One Vile Accusation Against Israel that Just Will Not Die
This is Part II of the critique of an article glorifying women’s resistance movements in the Middle East that tells many lies about Israel. The article is called Middle Eastern Women between Oppression and Resistance: Case Studies of Iraqi, Palestinian and Kurdish Women of Turkey; it was written by Khodary, Salah and Mohsen of Egypt and was published in the Journal of International Women’s Studies in February 2020. Part I laid the groundwork that showed the serious antisemitic bias of the authors.
From the point at which I left you in Part I, the article begins to discuss the vulnerability of women in the PA; they are more susceptible than men to falling into poverty (like single mothers everywhere in the world) and to domestic violence (ditto) and honour killings (special for Muslims/Arabs). And they blame this on Israel:
The socio-economic situation of Palestinian women has been worsened and to some extent created by the Israeli occupation.(page 214)
They do not say how Israel is responsible for the worsening socioeconomic situation of the women, but they go on without missing a beat:
Using state institutions, such as the government, media, education and criminal justice system, the Israeli occupation continues to expose the Palestinian women to systematic and organized sexual violence, ill treatment in prisons and restriction of movement. (page 214) [emphasis added]
This is a very serious charge: systematic and organized sexual violence.They quote Sarah Ihmoud who accuses Israel of using rape as “a systematic warfare strategy” since the Nakba, but Ihmoud gives Shalhoub-Kevorkian credit for this bit of scholastic antisemitism. Shalhoub-Kevorkian is a faculty member at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who loves to characterize Israel as a settler-colonial regime (click here to read my critique of one of her articles) and Ihmoud was infamous last November when Boston University was petitioned with requests not to hire her due to her blatant antisemitism. Khodary et al likely do not care that this allegation of sexual crimes is false and they will look for support for the idea anywhere they can find it.
They may feel quite justified in writing the following:
According to the UNHCR, “women are regularly exposed to threats whenever they pass military checkpoints. They are forced to strip in front of their families and they occasionally fall prey to sexual violence by the Israeli soldiers.”
I cannot speak about strip searches but I am willing to bet my life that Israeli soldiers do not commit sexual violence of any kind against women going through the security checks. The authors attribute this claim to the UNHCR but do not provide an actual citation for it. I found the quote in a book that also says it is found in a UNHCR report but the book does not provide the citation either. The book, Arab Women in Arab Media, was supported by a grant from a Qatar Research Fund and written by Qatari professor Amal al-Mohammed al-Malki. Make of that what you will.
I am willing to bet that strip searches, if conducted at the checkpoints, are done only by female soldiers and in a private room. If it was otherwise, I would expect to see photographs of the violations.
Khodary, Salah and Mohsen must have thought they had a real coup when they found Or Kashti’s article (quoted below) in Haaretz, a leftwing Israeli newspaper. Here, a well-known and respected scholar of the Middle East seemed to give them proof for their claim that Israel supports sexual assaults of Palestinian women. They write:
The raping of female relatives of Palestinian prisoners was even recommended by some Israeli academic scholars in Israeli public universities, such as Mordechai Kedar from Ban Ilan University, as a deterrence strategy to intimidate Palestinians from committing ‘terrorist’ attacks (Kashti, 2014). (page 214) [emphasis added]
(Note that the authors put the word terrorist in scare quotes.) Kashti was reporting here on a a radio interview with Kedar. And for Khodary et al ‘he‘ — Kedar — becomes ‘they‘ –some academic scholars — and his whole intent is misinterpreted (on purpose?) as being a recommendation. Here is what Kedar goes on to say in Kashti’s article (but which Khodary et al ignore, of course):
I [Kedar] am not talking about what we should or shouldn’t do. I’m talking about the facts. The only thing that deters a suicide bomber is the knowledge that if he pulls the trigger or blows himself up, his sister will be raped. That’s all. That’s the only thing that will bring him back home, in order to preserve his sister’s honor. [emphasis added]
Kedar is trying to emphasize how difficult it is to deter a terrorist, not to recommend any action on the part of Israel. But it is so easy to twist words around when you want to vilify a nation. Kedar’s intent would have been more difficult to ‘mis’interpret if he had said “the only thing that would deter a suicide bomber” but this was a live interview and not an edited article like theirs.
This accusation that IDF soldiers rape Palestinian women is one that refuses to die, copy-pasted in article after article and finding itself in this new one that was published just last month. It does not seem to matter that no proof has ever been offered. But amazingly, the fact that they DO NOT rape them is equally used against Israel with the argument that Israeli men are racist and do not consider Palestinian women worthy of being raped! I do not think this latter argument would make it into academic journals but the former seems to be accepted without question.
The authors also write that:
They [Palestinian women] are also deprived of sleep, denied toilet facilities in prisons and yards, and forced to live in unhygienic conditions (Ibhais, Itani and Salahat, 2010; Jaffer, 2011).
I could not find the Ibhais et al publication online and Jaffer’s article was published in Electronic Intifada, a site that should not be found in the bibliography of an academic paper unless the article itself focuses on media interpretations of any particular issue.
Regarding prison conditions, Dr. Anat Berko, an Israeli expert on female terrorists, suggested, in a phone conversation, posing the following questions to the Egyptian authors of the article under consideration here:
If you had done something that landed you in prison, where would you prefer that to be: in Israel or in Egypt?
Let’s see them write an article about that!
Part III of this series — read it here.