Over the last few years, the conversation surrounding racial identity politics – once exclusive to the domain of academia – has broken into the mainstream Western conscience, a trend unmistakably visible in the recent widespread culture of protest sparked by the rise of U.S. President Donald Trump.
In response to the perceived misogyny and racism in Trump’s administration, another Women’s March – identical to the one held in January organized by infamous Hamas supporter Linda Sarsour – will take place on March 8 (the same day as International Women’s Day) under the title, A Day Without A Woman. The march is being advertised as a women’s strike asking that women across the U.S. “do not engage in paid and unpaid work” and “avoid spending money.”
This time, the face of this topical and widely-touted protest will be a woman named Rasmea Yousef Odeh.
For those of you who don’t know, Odeh was convicted of participating in a deadly terrorist bombing in 1969, after confessing to setting off an explosive in a Jerusalem grocery store that killed two Jewish university students: Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner.
— Women Worldwide Ini. (@Women_Worldwide) March 2, 2017
Odeh was also convicted for her role in the bombing of a British consulate.
A member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Odeh was sentenced to life in prison but served only ten years, released by Israel as part of a prisoner exchange with the PFLP in 1980. Her subsequent fraudulent immigration to the United States was discovered in 2014, and after being found guilty at trial, she successfully appealed by claiming that she had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during her citizenship application. Odeh, and many of her supporters, maintain that she was wrongly convicted by Israel based on a false confession “extracted under torture.”
A new trial is set for May, 2017.
Unsurprisingly, Odeh is worshiped as a “hero” by certain chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), who are vocal proponents of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel across campuses in Canada and the United States. The website Justice4Rasmeah, for example, is a popular SJP campaign in the U.S., lauding Odeh as both a figure of Palestinian resistance and of female participation in revolutionary politics.A new trial is set for May, 2017.
So, here we are in 2017 and a convicted terrorist who murdered two people with impunity (even Odeh’s cousin confirmed in a documentary that she was responsible for the attack) is a leading figure in the contemporary women’s movement. And, just as Linda Sarsour’s political agenda was given credence in January, not to mention landing an audience of millions of people, now yet another vehemently anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and antisemitic “activist” will be given a platform to spew her radical ideologies.
Is this the newest trend of ‘feminism’? Has intersectionality become so mainstream that any community or identity group that considers itself marginalized will automatically support Palestinian terrorists because the Palestinian people, too, are marginalized?
Is this what the original suffragettes who broke into the American democratic process envisioned as the leadership of their movement? To promote an ideology that is hell-bent on eliminating the Jewish state, which is a beacon of tolerance and human rights (particularly for women and the LGBTQ+ community), and place ‘Palestine’ in its stead, which currently exists as a terrorist-controlled theocratic kleptocracy that is horribly oppressive to women, as well as minority groups?
I’d argue the worst aspect of this malformation of the once noble feminist movement, the forthcoming Women’s March included, is intersectionality, a new line of thought in critical identity theory that seeks to view the different strata of race, class, sexuality, ability and other social dimensions as part of one interconnected system of oppression.
To the intersectional feminist, fighting for women’s rights means supporting race-focused movements such as Black Lives Matter. By enlisting Rasmea Odeh, the upcoming Women’s March proves its intersectionality and, like in the campus social justice scene where this philosophy emerged, completely erases Jews and anti-Jewish oppression, and hypocritically marginalizes them with a movement that has been explicitly refashioned to be “inclusive” and intersectional.
At a march sponsored by a Palestinian terrorist convicted of murdering Israelis, it seems doubtful that any feminist who supports Israel, Zionism, or Judaism, will feel welcome.
The failure of contemporary feminism, specifically intersectional feminism, to put its new policies into practise is nakedly apparent in its failure to include Jewish people and realize the oppression that they face. It is indeed hypocritical for the feminist movement to promote itself as fully inclusive, while also seeking leadership from individuals like Rasmea Odeh.
No Jewish-American, at least not those with self-worth and a strong sense of identity, will find a real place in this ‘movement’ as long as its leading figures continue to invoke or enact hostility against them, delegitimize Jewish self-determination (Zionism, and its product, Israel), and marginalize them from feminism.
This is just another example of the hypocrisy and double standards that Jewish people have to put up with in the domain of “progressive” political discourse.
It truly is a pity.
Willem Hart is a volunteer with B’nai Brith Canada and is currently finishing up his undergraduate degree at York University. He’s been involved in Israel advocacy and education through Hasbara at York, and is also an alumni of the StandWithUs Canada Emerson Fellowship.