Peace Organizations Rush To Quiet Complaints
Claims of rape and sexual abuse by women volunteers protesting for Palestinian rights illicits demands by the left and Arab leadership to keep quiet

Israeli leftist activists: We are being sexually harassed in the West Bank
Female activists accuse leftist organizations of belittling cases of harassment by Palestinians for the sake of the struggle against the occupation

by:Avi Issacharoff
Mar 17, 2012
"Hi everyone, I'm writing this here because I'm not really sure when the next meeting will be. At the demonstration today (February 10, 2012) in Kfar a-Dik, I noticed looks and finger pointing from the shabab (nickname for young Palestinians) that made me feel some discomfort. They talked amongst themselves, and not with me, but the word that came up quite a lot was ‘slut,’ with glances directed toward me. When I met A. and H. (two men), I told them about this, and H. stayed by my side. Despite this, there was some ‘accidental’ touching, and some incidents in which people called me a ‘slut.’ In the end of the day, it was a very unpleasant experience.”

This letter, written by an Israeli leftist activist, is only one of the causes for the stormy debate that has been taking place online among leftist and human rights activists in Israel.

The activist sent the letter to her friends at Anarchists Against the Wall, in which she wrote of the incidents of sexual harassment she had experienced in Kfar a-Dik, a West Bank village where the organization holds protests in support of the Palestinians from time to time.

This correspondence, along with other testimonies obtained by Haaretz, tells of a wider phenomenon of sexual harassment and assault of Israeli and foreign protesters in the West Bank. In the past two years, at least six incidents were recorded in the West Bank and East Jerusalem: two in Sheikh Jarrah, four more in the Mount Hebron area, in Masra, in Kfar a-Dik, and an alleged case of attempted rape in Umm Salmona, near Bethlehem, that was revealed in Haaretz.

Recently, a special forum was started by a group of women from leftist groups for the purpose of dealing and monitoring such incidents. “The objective is to learn the subject,” says one of the group’s members. “We want to develop tools and guidelines for creating an environment with fewer cases of harassment.”

Protesters Asked To Dress In Less Sexually Provocative To Avoid Incidents

The popular protests of Israeli and foreign leftist activists alongside Palestinians had already began in the middle of the previous decade, but had become more popular in recent years. The protests in Bil’in and Sheikh Jarrah have become points of pilgrimage for activists on the left from Israel and abroad, who join the Palestinians in protest every Friday, when these protest usually take place. In Sheikh Jarrah the protest began when Palestinians were evicted from their homes that were returned to their Israeli owners by court order. In other organization, activists help Palestinians under constant harassment of settlers in places such as south Mount Hebron.

The joint activity of Israeli leftist activists on one side and local Palestinians on the other has created rare cases of cooperation in this time of conflict. But at the same time, complaints of sexual harassment by Palestinians started to emerge.

American Peace Activist Who Files Complaint Blamed For Causing "Rifts"

In April 2010, an American peace activist filed a complaint against a Palestinian, charging he had tried to rape her. The suspect was later freed when the activist withdrew her complaint.

Sheik Jarrah Blames Female Activists As "Sexually Provocative" For Incidents

Hanna Beit Halachmi, a longtime leftist feminist activist, says the outcry began in the spring of 2010, when the organization Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity, issued a message requesting that the female activists arrive to the protests dressed in a manner that is considerate toward the residents.

The statement created a rift between the organization's female activists and male activists who said their response was exaggerated. Soon after, the activists began holding meetings in which they discussed, among other issues, the issue of sexual harassment.

Alongside the struggle against the sexual harassment, the female activists have criticized the responses of their Israeli associates. The ire of many of the activists in the past and in the present is directed at their associates in the left who, according to them, are belittling the significance of the harassments, all in the name of “the opposition to the occupation.”

Rift By Women Upset At Unfair Treatment & Increasing Incidents Of Rape

One activist, who in the past used to frequent the protests in the West Bank but no longer participates, told Haaretz, “Two years ago we had a meeting of women who took part in the struggle against the occupation. It took place in an apartment in Jerusalem, and disturbing things were brought up. Nearly all the women that attended told of cases of harassment or discrimination. One of the women recounted how one night, in a tent set up to help Sheikh Jarrah families, someone tried to grab her. She shouted for help and Palestinians came and asked who it was so that they could ‘take care of him.’”

