Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Amnesty blames Israel for PalArab abuse of women

Amnesty International just came out with a report called Challenging Repression, on the state of human rights defenders in the Middle East and North Africa. While the report does detail abuses of human rights activists in all the countries in the region, what it says about Israel shows once again that Amnesty has deep biases.

The most egregious example can be seen in this passage:
In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the impact of occupation has been felt by women human rights defenders in a particularly acute way. Their long efforts to end gender-based discrimination have been thwarted by a sense that the primary need is to bring an end to Israeli occupation. The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, stated after her visit to the OPT: “the deepening of the conflict in the OPT and the expansion of the tools of occupation has weakened the negotiating power of Palestinian women to challenge the patriarchal gender contract which has, in part, become a defence mechanism to keep the society intact”.

In a place where, as described by the Special Rapporteur, the “increased transgression of [Palestinian] land has left honour as the only viable ground for the preservation of societal identity – to the detriment of women”, women human rights defenders have found it increasingly hard to promote the principle of gender equality. Indeed, women human rights defenders who have advocated law reforms and supported victims of domestic violence have themselves been targeted by state agents and others. As a result, these activists have been gradually sidelined.
This is an amazing passage. Amnesty, without any evidence whatsoever, claims that Palestinian Arab men abuse women because they have no energy left for equal rights due to the oppressive "occupation."

You see, the reason that Palestinian Arab women cannot be treated equally is because the "occupation" makes it difficult for misogynist Palestinian Arab men to listen to their side of the story. The men need to abuse women as a "defense mechanism" - they have become so emasculated by the "occupation" that they have no choice but to take it out on their wives and sisters!

The poor Palestinian men, according to Amnesty and the Special Rapporteur, are doing a noble thing by abusing women - it is how they keep their "societal identity." If they would start treating women with respect, they would have nothing left - first they lose their land, and then they lose their very identities as misogynists!

The next logical step is honor killings.

Obviously this is all Israel's fault. If only Israel would do the right thing and give them a state, then the Palestinian Arabs would treat women just as well as their brethren in Egypt and Saudi Arabia do.

And of course, Israel is darkly accused of "targeting" women's rights advocates. No names given, no specifics offered, no idea what exactly is meant - but clearly Israel is no better than any of its neighbors in human rights in its "targeting."

Furthermore, this is the only part of the section on women's rights advocates that talks about abuse of women, something that is not in the scope of the report. There is nothing in the report about "honor killings" or anything similar; the rest of the section talks about human rights workers being abused, not women. Only when Israel is mentioned is the abuse of women mentioned.

It is a large report, and Amnesty is not sparing in its criticism of other countries. But this passage, and others in the report, show that Amnesty is hardly objective when it comes to Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.