Palestinian women take a break to recover from tear gas that was fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes between inhabitants of the village of Nabi Saleh, in the occupied West Bank and Israeli soldiers on March 9, 2012, after the villagers marched in protest against the annexation of land in favor of the construction of the Israeli settlement of Hallamish.
By Avi Issacharoff
Female activists accuse leftist organizations of belittling cases of harassment by Palestinians for the sake of the struggle against the occupation; Palestinian activist: It is unacceptable that Israeli or foreign women that come to protest in solidarity with us be harassed.
"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.”