored by North American feminists who
claim to advocate for a "global sisterhood" but are disillusioned to
discover that women in the U.S. military participated in the acts of
torture at Abu Ghraib. We are concerned about these silences and
selective condemnations given that the U.S. mainstream media bolsters
this imperialist feminism by using an (often liberal) Orientalist
approach to covering the Middle East or South Asia. For example, on
March 5, 2008, as the death toll due to Israeli attacks in Gaza was
mounting, the New York Times
chose to publish an article just below its report on the Israeli
military incursions that focused on the sentencing of a Palestinian man
in Israel for an honor killing; the report was deemed worthy of
international coverage because the Palestinian women had broken "the
code of silence" by resorting to Israeli courts.[6] The implications of
this juxtaposition of two unrelated events are that Palestinians belong
to a backward, patriarchal culture that, rightly or wrongly, is under
attack by a modern, "democratic" state with a legal apparatus that
supports women's rights. Others have shown that the New York Times
gave disproportionate attention to the Human Rights Watch report in
2006 on domestic violence against Palestinian women relative to its
scant mention of the 76 reports of Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights
by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli
organization, B'Tselem.[7] Similar coverage exists of women from other
countries outside the U.S. that are portrayed as victims only of their
own cultural traditions, rather than also of the ravages of Western
imperialism and predatory global capitalism. No attention is paid in
the mainstream U.S. media to reports such as that in Haaretz
documenting that Palestinian women citizens of Israel are the most
exploited group in the Israeli workforce, making only 47% of the wages
earned by their Jewish counterparts in Israel, and with double the rate
of unemployment of Jewish women.[8]
Little is known in the U.S. about what the lives of Iraqi women are
really like now that they are pressured to cover themselves in public
or not work outside the house, nor of Afghani women whose homes are
still being bombed in a war that was supposed to have liberated them
many years ago. We stand in solidarity with feminist and liberatory
movements that are opposing U.S. imperialism, U.S.-backed occupation,
militarism, and economic exploitation as well as resisting religious
and secular fundamentalisms. We also support the struggles of those
within the U.S. opposing the War on Terror and racist practices of
detention, deportation, surveillance, and torture linked to the
military-industrial-prison complex that selectively targets immigrants,
minorities, and youth of color. We are grateful for the courageous
scholarship of academics who are at risk of not getting tenure or
employment because they do research related to settler colonialism or
taboo topics such as Palestinian rights and expose controversial
aspects of U.S. policies here and abroad. At a moment when U.S.
military interventions have made "democracy" a dirty word in much of
the world, we strive for true democracy and for freedom and justice for
all our sisters and brothers. Piya Chatterjee, University of
California-Riverside Sunaina Maira, University of California-Davis
Campaign of Solidarity with Women Resisting U.S. Wars and Occupation
South Asians for the Liberation of Falastin
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