OpinionOctober 7

Feminist silence: Hamas’s sexual violence

Radical feminism, as a narrow expression of the original movement, is spectacularly failing to exemplify society's moral and ethical precepts.

Protesters decry the crimes against women committed during the Hamas terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, outside U.N. headquarters in New York, Dec. 4, 2023. Photo by Yakov Binyamin/Flash90.
Protesters decry the crimes against women committed during the Hamas terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, outside U.N. headquarters in New York, Dec. 4, 2023. Photo by Yakov Binyamin/Flash90.
Nils A. Haug
Nils A. Haug is an author and columnist. A trial lawyer by profession, he is member of the International Bar Association, the National Association of Scholars and the Academy of Philosophy and Letters. Retired from law, his particular field of interest is political theory interconnected with current events. He holds a Ph.D. in Apologetical Theology. Haug is author of "Politics, Law, and Disorder in the Garden of Eden – the Quest for Identity" and "Enemies of the Innocent – Life, Truth, and Meaning in a Dark Age." His work has appeared in First Things, The American Mind, Quadrant, Minding the Campus and The Gatestone Institute.

In November 2023, U.K. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy penned a poem, “We See You,” celebrating the triumph of female soccer players. Success of women in traditional men’s sports is certainly something to celebrate. Even so, a Poet Laureate’s task is surely also to reflect deep contemporary issues affecting the nation. Duffy, a devoted feminist, gender activist and supporter of the oppressed, has yet to address the most seminal issue of the moment for women’s welfare: the horrific and systemic gender-based violence suffered by innocent Israeli girls and women, many raped to death, abused, tortured and massacred by Hamas murderers on Oct. 7, 2023. Perhaps she still might comment or pen an emotive poem.

The reality is that for all advocates for women’s welfare, especially in the area of sexual violence, the crucial concern at this time should be the terror perpetrated against defenseless females of all ages by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7.

The moral obligation of lovers of peace, and those who hold to the sanctity of human life, is to speak out against injustice. This is particularly so in crimes of violence against the defenseless. It is therefore fitting to expect women’s rights groups to speak out on behalf of traumatized females of all ethnic and religious categories. This approach was ratified in by Nobel Peace Prize winner Eli Wiesel in his 1986 acceptance speech:

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput remarked that “tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil.”

By and large, citizens of many nations are outraged at the lack of widespread condemnation of atrocities purposefully inflicted on vulnerable females of all ages, from toddlers to seniors, by Hamas terror squads on Oct. 7. Particularly shocking is the paucity of denunciation by post-modern Western feminists. To his credit, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken immediately issued a statement to the effect that Hamas violence against Israeli women was “beyond anything that I’ve seen.” In an oblique allusion to Wiesel’s principle, Blinken questioned “why countries, leaders, [and] international organizations were so slow to focus on this.” Blinken, however, overlooks that the Biden administration’s promotion of leftist, neo-Marxist identity construals, particularly that of radical feminism, could be a pertinent factor.

In November 2023, it was reported that the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls, Reem Alsalem, notwithstanding overwhelming evidence to the contrary, claimed the evidence against Hamas “was ‘not solid’ enough to warrant a statement”—to which London’s Victims’ Commissioner, Claire Waxman, replied:

“How can we talk about eliminating violence against women and girls if we are tacitly saying its acceptable to rape Jewish ones?”

That is the crux of the matter. Namely, widespread hypocrisy, apparently emanating from pervasive antisemitism, which intersects with anti-Zionism and extreme feminist gender ideology.

The following instances clearly show the prejudice of certain women’s groups when it comes to Jewish and Israeli victims of sexual violence:

• For two months after Oct. 7, representatives of the U.N. Women’s Agency for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment refused to meet with an Israeli women’s group, despite the agency’s laudatory slogans of “a global champion for women and girls” and women’s “right to live free from violence.”

• During the last days of November 2023, the women’s rights group U.N. Women eventually issued a statement criticizing the “numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities and sexual violence” perpetrated by Hamas on Oct. 7. This statement was released nearly eight long weeks after the event and, no doubt, solely due to pressure from concerned human rights groups. A critic of U.N. Women lamented its silence on the issue, stating, “It seems like they forgot they’re fighting for all women; and if they’re not fighting for all women then they are fighting for none.”

• On November 20, Miriam Schler, director of a Tel Aviv crisis center, alleges international women’s rights groups largely remain silent and “bend over backwards to justify atrocities and rationalize rape.”

Samantha Pearson, director of the University of Alberta’s Sexual Assault Center, “signed an open letter denying women were raped by Hamas terrorists.” She was later fired from her post.

• The United Kingdom’s Sisters Uncut ­claimed that allegations of sexual assault against Israeli women on Oct. 7 were “Islamophobic and a racist weaponization of sexual violence.”

• The U.S. National Women’s Studies Association, while condemning gender violence in war generally, failed to mention the sexual assaults against Israeli women.

• Pramila Jayapal, a U.S. representative (D-Wash.) and human right’s advocate, “hedged her condemnation of Hamas’s terrorists raping Israeli women” during a Dec. 3 CNN interview. She refused to unconditionally censure Hamas’s actions.

• A month after Oct. 7, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was celebrated by the United Nations internationally. At various related “conferences, roundtables and events,” not one “word against these horrible acts that have just recently been committed on Israeli land was made, and it is a real shame on them,” claimed Ms. Granot-Lubaton, a concerned protester in New York. No resolution was passed condemning Hamas’s mass rape and sexual assault against the innocent girls and women of Israel.

• Despite a widely-released statement on Oct. 13, 2023, by Physicians for Human Rights recounting instances of rape and torture of females, both young and old, on Oct. 7, the United Nations and feminist rights groups mostly remained silent on the issue.

