Linda Sarsour: Zionism and Feminism Are Incompatible – Haaretz

Posted By on March 15, 2017

Palestinian-American women in social justice movements cannot be as visible as other women because they're the target of attacks from 'right-wing Zionists,' the activist says.

Liberal American Jews, many of whom are involved in causes for gender and racial justice, have recently found themselves alienated by those movements stances on Israel.

That conflict was seen last year when a platform associated with the Black Lives Matter movement accused Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians and called it an apartheid state. The platform drew ire from Jewish groups who had previously expressed support for BLMs goals of racial justice.

Now the same conflict is playing out with feminist groups whose cause has gained steam since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. A platform for the U.S. affiliate of the International Womens Strike a grassroots feminist movement that organized events around the world last Wednesday calls for the decolonization of Palestine.

Responding Monday to critics of the Palestine plank in a platform devoted to womens rights, Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, an organizer of Januarys Womens March on Washington who also helped plan the Womens Strike, came forth with a harsh message: feminism and Zionism simply dont go together.

In an interview with The Nation, Sarsour said those who identify as Zionist cannot be feminist because they are ignoring the rights of Palestinian women.

It just doesnt make any sense for someone to say, Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement? There cant be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. Theres just no way around it, Sarsour said.

Sarsour also said that Palestinian-American women in social justice movements cannot be as visible as other women because they are the target of unspecified attacks from right-wing Zionists.

The fact of the matter is that there are hundreds of Palestinian women organizing, but not all of them are visible. And Ill tell you why, Sarsour said. Youve probably seen that any visible Palestinian-American woman who is at the forefront of any social-justice movement is an immediate target of the right wing and right-wing Zionists. They will go to any extreme to criminalize us and to engage in alternative facts, to sew together a narrative that does not exist.

Sarsour was responding directly to criticism of the platforms statement on Israel by Emily Shire, the politics editor of the womens news site Bustle. Shire wrote about her dilemma as a Zionist feminist in a New York Times op-ed published March 7.

I find it troubling that embracing such a view is considered an essential part of an event that is supposed to unite feminists, she wrote. I am happy to debate Middle East politics or listen to critiques of Israeli policies. But why should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017?

Shire also criticized the strike for the involvement of Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian woman convicted and sentenced by an Israeli military court in 1970 to life in prison for her role in two bombing attacks, including one in 1969 that killed two Israelis. Odeh was among the eight authors of an op-ed in The Guardian announcing the movement. She confessed to planting the bomb, though in recent years has claimed that the confession was given under torture, which is disputed by Israeli officials.

While the fairness of Ms. Odehs conviction is debated, the fact that she was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was categorized as a terrorist organization by the State Department, is not, Shire wrote.

Sarsour was in the Jewish media spotlight last month for quite different reasons. Following the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery outside St. Louis, she and another Muslim activist, Tarek El-Messidi, organized a fundraiser for the repair of the burial site. They managed to raise over $160,000, far exceeding their $20,000 goal.

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Linda Sarsour: Zionism and Feminism Are Incompatible - Haaretz

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