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Israeli Mother Addresses European Parliament

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    International Women s Day Address to the European Parliament by Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan http://socialism.com/whatsnew/iwdaddress.html Dear Friends, Dr. Nurit
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7, 2006
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      International Women's Day Address to the European Parliament
      by Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan

      Dear Friends,

      Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the mother of Smadar Elhanan, 13 years old
      when killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem in September 1997. Below
      is Nurit's speech made on International Women's Day in Strasbourg
      earlier this month. Please listen to the words of a bereaved mother,
      whose daughter fell victim to a vicious, indiscriminating terrorist
      attack. I wish her words will enter the hearts of all peace seekers in
      our troubled and divided world.

      For better days,
      Professor Avraham Oz
      Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature
      University of Haifa
      avitaloz @ research.haifa.ac.il

      by Nurit Peled-Elhanan

      Thank you for inviting me to this today. It is always an honour and a
      pleasure to be here, among you (at the European Parliament).

      However, I must admit I believe you should have invited a Palestinian
      woman at my stead, because the women who suffer most from violence in
      my county are the Palestinian women. And I would like to dedicate my
      speech to Miriam R`aban and her husband Kamal, from Bet Lahiya in the
      Gaza strip, whose five small children were killed by Israeli soldiers
      while picking strawberries at the family`s strawberry field. No one
      will ever stand trial for this murder.

      When I asked the people who invited me here why didn't they invite a
      Palestinian woman, the answer was that it would make the discussion
      too localized.

      I don't know what is non-localized violence. Racism and discrimination
      may be theoretical concepts and universal phenomena but their impact
      is always local, and real. Pain is local, humiliation, sexual abuse,
      torture and death, are all very local, and so are the scars.

      It is true, unfortunately, that the local violence inflicted on
      Palestinian women by the government of Israel and the Israeli army,
      has expanded around the globe, In fact, state violence and army
      violence, individual and collective violence, are the lot of Muslim
      women today, not only in Palestine but wherever the enlightened
      western world is setting its big imperialistic foot. It is violence
      which is hardly ever addressed and which is halfheartedly condoned by
      most people in Europe and in the USA.

      This is because the so-called free world is afraid of the Muslim womb.

      Great France of "la liberte ├ęgalite et la fraternite" is scared of
      little girls with head scarves. Great Jewish Israel is afraid of the
      Muslim womb which its ministers call a demographic threat.

      Almighty America and Great Britain are infecting their respective
      citizens with blind fear of the Muslims, who are depicted as vile,
      primitive and blood-thirsty, apart from their being non-democratic,
      chauvinistic and mass producers of future terrorists. This in spite of
      the fact that the people who are destroying the world today are not
      Muslim. One of them is a devout Christian, one is Anglican and one is
      a non-devout Jew.

      I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every
      day, every hour, I don't know the kind of violence that turns a
      woman's life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental
      torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and
      needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any
      moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked
      in front of strangers and their own children, whose houses are
      demolished , who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal
      family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal.

      But I am a victim of violence against women insofar as violence
      against children is actually violence against mothers. Palestinian,
      Iraqi, Afghan women are my sisters because we are all at the grip of
      the same unscrupulous criminals who call themselves leaders of the
      free enlightened world and in the name of this freedom and
      enlightenment rob us of our children.

      Furthermore, Israeli, American, Italian and British mothers have been
      for the most part violently blinded and brainwashed to such a degree
      that they cannot realize their only sisters, their only allies in the
      world are the Muslim Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghani mothers, whose
      children are killed by our children or who blow themselves to pieces
      with our sons and daughters. They are all mind-infected by the same
      viruses engendered by politicians. And the viruses , though they may
      have various illustrious names--such as Democracy, Patriotism, God,
      Homeland--are all the same. They are all part of false and fake
      ideologies that are meant to enrich the rich and to empower the powerful.

      We are all the victims of mental, psychological and cultural violence
      that turn us to one homogenic group of bereaved or potentially
      bereaved mothers. Western mothers who are taught to believe their
      uterus is a national asset just like they are taught to believe that
      the Muslim uterus is an international threat. They are educated not to
      cry out: `I gave him birth, I breast fed him, he is mine, and I will
      not let him be the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future is
      less worth than a piece of land.`

      All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education to believe all we
      can do is either pray for our sons to come back home or be proud of
      their dead bodies.

      And all of us were brought up to bear all this silently, to contain
      our fear and frustration, to take Prozac for anxiety, but never hail
      Mama Courage in public. Never be real Jewish or Italian or Irish mothers.

      I am a victim of state violence. My natural and civil rights as a
      mother have been violated and are violated because I have to fear the
      day my son would reach his 18th birthday and be taken away from me to
      be the game tool of criminals such as Sharon, Bush, Blair and their
      clan of blood-thirsty, oil-thirsty, land thirsty generals.

      Living in the world I live in, in the state I live in, in the regime I
      live in, I don't dare to offer Muslim women any ideas how to change
      their lives. I don't want them to take off their scarves, or educate
      their children differently, and I will not urge them to constitute
      Democracies in the image of Western democracies that despise them and
      their kind. I just want to ask them humbly to be my sisters, to
      express my admiration for their perseverance and for their courage to
      carry on, to have children and to maintain a dignified family life in
      spite of the impossible conditions my world in putting them in. I want
      to tell them we are all bonded by the same pain, we all the victims of
      the same sort of violence even though they suffer much more, for they
      are the ones who are mistreated by my government and its army,
      sponsored by my taxes.

      Islam in itself, like Judaism in itself and Christianity in itself, is
      not a threat to me or to anyone. American imperialism is, European
      indifference and co-operation is and Israeli racism and its cruel
      regime of occupation is. It is racism, educational propaganda and
      inculcated xenophobia that convince Israeli soldiers to order
      Palestinian women at gun-point, to strip in front of their children
      for security reasons, it is the deepest disrespect for the other that
      allow American soldiers to rape Iraqi women, that give license to
      Israeli jailers to keep young women in inhuman conditions, without
      necessary hygienic aids, without electricity in the winter, without
      clean water or clean mattresses and to separate them from their
      breast-fed babies and toddlers. To bar their way to hospitals, to
      block their way to education, to confiscate their lands, to uproot
      their trees and prevent them from cultivating their fields.

      I cannot completely understand Palestinian women or their suffering. I
      don't know how I would have survived such humiliation, such disrespect
      from the whole world. All I know is that the voice of mothers has been
      suffocated for too long in this war-stricken planet. Mothers` cry is
      not heard because mothers are not invited to international forums such
      as this one. This I know and it is very little. But it is enough for
      me to remember these women are my sisters, and that they deserve that
      I should cry for them, and fight for them. And when they lose their
      children in strawberry fields or on filthy roads by the checkpoints,
      when their children are shot on their way to school by Israeli
      children who were educated to believe that love and compassion are
      race and religion dependent, the only thing I can do is stand by them
      and their betrayed babies, and ask what Anna Akhmatova--another mother
      who lived in a regime of violence against women and children--asked:

      Why does that streak o blood, rip the petal of your cheek?



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