Monday, November 26, 2012

Honor killings & Islamophobia

Entertainment media plays as important a role as news media in generating lies & Islamophobia in defense of Israeli aggression against Palestinians. On a recent rerun of the popular crime show, “Law & Order,” a young Palestinian man was prosecuted for the “honor killing” of his sister. In his trial, it was stated that honor killing was the number one cause of death for women in the West Bank & Gaza. Actually, the number one cause of death is Israeli occupation & ethnic cleansing but if Palestinians are murdering their own daughters & sisters, it’s a matter of great concern--especially since reports say Palestinian women “are executed in their homes, in open fields, & occasionally in public, sometimes before crowds of cheering onlookers.”

Remarkably, some of those most concerned with the issue of Palestinian honor killing are the most rabid, right-wing Zionists like David Horowitz, the crazed Zionist editor of FrontPage magazine; Itamar Marcus, right-wing associate of Netanyahu & founder of  Palestinian Media Watch; & Phyllis Chesler, the former feminist turned  Zionist, who once wrote unreadable books on women’s psychology & now writes scurrilous tracts against Islam. How is it that such ardent & odious supporters of Israeli state-sponsored genocide against the Palestinians, including women, are so up in arms against honor killing in the West Bank & Gaza!?

All three of these creeps argue as FrontPage Magazine wrote: “A growing collection of Palestinian leaders {who they do not identify!} are acknowledging that the recent rise in ‘honor killings’ and other horrific acts of violence being perpetrated against Palestinian women can only be stemmed by changing the Arab cultural & Islamic propensity of violence toward women.” So there you have it! Islamophobics & anti-feminists are rising up in unison against honor killing--but regrettably, as part of the odious practice of marshaling feminism to support the most reactionary politics.

That violence against women takes on different forms in different cultures should come as no surprise to anyone with half a brain--but to call out the particular form it takes in Arab societies as an especially egregious form of violence is arrant racism & Islamophobia. It is an honest & important question to ask, “what distinguishes so-called honor killings from domestic violence; what makes honor killings unique?” You can drag out horror stories for comparison but that would only add to the measure of confusion since violence against women & children is horrific & unimaginable whatever form it takes, in whatever cultural context. Phyllis Chesler uses her Jesuitical skills & blunted morality to make the case for important differences but her hatred for Arabs & for Islam drown out any cogency.

Reliable figures on domestic violence are hard to come by for the West Bank & Gaza for the same reasons as in the US & every other country. But some estimate so-called honor killings take the lives of about 20 women annually. Outside of an analysis of all homicidal crimes, that estimate is meaningless. Palestinian women’s & human rights activists have for many years protested & fought against lax legal protections for women against domestic violence. Aya Baradiya, a 20-year-old Palestinian resident of the West Bank, was murdered by her uncle in April 2010 because he disapproved of her suitor. Following the discovery of her remains one year later, 20,000 Palestinians attended her funeral to honor her as a martyr--suggesting a strong Palestinian cultural propensity against violence toward women.

In the context of Islamophobia & the war against Palestinians & the Arab peoples, it should be considered inflammatory, even a concession to Islamophobia, to use the term “honor killing” or to distinguish it as more egregious than violence against women & children in any society. That is not for one moment to excuse femicide among Palestinians but to purge racism from our solidarity.

Here Palestinian women in Bethlehem protest to demand tougher legal protections for women & children victims of domestic violence, August 2012. (Photo by Majdi Mohammed, AP)

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