The divisions between Israel and Palestine are very real and badly intentioned. It seeks to keep out a people who supposedly have no rights to land that are for “God’s chosen people”, this in itself is a human rights problem because Palestinians are banned from from entering certain parts of the country while Jewish settlements are being built around them. Those that climb over the wall really do pay with their life with little to no threat to the Israelis. ...read more...
Women in Bethlehem have been discouraged from involving themselves in the politics of the struggle and now focus on preserving their culture. I met a women who owns one of the biggest Palestinian cultural shops in Bethlehem, she used to fight for the Palestinian cause but became tired and angered by the politics of it and decided to leave. For her human rights is not something that can be achieved in this lifetime so she has decided to preserve her culture so people do not forget. As soon as you walk into her shop on the right side the walls are decorated with photos of her and Mahmoud Abbass, Yassar Arafat, religious leaders and other important people in government. These are memories of a time that has passed with no resolution for peace in sight. Letting people know that this land belongs to her people and their rich history and past is now her passion. This is Bethlehem, the Holy Land, a place that has suffered from so much conflict that it’s wounds are still open. Before the current leadership there was peace and Israelis did not think Palestine was a problem until a government they’ve never known told them that it is and their lives will always be in danger as long as it exists. It has brainwashed most of the world and has made unlikely friends to support their cause. The idea of the total annihilation of Palestinians should scare anyone-including Israelis. It’s no wonder they are obsessed with preserving their heritage.
There are still women in various parts of the country that have not given up the fight, especially those that live in the middle of it all. But just like every conflict there are always dire consequences for the women.
Women’s organizations in Palestine are not always fully functional, unless you are getting a big grant from the UN to do human rights work, you must be creative in finding the right funders that will support a program that can change women’s lives in a different way. Most of them work on giving women and young girls a higher standing in society through education and skills. These organizations are more community based because that’s where the money is for them. It’s not that easy to take on the rights of the Palestinian women on a bigger scale. So much has been cut off from them, even others outside who want to support their cause and their projects are restricted. This doesn’t mean good things aren’t happening. I met with organizations that are encouraging women who were child brides to go back to school and finish their education, and their husbands approve. This is great progress in the movement to bring women out of a controlling or abusive situation and to a place where they can feel that they are in control of their lives. Women are contributing to their families income and saving money for themselves. This can mostly be achieved when you involve both men and women to change things within the framework of the culture and religion.
The main objective is to give them independence and sustainability not only for themselves but for their families. As many studies have shown, when women are lifted up and empowered to study or be part of the work force, the whole society benefits. Of course that doesn’t wipe out abuse or violence in the home but it’s a good start.
We are a part of this fight for the Palestinian women because we should be. Women’s rights can be taken away with a stroke of a pen, a change in laws or war, just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
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