Women in the Arab world tend to have little, if any, freedom. Oppressive cultural traditions such as honor killings, female circumcision, child marriage and restrictions on their freedom of movement, speech and occupation have resulted in women staying at the lower rungs of society.
Several Palestinian nongovernmental organizations ostensibly seek to advance the status of women in Palestinian society. These NGOs receive funding from the European Union, the United Nations and several European countries to promote this cause.
But rather than fighting to grant women more rights, these groups have encouraged women to put the radical and violent national agenda above gender issues.
The watchdog group NGO Monitor has scrutinized the funding and activities carried out by these organizations. The findings should be a cause of concern for anyone who seeks to improve the status of women. According to the report, most Palestinian women’s NGOs focus on furthering national goals rather than staying true to the mandate they receive to promote the welfare of women—at the expense of women.
Last year, the Palestinian organization Women’s Affairs Technical Committee dedicated a youth center for girls in the Palestinian town of Burka. This was made possible thanks to funding from the U.N. and countries such as Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden.
The center was named after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist who led one of the most lethal terrorist attacks in Israel, killing 37 people, including 12 children, on a bus in 1978. When the donor countries found out, they issued a strong condemnation, saying the money was misused and departed from the original purpose for which it was given. Denmark even went so far as to freeze the funds it had earmarked for the organization. But this was too little, too late.
The international community, knowingly or unwittingly, is perpetuating this absurdity through its funding of radical Palestinian NGOs, thus legitimizing them around the world.
In September 2017, several members of the European Parliament organized a conference on “The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Struggle.” Receiving an invitation was Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who participated in the hijacking of airlines in the 1960s.
Ahed Tamimi, a young Palestinian provocateur who was recently arrested after hitting an Israeli soldier, was also among the speakers, telling the audience: “I am very proud to be here next to Leila Khaled, who is the most important symbol of the Palestinian revolution, and who is a great representative of Palestinian women.”
The Palestinian organization Adamir, which provides assistance to Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorist activities, receives funding from Ireland, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. It has recently published a booklet telling the stories of several Palestinian women in Israeli prisons.
The booklet praises Rula Abu Duhou, a member of the PFLP military wing who was arrested for taking part in the murder of an innocent Israeli.
After her release she said: “I have no remorse; I am actually proud of it, and I hope that I can do more for the country.”
These women and many others have become role models for Palestinian girls and women, who will walk down their violent path and target Israelis. With the help of foreign assistance, the situation has become absurd: Palestinian women and their legitimate plight for equality are all but forgotten in Palestinian society, reinforcing their underprivileged status and hardships.
Women’s rights are essential if society is to advance and thrive. Unfortunately, when it comes to Palestinian society, real women’s empowerment is a just a ruse for promoting the violent struggle against Israel.
Hodaya Shahar is the spokeswoman for NGO Monitor, a watchdog group that promotes greater transparency among foreign-funded Israeli nongovernmental organization.