Emergency demos + news re Gaza

// 8 January 2009

For those who missed the massive demonstrations that took place across the country last Saturday which Jess blogged about, there are more emergency demonstrations happening this coming Saturday.

For Londoners: assemble 12.30 at Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park, for a march to the Israeli Embassy.

For those in Edinburgh: assemble 12:30pm East Market Street, behind Edinburgh Waverley Train Station for a march through the City Centre to the United States Consulate. Bring in-date medicine and spare shoes (for victims in Gaza I believe).

Further details on Stop the War’s site, including info on coach arrangements to London from all over.

There’s also daily protests and vigils across the country, including in:

  • London: at the Israeli Embassy, 5.30 – 7.00 pm, High St, Kensington, London W8
  • Bristol: 5.00 – 6.30 pm, on the Centre (opposite the Hippodrome)
  • Manchester: 5.00 – 6.00 pm, outside the BBC

Meanwhile, women’s groups continue to speak out about Israel’s attacks on Gaza, including the UK’s Muslim Women’s Network (formerly a project of the Women’s National Commission (WNC)). It wrote this open letter to the PM, highlighting how women face the brunt of violence in conflicts:

Finally we want to emphasise that the involvement of women in any peace negotiations is necessary. We would like to remind the UK about that On 31 October 2000, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 which recognises the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women as well as recognizing the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace-building, and stresses the importance of their equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security.

And in my home city (Toronto), eight Jewish women were arrested after occupying the Israeli Consulate for several hours in protest at the attacks on Gaza. The group included Judy Rebick, former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC), and generally awesome feminist hell-raiser. The group’s press statement on their sit-in is here.

Update: While I still believe that posting a picture of something happening in the world is not necessarily endorsement or support, I am concerned that I have upset readers with the previous image used for this post, and have therefore changed it. I have also used this new picture because it was not clear from the previous image that the woman was at a protest, which was my motivation for using it in the first place. Thank you for raising your concerns.

Photo by Takver, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

sdfas // Posted 9 January 2009 at 2:36 am

A Hezbollah bracelet! Its pretty amazing that the political context in Britain is such that you can post a picture of someone wearing the Hezbollah symbol as an uncontroversial decoration, without even having to explain why you think support for Hezbollah is acceptable. They aren’t very feminist, if nothing else.

zohra moosa // Posted 9 January 2009 at 10:57 am

Hi sdfas

I did debate whether to use this pic or not, and decided in the end that using it was not an automatic endorsement of Hezbollah, but an acknowledgement of how some people are feeling about all that is happening in Palestine. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘the political context in Britain’, could you please explain if you think this is worth discussing more?

Naomi // Posted 9 January 2009 at 11:23 am

Right on, sdfas. I find it hard to see what the Israeli/Palestinian issue has to do with feminism at all – and even harder to see how those who think it IS relevant tend to be on the Palestinians’ side.

Whatever good reasons there may be for taking a pro-Palestinian stance, feminism is not one of them. The decision to support such an unashamedly mysogynisitic group as Hizbollah or Hamas must surely be a painful choice for any feminist. Of course there are cases in which other political issues have to override feminism, and a sincere feminist will find herself giving her allegiance to a group despite its extreme misogyny. But the idea that the supporting these groups is the default position for feminists is topsy-turvy.

I think there’s even a case for saying that displaying the Hizbollah symbol approvingly in a picture may count as a “sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic comment”.

zohra moosa // Posted 9 January 2009 at 11:35 am

Hi Naomi

On what the issue has to do with feminism, Jess has already covered this in her post, see first link on my post. If you are saying that you feel that the issue has nothing to do with *your* feminism, this is of course an opinion you are entitled to.

There is nothing ‘default’ about my post or position, and certainly I have not suggested that ‘supporting these groups is the default position for feminists’. I have provided info about women who are against the attacks happening on Gaza, and details of how others might demonstrate/attend vigils if they feel the same/similar.

v // Posted 9 January 2009 at 1:25 pm

Just adding info for Plymouth – there will be a protest on saturday, meeting 1pm at the sundial.

