A Dialogue Between Women
“… Unfortunately, I married when I was 18 years old, and I was 32 when I got divorced” said Dr. Sahar Khalifah, a famous Palestinian writer and novelist during a dialogue between her and Viola Raheb at the end of the cultural event held on May 7 2010 in the Odeon theater in Vienna.
“… After my divorce, I didn’t want anybody to tell me what to do, how to behave, and how to act. I started as a rebellious person, not to copy from men, not to obey men, not to think like men …” said Khalifah. She added: “Men reacted very negatively of what I wrote about women, each time the women meet me they were asking: “what you are saying? Your writing is wrong and not true, …”
The full dialog between Khalifeh and Raheb can be seen in the video below.
Sahar Khalifah Speaks at Odeon Theatre from Kawther Salam on Vimeo.
A personal comment: I think that Sahar Khalifah was not able to say what she really wanted to say during the event. Her speaking was controlled through one-sided dialog, extremely focused on Hamas, while Sahar would have much to say about herself and her experience. From my personal point of view as a woman and journalist who has experienced the horrible disasters under the Israeli occupation, Hamas, Fatah and men in power, I could in brief say that Palestinian women have reversed fifty years or more in defending themselves, their civil rights and their equality with men in Palestine. Conditions of Women have worsened significantly since the assumption of the illusory power by the Palestinian Authority under the Israeli occupation, and since the radical Hamas took control in the Gaza Strip and its supporters increased in the north and south of the Palestinian cities in the West Bank, like Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, and other towns and cities has grown.
Sahar Khalifah was threatened with murder by Islamists, but since 1991 I was attacked in the streets, pelted with foul eggs because I disobey men and I did not cover my hear. I had my would-be murderers ringing the bell of my house claiming that they were injured, asking me for help so that I would open the door to them. These men were not from the radical Hamas, but thugs of the fat cats of Fatah about whom I had reported.
There is no difference between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the increased violence against women and violations of women rights in their respective areas of influence. The only difference lies in that Hamas openly declares that they consider the house to be the right place for women. But the Palestinian Authority hides themselves behind false promises and declarations of equality between men and women while they work hard on the exclusion of women from ruling and the social and political process. Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Abbas tolerates criminals who massacre women and girls under the pretext of the so-called honor, procrastinates on the issue of a law which would protect women from these crimes which are spreading in Palestinian society and have even risen in number since he became President.
Under the PA, women have forgotten their rights, especially after the Palestinian Authority has offered small and limited positions in their bureaucracy to the former leaders of women organizations who had sacrificed long years of struggle for the equality in rights of women, defending their rights. They were ultimately forced to agree to these sinecures; crumbs which the men in power offered them, mere bureaucratic positions with no influence or effectively, illusory titles undervaluing their struggle, where these women would all be far away from endangering the rule of the men in power. There is no woman among the19 men in the central committee of Fatah; President Abbas appointed three men to this committee, but no women.
Thus, women were silenced, and their voices disappeared. The voices of Rabiha Diab, Salwa Hudaib, Zahira Kamal, Dr. Salah Jad, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi and many others were bought cheap (“or else”). These women who were previously considered as defenders of women rights in Palestine found themselves and their voices now limited to the defense of their chairs, pockets and bank accounts.
Finally, Rabiha Diab, and Salwa Hudaib wrote were allowed to write the introduction of the first edition of the Women’s Magazine “Ansam”, a monthly magazine edited, written and designed by MEN (Joseph Udeh and Jamal Zakut). This scandal would not have been accepted by those women while they were fighting the Israeli occupation.
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi remained silent when a Christian father from Beit Jala smashed the head of his daughter into a big stone, killing her, because she fell in love with a Palestinian from her neighborhood. She even refused to report about this crime on the website of her organization which financed by a American-Jew organization.
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