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Mitch Wolfe


Women in Gaza: Neglected By Canadian Feminists Obsessed with Israel

Posted: 03/12/2013 8:23 am

Now, the feminist writers from the very well-respected Toronto media, NOW Magazine and the online rabble.ca, did not openly come out and lay the blame for the latest Middle East public relations debacle at the feet of Israel. But I'll buy a free dinner at the vegan, slow food, locavore Toronto restaurant of your choice if you can find one article in either paper that explicitly and substantially criticizes Hamas and the Palestinians for their terrible and discriminatory mistreatment of women in Gaza. And especially the most recent incident of discrimination against Palestinian women: the cancelling of a UN-sactioned marathon because the Hamas Government refused to permit Palestinian women in Gaza to participate.

According to a Hamas spokesman, women running alongside the men would be contrary to Islam and the customs and practices of Palestinians. "We don't want women and men mixing in the same race," Gaza's Cabinet secretary, Abdul-Salam Siam, said. "We don't want any woman running uncovered." Apparently, Hamas leaders believe that fully-covered women riding on the backs of motorcycles or smoking water pipes are also contrary to Islam and Palestinian customs.

According to the article, about 216 Palestinian women and 119 women from other countries were prepared to participate in the race. And these women were prepared to dress modestly. Most of the women were going to wear full length running pants and long-sleeve shirts, as they had done in previous Gaza runs. But it was not enough for the Hamas rulers.

The banning of women from the proposed Gaza marathon by Hamas occurred, coincidentally, a few days before International Women's Day. Talk about really bad timing. It is at moments like these that I believe God, whoever he or she may be, has a bizarre sense of humour.

The frustrating part of the failed race is that even under the most conservative interpretations, Islam has no specific ban against women running. So Hamas and the Palestinian men in Gaza cannot properly justify this overt discrimination on religious grounds.It seems that the mere sight of the movement of a woman's body, no matter how fully clothed, just makes Palestinian men uncomfortable. Therefore Palestinian women should be seen, and mostly stationary. Otherwise they will be viewed as immodest and probably on the verge of being wanton.

Why, in the name of the holy trinity of Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer, aren't Canadian feminists raising a huge bloody stink about this?

If this marathon had been cancelled in Israel for these reasons, such militant feminists as Susan Cole and Judy Rebick would be heading to the barricades. Naomi Klein and Maude Barlow would be frothing and fulminating on CBC. The Canadian universities would be ablaze with renewed anti-Israeli fervor.

But because this is occurring in Gaza, there is not a murmur. Not a peep. It is like the Silence of the Feminist Lambs.

I challenge everyone to search on NOW and rabble.ca's sites for the phrase "discrimination against Women in Gaza" -- or any variation thereof. Do you find any significant articles calling out Hamas or Palestinian men on their mistreatment of women? Or is all the criticism reserved for Israel?

Curious, I went on the rabble.ca website and typed "banning of women from Gaza marathon" in its search window. Relevant results? None. Nil. Gornisht. ( That's Yiddish, for nothing).

I then typed in the words "Women in Gaza." The following stories and headlines came up as results: "Massacre in Gaza: Israel Strikes Kill More Than 200" (Dec 30, 2008); "January Protests Against Israeli Assault on Gaza" (Jan 31, 2010); "Israel Launches Airstrikes on Gaza Again" (November, 2012)

Go on the NOW website, and type, "banning of women from the Gaza marathon" into the search box. The response you'll get: "No Results". That is "bupkis," babe.

I also invite to go on the NOW website and type "Women in Gaza". You will be provided with stories about a vigil against the occupation of Gaza and about the pull out of Gaza by Israel. Nothing about the cancelled marathon.

Why is that? Are these feminists so angry and hostile to Israel, and so supportive of the Palestinian cause, that they cannot rationally bring themselves to criticize Palestinian men who mistreat women?
Don't Palestinian women deserve concern and empathy?

There is a famous Latin saying: res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.

The blatant failure of Canadian leftist feminists to speak up against the banning of women from the Gaza marathon by Hamas, speaks for itself. And this silence, ain't pretty.

Loading Slideshow...
  • March 22, 2004

    After a wave of Hamas suicide bombings in Israeli cities, an Israeli missile kills Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the Hamas movement. <em>Caption: In this March 22, 2004, file photo, Palestinians gather around a pool of blood and the remains of the wheelchair of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, following an Israeli air strike that killed him, near his house in Gaza City. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)</em>

  • April 17, 2004

    Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, the co-founder of Hamas and Yassin's successor, is killed by Israeli missile. <em>Caption: Picture taken 09 May 2002 shows Hamas political leader Abdel Aziz Rantissi talking to the press in Gaza City. (MOHAMMED SABER/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • Sept. 1, 2005

    Israeli forces complete a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, captured from Egypt in the 1967 Middle East war, abandoning settlements and leaving the densely populated coastal area under the control of the Palestinian Authority. <em>Caption: Israeli troops guard an unfinished section of the border installation Israel is building November 23, 2005 along its boundary with the northern Gaza Strip. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)</em>

