December 05, 2006

Palestine's women at war and Brits for and against Israel

Here's an article by Rory McCarthy in today's Guardian about how Palestinian women have just recently come to the fore in the struggle against Israel:
On the television screen a woman is reading slowly from a sheet of paper held close to her face. The moment is awkward. Her hands shake, she avoids the camera and a large, black M-16 assault rifle hangs from her shoulders. Her head and neck are wrapped tightly in a white scarf.

This is the final message in the life of Fatma al-Najar, widow, great-grandmother, matriarch of her large family and, a few hours after this brief video was shot, the oldest Palestinian to become a suicide bomber. "I am the living martyr Fatma al-Najar," she says, and praises the armed wing of her beloved Hamas movement, its political rulers and its violent struggle.

There have been a handful of women among the 120 Palestinian suicide bombers of recent years, and their names are recited on the streets of Gaza in the folklore of Palestinian martyrdom. But the past few weeks have seen a remarkable injection of women's activism into the fight. In this conservative and patriarchal society the militancy has previously been almost entirely dominated by men. Now that is changing.

Three weeks before the al-Najar bombing, hundreds of women, mostly Hamas supporters and all clad in long cloaks and headscarves, marched into the town of Beit Hanoun in the middle of an Israeli incursion to free a group of armed male fighters who were holed up inside a mosque. Two of the women were killed, but the crowd succeeded in freeing the fighters and now boast proudly of their bravery.
In another Guardian article, Ismail Patel argues that Muslims who go to fight for Palestine should be considered in the same way that Jews who go to fight for Israel. What he actually says is that if Jews can simply up and go and fight for an army of war criminals then those who fight for Palestine shouldn't be considered terrorists. Check it in case I missed something.

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