“A female foreign activist of the international solidarity movement that was sleeping in one of the Palestinian villages, where protests against the fence take place, said that one night someone entered her room and tried to grab her, she began to shout and one of her friends rushed to help her. Since then I don’t go to places I ‘shouldn’t’ go to alone, as a women,” she said.

Arab Leadership Embarrassed

Mahmoud Zohara, a member of the Popular Committee of Masra told Haaretz that the town decided to fight the phenomenon in every way possible. “First, the person responsible for the incident was ostracized. In addition, the Popular Committee decided to file a complaint against him at the Palestinian Court. He was fined NIS 5,000 for his deeds.”

Zohara said that the residents of the town will not accept this phenomenon. “It is unacceptable that Israeli or foreign women that come to protest in solidarity with us be harassed and their human rights be infringed upon.”

Zohara added that the Popular Committee has done much to raise awareness about the issue among the town residents and youth. “One must understand that harassment takes place everywhere - in Tel Aviv and in the United States as well. In these protests there is a very open relationship between the Palestinians and Israeli and foreign activists. This creates friendships, love, and yes, incidents of sexual harassment. But we must put an end to this phenomenon, whatever the price.

Arab Protest Posters Pornographic Message Outrages Women Volunteers

The heated debate intensified lately after the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement posted a poster on its Facebook page. The poster, protesting the deal legitimizing the outpost Migron, features a jar of Vaseline with the caption reading ‘Deep Migron,’ a pun playing on the title of the pornographic film Deep Throat (‘garon’ is Hebrew for throat). The poster angered activists, almost as much as the incidents of sexual harassment.

One activist commented on the poster in her blog: “There will be more noise, they will take down the campaign, apologize again without understanding what they did wrong. As long as we continue coming on Fridays. Damn it, solidarity isn’t just with the Arabs. I can find places where no one cares what I think or feel even without going to East Jerusalem.”

Peace Protesting Increasingly Hindered By Arabic Cultural Bias Against Women

“Honestly, I don’t care what you are doing to fight the occupation and how fast you bring about peace. I just don’t care.” The poster was removed following the criticism.

Left Not Immune From Allegations Of Sexual Harrassment

Two weeks ago, another activist anonymously wrote on the website haokets.org about an incident of sexual assault she had experienced, this time by an Israeli activist. “I was sexually assaulted last summer by an Israeli leftist activist. The assailant met, and still meets, all the right criteria: post-colonialist, post-Zionist, anti-capitalist, etc. And most relevantly, he considers himself a feminist. Until he assaulted me, we were friends.”

Language Of Opposition Not Immune From Sexual Harrassment

“After the assault it took me three long days to understand what had happened to me, and find a name for it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, because I couldn’t understand how someone who spoke with me using the language of opposition to oppression could breach my walls.”

Campaign Hints At Anal Rape

“When the solidarity movement released its new campaign with the Vaseline, hinting at anal rape, with the caption ‘shut up, bend over and swallow, you know you want to’ conjuring the most appalling imagery of sexual violence, I was angered, but unfortunately, I wasn’t surprised. In all honesty, the left isn’t as good at keeping gender equality as they think they are.”

Beit Halachmi Accuses Left Of Using Women: "Leftist Organizations Suffer From Chauvinism"

Beit Halachmi, 50-years-old and a mother of two, claims that leftist organizations suffer from chauvinism and “need women in order to create an appearance of liberality. Once there is a preference for human rights, your legitimacy is finished. Women cannot be in second place. Women have become a tool for war, weapons, and sacrifice. This is a war of men against men, having nothing to do with the occupation.”

Beit Halachmi, who writes a blog titled The Private Is Political, says that even following the correspondence regarding the sexual harassment in Kfar a-Dik, unacceptable responses were made. It is true that at first some people said that we should stop going to demonstrations there. But shortly after, responses on the line of ‘the occupation is more important’ began to appear.”

