Women in resistance to Israeli colonialism and apartheid

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October 23, 2018

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By Ranjan Solomon

Observers from the outside more often, than not, have pre-conceived notions about resistance in Gaza: The bearded Hamas “militant” or the young man hurling stones across the border fence. Not many know about women and their place in the struggle. Palestinian women, both in Gaza and the West Bank, have a significant presence as activists, protesting against an unjust occupation. They are, in fact, the backbone of a fragmented and demoralized society argues a report from ‘The Conversation’. The report shows how women have been active in the Palestinian struggle since its early days. They were even in the thick of the struggle against the British in the time of the British mandate. At the time of the creation of State of Israel in 1948, they were protectors of their families, and repositories of the “national story”. It was vital that Palestinians, wherever they were in the world, did not forget what had happened and continued to insist on their right of return to their homeland. Women passed their memories of Palestine down to subsequent generations. When the Palestinian liberation movement emerged, several women turned militant. An icon from that era was Leila Khalid who hijacked several airliners on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and became widely known around the world for her courage and determination. In 1987 women joined men and children in the Intifada applying creative and alternative educational facilities for children after all the schools were closed. They also crafted an alternative economy based on home produce, as well as engaging in large-scale protests. “The Conversation” concludes as follows: “While it may be tempting to argue that the participation of women in violence is a sign of a society that has lost its way, the reality is more complex. Many Palestinian women point out that their community is powerless; it has neither the political leadership nor the weapons to fight a conventional war. Instead, it relies on all its members to participate and “tell the world” what is happening to them.

By protesting at the Gaza-Israel border to mark the anniversary of al-Nakba (“the catastrophe”), Palestinian women, as much as men, have assumed a vital stake in finding a solution to the conflict that will provide safety and certainty for the next generation. The militant Hamas has attracted the women to engage in grassroots organizing to meet head-on the Israeli occupation.

In this edition, we briefly report on three stories of three recent women icons that are also playing a powerful role in the fight for civil rights in “apartheid” Israel.

We share a powerful collection of pictures portraying angry women challenging the brutal occupation as created in 2016 by Activestills. It shows the hidden, yet significant, role of women in the struggle. Two years later the images still count for the intensity of women’s place in the struggle. We also share a defiant alternative view in an article: Palestinian woman: Active in struggle, obscure in media. This is a must read for those who foresee an inclusive Palestine when freedom dawns. .

Ranjan Solomon

21 October 2018

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