The Palestinians, Too Weak to Say No to the US

The Palestinian people were down this road too many times and this time the results are not going to be any different. (Photo: via Al Jazeera/file)

The Palestinian people were down this road too many times and this time the results are not going to be any different.

For two decades of futile negotiations and three years of secret contacts with the Israelis, the Ramallah Palestinian Authority (PA) has been repeatedly declaring its refusal to engage in direct negotiations with Israel on the future of their lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war unless Israel freezes settlement expansion. In the meantime, Israel shifted the attention to Iran’s threat and continued to defiantly announce fresh construction plans to build and expand illegal settlements in Palestinian lands. Israel took notice only when 138 nations voted for a General Assembly resolution to upgrade Palestine’s status to a non-member observer state and the European Union (EU) decided to stop subsidies to any Israeli entity operating in the occupied West Bank.

Passage of the UN resolution gave the Palestinians some standing to seek prosecutions in the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel for alleged violations of international law. But when engaging in ‘peace talks’, the Palestinians cannot use their newly acquired status to  put pressure on Israel in the ICC; and the ‘peace talks’ encourage the EU to suspend or even cancel its latest decision to defund projects in the settlements.

After some shuttle diplomacy by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and threats to cut the US financial support, the PA leadership caved in and agreed to have direct face-to-face negotiations with the Israelis under the patronage of the US without any pre-conditions. By bringing the Palestinians to the negotiating table, John Kerry came to shield Israel’s continued aggression and violations of international law from any accountability or punitive action.

Because the negotiation process is a vital strategic interest for the Israelis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would gradually release 104 Palestinian prisoners who had been in its jails before the 1993 Oslo agreements as a ‘good will gesture’. This is a rational decision by Natanyahu since it is the least costly price Israel can make to the Palestinians for returning to the negotiating table. It also enhances the Palestinian leaders’ image among their people who are skeptical about the benefit of the negotiations. If these prisoners are freed after being incarcerated for decades, they will be too old to pose threat to Israel anyway. Israel holds thousands of Palestinian activists in its jails and 1.6 million are besieged and starved in Gaza Strip. Haaretz newspaper wrote: ‘Natanyahu preferred releasing prisoners over two other possible concessions, which would have been much more logical: committing to a settlement freeze, or making a public declaration on a border compromise based on 1967 lines. Natanyahu preferred releasing the prisoners because he understood from the fanatical right-wingers in his government that the other two options wouldn’t fly.’

The Palestinians are hopelessly weak, financially dependent on hand-outs and they are divided between two quarreling powerless entities; the Arab countries are pre-occupied with their people’s unrest and demands for freedom and social justice; civil war is raging in Syria and Egypt is at the edge of civil war; anarchy, sectarian violence and lawlessness have overtaken the daily life in Iraq; and the 2002 Arab League initiative has been watered down to allow Israel annex parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem in exchange for some unspecified Israeli land.

All indications suggest the odds of success of the negotiations to produce an agreement that meets the minimum legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians are slim. Since the parties to the conflict have very different concepts of the negotiations’ purpose, the US cannot be counted on as honest broker to help bridge the gap between the two parties when they are incapable of doing so on their own. The US has always been the defender of Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians’ legitimate rights. Since 1989, the UN General Assembly has been voting on resolutions for ‘Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine Question’ and in every year, only the US with Israel, Canada, and a handful of states such as the Dominican Republic and South Sea mini states vote against the resolution. The US voted in the UN General assembly against giving the Palestinian people the right to have even a non-member observer state.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced the appointment of Martin Indyk as the United State’s special envoy to oversee the negotiations. Mr. Indyk, a dual Israeli-American citizen and a former U.S ambassador to Israel, can hardly be considered impartial on the Palestinian issues. He has been an active Zionist since he was a young international relations student by his own admission. He volunteered to work in an Israeli kibbutz replacing workers who were called upon to join their military reserve units during the 1973 Yom Kippur war. He worked in the 1980s as a deputy research director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington that has big influence on American foreign policy; and he was a member of the New Israel Fund Board in 2010. Indyk was the advocate for the US policy of ‘dual containment’ that sought to ‘contain’ Iraq and Iran, Israel’s most strategic adversaries at the time before Iraq’s invasion. Indyk was the first US ambassador to be stripped of security clearance because he allegedly passed sensitive US material to the Israelis. His clearance was restored by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in October 2000. Norman Gary Finkelstein, an American political scientist and activist said: ‘[Martin Indyk] is considered by some to be the arch-Zionist Israeli super-spy.’