Creation Of False Impression Of Israeli Immorality To Hide Arab Cultural Bias To Women

In an attempt to downplay growing incidents and concern about the safety of women protesting in Arab areas, the group: "Anarchists Against the Wall" responded that “the group was dealing openly and seriously with incidents of sexual harassments done by Palestinians, as well as those in which soldiers and Israeli citizens were the assailants."

The attempts to use incidents of sexual assault, a phenomenon that takes place on both sides of the border, and to tie them to a single nationality, is harming the important fight against sexual violence,” the organization added, without being able to name what or when those incidents were.

Women's groups were not impressed. One woman responded to this: "That at least, sexual harrassment is not a matter for worry for women if we were to change sides and join our opposition. In this at least, we share unity dialogue and understanding about this subject".

Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement had not responded by the time of publication.

Read this article in Hebrew

Israel: Are Peace Activists Harassed by Palestinian Men Being Silenced?

(Click Here To See)

This post also available in:

繁體中文 · 以色列:受巴勒斯坦男性騷擾的和平運動者被消音?

简体中文 · 以色列:受巴勒斯坦男性骚扰的和平运动者被消音?

Español · Israel: ¿Estan siendo silenciadas las activistas de paz acosadas por hombres palestinos?

Female Pro Palestinian Demonstrators Suffer Harassment, Rape

(Click Here To See Article)

"Coping With Sexual Harrassment Workshops" Being Offered For Female Human Rights Activists (Hebrew Screenshot)

This screenshot was posted on Indy media and soon after taken down but not before someone took a screenshot of it

(Click Here To See) Translation into English: “Israeli men, women and transgenders protest on weekly basis with their bodies against the occupation. Within this field of solidarity and mutual risk-taking lies a phenomenon of sexual harassment of activists and transgenders… within the field of direct action against occupation there is a role reversal in the power relations between occupiers (feminine tense in Hebrew – C.V) and occupied, dominant and dominated (feminine tense in Hebrew – C.V).”

The existence of this workshop shows sexual harassment is a common phenomenon in left wing demonstrations!

(Click Here To See Article)The demonstrators against occupations accept this behavior, calling it: "Reversed Occupation" because it doesn’t really concern them. The victims are all women! These women shoulders could be covered so the demonstrators could continue feeding their self-righteous so-called "liberal" egos and carry the torch of social equality struggle. I recommend that women only participate in these demonstrations if there will be a complete stop of any demonstration during which a sexual harassment occurs! The demonstrators should not continue protesting unless they reach an agreement with their Palestinian counterparts that there will be zero tolerance to this phenomenon (of sexual harassment) and he who does harasses will be shamefully and publicly banned from the demonstration.

I am sorry that there is apparently no real left wing in Israel and that unfortunately left wing women are cooperating with this phenomenon”.

The Lefts Betrayal Of Its Raped Activists

(Article is in Hebrew)(Click Here To See) In her provocative column, Israeli Lawyer Roni Aloni Sadovnik speaks of another rape attempt on an Israeli activist who was also pressured to put it aside for the greater purpose, and refers to both as raped.

She writes:

“When Pacifist movements need to prioritize their agendas, it’s clear that ending the occupation comes before protecting women. Are we finally facing the naked truth that these movements are actually pro-Islamic disguised as humanitarians? As a feminist, I feel the hypocrisy and loss of moral conscience in the galloping left wing's demanding "action" to end the occupation, while they are upset in the face of this horror, at the same time they encourage and collaborate in hiding it”.

Sheikh Jarrah Demonstration Organizers Write On Facebook Denying Sexual Allegations And Threatening Legal Action Against: "Slanderers"

Page is in Hebrew. (Click Here To See Article)In response to those allegations, The Sheikh Jarrah demonstration organizers wrote a note on their Facebook page denying it: “We take every case of harassment seriously and will stand against it as we stand against the breaking of every human right. The first rape attempt was made public due to the assistance of Israeli activists that helped report it. We have no knowledge of the other case and the allegation against us as accomplices to such silencing is slandering. We respect Sadovnik’s reputation of feminist activism but we warned News First Class that if they do not delete this column we will consider pressing liability charges.” They continued threatening that if the publisher of the article on the attempted rape and other claims of rape and sexual harassment, Mr. Yoav Yitzchok did not remove his article, they would seek legal retribution.