This blog has been putting up information: http://talkingliberties.wordpress.com/

Cheers

missing words // Posted 9 January 2009 at 1:29 pm

Naomi – for just one of the MANY reasons why this is a feminist issue, check out this article published today on Women’s enews: “Casualties Replace Gaza’s Maternity Ward Patients”

http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/3881

Being against Israel’s attacks on Gaza is not the same as supporting Hamas!

sianmarie // Posted 9 January 2009 at 1:44 pm

hi zohra – hope it’s ok to post on something off topic here, but i just read your article on the Guardian CIF about ethnic miority women and power and i thought it was ace, i really don’t understand the commenters on CIF a lot of the time, they are so frighteningly angry and prejudicial, so i don’t comment there because i get in to endelss arguments with them, so hope it is ok to comment here and let you know i really enjoyed it, and find it a balanced and comprehensive view of a real problem. i hate the term feminazis, it should really be a reported word on the site in my view.

also, thanks for the heads up on the demo

Anne Onne // Posted 9 January 2009 at 2:08 pm

I’m only going to write one comment on this:

This situation affects civillians disproportionately. Civillians include many women. Oppression and suffering of women = feminist issue.

Secondly, there is a difference between supporting these groups and supporting civillians. Nobody here is claiming that feminists should have an unequivocally ‘pro-Palestinian’ stance, or claiming that these groups are perfect models of feminist virtue.

But someone’s politics is not a reason to wish them death or suffering. All I see here is people supporting moves to help other people. Living humans trapped in the middle of this. That doesn’t mean people don’t realise that the issue is complicated, or that the Politics is problematic.

This ‘OMG! You’re with THEM!!’ mentality is precisely why there is such a problem in the first place. May I suggest that this is not the place to bring up ‘But the Palestinians/Israelis are all evil! How dare you support them by doing X?’ argument? This is about the people trapped in this situation, both Palestinian and Israeli. We owe them a focus, rather than always making it about something else.

Charlotte // Posted 9 January 2009 at 2:45 pm

The shoes are for throwing at the US Consulate in Edinburgh.

zohra moosa // Posted 9 January 2009 at 2:46 pm

Hi sianmarie

Thanks very much. CIF can be rather daunting, so always nice to have a compliment to balance it out.

Cara // Posted 9 January 2009 at 8:49 pm

With sdfas and Naomi.

I am utterly taken aback and appalled to see a picture of a Hezbollah symbol bracelet on this site.

Utterly.

I don’t even know what to say.

How can you, zohra, claim this is ‘not an endorsement of Hezbollah’? It’s pretty clearly one to me.

Is my wearing a Fawcett (who I believe you work for, by the way) ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt not an endorsement on feminism?

I do agree that this is a feminist issue; all war affects women differently to the way it affects men, and disproportionately.

I am neutral – supporting neither side in this tragic conflict, I just hope they will work things out one day.

I am against Israel’s attacks on Gaza; I feel for the civilians caught up on this on *both* sides, particularly women and children. I agree with Anne Onne that the focus should be on them. But by choosing an image that was bound to be controversial, Zohra Moosa is the one who has removed that focus.

Displaying the emblem of a terrorist (and yes, misogynist) group is NOT the way to demonstrate impartiality, and sympathy for innocent civilians.

zohra moosa // Posted 9 January 2009 at 9:14 pm

Hi Cara

I am not wearing the symbol, so it’s not the same as the t-shirt analogy. (yes, I do work for Fawcett, and wear the t-shirt)

I have used an image of a woman who is wearing the symbol at a protest about the attacks on Gaza, on a post about women and protests about the attacks on Gaza.

