I’m not sure if the Israelis and Americans beat their wives more then they would be happy. We could never compete with the Saudis and the rest of the unoccupied Islamic world. Sadly there is nothing we can do. We try our best, but we just can’t make our culture exactly like Arab culture. Maybe if we did then Gloria Steinem would support us instead of Palestine.
In 2002, in an updated version of her book The Price of Honor, British-American (and anti-Zionist) journalist Jan Goodwin claims that the Israeli military policies of self-defense have emasculated Palestinian men. Curfews keep grandiose, woman-hating, and honor- and shame-reared men at home for long hours. Based on anecdotal evidence, Goodwin believes that such men take their considerable frustrations out on women and children. Here, Goodwin quotes Suha Sabbagh, who says that the “Palestinian male, a father, the authority figure in the house, has lost all his authority.” Goodwin dwells on the systematic “humiliation” of the Palestinian man by the Israelis. She writes: “Much of this belittling has taken place in front of their children and womenfolk,” which in turn has “cut down” the image of the Palestinian man as the family’s “hero” figure. “For Arab men, this is the same as losing their masculinity.”
And here Goodwin, like so many other feminists, contradicts herself. Arab and Muslim overly vigilant paternal authority is precisely what has brutalized Arab and Muslim women. In 1992, Jean Sasson published Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia. The unnamed al-Saud princess (whose story Sasson tells), describes the typically cruel way in which fathers, brothers, and husbands treat their “womenfolk.” Let me quote her: “The authority of a Saudi male is unlimited; his wife and children survive only if he desires. In our homes, he is the state…From an early age, the male child is taught that women are of little value…the child witnesses the disdain shown his mother and sisters by his father; this leads to his scorn of all females…[the] women in my land are ignored by their fathers, scorned by their brothers, and abused by their husbands.”
Iranian-Swiss Carmen bin Laden, in her book Inside the Kingdom, portrays life for women under Saudi male rule similarly. Women cannot go out without a male escort and they cannot leave the house or the county without male permission and accompaniment. A daughter can be married against her will, a father can seize custody of his children and not allow their mother to ever see them again. Bin Laden writes: “I rarely met a Saudi woman who was not afraid of her husband…A wife cannot do anything without her husband’s permission. She cannot go out, cannot study, often cannot even eat at his table. Women in Saudi Arabia must live in obedience, in isolation, and in the fear that they may be cast out and summarily divorced.”
Saudi Arabia has not been “settled,” “colonized,” or “humiliated,” by Israelis.
Jordan has not been “settled,” “colonized,” “occupied,” or “humiliated” by Israel. And yet, Jordan has a high rate of honor killing. According to Elaine Sheeley, in her 2007 book Reclaiming Honor in Jordan, nineteen to one hundred honor killings take place in Jordan each year. Based on another author’s use of United Nations statistics, Sheeley also cites a much larger number of honor killings in Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank. (I am not sure how they came to this figure or if it is at all accurate but the number given is 2,550 per year).
Due to the Bedouin leadership, honor killing is rampant in Jordan; the police jail the intended victims (for their safety) rather than the potential perpetrators; and even the King dare not sign into law serious sentencing consequences for an honor killing. Judges are allowed to use their discretion in sentencing and sentences are very light.
Egypt is not colonized by Israel, and yet serious violence against women is common there. This includes female genital mutilation, wife-beating, daughter-beating, forced marriages—and, with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the forced veiling of previously modern women.
The Lancet researchers operated in exceedingly bad faith both academically and politically. For example, they write: “Occupation policies, including a separation barrier that is being erected in various parts of the West Bank, affect family connectedness, depriving women of regular contact with their families who might otherwise intervene to prevent intimate-partner violence.”
Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim families do not intervene when a husband is beating a wife. On the contrary. Both the husband’s family and the wife’s own family view this as a husband’s right or as a wife’s fault. These researchers have got to know that. Thus, they are playing to western naivete or ignorance about this by claiming the Israeli road blockades are stopping such imaginary, pro-woman family interventions.
This is certainly not the first time that Lancet has played fast and loose with the truth–hiding behind their presumed stellar reputation as a scientific and academic journal. UC Berkeley Professor of Statistics, Dr. Mark van der Laan, (who is considered the #1 statistician in the world), and novelist and columnist Leon de Winter, carefully critiqued a 2004 report in Lancet whose findings took the world by storm. In both 2004 and 2006, using highly questionable methodology, Lancet authors published two surveys which grossly exaggerated (or grossly underestimated) the number of deaths in Iraq under American occupation. Van der Laan and de Winter argue that the methodology utilized was so unreliable that one cannot trust it. They also note that coincidentally, the first set of findings and the headlines they engendered appeared four days before the American election of 2004. In their words:
“We also conclude that the estimates based upon these data are extremely unreliable and cannot stand a decent scientific evaluation. It may be that the number of violent deaths is much higher than previously reported, but this specific report, just like the October 2004 report, cannot support the estimates that have been flying around the world on October 29, 2006. It is not science. It is propaganda.”
I am not denying that war is Hell or that women do not often bear the brunt of war-related male frustration at home. I am challenging how Israel is being blamed in this study for a war that in truth, was declared long ago against the Jewish state by the Arab League, the Palestinian Authority, and more recently, by Hamas and Hezbollah. I am challenging the “politics” of both this study and of Lancet, whose aim is to scapegoat Israel for the barbarism and misogyny which is indigenous to Arab and Muslim culture, even more so, when jihad and terrorism dominate the world.