March 22, 2007

The Double-Standard of Israeli Post-Feminism

Posted in Israel/Zionism at 1:12 am by yisraelmedad

This is the original prior-to-being-edited version of my op-ed that appeared in the Jerusalem Post today (and also at my MyRightWord blog)


A good friend of mine, Edva Naveh of Shaarei Tikvah, made an observation recently concerning the police announcement that there was a gang of Beduin youths who had committed, it was claimed, a series of rapes.  These rapes were perpetrated on Jewish women solely because they were Jewish and as a politically-motivated act of revenge for
Israel‘s policies towards the Arabs living in
Judea and Samaria.  Those arrested have made court appearances.  As Edva noted, there are many women’s organizations in
Israel.  Several devote themselves exclusively to the issue of rape and of sexual commerce.  All deal with harassment matters in addition to disparate pay scales and other economic and social themes.  Almost all these groups have been extremely active in protesting President Moshe Katzav’s continued term of office despite the fact that no charge sheet has been brought.  Haim Ramon’s osculatory maneuver was also a matter that deeply disturbed the feminists, as it did males. However, as Edva asked, why has not one of these associations, or their representatives or other feminist spokepersons spoken out and addressed this matter of Jewish women being raped and injured on the background of nationalist violence?  Ofer Glazer and MK Yoram Marciano have been pilloried.  Rami Heuberger is being investigated.  But the young residents of the Galilee seemingly have been studiously ignored.  Where are MKs Ruhama Avraham and Zahava Galon when needed?  Could it be that “rape as resistance” is somehow to be judged differently?   

Local humanitarian groups, those who always define themselves as liberal, left and progressive, as well as international ones, have been quite vociferous when deliberating what needs to be done in such instances when the exploiting of rape as a weapon of war occurs in Bosnia, Rwanda, the Congo and Darfur, among many other locations. Some sociologists are of the opinion that rape in these circumstances is done to show the men that they cannot even defend their women – they are worthless.  It is used to fragment societies.

Already during the American Civil War in April 1863, Francis Lieber, a Columbia College professor, composed instructions that were then promulgated by President Abraham Lincoln as a code of military conduct.  Its Article 44 stipulates, “All wanton violence committed…all rape…of such [civilian] inhabitants, are prohibited under the penalty of death”.  Would Mesdames Galon, Aloni, Avraham and Yechimovitz come out and support a severe form of punishment for these young men, if they are found guilty?  Would they, at the very least, speak out on this issue and not ignore it?  Why the double standard?  Why ignore a behavior pattern that is surely criminal and, if the charges prove true (and the defendants words and actions shown on the news broadcasts seem to confirm police suspicions), would be an offshoot of the terror campaign that Arabs have practiced against Jews for over 80 years here? 

LET US CONSIDER some possibilities. A)    These women’s groups and their assorted supporters are not convinced that the police assertions are true.  After all, the trial hasn’t begun yet and we must consider the accused as innocent until proven otherwise.   

This doesn’t seem logical.  No one has seen any solid evidence against Moshe Katzav and yet demonstrations have been conducted outside his residence and demands have been made for his ouster based on a standard of “public ethics” that they have made up. B)   These women would consider protest activity as racist.  Since these young men are Beduin, it would be fair, the thinking goes, to blame them for actions we really don’t know why the committed.  In fact, it could be that their low socio-economic status and educational level was a contributory element that ‘pushed’ them. 

This, too, isn’t rational.  Hareidim are routinely stereotyped, as are those who live across the Green Line.  For example, the caricatures of the liberal Haaretz routinely disparage observant Jews, mocking their religious beliefs and practices. C)   These women empathize with the deep-seated violent emotions that they insist are caused by the “occupation”. 

Despite the fact that any injury, – physical, mental or implied – done to a Jewish woman and her body is denounced and roundly and loudly criticized, could it be that a crime stemming from what they view as an immoral, oppressive situation as well as from a deprived population is to be considered less of a crime? While, at first, this may appear as abhorrent, we do know of the Stockholm syndrome and other psychological situations which may cause normal people to adopt and justify criminal actions, even those done against themselves.  This, though, is a difficult proposition.  Nevertheless, I think that what is at work here is an aberrant form of Israeli post-feminism.  Some might even say that it’s a sick twist on the ‘she asked for it’ excuse.  In this instance, however, it is not  because she was provocatively dressed but her provocative act was in being a Jewess. 

LEFT-WING PROGRESSIVES have for years been promoting a theory that violence in Israeli society, and especially female-directed violence, has resonated from the military service of husbands and boyfriends.  It is assumed by the theory’s proponents that the soldiers are either frustrated or have become temporized by the force they must use against the civilian Arab population in the disputed territories.  This pent-up emotion is eventually released at home against children, mothers and girlfriends. The upsurge in post-Zionist popularity in academic circles, in my opinion, is insinuating itself into those very echelons of civil society activists that are well-educated and highly sensitized to all sorts of modern interpretations of political sociology.  Many of these groups, I suggest, may be locked in a pseudo-psychiatric cognitive disorder.  Their feminism is competing and contradicting their radical world-view of the Arab-Israel conflict. 

Whatever the reason for the silence of Israel’s women’s movement, it is a blemish on their feminist ideology and surely an immoral standpoint from a Zionist position.  At the very least, all women and men should be embarrassed and contrite.  An accounting is needed.