The present conditions have created an atmosphere that Israeli leaders may perceive it as more conducive to finally realize Israel’s plans for resolving the Palestinian issues that include annexing illegally built settlements and the surrounding lands with nearly 600,000 settlers. Netanyahu told his Cabinet that “resuming the political process at this time is important for Israel,” adding that any deal would be submitted to a national referendum. The colonialists want the referendum among themselves to approve the size of the loot!

The Palestinian people were down this road too many times and this time the results are not going to be any different.

Yasser Arafat, the undisputed leader of the Palestinians then, could not sign on President Clinton’s Camp David offer in the year2000. Mahmoud Abbas, the self-appointed President of the PA is no Yasser Arafat. He has no mandate from his people to reach a comprehensive peace agreement. Many Palestinians including the refugees do not trust Abbas to negotiate on their behalf since he relinquished his own ‘right of return’ to his birth town in an interview given to an Israeli TV station. Hamas that controls Gaza and many factions in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) believe the talks will not produce a viable agreement. The Palestinian people have a shared grim view of the potential for success in these negotiations. The Palestinian leadership is too weak to say ‘no’ when asked by the US to have direct face-to-face ‘peace talks’ with the Israelis, but the leadership has no power to say ‘yes’ to accept a Palestinian state designed by the Israeli colonialists.

(Source / 06.08.2013)

Drone strikes kill militants in Yemen; Americans urged to leave

A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator UAV assigned to the California Air National Guard's 163rd Reconnaissance Wing flies near the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California, on January 7, 2012.A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator UAV assigned to the California Air National Guard’s 163rd Reconnaissance Wing flies near the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California, on January 7, 2012.

(CNN) — A pair of suspected U.S. drone strikes killed four al Qaeda militants in Yemen as the United States maintained a heightened security alert in the country and urged all Americans to leave immediately.

Security sources told CNN about the strikes but didn’t offer additional details. A Yemeni official said four drone strikes have been carried out in the past 10 days.

None of those killed on Tuesday were among the 25 names on the country’s most-wanted list, security officials said.

It is unclear whether the strikes were related to the added security alert in the country after U.S. officials intercepted a message from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to operatives in Yemen telling them to “do something.” The message was sent to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group’s Yemeni affiliate. U.S. intelligence believes al-Wuhayshi has recently been appointed the overall terror organization’s No. 2 leader.

Also Tuesday, the State Department urged Americans in Yemen to leave immediately, citing terrorist activities and civil unrest. All non-emergency U.S. government personnel were also told to leave.

Two U.S. military transport aircraft landed in Yemen on Tuesday to evacuate American citizens.

“In response to a request from the U.S. State Department, early this morning the U.S. Air Force transported personnel out of Sana’a, Yemen, as part of a reduction in emergency personnel,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.

Little also said, “The U.S. Department of Defense continues to have personnel on the ground in Yemen to support the U.S. State Department and monitor the security situation.”

The UK Foreign Office also announced it had temporarily withdrawn all staff from the British embassy and would keep the facility shut until employees are able to return.

Washington takes precautions

Acting on the intelligence information, the United States heightened its security stance, issuing a worldwide travel alert and closing a number of embassies and consulates over large areas of the Middle East and Africa this week.

List of U.S. embassies and consulates closed this week

The State Department said the substantial security steps reflect an “abundance of caution” over intelligence information that indicated final planning by al Qaeda in Yemen for possible terrorist attacks on Western targets to coincide with the end of Ramadan this week.

Three sources told CNN that the United States has information that members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are in the final stages of planning for an unspecified attack. Recent jailbreaks in Pakistan, Iraq and Libya all have the fingerprints of al Qaeda operations.

Prison breaks are among reasons for heightened security

On Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that U.S. anti-terrorism efforts had decimated al Qaeda’s global leadership and greatly diminished its core in Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying the threat had “shifted to some of these affiliates, in particular AQAP.”