Phenomenon Of Female Activists Being Sexually Harrassed By The Very People They Come To Protect

(Click Here To See)

Palestinian Arab Raping Of Peace Activist Not An Isolated Incident

(Click Here To See)

Palestine: Breaking The Silence About Rape

(Click Here To See)

The stories of rape and sexual molestation of foreign peace activists by Palestinians first appeared in the dovish Haaretz several months ago. Back in July, Avi Isacharoff asked, Are the Palestinians silencing the attempted rape of U.S. peace activist? and then he reported: PA, protest leaders hushed up attempted rape of U.S. activist. That was back in July. Incredibly, nobody noticed these ‘juicy’ stories. The attempted rape incident he reported took place several months before that, probably in March or April in a village called Umm Salmona:

“Omar Aladdin, who had been arrested three months ago over suspicions he had attempted to rape the U.S. citizen, was subsequently released after agreeing to apologize to the young woman. However, Haaretz had learned that representatives of both the popular protest movement and the PA have since applied pressure on the American peace activist as to prevent her from making the story public.

It was not the only incident. An undated article in Hebrew, by Roni Aloni Sedovnik reported on Betrayal by the left of female peace activists who were sexually assaulted. Aloni-Sedovnik reported an additional case, the ‘severe sexual assault’ of an Israeli peace activist at Sheikh Jarrah. The victim tried to complain, but this time it was Israeli peace activists who shut her up. (see article above:"The Lefts Betrayal Of Its Raped Activists")

Rape Of Foreign Women Peace Activists To Force Them Into Marriage Is Commonplace

(Click Here To See) Article is in Hebrew. Author discusses how women coming to protest Israeli occupation are routinely enslaved into forced marriages never able to leave.

“I know of such rape cases from women who are not Jewish: a female European leftist activist, a female Red Cross volunteer and a young Arab woman from Yafo. I met the three of them during reserve service. I met with each of them afterwards… they told me what happens there, in the Palestinian villages, far from any observing eye.” “It is not a matter of rape to satisfy lust. They are done systematically in order to impregnate the girl, and then to marry her, after she converts to Islam. Of course, we know about this method from girls who underwent a similar process inside Israel and escaped to Europe, but it is hard to escape from the [Palestinian] territories. Sometimes these women, some of whom are already older women, are not allowed to leave their homes unaccompanied, in order to prevent their escape. If someone doubts my words…please, check the statistics for entries and departures, and you will discover that a large portion of female leftist activists did not leave the country. Everyone knows about it, but nobody dares to talk about it…

“I ran into a few Norwegian girls married to Palestinians. They are not happy. Their lives were destroyed. Their families have broken off contact with them. They have no place to return to. They are deep in the raising of children and wish to die. I assume there are women in that situation in their own countries and in Israel too. Not everyone is happy, but one might think that a person who grew up in Oslo will have trouble adjusting to life in the refugee camps. She is no longer allowed to be free, to fly about the world as she wishes, or even to be a leftist activist.

"Humanitarian Activists" Trying To Bury Palestinian Rape Of One Of Their Own

(Click Here To See)

MESS Report / Are the Palestinians silencing the attempted rape of U.S. peace activist?

(HaAretz) The story of the Palestinian popular protest against Israel in several West Bank villages has recently garnered worldwide praise. However, as with any other massive movement, the popular protest too has its darker sides. The Palestinian Authority, as well as the leaders of the Palestinian popular protests in villages such as Bil'in, Na'alim, Umm Salmuna, have been trying to keep the following story away from both public knowledge and the media's eye: One of the more prominent Umm Salmuna activists – a village south of Bethlehem, long entrenched in a battle against the West Bank separation fence – is suspected of the attempted rape of an American peace activist who had been residing in the village as part of her support of the local protest. Omar Aladdin, who had been arrested three months ago over suspicions he had attempted to rape the U.S. citizen, was subsequently released after agreeing to apologize to the young woman. However, Haaretz had learned that representatives of both the popular protest movement and the PA have since applied pressure on the American peace activist as to prevent her from making the story public.

MESS Report / Are the Palestinians silencing the attempted rape of U.S. peace activist?

(Click Here To See)

What the PA may be doing to keep the darker side of its much lauded popular protest against the West Bank separation fence out of public view.

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