Thursday, February 01, 2007

> >Women and Violence> >
Why does that streak of blood, rip the petal of your
> >cheek?

I received this script of a wonderful speech by email
yesterday. It was emailed to me by a friend of mine,
a Lebanese American woman whose husband, an Iraqi
American was a diplomat in Iraq during the fifties.

> >Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the mother of Smadar
> >Elhanan, 13 years old when killed by a suicide bomber
> >in Jerusalem in September 1997. Below is Nurit's
> >Address to the European Parliament> >

By Nurit Peled-Elhanan
> >
> >04/08/05 -- Thank you for inviting me to this today.
> >It is always an honour and a pleasure to be here,
> >among you (at the European Parliament).
> >
> >However, I must admit I believe you should have
> >invited a Palestinian woman at my stead, because the
> >women who suffer most from violence in my county are
> >the Palestinian women. And I would like to dedicate my
> >speech to Miriam R'aban and her husband Kamal, from
> >Bet Lahiya in the Gaza Strip, whose five small
> >children were killed by Israeli soldiers while picking
> >strawberries at the family's strawberry field. No one
> >will ever stand trial for this murder.
> >
> >When I asked the people who invited me here why
> >wouldn't they invite a Palestinian woman the answer
> >was that it would make the discussion too localized.
> >
> >I don't know what is non-localized violence. Racism
> >and discrimination may be theoretical concepts and
> >universal phenomena but their impact is always local,
> >and real. Pain is local, humiliation, sexual abuse,
> >torture and death, are all very local, and so are the
> >scars.
> >
> >It is true unfortunately, that the local violence
> >inflicted on Palestinian women by the government of
> >Israel and the Israeli Army, has expanded around the
> >globe. In fact state violence and army violence,
> >individual and collective violence are the lot of
> >Muslim women today, not only in Palestine but wherever
> >the enlightened Western world is setting its big
> >imperialistic foot. It is violence which is hardly
> >ever addressed and which is halfheartedly condoned by
> >most people in Europe and in the USA.
> >
> >This is because the so-called free world is afraid of
> >the Muslim womb.
> >
> >Great France of la liberté l'égalité et la fraternité
> >is scared of little girls with headscarves, Great
> >Jewish Israel is afraid of the Muslim womb. Its
> >ministers call it a demographic threat. Almighty
> >America and Great Britain are infecting their
> >respective citizens with blind fear of the Muslims,
> >who are depicted as vile, primitive and blood-thirsty,
> >apart from their being non-democratic, chauvinistic
> >and mass producers of future terrorists.
> >
> >This in spite of the fact that the people who are
> >destroying the world today are not Muslim. One of them
> >is a devout Christian, one is Anglican and one is a
> >non-devout Jew.
> >
> >I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian
> >women undergo every day, every hour. I don't know the
> >kind of violence that turns a woman's life into
> >constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture
> >of women who are deprived of their basic human rights
> >and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes
> >are broken in at any moment of day and night, who are
> >ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of
> >strangers and their own children, whose houses are
> >demolished, who are deprived of their livelihood and
> >of any normal family life. This is not part of my
> >personal ordeal. But I am a victim of violence against
> >women insofar as violence against children is actually
> >violence against mothers. Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan
> >women are my sisters because we are all at the grip of
> >the same unscrupulous criminals who call themselves
> >leaders of the free enlightened world and in the name
> >of this freedom and enlightenment rob us of our
> >children. Furthermore, Israeli, American, Italian and
> >British mothers have been for the most part violently
> >blinded and brainwashed to such a degree that they
> >cannot realize their only sisters, their only allies
> >in the world are the Muslim Palestinian, Iraqi or
> >Afghani mothers, whose children are killed by our
> >children or who blow themselves to pieces with our
> >sons and daughters. They are all mind-infected by the
> >same viruses engendered by politicians. And the
> >viruses, though they may have various illustrious
> >names such as Democracy, Patriotism, God, Homeland,
> >are all the same. They are all part of false and fake
> >ideologies that are meant to enrich the rich and to
> >empower the powerful.
> >
> >We are all the victims of mental, psychological and
> >cultural violence that turn us to one homogenic group
> >of bereaved or potentially bereaved mothers. Western
> >mothers are taught to believe their uterus is a
> >national asset just like they are taught to believe
> >that the Muslim uterus is an international threat.
> >They are educated not to cry out: "I gave him birth, I
> >breast-fed him, he is mine, and I will not let him be
> >the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future
> >is less worth than a piece of land."
> >
> >All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education
> >to believe all we can do is either pray for our sons
> >to come back home or be proud of their dead bodies.
> >
> >And all of us were brought up to bear all this
> >silently, to contain our fear and frustration, to take
> >Prozac for anxiety, but never hail Mama Courage in
> >public. Never be real Jewish or Italian or Irish
> >mothers.
> >
> >I am a victim of state violence. My natural and civil
> >rights as a mother have been violated and are violated
> >because I have to fear the day my son would reach his
> >18th birthday and be taken away from me to be the game
> >tool of criminals such as Sharon, Bush, Blair and
> >their clan of blood-thirsty, oil-thirsty, land-thirsty
> >generals.
> >
> >Living in the world I live in, in the state I live in,
> >in the regime I live in, I don't dare to offer Muslim
> >women any ideas how to change their lives. I don't
> >want them to take off their scarves, or educate their
> >children differently, and I will not urge them to
> >constitute democracies in the image of Western
> >democracies that despise them and their kind. I just
> >want to ask them humbly to be my sisters, to express
> >my admiration for their perseverance and for their
> >courage to carry on, to have children and to maintain
> >a dignified family life in spite of the impossible
> >conditions my world is putting them in. I want to tell
> >them we are all bonded by the same pain, we are all
> >the victims of the same sort of violence even though
> >they suffer much more, for they are the ones who are
> >mistreated by my government and its army, sponsored by
> >my taxes.
> >
> >Islam in itself, like Judaism in itself and
> >Christianity in itself, is not a threat to me or to
> >anyone. American imperialism is, European indifference
> >and cooperation is and Israeli racist and cruel regime
> >of occupation is. It is racism, educational propaganda
> >and inculcated xenophobia that convince Israeli
> >soldiers to order Palestinian women at gun-point to
> >strip in front of their children for security reasons;
> >it is the deepest disrespect for the other that allow
> >American soldiers to rape Iraqi women, that give
> >license to Israeli jailers to keep young women in
> >inhuman conditions, without necessary hygienic aids,
> >without electricity in the winter, without clean water
> >or clean mattresses and to separate them from their
> >breast-fed babies and toddlers. To bar their way to
> >hospitals, to block their way to education, to
> >confiscate their lands, to uproot their trees and
> >prevent them from cultivating their fields.
> >
> >I cannot completely understand Palestinian women or
> >their suffering. I don't know how I would have
> >survived such humiliation, such disrespect from the
> >whole world. All I know is that the voice of mothers
> >has been suffocated for too long in this war-stricken
> >planet . Mothers' cry is not heard because mothers are
> >not invited to international forums such as this one.
> >This I know and it is very little. But it is enough
> >for me to remember these women are my sisters, and
> >that they deserve that I should cry for them, and
> >fight for them. And when they lose their children in
> >strawberry fields or in on filthy roads by the
> >checkpoints, when their children are shot on their way
> >to school by Israeli children who were educated to
> >believe that love and compassion are race- and
> >religion-dependent, the only thing I can do is stand
> >by them and their betrayed babies, and ask what Anna
> >Akhmatova, another mother who lived in a regime of
> >violence against women and children, had asked:
> >
> >Why does that streak of blood, rip the petal of your
> >cheek?

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