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Women in Gaza: Neglected By Canadian Feminists Obsessed with Israel

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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.

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