26 Shvat 5776
February 5, 2016
Earlier this week I discovered an interesting article in HaAretz newspaper, headlined: What Do Settler Women and Female Suicide Attackers Have in Common? Israeli and Palestinian women will ‘transgress’ by suspending religious beliefs if it serves a political cause, discovers political scientist Lihi Ben Shitrit.
The book is called: Righteous Transgressions: Women’s Activism on the Israeli and Palestinian Religious Right,” and is authored by Lihi Ben Shitrit, an assistant professor at the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia in Athens.
Looked interesting – a common denominator between some of my neighbors, maybe even my wife, and Hamas, Jihad females.
After reading the article I skipped over to over to Princeton University Press site, to read their description of the book they published a short time ago and then flipped to Amazon to read their review and ‘take a look inside’ the book.
If I understand correctly, Ben Shitrit tries to prove that religious women, who during their everyday lives self-impose religious-based restrictions upon themselves, (such as physical contact with males, excepting husbands, sons, and the like), find justifications to exempt themselves from these limitations during various types of struggles of ‘political activisim.’
Now for the good stuff: The study is based upon a comparison of four different categories of women: National Religious living in Judea and Samaria, Shas (the Hareidi-Sfaradi movement), Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Numerous women are mentioned, quoted, and/or interviewed. Among those I recall are Daniella Weiss, Nadia Matar and Hebron’s own Orit Struk.
Not having read the book, I cannot delve into the heart and soul of the book’s findings. It is true that women, and men, for that matter, can find themselves in extraordinary circumstances during such activities. Policemen and/or soldiers lifting and dragging women, or even women security forces coming in contact with men.
Is this wanted, desired or viewed as a goal? Of course not. Can it be, and in reality, is it a result of such behavior. Yes.
Are these actions justified a priori? I wouldn’t classify or define the results of these events as ‘justified.’ Obviously it would be preferable if they didn’t occur in the first place. And if they do, it’s the problem of the ‘attacker,’ and not of the ‘attacked,’ so to speak.
Ben Shitrit also discusses, at some length, Orit Struk’s venture into politics, a profession usually identified with men, in the religious world. Here too the author seeks to explore rationalization for a woman’s role in such a vocation.
But all of this really isn’t the subject of my concern.
What does matter is the comparison, equating Jewish women with Hamas – Jihad murderers, who happen to be female.
Yesterday, two thirteen year old schoolgirls decided to actualize their dream, in their words, ‘to go out and kill Jews.’ With that goal in mind, they set out to the Ramla Central Bus Station with knives. Not pocket-knives or pen knives, rather with blades long and sharp enough to penetrate a person’s heart or lungs, or any other internal organ. And kill them, with ease. Schoolgirls? No. Terrorists. And they’re not the first ones. They follow on a long list of bloodthirsty Arab jihadists, with their gender totally immaterial.
Jewish women do take a proactive role in self-preservation, for that is the proscribed aim of our protest movements in Israel. Perhaps a better word to use is civil disobedience. When women are physically assaulted by male Israeli security forces for living in houses they’ve built, or synagogues where they’ve prayed, or inhabiting parts of Eretz Yisrael in jeopardy, be they in Gush Katif, Hebron, Jerusalem or anywhere, they are participating in the most natural of activities, that is ‘letting your feet, or in this case, let your body, do the talking. In other words, it is called establishing facts on the ground.
Is this illegitimate? A very short stroll through Jewish history, even recent history, can answer this question. Forget about the women ‘settlers’ in Judea and Samaria. What about the women who settled the Galil, about a hundred years ago, when it was nothing but swamp land, infecting all with malaria and other then deadly diseases. Or the women who settled Mazkeret Batya, or Rehovot, or Petach Tikva. Or the women who participated in Nili, the Haganah, Etzel, the Irgun, and many others.
Or, as a most recent example, Hadar Cohen hy”d. A border policewoman, serving in one of the most sensitive areas of Israel. And as tragic as her death is, she did exactly what she was supposed to do, and as such saved the life of her friend, another heroic woman, who was stabbed all over her body.
Would anyone like to compare Hadar Cohen to the terrorists who murdered her, or to the thirteen year old jihadists yesterday in Ramla?
Where does a 19 year old, just out of high school, find the motivation to serve, at all, and certainly as a border policewoman.
Her inspiration is identical to that of other women, be they religious, or not-so religious. It has nothing to do with ‘justifying’ what might be, in other circumstances, forbidden. Rather it is the most natural element a Jewish person can express: that being the welfare and well-being of the Jewish people, in their homeland, in Eretz Yisrael, in the state of Israel.
Without the bravery and heroism of such women, I don’t know if the State of Israel would today exist.
Any attempt to compare such righteous people, Jews, with jihadists, who think nothing of killing themselves, or others, women who throw parties when their children become Shahidim – so-called martyrs who have died while cold-bloodedly killing others, who pass out candy after Jews have been murdered, any comparison of this sort is sordid, unacceptable, and unbearable, be it by the author or by an Israeli newspaper, as expressed in the Ha’aretz headine. As such, it cannot be considered as a legitimate academic study. Rather it borders on similar attempts to undermine or perhaps better put, to totally delegitimize an important segment of Jewish-Israeli society.
If book-burning was considered to be a valid cultural experience, this book would certainly be a preferred candidate for the flames.
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