Orwell at the UN as Israel Is Condemned for Its Treatment of Women

As if more evidence was needed to confirm that ingrained animus toward Israel by the UN is still a major characteristic of that organization, the 54-nation UN Economic and Social Council, in its infinite wisdom, decided last week to censure only Israel as being a nation where women’s rights were being compromised and where Palestinian women, in particular, were suffering as a result of the so-called occupation and Israel’s overall malignant oppression.

Without the slightest hint of embarrassment, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Malta joined Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela and 29 other nations, and voted to condemn only Israel’s treatment of women, crowing “that the Israeli occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian women and girls with regard to the fulfillment of their rights.”

In the first grotesque resolution, Israel was condemned for purportedly being the “major obstacle” for Palestinian women, specifically “with regard to their advancement, self-reliance, and integration in the development of their society.” The second absurd resolution addressed the “social repercussions of the Israeli occupation,” presumably determining that Israel is singularly responsible for the oppression of women in the Middle East as a result of its mere presence in Judea and Samaria.

Apparently, it has escaped the notice of the UN Economic and Social Council that if one wanted to punish any Middle Eastern country for its subjugation and abuse of women, Israel would probably not be the first nation to come under reasonable or justifiable scrutiny. Totalitarian and despotic regimes throughout the region have created an oppressive group of social pathologies that negatively affect women, including genital mutilation, stoning of adulteresses, “honor” killings by fathers and brothers who have been shamed, cultures of gender apartheid in which women are seen as property with no emotional or physical autonomy, ubiquitous sexual assault, and a general subjugation of women, complete with regulations governing their behavior, movement, speech, and even requirements that women be covered by burqa or hijab.

The society of the Palestinian territories, most appropriately, might provide some examples of relevance for a group concerned with women’s rights, and yet the Council did not have not a single negative word to say about the Palestinians and the conditions of Arab women as a result of their own society’s defects. In fact, according to Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister of Women’s Affairs, Haifa Al-Agha, women in this culture are singularly “unique,” but not in the way someone with Western values might think; she was quoted in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida as observing “the Palestinian woman’s uniqueness, which differentiates her from the women of the world, as [only] she receives the news of her son’s martyrdom with cries of joy.”

Perhaps mothers embrace this cult of death for their children because of the inter-generational oppression they have experienced in their own lives. Zainab Al-Ghneimi, head of the Women’s Legal Counseling Center, commented that a Palestinian man “believes he has bought the woman and paid for her, and therefore she has become his property and must obey his orders . . . [Palestinian] laws give him the right of ownership, based on the man being the guardian, and he is the one who commands and prohibits.”

This gloomy situation for women was confirmed by a study discussed in a November 2014 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida story which reported that “53% of Palestinian women have been exposed to violence —63.3% of them once—and that 18% of non-married young women have been exposed to physical, psychological and sexual violence.”

Even more depressing, the newspaper reported in a 2015 article, Palestinian women feel that violence and abuse towards them is justified. The story reported that “41% of the women agreed that violence was justified if the woman leaves home without notifying her husband, while 74% agreed that violence was justified if she neglected her children.”

The second Council resolution approved last week, which spuriously pointed to the “social repercussions of the Israeli occupation,” is a charge leveled against Israel before, including by so-called social scientists in a particularly egregious example of politicized scholarship that appeared in Lancet, once a respected British medical journal. The 2010 article, with the biased title of “Association Between Exposure to Political Violence and Intimate-Partner Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: A Cross-Sectional Study,” attempted to prove that the Israeli occupation was directly related to the violence of Palestinian husbands toward their wives – and the notion that the violence increases significantly when the husbands are ‘directly’ as opposed to ‘indirectly’ exposed to political violence.

The study, of course, never chose to examine the effect of the conflict on Israeli husbands and wives, who may well share emotional stresses similar to their Palestinian counterparts as a result of the genocidal aggression against them from various jihadist foes, and, instead, only attempted to present Palestinian men as victims, even when they abuse their spouses and blamed the occupation on Palestinian cultural barbarism, including chronic child abuse.

Nor would Council have had difficulty looking for the oppression of women in some of Israel’s neighboring countries, nations with dreadful records of protecting the rights, lives, and bodies of women.

A 2015 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll, for example, “assessed 22 Arab states on violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy,” and raised serious concerns about the status of women in those countries—all of which seemed to slipped off the moral radar screens of the UN. Egypt, which was the worst offender for providing a safe haven for women, was rampant with “sexual violence, harassment and trafficking combined with a breakdown of security, high rates of female genital mutilation and a rollback of freedoms since the 2011 revolution.”

The country’s anarchy and political instability have meant that women have also become sexual prey, with 99.3 percent of women and girls likely to be sexually harassed and “27.2 million women and girls—or 91 percent of the female population” becoming victims of female genital mutilation.

Iraq appears second in the rankings, many of the problems affecting women the result of “a dramatic deterioration in conditions for women since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion,” as well as “mass displacement [that] has made women vulnerable to trafficking and sexual violence.”

“The Iraqi penal code,” the study found, also “allows men who kill their wives to serve a maximum of three years in prison rather than a life sentence.” In Saudi Arabia, as yet another example, women are considered to be the virtual property of men, cannot go out in public unaccompanied, and “are banned from driving and need a guardian’s permission to travel, enroll in education, marry or undergo healthcare procedures.” The male-dominated culture means that “marital rape is not recognized and rape victims risk being charged with adultery.”

Syria, which has imploded from internecine warfare and murderous carnage, resulting in the death of more than 500,000 Syrians, has become even more dangerous for women, the Thomson report found, so that in the fog of civil war “Girls as young as 12 have been married in refugee camps,” and “more than 4,000 cases of rape and sexual mutilation have been reported to the Syrian Network for Human Rights,” with “reports of government forces and armed militias sexually abusing women and girls during home raids and in detention centres [sic].”

Stoning to death of women, who are most likely to be victims of this form of torture, is still widely practiced throughout the Middle East—for example, in Iran where stoning is a legal punishment and which, according to the Thomson report, “has the world’s highest rate of execution by stoning;” in Nigeria where stoning is a punishment for adultery in the country’s 12 northern states; in Somalia where “stonings happen more regularly . . . than many other Muslim-majority countries, primarily in areas under the control of Islamist groups like al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam;” and Sudan where “stoning is a legal form of punishment for adultery under the 1991 penal code.”

Tellingly, Israel is not on the list of countries which have legalized or tolerate stonings, but the UN’s high-minded and self-righteous moral narcissists still chose to focus on the perceived political and social defects of Israel and wore blinders when faced with the pathologies and cultural misogyny of the repressive nations surrounding the Jewish state.

In 1981, senator Daniel P. Moynihan, former US ambassador to the UN, described the UN as a pack of jackals which relentlessly and insidiously hectors Israel. Little seems to have changed since Moynihan made that observation, and in the cognitive war against Israel, the “pack of jackals” in the UN about which he lamented are still dedicated to their assault on the moral integrity, and even the existence, of the Jewish state.

About the Author
Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of the forthcoming book, The Slow Death of the University: How Radicalism, Israel Hatred, and Race Obsession are Destroying Academia.
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