Why Must Women Choose between Feminism and Zionism, but Not Other “Isms”?
by Alan M. Dershowitz
March 15, 2017
On March 8, women abstained from work as part of the International Women’s Strike (IWS) — a grassroots feminist movement aimed at bringing attention “to the current social, legal, political, moral and verbal violence experienced by contemporary women at various latitudes.” But these positive goals were distorted by the inclusion of anti-Israel rhetoric in the platform of the IWS.
There are many countries and movements throughout the world that treat women as second-class citizens: Israel is not among them. Yet this platform singles out for condemnation only Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people. There is a word for applying a double standard to Jews. That word is anti-Semitism.
It is a tragedy that this women’s movement — which has done so much good in refocusing attention on important women’s issues in the United States — from gender violence, to reproductive rights and equal-pay — has now moved away from its central mission and gone out of its way to single out one foreign nation by calling for the “decolonization of Palestine.” Not of Tibet. Not of Kurdistan. Not of Ukraine. Not of Cyprus. Only Palestine.
The platform, which is published on IWS’ website under the headline “Antiracist and Anti-imperialist Feminism” also says: “we want to dismantle all walls, from prison walls to border walls, from Mexico to Palestine.” No mention is made of the walls that imprison gays in Iran, dissidents in China, feminists in Gaza or Kurds in Turkey. Only the walls erected by Israel.
Criticizing Israel’s settlement and occupation policies is fair game. But singling out Israel for “decolonization” when it has repeatedly offered to end the occupation and to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza; and when other countries continue to colonize, can be explained in no other way than applying a double standard to Jews and their state.
Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American who helped organize the Women’s March on Washington in January, responded to criticism of the anti-Israel plank appearing in a feminist platform. In an interview with The Nation Sarsour said the following:
“When you talk about feminism you’re talking about the rights of all women and their families to live in dignity, peace, and security. It’s about giving women access to health care and other basic rights. And Israel is a country that continues to occupy territories in Palestine, has people under siege at checkpoints — we have women who have babies on checkpoints because they’re not able to get to hospitals [in time]. It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, ‘Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?’ There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.”