The world has erupted in protests against Israel’s U.S.-funded decimation of Gaza/Palestine, and women are outspoken leaders in the uproar. They need to be, because a multitude of the casualties are women and children.
Since Hamas led its October 7 surprise attack, killing Israeli civilians and taking hostages, the capitalist ruling classes of the U.S. and Israel have ripped off any vestige of humanity. They are conducting racist, brutal ethnic cleansing within the open-air prison of Gaza. They are enraged and humiliated that the oppressed dared to fight back. President Biden has backed Israel’s carpet-bombing of Gaza, despite over 60% disapproval of his policy by the U.S. public.
At the end of October, Israel ordered more than 1.8 million people in northern Gaza and Gaza City to evacuate southward for their “personal safety.” Hundreds of thousands fled to protect their families from bombing and terror, but many were shot at on the road. Then Israel bombed the supposedly safe southern area. Palestinians are trapped, with nowhere to go since Gaza’s borders are closed by Israel and by Egypt. No wonder women must fight back.
Women are targets
At the latest count, nearly 20,000 Palestinians are dead. More than 70% are women and children. There have been 212 Israeli attacks on Gaza hospitals and medical facilities. Health care workers have been killed and doctors detained. The most vulnerable are bearing the brunt of the carnage — over 7,000 children have been killed, 132 of them babies under one year. Every day, 180 women give birth in the streets, on rubble. There is no access to contraception, anesthesia, abortion, or clean water. Men have also been brutally attacked, tortured and killed.
Israel’s defenders are making unsubstantiated charges of mass rape and sexual torture by Hamas to inflame hatred. Feminists oppose all acts of rape, including its universal use as a tool of war to conquer, torture and commit genocide. But we will not be manipulated by false claims. We echo the anti-Zionist Jewish call, “Not in our name.”
While Biden hypocritically calls for protecting Jews, he is actually protecting the apartheid state of Israel, which the U.S. uses as a base to protect its interests in the oil-rich Middle East and to subdue the potentially revolutionary Arab people. Billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Israel are actually deposited into the coffers of U.S. arms merchants, so war is definitely good for business.
Israel does not represent Judaism or benefit Jews. The war is inciting genuine incidents of antisemitism and anti-Muslim violence. But when activists call for an end to the Zionist massacre that is sparking rising attacks, they are not antisemitic. Still, many defenders of Palestine have been censored, arrested and fired. Rights to free speech and assembly are under attack in the streets, on worksites and on campuses.
Frequently touted as the only pro-human rights democracy in the Middle East, Israel is in fact a racist theocracy that denies citizenship and rights to the original Palestinian inhabitants, and encourages the theft of their land and homes. The far-right ruling coalition led by President Netanyahu upholds misogyny and homophobia and has been under intense pressure from the Israeli public, which objects to the smashing of an independent court system. What better than a war to stoke nationalism and repress dissent!
Women may provide the hope for peace among Israelis and Palestinians. On October 4, hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian women marched in Jerusalem to “end the cycle of bloodshed and to achieve freedom and a just, honorable life for Palestinian and Israeli children,” in the words of Palestinian organizer Reem Hajjar.
Since the assault began, 12 Palestinian women’s organizations issued a rousing call: “Women movements have historically been central to the struggles against oppression, discrimination, colonialism and militarism. In the same spirit, and in response to apartheid Israel’s unfolding genocide in Gaza, we…call on women and women’s organizations worldwide to speak up and rise up…to support our struggle to end this genocide.”
Some antiwar groups are calling for a permanent ceasefire as a way to stop the slaughter. But while a ceasefire could allow for emergency aid to Gaza, it is not a solution. A long-term ceasefire would only restore the untenable status quo before October 7. The demand implies an equality between Israel and Gaza, but Israel is the jailer of Palestine with massively more weaponry, including a nuclear bomb, and the unstinting support of the U.S.
Palestinians have the right to self-defense and freedom. What they need is an end to the Israeli occupation and the capitalist system that fuels it.
• Stop Israel’s genocidal war.
• Don’t buy Israeli products. Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — BDS.
• No U.S. funds for Israel.
• Full right of return and self-determination for Palestinians.
• For a secular, socialist multi-ethnic state in Palestine/Israel with equal rights for all, including women, LGBTQ+ people, and all religions.