You may have already heard about the horrible murder of 21-year-old palestinian Arab woman Israa Gharib, reportedly at the hands of her own father and brother. All because she posted an Instagram video of heself with her fiance.
It is a sickening end to a young life, and her murderers deserve the harshest condemnation and punishment.
One of those responding to Israa’s murder has been congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who tweeted the below.
It links to this article, which blames Israel and tries to connect her murder with the “palestinian struggle.” I kid you not.
Now, here’s why Isra’s murderers stand to walk away from this untouched by the law. In Palestine, our legal system is the result of a century of occupation and political turmoil. It is a combination of Ottoman, British, Egyptian (in Gaza), Jordanian (in the West bank), and even no system (Area C). Despite various and continued efforts over the last decade, there has been very little reform to this outdated and dysfunctional legal system for two reasons: Israeli military occupation and a corrupt Palestinian Authority both hinder any legal, economic, and social progress.
As a result, Article 99 (a law adopted from the Jordanian penal code), “grants judges the ability to dramatically reduce sentences.” In other words, honor killing is not illegal. It isn’t legal but it also isn’t illegal and for this reason countless men have walked away with very little or no punishment. According to Palestinian judge Ahmad al-Ashqar:
“Legislation in place contributes, to a large extent, to building a social awareness that killing under the pretext of honor is acceptable. Legal justifications and legal processes known as pardoning excuses and extenuating excesses and reasons contribute to that, as the majority of perpetrators benefit from these excuses based on Article 99.”
What may surprise you is that the story of Isra’s murder has not gone viral in the diaspora. You’ll find that (at the time that this was written) there is not a single news story written in English about her. Right now there are Arabic articles (this story has rightfully taken the Arab world by storm) and doubtless some Hebrew articles being published by some Zionist news outlets to try and pink-wash occupation (again lol).
One of the biggest reasons Palestinian activists in the diaspora will not share Isra’s story is this: women’s struggle for their rights does not fit into the idealized narrative of Palestinian liberation. In the eyes of too many people, talking about the issue of women’s and LGBTQ rights in Palestine makes us look bad and may hurt our chances at gaining international support for national liberation. This is why the demolition of a house will go viral but the murder of a girl will be brushed under the rug. This issue is nothing new. In fact, it’s an issue marginalized groups all over the world face. (the last season of “Dear White People” on Netflix makes an excellent case for this struggle when a black professor sexually assaults a young white student and justice for her threatens the progress for the black students on campus).
Here’s where I stand: bringing justice to both women and to Palestine are not mutually exclusive. We don’t have to pick one or the other, and realizing justice for one does not and should not hurt chances at justice for the other. In fact, Palestine will never truly be liberated until ALL of us are liberated. Liberation and equality aren’t something which exists at the level at statehood but on the social level as well.
So, the murder of Isra Gharib was not simply an honor killing. It was a harsh flashlight exposing the intricate systems of power which work together to make honor killings acceptable both socially and legally. I’m tired of trying to reconcile my rights as a woman with my rights as a Palestinian. I’m tired of reading headlines of stories like Isra’s. I’m tired of our toaster-for-president ignoring our calls for legal reform. This murder shed light on the real offense: women’s bodies have never been our own. It’s an issue that I’m working to change today so my daughter will read stories like Isra’s only in history books.
Meanwhile, the equally detestable Linda Sarsour did not go as far as to link to an article blaming Israel, but did bring Israel in to the conversation.
I suggest Tlaib, Sarsour and others like them focus on the horrendous atrocities being perpetrated by their own people, rather than projecting those on to the Jewish people.