Feminism has always been my thing. Sadly, I didn’t go to a high school that highly promoted equality; thus, I have always been known as the feminist. If people had questions about women’s issues they would asked me. Somehow at 15, I needed to know every nuanced argument about abortion, equal pay and anything else that affected women. Therefore, this international women’s day was very exciting because I am surrounded by like minded people here at Penn. In my life, it was always that my feminism was a dirty word and not my Zionism.
At Penn, I have never felt that being a Zionist or pro-Israel is ever an issue. In today’s modern society, some of the ideals I hold most dear seem to contradict one another in liberal causes. The most important thing to understand is that you can be both a Zionist and a feminist.
About a week ago was International Women’s Day which was celebrated across the globe. This year it was extra personal because of the current political climate. Thus the Women’s March on Washington decided to call the day, “A Day Without A Woman”. They encouraged women to stay home from work if it was financially feasible and to wear red that day in solidarity.
I agree wholeheartedly with the movement. As a die-hard feminist, I believe that inequalities in the workforce and in every aspect of life must be spoken about in order to end them. We must fight for our rights in order to create equality.
The issue I have with many of these movements is that they get corrupted and put off track. For example, a Day Without A Woman was signed by a terrorist Rasmea Yousef Odeh. Here is a little background on Rasmea Yousef Odeh. She was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine which is a U.S. designated terrorist organization. In 1969, she participated in the bombing of a supermarket in Jerusalem, Israel which subsequently murdered two innocent Israelis. She was found guilty to have participated in two terrorist attacks in Israel and was sentenced to a life in prison. During a prisoner swap, she was released and moved to Jordan. From there, she applied for U.S. citizenship and was granted it until she was convicted of immigration fraud. How can a movement based in such great ideals have a terrorist help lead the movement? How is this a woman to promote equality when she clearly does not care for the lives of Israelis? We cannot glorify a signer of a Day Without A Woman when she is a terrorist.
Another movement I align myself with is The Black Lives Matter Movement. I agree that black people in this country and across the world are not treated equally and are the subject of immense racism. It is absolutely despicable and we must change the current state of America. But again this movement has been corrupted by anti Israel rhetoric. In their platform, they discuss the “genocide” that the Israelis are inflicting on the Palestinians. First of all, how does Israel have anything to do with their movement and how does discussing Israel enhance their movement? The only country they call out is Israel. They do not call out Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, North Korea and I can continue listing many countries with immense human rights violations. In their platform they go on for paragraphs about how the United States should stop giving aid to Israel. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, therefore when the U.S. sends military aid over they are creating stability in the region.
Secondly, it is completely unfair to either call Israel the perpetrators of genocide or an apartheid state. All citizens of Israel have full equal rights. Arabs have 17 seats in the Knesset, Israeli Parliament, and occupy top positions in the Israeli police force. All women, including Muslims, Christians, Palestinians, and Jews, are granted the right to vote. According to Freedom House, a U.S. Government funded non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, stated that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is free while the West Bank and Gaza who are ruled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are completely not free. The injustices in Gaza are perpetrated by Hamas, a terrorist organization and not Israel.
These movements are completely undermining the existence of the State of Israel. You can be a feminist, a promoter of equality and a Zionist at the same time. Being a Zionist means that you believe in the development and protection of the Jewish State in Israel. When people undermine the only country in the world that is home to the Jews, it is bordering on anti-Semitism.
Both Jews and Israel have been pioneers in the fight for equality. Jews have deep roots in the Civil Rights Movement in America by helping create the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and were an integral part to marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr. My own cousin helped register African Americans to vote in Mississippi and Alabama in 1962.
Israel had a female Prime Minister in 1969. Can we say the same thing about that in America?
I am not saying people cannot criticize Israel because every country does wrong. I just do not believe that it is fair that every liberal cause takes a negative stance on Israel and undermines its existence. If anything there is no reason to comment on Israel in their platforms because it takes away from the core issue.
As a self identifying liberal, I ask these causes to not alienate me because of my stance on Israel.