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Op-Ed: Western radical leftist groups champion female terrorists, not ordinary Palestinian women

Rachel Avraham explains how the Alternative Information Center and the Jewish Voice for Peace in recent times have championed Palestinian female terrorists but are virtually silent about how Palestinian society persecutes ordinary women.
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Yesterday, a 49-year-old Palestinian woman attempted to stab Border Police officers near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. However, the headline posted about the incident in the Alternative Information Center, a left wing extremist Israeli group, was “Palestinian woman killed in occupied Jerusalem.” The article cites Palestinian eye-witnesses who claim she was shot for no apparent reason. While the article does say that Israel claims that she tried to stab police officers, the article stresses that her son was killed by Israel for no apparent reason. For them, this justifies her wanton act of terror and aggression for she is a victim of the so-called Israeli occupation. The coverage for this incident given by the Alternative Information Center alongside their lack of coverage for critical women’s rights issues in the Palestinian Authority highlights how much numerous Western liberals value the lives of female terrorists but not ordinary Palestinian women.

This incident comes at a time when numerous Palestinian women’s rights groups are presently raising awareness about the plight of women and girls within their society. According to Palestinian Media Watch, Palestinian women’s rights organizations are outraged that rapists and murderers of women receive reduced prison sentences in the Palestinian Authority. According to Article 99 of Penal Law No. 16 of 1960, the family of a murder victim is permitted to "waive its personal right" to justice and forgive the crime. In such cases, the length and severity of punishment is significantly reduced.  As a result of this piece of legislation, they note that 95% of the murderers of women are forgiven for the vast majority of violence against Palestinian women is domestic and often the family of the victim is also the family of the murderer. As the Palestinian Director of the Women’s Court Project Victoria Shukri explained, “Many of the murders in Palestine that were perpetrated due to inheritance or political arguments are altered to cases of 'honor' in order to reduce the punishment.”

Palestinian Media Watch noted that there are numerous examples for this. For instance, Ma’an Palestinian News Agency reported that a rapist in the Palestinian Authority was sentenced to only 1 and a half years of manual labor. According to PA law, a rapist should receive 4 years imprisonment accompanied by hard labor. However, when the family of the rape victim decided to wave its personal rights, his sentence went from 3 years to 1 and a half years. Since the court decided that the time he sat in prison awaiting his trial should be counted as time already served, the rapist in actuality got only 1 year of punishment. Due to such pieces of legislation, violence against women is encouraged within Palestinian society and Palestinian Media Watch noted a rapid increase in honor killings within the Palestinian Authority between 2012 and 2014. While Abu Mazen did modify the law to make honor killings equivalent to murder in the Palestinian Authority in 2015, women’s rights organizations argue that much more needs to be done in order to ensure that Palestinian female victims of gender-based violence receive justice in reality.

However, the Alternative Information did not cover this important study that was carried out by Palestinian Media Watch at all. In fact, if one gazes at their website, it is highly critical of Israel but it has absolutely nothing to say for the way in which Palestinian society mistreats women. The prominent role that Rasmea Odeh plays in leftist circles within the United States illustrates that the Alternative Information Center and the Israeli far left is not alone in this. The Jewish Voice for Peace, another radical leftist group based in the US, recently invited the former Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine female terrorist to one of their conferences after Odeh played a prominent role in the Women’s March against Trump despite the fact that she was convicted for her involvement in two terrorist bombings, one of which killed 2 Hebrew University students who were shopping for groceries and one of which targeted the British Consulate.

For radical leftist groups like the Jewish Voice for Peace, her terrorism conviction means nothing for “when your occupier is the judge and jury, where do you get justice?” These groups view her to be a heroine and claim that the attacks against her are “Islamophobic.” However, the Jewish Voice for Peace, like the Alternative Information Center, does not champion average Palestinian women who never committed a crime. In fact, as they stand in solidarity with Odeh and champion BDS activist Omar Barghouti, they condemn David Friedman being appointed US Ambassador to Israel and write statements critical of Hillel, which does excellent work assisting Jewish students, while having virtually nothing to say about the plight of Palestinian women who are persecuted daily by their own leadership in the Palestinian Authority.

While it is true that the Jewish Voice for Peace and the Alternative Information Center are fringe groups, the Women’s March against Trump certainly was not and they too seemed to care more about championing a convicted terrorist than raising awareness about the plight of average Palestinian women who are victimized by their own leadership on a daily basis. This hypocrisy that characterizes the Western left needs to end. Promoting the well-being of average Palestinian women should matter significantly more than championing Palestinian female terrorists from a feminist, liberal and human rights perspective. It is time for Western liberals to promote their own value system and to stand up for the truly oppressed Palestinian women rather than appeasing female terrorism.


JOL Blogger | Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.  She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Maryland at College Park. She worked as a content manager and writer for United with Israel and had a blog in the Jewish Press. She has over 4 years of experience working for Zionist non-profits.

Avraham specialty is counter-terrorism, women's rights, minority rights, Middle Eastern affairs and international relations.  

She is the author of Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media, a ground-breaking book on terrorism in the Middle East that was endorsed by former Israel Consul General to Miami, former Israel Consul General to Chicago and former Deputy Mayor of Netanya Yitzchak Ben Gad. Click here to purchase the book

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