MESS Report / Are the Palestinians silencing the attempted rape of U.S. peace activist?
What the PA may be doing to keep the darker side of its much lauded popular protest against the West Bank separation fence out of public view.
The story of the Palestinian popular protest against Israel in several West Bank villages has recently garnered worldwide praise. However, as with any other massive movement, the popular protest too has its darker sides. The Palestinian Authority, as well as the leaders of the Palestinian popular protests in villages such as Bil'in, Na'alim, Umm Salmuna, have been trying to keep the following story away from both public knowledge and the media's eye: One of the more prominent Umm Salmuna activists a village south of Bethlehem, long entrenched in a battle against the West Bank separation fence is suspected of the attempted rape of an American peace activist who had been residing in the village as part of her support of the local protest.
Omar Aladdin, who had been arrested three months ago over suspicions he had attempted to rape the U.S. citizen, was subsequently released after agreeing to apologize to the young woman. However, Haaretz had learned that representatives of both the popular protest movement and the PA have since applied pressure on the American peace activist as to prevent her from making the story public.
The incident allegedly took place last April, as Aladdin, who had served a term in the Israeli jail in the past, arrived one evening at the guest house in which many of the foreign peace activists were staying. The European and American female activists reportedly agreed to let Aladdin stay with them after he had told them he feared the Israel Defense Forces were on his tail, adding that he had been severely beaten at an IDF checkpoint only a week before.
During his stay Aladdin allegedly attempted to rape a Muslim-American woman, nicknamed "Fegin" by fellow activists. The woman escaped, later accusing the popular protest man of the attempt. One villager who had encountered the American following the incident said she had been in a state of shock.
Aladdin then refused to apologize for the incident, when news of it reached the village's popular committee, the popular protests' governing body, allegedly saying that the incident had been marginal and normal. The American activist then asked the committee to notify authorities of the attempted rape, a request which resulted in the man being arrested by security forces in Bethlehem. After agreeing to apologize for the incident, Aladdin was released from custody by the PA police.
The U.S. citizen was then convinced to retract her complaint, as to avoid tainting the image of the popular protest, which had attracted praise from around the world in recent months.
However, the Umm Salmuna case is not the only one. Separation fence activists know of other incidents in which Palestinians molested and sexually assaulted foreign peace activists, a subject which was apparently raised in the discussions of the various popular committees.
Foreign female peace activists regularly participate in protests in the villages of Bil'in, Na'alin, and others, where the activists stay in separate houses. Some villagers do not agree with these housing arrangements, claiming that the villages' youth, who frequently visit the activists, are corrupted by the young women.
One villager said the female activists bring a different "culture with them, western, too open. The young people, especially from the villages, aren't used to stay near other girls, they do not know their culture, certainly when it's a young woman staying with other women in a strange house. They misinterpret it."
Mahmoud Zwahara, the popular committee's coordinator for the Umm Salmuna and Ma'sara region, said in response that "the struggle against the separation fence is a joint fight, which does not target Israeli identity or Jews. We hope that our activity will show the Israeli soldiers that they must cease their actions against us as well as human rights violations."
Arabs Harass Female 'Peace' Activists; Left Silences Victims
Two activists have exposed a disturbing phenomenon that they say is an open secret within the "peace camp": female "peace" activists are routinely harassed and raped by the Arabs of Judea and Samaria with whom they have come to identify. They say the phenomenon has gotten worse lately and that many foreign women end up as wives of local Arabs against their will, but cannot escape their new homes.
Roni Aloni Sedovnik, a feminist activist, penned an article in News1 an independent website run by respected investigative reporter Yoav Yitzchak under the heading "The Left's Betrayal of Female Peace Activists Who were Sexually Assaulted."
"A nauseous atrocity has been going on for a long time behind the scenes at the leftists' demonstration at Bil'in, Naalin and Sheikh Jarrah [Shimon HaTzaddik]," she writes. "A dark secret that threatens to smash the basic ideological values upon which the demand to end the occupation of the Territories rests."