Separately, American special forces units overseas have been on alert for the past several days awaiting a mission to attack potential al Qaeda targets if those behind the most recent terror threats against U.S. interests can be identified, a senior Obama administration official told CNN.

The official declined to identify the units or their locations because of the sensitive nature of the information. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel put the units on alert last week, the official said.

(Source / 06.08.2013)

Poll: Most Israelis oppose withdrawing to 1967 borders

Survey by Israeli Democracy Institute shows that 65.5% of those questioned don’t expect to see a peace deal within a year.

Abbas, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both face a hard sell.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both face a hard sell.
Most Israelis would oppose any peace deal with the Palestinians that involved withdrawing to pre-1967 ceasefire lines, even if land swaps were agreed to accommodate Jewish settlements, a poll showed on Tuesday.

The survey by the liberal Israeli Democracy Institute showed 65.6 percent of those questioned did not expect to see a deal within a year.

The talks resumed last month after a three-year hiatus. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said he hopes a peace agreement that has eluded the parties for decades can be achieved within nine months.

But even if the government managed to defy skeptics and secure an accord, the poll, jointly sponsored by Tel Aviv University, suggested it would struggle to sell it to Israelis.

Of the 602 people questioned, 55.5 percent said they were against Israel agreeing to the 1967 lines, even if there were land swaps which would enable some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to remain part of Israel.

Among Israeli Jews, opposition to such an agreement was 63 percent, while only 15 percent of Israeli Arabs said they would object to such a deal.

Some 67 percent of all Israelis said they would also oppose Palestinian demands for a return of a even a small number of refugees who either fled or were driven away when Israel was created in 1948. They were also against compensating the refugees or their descendants financially.

On one of the other issues facing negotiators, the question of whether Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem should become part of a Palestinian state, some 50 percent of Israeli Jews said they were against the idea.

Only 55 percent of Israeli Arabs were in favor, fewer than might be expected, suggesting Arab residents of East Jerusalem did not want to lose advantages of living under Israeli government control, such as health and national insurance benefits, the IDI said.

After an opening round of talks in Washington a week ago, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have agreed to meet again during the second week of August.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also facing an uphill battle trying to sell the talks to his people, even within his Palestine Liberation Organization.

In a statement on Tuesday, two groups – the Popular and the Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine – called for the talks to be suspended, denouncing them as “a repetition of pointless and harmful negotiations” held since the early 1990s.

(Source / 06.08.2013)

Saudi king appoints prince Salman as deputy defense minister

Prince Salman has occupied the post of assistant secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC) for intelligence and security affairs.

Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz appointed on Tuesday Prince Salman bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz as deputy defense minister, Al Arabiya television reported.

Prince Salman has occupied the post of assistant secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC) for intelligence and security affairsز

He is now replacing outgoing deputy defense minister Prince Fahd bin Abdullah.

(Source / 06.08.2013)

The War on Syria: CIA Preparing for Occupation of Daraa via Jordan: Report

 

syrian rebels cia

The US spy agency, the CIA, has appointed General John Wright as the operation and cooperation commander for the proxy war in Syria in preparation for the occupation of the Southern city of Daraa via Jordan, sources disclosed on Monday.

“Brigadier General John Wright has been appointed as the US operation and coordination commander for the proxy war in Syria,” an informed source told FNA on the condition of anonymity due to the secrecy of the issue.

“The 57-year-old veteran US General who has fought in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya wars has set up his office in Amman as a first step and started coordinations with Saudi Arabia,” the source said, adding that Wright has also held a meeting with Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the Saudi National Security Council Secretary and Intelligence Chief, in Amman.

“Following this meeting, the US shoulder-launched and anti-tank (Stinger) missiles were supplied to the anti-Syrian groups led by the CIA,” he added.

“All members of the US-led groups are selected from among the Syrian youth and at present 3,000 of these rebels are being trained in Jordan’s al-Mouqar base near the Syrian border,” the source stated.

“The US aims to impose a no-fly zone in Syria after occupation of Daraa,” the source said.

