Women and the Israeli Occupation: The Politics of Change

By Tamar Mayer | Go to book overview

3

BETWEEN NATIONAL AND SOCIAL LIBERATION

The Palestinian women’s movement in the Israeli occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip

Souad Dajani

By the early 1990s, the women’s movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories found itself poised at a new threshold. The Women’s Committees, established in the mid-1970s, had reaped the rewards of years of diligent efforts to recruit and mobilize women. During the intifada especially, many of these efforts paid off as women assumed active, public roles in the struggle against the Israeli Occupation. At the same time, women’s continuing activities in their communities resulted in a backlash in certain circles and raised new questions about women’s roles, highlighting dilemmas that have confounded national liberation movements in many parts of the world. For years, as this chapter will indicate, women have been active in the Palestinian national struggle and have, for the most part, tried to locate their own agenda within the nationalist struggle as a whole. Yet now women are also coming to perceive the need for a specific women’s agenda, distinct from the national movement.

Much of the following analysis concerns the period of the intifada. This uprising is characterized, at once, by the increased base of women’s participation in the struggle against occupation and by the survival of traditional social obstacles to further political involvement by women.

This chapter begins by tracing the emergence of an organized Palestinian women’s movement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. It briefly touches upon the conditions under occupation that led to such an initiative, and evaluates women’s efforts in both national and social terms. Rather than examining these issues through a progression of historical events, the chapter focuses on how Palestinian women themselves have perceived their roles, and on the directions they are taking in theorizing about the issues of social and national liberation. 1

It has become almost axiomatic among national liberation movements that the struggle to end foreign rule takes precedence over other social agendas, including those of women. Palestinian women have largely shared this view. They have defined their activities and goals largely within these parameters,

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Women and the Israeli Occupation: The Politics of Change
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • 1 - Women and the Israeli Occupation 1
  • 3 - Between National and Social Liberation 33
  • 4 - Heightened Palestinian Nationalism 62
  • 5 - Israeli Women Against the Occupation 88
  • 6 - Palestinian Women in Israel 106
  • Bibliography 119
  • 7 - Homefront as Battlefield 121
  • 8 138
  • 9 - Women Street Peddlers 147
  • Bibliography 163
  • 10 - Environmental Problems Affecting Palestinian Women Under Occupation 164
  • 11 - A Feminist Politics of Health Care 179
  • Index 199
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