  • Jan. 25, 2006

    Hamas wins majority of seats in Palestinian legislative election. Israel and United States cut off aid to Palestinians because Hamas refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel. <em>Caption: A Palestinian man reads the newspaper with pictures showing the winners of the Palestinian elections outside his shop in Jerusalem's Old City, 27 January 2006. (GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • June 25, 2006

    Hamas militants launch raid into Israel from Gaza, killing two soldiers and capturing conscript Gilad Shalit. <em>Caption: Recently-freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit attends a meeting with French ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot (not seen) at the French embassy in Tel Aviv on January 11, 2012. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/GettyImages)</em>

  • June 28, 2006

    Israeli troops invade the Gaza Strip, but fail to find Shalit. <em>Caption: Palestinians inspect the damaged houses around the building of the Palestinian Authority Interior Ministry office after an Israeli air strike, June 30, 2006 in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)</em>

  • Nov. 26, 2006

    Ceasefire in Gaza announced, ends five months of Israeli air strikes and incursions that fail to free Shalit. <em>Caption: An Israeli soldier rests next to a tank at a military staging area near Kibbutz Mefalsim, in southern Israel on the border with the Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006. (AP Photo/Oded Blilty)</em>

  • June 14, 2007

    Hamas takes over Gaza in brief civil war with Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Rockets regularly fired into southern Israel. <em>Caption: Palestinian Fatah movement supporters chant anti-Hamas slogans during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 13 November 2007. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)</em>

  • April 24, 2008

    Hamas leader offers Israel six-month truce in Gaza but says fate of Shalit separate issue. Talks fail to make progress but ceasefire eventually agreed. However, many rocket attacks on southern Israel recorded during truce period. <em>Caption: Hamas political leader, Khaled Mashaal talks to reporters at a press conference in Damascus,Syria, on Monday April 21, 2008. (AP photo / Bassem Tellawi).</em>

  • Dec. 19, 2008

    Fragile six-month ceasefire expires as they fail to agree on terms to extend truce. <em>Caption: Israeli soldiers escort blindfolded Palestinian women to the Kissufim Israeli army base,after they were detained during a military operation in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Yehuda Lahiani)</em>

  • Dec. 27, 2008

    Israel launches 22-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip after Palestinians fire rockets at southern Israeli town of Sderot. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis are killed. <em>Caption: In this Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009 file photo, smoke rises following explosions caused by Israeli military operations in Gaza City. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa, File)</em>

  • Jan. 18, 2009

    Israel and Hamas cease fire in Gaza. <em>Caption: Palestinian security men stand guard on a street during the third day of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on January 20, 2009 in Gaza City, Gaza. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)</em>

  • April 9, 2011

    The Israeli military kills top Hamas militant Tayser Abu Snima in a raid, saying he was "directly and physically involved" in Shalit's capture. <em>Caption: Palestinians pray over the body of the commander of the Islamic Hamas militant Tayser Abu Snima, 29, at the treatment room of Al Najar hospital following an Israeli air strikes on Hamas militants group in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, early Saturday, April 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)</em>

  • Oct. 11, 2011

    Israeli and Hamas officials say a deal has been reached to swap Shalit for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Swap takes place on October 18 <em>Captions: A supporter of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit waits for Shalit's parents at their home in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)</em>

  • March 12, 2012

    Four days of violence between Israel and Gazan militants leaves at least 25 Palestinians dead and 80 wounded. Eight people in Israel wounded. The exchanges began after two chiefs of a smaller faction were killed in an Israeli strike. <em>Caption: Palestinian girl cries during the funeral of a 12 year old Ayoub Assalya in Jabaliya Refugee Camp, in Gaza Strip, Sunday, March 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)</em>

  • June 23, 2012

    Israel says Hamas and other groups fire more than 150 rockets at it in a week. Retaliatory airstrikes kill at least 2 Palestinians. <em>Caption: A Palestinian security police officer inspects the damage following an Israeli air strike on the building in Gaza City, early Saturday, June 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)</em>

  • Oct. 8, 2012

    Hamas and other groups fire more than 55 rockets and mortars at southern Israel. At least one militant killed in Israeli airstrike. <em>Caption: Israeli citizens are seen through a car's windshield which was shattered when a rocket fired last night from the Gaza strip landed in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/ Tsafrir Abayov)</em>

  • Nov. 13, 2012

    Three Palestinian militants and at least four civilians die in new round of violence. More than 115 rockets fired into southern Israel. Israeli army says more than 760 rockets have hit Israel since the start of the year. <em>Caption: A view of a destroyed house after a long-range Grad rocket fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza Strip hit in the southern Israeli town of Netivot, Sunday Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)</em>

  • Nov. 14, 2012

    Israel kills Hamas's military chief of staff; launch widespread air offensive. Warn of possible ground attack. <em>Caption: Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Edi Israel)</em>


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