Also, I have not ‘aimed to show impartiality’, I have aimed to provide information, which I have done. What I haven’t done is expressed my views, while some have presumed to know them based on the image, and worse, have assumed they understood my intentions/politics as a result. Finally, the fact that an image is controversial to *you* or others doesn’t mean it is for everyone. To charge me with ‘removing the focus’ when there was plenty else to discuss from the post because *you* are focused on the image is unfair.

Hi Charlotte

Forgot to say thanks for the tip on the shoes; handy to know.

v // Posted 9 January 2009 at 9:18 pm

i didnt notice the picture or acknowledge the relevance of it before people brought it up, but now that they have i think it maybe should be replaced with something more appropriate, or just removed.

Anna // Posted 9 January 2009 at 10:33 pm

*bangs head against desk* WHY DIDN’T I READ THIS, I WOULD HAVE GONE TO BRISTOL. I’m an idiot.

Giuseppe // Posted 10 January 2009 at 12:02 am

“Finally, the fact that an image is controversial to *you* or others doesn’t mean it is for everyone.”

This image shows support for an organisation that wants the death of Israel and Jews.

Cara // Posted 10 January 2009 at 8:52 pm

zohra – no, *you* are not wearing the t-shirt, but someone is.

Why choose that image, when there msut be plenty of images of the protest available that don’t cause controversy.

I don’t feel I am being unfair.

I don’t assume I know your political views; of course I don’t. I do not, for the record, believe you support Hizbollah, as if. Yet the ‘we are all Hizbollah now’ type sentiments are common enough – this is why people are pointing out that the image could be misconstrued.

You chose that image.

You said that you are ‘only providing information’ and ‘have not expressed your views’; in that case, surely, you should be impartial?

Giuseppe, exactly, there is that…

My view is that as with most conflicts, there is fault on both sides.

Yet criticism of Israel’s behaviour should not descend into anti-semitism.

zohra moosa // Posted 11 January 2009 at 12:15 pm

Hi Cara

I feel I’ve already explained why I chose the image originally. I have also changed the picture, which I hope you’ve seen? I completely accept that the image is highly problematic for you and some others. My point before was that not everyone has had the same reaction to the picture, including finding it inherently controversial. However, the fact that some people have been upset, for me, is sufficient reason to change it. I am not interested in being seen to be endorsing hate.

It’s true that I could have stated that I wasn’t endorsing Hezbollah when I used the pic, but to my mind, this wasn’t necessary. Across the site we link to pics and posts etc that we do not necessarily agree with or endorse. Again, the difference here seems to be that for some people, Hezbollah is so problematic that it should have been obvious that a caveat was needed. For me, the fact that Hezbollah is so problematic is the exact reason a caveat wasn’t needed – it was obvious.

To my mind, providing information and not expressing views is not the same thing as showing impartiality. For me impartiality would require a deliberate attempt to be balanced. I think if I was trying to be completely impartial, I wouldn’t have done a post that is primarily about protests against the attacks in Gaza.

I agree that critiquing the Israeli government’s behaviour should not ‘descend into anti-semitism’. I also think charges of antisemitism are serious indeed and should not be banded about lightly.

Cara // Posted 11 January 2009 at 8:57 pm

Hi zohra

I am glad you changed the picture. Kudos to you for having the maturity to do so.

No, not everyone found the earlier image controversial. As you say, that some people did is enough reason to remove it, which you did.

I can understand that you thought it was so obvious that Hezbollah is problematic. I am coming to think that nothing is inherently that obvious on the Internet.

I never thought that you or anyone was endorsing Hezbollah; that was not why I opposed the use of the image, as I said above.

I think by ‘impartial’ I meant what you say about not expressing your views, rather than genuinely not having a view.

No, charges of antisemitism are not to be bandied about lightly, so it is just as well I didn’t make any. I simply stated that criticising Israel’s behaviour should not descend into antisemitism.

Anyway – again, kudos, and I love the new pic.

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