Earlier reports in June also said that Bandar Bin Sultan has supervised the operations for the supply of German anti-aircraft missiles to foreign-backed militants in Antakia.

Arab sources told Assafir Lebanese newspaper that Prince Bandar Bin Sultan supervised last week supplying the militant groups in Syria with a batch of heavy weapons that includes mainly German anti-aircraft missiles in Antakia before the militants distributed the weapons over their different groups in Aleppo, Homs, Damascus, and Idleb.

The sources added that Bandar is seeking an arm deal with France to provide the Syrian militants with French anti-aircraft missiles, yet the French expressed their concerns about their strategic interests, and refused to be the sole provider of weapons for the militants, calling on to share these burdens.

Arming the militant groups in Syria has been a hot political controversy among the countries which support the Syrian opposition.

As the Syrian army is achieving consecutive field victories, the Syrian militants complained their need for heavy weapons to face the army progress.

The unrest in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following intervention of western and regional states.

Many Syrians who sided with the opposition at start of the protests have now turned to side with the government and the army to defend their country against foreign-backed extremists.

According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions of others displaced in the violence.

(Source / 06.08.2013)

Massive rally in support of Haneyya, Morsi and Erdogan at Aqsa Mosque

images_News_2013_08_06_Aqsa-prayers_300_0[1]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Thousands of Palestinians rallied last night in the courtyard of the Aqsa Mosque chanting slogans in support of Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya, the kidnapped Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and Turkish premier Recep Erdogan.

The participants chanted slogans hailing Hamas and its armed wing, and condemning the Palestinian authority for arresting its cadres and supporters in the West Bank.

During the night prayers, the Aqsa Mosque imams, in turn, supplicated God for helping Gaza people overcome the blockade imposed on them.

They also prayed for the Syrian and Egyptian peoples and asked God to help them against their oppressors.

(Source / 06.08.2013)

Netanyahu Forms Committee To Enlist Christians In the Army

In a serious escalation of the Israeli attempts to divide the Arab community in the country, and amidst massive objections, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered the formation of a special committee to recruit Arab Palestinian Christians in the country to the Israeli military.

Benjamin Netanyahu - Arabs48
Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu and a number of Christian “leaders” will be forming this committee in the coming two weeks; its main aim is to enlist Christians in the occupation army.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, has reported that the decision was made by Netanyahu following a meeting he held, on Monday morning [August 5, 2013] with Father Jubrael Naddaf, known for his stances encouraging enlistment in the Israeli military despite massive objections from the Arab Palestinian Christian community.

Naji Obeid, head of the Orthodox Council in Nazareth-Jaffa, and Lieutenant-reserve, Shadi Halloul, attended the meeting.

Haaretz said that the committee will be acting on recruiting Christians in the country, and will be acting on “protecting Christian recruits”, in addition to acting on the legal level to prosecute objectors, dubbed as “persons who incite violence and chaos”.

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu stated that “Christians in the country must be allowed to join the Israeli army and defend the state”.

Netanyahu added that he “salutes” those recruits, and that Israel “will not allow any person of group to threaten or harm them”.

Meanwhile, Arab Legislator in Israel, Bassel Ghattas, sent a letter to Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, regarding acts by certain priests, especially Father Naddaf, who supports enlistment in the Israeli army and is encouraging Christian youths to join the Israeli occupation army.

Ghattas denounced the actions of Naddaf, and stated that those stances violate his moral and religious responsibility, adding that Naddaf is using his priesthood as the head of a well-respected Christian Palestinian community, to encourage the youths to enlist in the army that occupies and oppresses their own people.

“Naddaf is trying to strip those youths from their national identity”, Ghattas said, “He is trying to divide the Christian committee, and trying to strip the Christians from their identity and nationality”.

Ghattas added that the Arab Orthodox Christian committee in the country is a community of real patriots, leaders and freedom fighters, including Father Yacoub Al-Hanna in Al-Rama in the Galilee, George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Nayef Hawatma, secretary-general of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and many leaders and figures.

Ghattas added that Father Naddaf must be excommunicated and removed from his post, and that Naddaf must apologize to the Christian community.

(Source / 06.08.2013)

Hunger striker Barghouthi in very serious health condition

Lawyer Hanan Al-Khatib said that the health condition of the Jordanian prisoner Abdullah Barghouthi has deteriorated very seriously as a result of his hunger strike for 95 days.