• In early December 2023 and due to Israeli insistence, the United Nations convened a session in New York to investigate Hamas’s sexual crimes. Against much opposition, the former CEO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, together with U.S. Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, addressed the meeting. Sandberg said, “If we can’t agree that rape is wrong, then we have accepted the unacceptable.” Gillibrand expressed how she “nearly choked” when she saw “how many women’s rights organizations chose to stay silent.”

• It was only on March 4, 2024, some five months after Oct. 7, that the United Nations compiled a report acknowledging “clear and convincing information that sexual violence including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” had been employed by Hamas. Predictably, arising from interviews conducted in Palestinian occupied areas of the West Bank, the United Nations asserted “cruel, inhuman and degrading” actions by the Israeli military, like “sexual violence in the forms of body searches and threats of rape.” It is believed the allegation emanates from conspiracy theorist and virulent anti-Semite Richard Falk via his foundation, Euro-Med Monitor. The U.N. Rapporteur Alsalem, from Jordan, claims the charges against Israeli forces are “reasonably credible,” but refuses to divulge the source. In reality, no credible or proven instance of this behavior by Israel’s forces in Gaza since Oct. 7 has been publicly recorded.

• Notwithstanding the report, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres has not summoned a meeting of the Security Council “to declare Hamas a terror group and place sanctions on its supporters.” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz responded that Israel has not heard “one word” from Guterres on the issue of sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas.

To be expected, radical feminist groups have pushed back against criticism of their failure to firmly condemn Hamas’s sexual assaults. An article published Feb. 29, 2024 in Portside Magazine, by an anonymous group, projected the blame onto Israel:

“Israel’s current campaign to discredit feminists—especially feminists of color, Arab feminists and Jewish anti-Zionist feminists—and others critical of its lethal offensive against Palestinians is insulting and dishonest, but it is nothing new.”

Not a single word condemning Hamas’s use of systemic rape and mutilation as weapons of war.

In striving for purported social justice, contemporary radical feminists seem to perceive crucial issues like race and gender through the lens of “critical race theory.” In terms of ethnicity, social revolutionaries allege that Western culture is systemically biased against minorities. The feminists themselves, however, are biased against Jews. Typical Marxist revolutionary policy dictates that the oppressed class, the “workers,” should overthrow the masters, the “captains of industry” who control them. For feminists, the same principles apply to issues of gender. In their solipsistic view, a reset society along lines that are supposedly more egalitarian is required, thereby entrenching a bigoted form of social justice.

Marxian class-dualist theory, the foundation of identity politics, ostensibly provides its followers with an ideological basis for viewing Palestinians as an oppressed class. This doctrine might explain the vociferous Oct. 13 march in Hebron by Palestinian women, who are often all too familiar with femicidal crimes, in support of Hamas’s attacks against Israeli females. These Palestinian feminists perhaps identify with Hamas as social liberators irrespective of terror heaped upon innocent females in the process, and possibly understand their own role in the conflict as part and parcel of tribal solidarity. Even so, their manifest Schadenfreude—their delight at the sexual violence perpetrated upon females of a differing faith—is there for all to witness.

In publicly aligning with terrorists, these Palestinian women then go on to raise children as indoctrinated as they are, condemning them to a future of hatred and violence.

Attorney Erika Bachiochi, criticizing postmodern feminism, noted that the “enduring moral principles” which earlier feminist movements “employed to make a reasoned critique” no longer exist. Instead, she said, the aims of contemporary, “woke” feminists are “bereft of noble purpose and ultimately dangerous.”

Historian Paul Johnson also decried the primacy of ideology generally:

“Above all, we must at all times remember what intellectuals habitually forget: that people matter more than concepts and must come first. The worst of all despotisms is the heartless tyranny of ideas.”

Early women’s liberation movements, forerunners to present feminist activism, were founded to proclaim women’s rights to social equality. Radical feminism, as a narrow expression of the original movement, fails spectacularly in exemplifying society’s moral and ethical precepts. Its advocates appear to prioritize narcissistic, egocentric identity ideologies over the sanctity, dignity and ontological security of the individual woman. They resent certain categories of females, especially those who are not supporters of gender ideology, such as women who celebrate gender differences; women who have a high opinion of the nuclear family and their pivotal role in fostering it; women who understand civilization is founded on the crucial roles of wife, mother and family; and women who celebrate their femininity.

Finding ideological origins within cultural Marxism, these feminists seem to favor the underdogs of society, which is probably how they view themselves. They extol victory over the oppressive establishment whether by Hamas or any other revolutionary group. Revolutionary movements that result in rearrangement of the culture’s systemic bias against some minority groups—but not others—and which are supposedly essential for attaining equality and social justice, are, in their view, to be glorified.

Radical feminist ideology is directed at all Western societies, with the religious precepts underpinning society’s values a prime target for eradication. This is especially true regarding the Jewish people, as custodians of foundational values and purveyors of a reliance on facts, a trait many find inconvenient. As in all instances where the termination of the Jews and their ancestral homeland is sought, the seminal issue is one of faith, land and historical evidence. The exclusive claim by all revolutionary movements to legitimacy, purporting to act in the interests of fairness, freedom and economic opportunity—as with Lenin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba or Chavez and Maduro’s Venezuela impoverishing their people—makes Judaism a crucial target.

What else can be said to these “liberators of women of the world,” these campaigners for women’s rights, these supposed opponents of gender-based violence, these vociferous feminists allegedly in pursuit of social justice and self-proclaimed advocates of the “sisterhood of all women” but, yes, “We see you” and your silence shocks to the core all who actually do care about justice.

Originally published by The Gatestone Institute.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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