It turns out, she explains, that when female peace activists from Israel and abroad come out to Judea and Samaria and demonstrate against the Israeli "occupation," they are assaulted sexually by the Arab men whom they have come to help. These are not isolated incidents, Aloni-Sedovnik stresses. Rather, this is an "ongoing and widespread" phenomenon that includes verbal and physical abuse. She accuses the 'peace' camp of purposely covering up the trend so as not to offend "the Palestinians and their heritage, which sees women as sexual objects."
Aloni-Sedovnik cites two specific cases which she has knowledge of one is a case of rape and another is "severe sexual harassment." The attackers in both cases, she stresses, were familiar with the victims and knew that they were "peace activists."
The rape occurred several months ago in the village of Umm Salmona, near Bethlehem. The victim, an American activist, wanted to press charges but leftist activists put pressure on her not to do so, so as not to damage the struggle against the 'occupation.'
The second case involved an Israeli activist who took part in the demonstrations at Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, where the High Court ruled that Jewish families may move into homes that they have owned for generations. This woman filed a complaint with the police but retracted it after "severe and unfair pressure" from the demonstrations' organizers, according to Aloni-Sedovnik. Furthermore, the organizers appealed to demonstrators to dress modestly when they come to the Arab neighborhoods and suggested that they wear head scarves.
Aloni-Sedovnik accuses the Israeli media of complicity in the cover-up.
"How is it that we do not hear the voice of the radical feminists who repeat, day and night, that occupation is occupation, and it does not matter if it is a nation that is doing the subjugation, or a man who is subjugating a woman?
"It appears that there is a gap between the radical-leftist feminist theory about the active resistance to the occupation of the Territories, and the stuttering self-annulment in the face of the violent conquest of women."
The Umm Salmona case was reported in Haaretz as an attempted rape but does not seem to have made it beyond the blog pages.
Foreign women raped and subjugated
Earlier this year, a blogger and literature buff named Yehudah Bello, who writes in various venues about history and the theory of evolution, wrote a blog post with the striking title: "The Female Leftist Activists are Raped Day after Day, Night after Night." Bello is no ultra-nationalist, and he supports the creation of a PA state a fact which makes his claims all the more believable.
Most female leftist European activists, writes Bello, are brainwashed in their youth into hating Israel, and then sent directly into Judea and Samaria, without spending a single night in Tel Aviv, lest they see civilian Israeli society for themselves and find that they like it. They are whisked off to Shechem, Jenin and other PA towns and housed in Arab educational or cultural facilities, or private homes. Local Arab girls are sent to befriend them and they have no choice but to trust them.
It is is easy, explains Bello, "to carry out a sexual crime against a foreign girl, in her first days away from her family, in a place where no police have ever visited. And this is what happens, and has happened."
"I was told of such rape cases by women who are not Jewish: a female European leftist activist, a female Red Cross volunteer and a young Arab woman from Yafo," he says. He says that he met these women when he carried out IDF reserve duty, and met them afterward as well. "They told me what goes on there, in the Palestinian villages, far from any prying eye."
"These are not just cases of rape carried out to satisfy lust," he writes. "Usually, they are carried out systematically in order to make the girl pregnant and then take her as a wife after she converts to Islam, of course. We know about this system from the stories of women who underwent a similar process within Israel and escaped to Europe. But it is hard to escape from the Palestinian territories. Sometimes these women some of whom are no longer young are never allowed to leave their homes unaccompanied, in order to forestall their escape."
If someone were to compare the list of foreign female activists who enter Judea and Samaria to the list of those who leave, Bello claims, the magnitude of the phenomenon would be proven. "Everyone knows about it, but no one dares talk about it. The Palestinians have been turned into martyrs. In the Middle Eastern television channels, IDF soldiers are represented as the brutal rapists, who rape Palestinian women."
New Israel Fund involvement
The reports by Aloni-Sedovnik and Bello are of particular interest because feminist groups have been spearheading leftist activism in Israel for many years. According to Gila Svirsky, the former director of the New Israel Fund in Israel and founder of NIF-sponsored Women's Coalition for Peace, "women's peace organizations, known collectively as the Israeli women's peace movement, became the most vibrant and persistent part of the peace camp in Israel." These groups espouse an ideology which equates militarism (by Israelis) with male domination of women. Far from being a fringe element, leftist-feminists of this ilk are a dominant force in the Israeli academic world, the press, the Knesset and the judicial system.