Khatib stated on Tuesday following her visit to Barghouthi in Afula hospital that he cannot feel a thing in his right arm and suffers from serious liver and kidney problems, warning that he would be put on dialysis if he continued his hunger strike.

She added that the accumulation of toxins in his blood forced the doctors in the hospital to withdraw between four to six units of blood from his body.

Hunger striker Barghouthi has been put under tight guard by his jailers in the hospital and his left hand and right leg are being tied to his bed, according to the lawyer.

(Source / 06.08.2013)

Settlers’ number increases in WB within 6 months

 

 

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank grew by 2.2 % during the first six months of 2013, according to Israel Today newspaper.

The newspaper confirmed that this year’s rate of increase is higher than the overall Israeli population increase rate that was estimated at 1.9% in 2012.

The highest settlers’ increase rate was in the settlements built on al-Khalil Mount by 4.85%, while the settlers’ number grew by 4.1% in Gush Etzion and by 3.2% in settlements built in the northern occupied West Bank.

The settler population in the occupied West Bank stood at 367,000 settlers at beginning of July 2013, the newspaper added, saying that 7,700 new settlers joined these settlements.

The Israeli newspaper stated that Har Homa settlement received new settlers with an increase by 21%, while Msheejut and Rotem settlements built in Jordan Valley recorded an increase by 14% in receiving new settlers and 10% in Nahaliel settlement built in Ramallah.

During the first six months of 2012, the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank grew by 2.25% where 5,200 settlers have moved to settle in West Bank settlements, Israel Today said.

Assistant Secretary General of the West Bank settlements has called on the Israeli government to increase settlement construction in the occupied West Bank due to the increasing number of settlers moving to West Bank settlements.

Commenting on these facts, Peace Now organization stated that it would be impossible to achieve the two-state solution.

(Source / 06.08.2013)

Stop the obsession with what Palestinian women activists are wearing

Al-Hayat used the author’s image without permission in a demeaning fashion.

Last year I wrote an article titled “How obsession with ‘nonviolence’ harms the Palestinian cause.” This time around, it seems that ‘how obsession with the way a woman dresses herself harms the Palestinian cause’ is a topic that needs, finally, to be discussed openly, addressing Palestinians themselves.

I woke up yesterday to an appalling article in Arabic (published by the Saudi-owned, London-based newspaper al-Hayat) being shared derisively by friends and contacts alike, with my photo—the same one I use for my blog here on The Electronic Intifada —as the featured image. The headline read: “The veil (or hijab) creeping on to the the heads of ‘female comrades’ does not negate liberation.”

My initial reaction was to laugh contemptuously. But the far-reaching consequences are, after all, serious, and when a picture of an individual is used for such an article without her knowledge or consent, the individual’s non-partisan beliefs and political independence are compromised. And I believe mine were.

Damaging

The article discusses the phenomenon or the increase in Palestinian women belonging to leftist groups wearing hijab — covering their heads with a scarf — and quotes several senior leftist politicians who offer their own explanations, some citing factors ranging from societal pressures, to personal freedom, to a fashion fad.

Khaleda Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council representing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), states that the hijab prevents women’s complete emancipation “because leftist thought is based on looking at women as human beings and not as bodies,” while in the same breath she stresses that a decision by the party to ban the hijab is not permissible and is incompatible with personal freedom and that removing the hijab must stem from adopting progressive thoughts and practices.

Other than its underlying orientalist and condescending tone, the article, by using my picture, presents a serious threat to my work as independent journalist by implicitly associating me with a political faction with which I have no affiliation.

For my photograph to be used as a poster image for “female comrades” without my explicit permission or knowledge is harmful and reflects a serious lack of professionalism on part of al-Hayat’s editors (among other things, it should be noted that under the Israeli occupation and law, membership to the PFLP is illegal, and at Israel’s behest, the party has been designated a “terrorist” group by the United States and the European Union).

Failure of the Palestinian leftist factions

And yet, much as the Israeli left barely exists and barely presents a challenge to the status quo, the same can unfortunately be said of the organized Palestinian left. Fragmented into several factions instead of a unified coalition, the leftist parties, including the PFLP, are still living on the glory days of the late 1960s and 1970s and still milking the radical images of such figures as Che Guevara, as well as Leila Khaled, who rose to prominence in those decades through the hijacking of airplanes.

But other than relying on old slogans and iconic figures, the leftist factions have failed to develop a discourse capable of standing up to the Palestinian Authority (PA), or offering an alternative. Instead they offer a now routine tone of stern disappointment, decrying this, denouncing that and condemning it all.

This isn’t just a reactionary attack on the leftist factions, many of whose figures, like jailed PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat, continue to sacrifice their lives or freedom for the cause of Palestinian liberation.

But it is a summation of where these factions stand politically at the current moment, and what they have turned into since the signing of the Oslo accords twenty years ago this coming September: vocal denouncers of PA decisions at best, PA lackeys at worst. In both cases, many receive their salaries from the PA.

Too often, they’ve turned their backs on assimilating the Marxist teachings of capitalism and proletarian causes into Palestinian society, and marginalized women’s rights by choosing not to challenge the patriarchal conservative society, in favor of strengthening their popular bases.

Demeaning to focus on women’s attire

It seems inconceivable or a mind-boggling paradox to some that religious headwear should be so prevalent in Marxist/Communist political parties, despite the cultural, religious, and personal context in which we live. Furthermore, if the issue is ultimately down to personal freedom, why feel the need to explore such a transcendent matter?

The obsession with what female activists wear is demeaning, sickening, ridiculous, and perpetuates the treatment of women as objects rather than actors. It seems like the need to form judgmental attitudes is crucial in resisting the Israeli occupation.

Too many local, Israeli and international photographers focus on the attire of young Palestinian women in protests, or on fetishizing the smoldering eyes of a woman if the rest of her face is covered by the kuffiyeh (the traditional Palestinian checkered scarf).

As the blog thekfcmonument observed:

It is very easy to fall into the trap of objectifying women in resistance, and it may even be done unconsciously. Not only is this disrespecting the cause, but it also emphasizes the reason women stand up for themselves. Fawning over Palestinian women as pictures of them are caught in mid-protest disgraces the Palestinian cause into a show; a display of the seemingly beautiful people that fight. It does not bring the cause itself into light.

Sexual harassment and sexism

Too many Palestinians spend too much time on social media dissecting and speculating about the girl’s jeans, her shirt, her hair, her hijab. Islamists will say, “Fear God! This is not acceptable attire and verily, thou shalt by hung by your hair in the depths of hellfire.”

Secularists will sneer, “I wish you could take me home, what business does a girl wearing tights have here?” and offer to carry the girl if she so much as stumbles. And both sides will rant, “Are we going to be liberated by a bunch of women? Stay home you fools if you know what’s good for you!” Women who express their opinions and let their voices be heard become socially deviant creatures.

I am not making these quotes up. I have heard them and their variants over and over again during many protests. Verbal sexual harassment from both demonstrators and Palestinian security forces is present.

And in those Ramallah protests, with a couple hundred people pressed up against each other like a Roman battalion and chanting, so is physical sexual harassment. The problem is rooted in sexist attitudes not just among social media’s freedom fighters but more broadly in society.

Liberating our minds

Many in the Palestinian left, excluding those who truly believe that wearing it has no impact on a woman’s degree of activism, view the hijab as a social obstruction, a damaging or negative remnant of tradition. But it is much more complex than that. True, there are those who are forced or pressured to wear it, but there are also those who wear it out of a conviction that is not necessarily religious.

Simplifying the hijab is no different than following in the footsteps of orientalists and their insalubrious fascination with why a woman covers herself.

Some religious folks act out of a self-righteous, divine motive, where they believe it is their duty and their moral right to lecture women on appropriate ways of dressing. Secular folk, meanwhile, act out of some enlightened anti-traditionalist mandate, where they believe it is their sophisticated and worldly obligation to categorize what constitutes progressive, open-minded thinking and what oppressive manacled ideals are.

Both are showing the same kind of disrespect to women. Liberate your minds and perhaps then we would all have a chance at liberation.

(Source / 06.08.2013)