This piece was contributed by CAMERA consultant, Chloe Simone Valdary. Chloe is the founder of Allies of Israel, CAMERA’s CCAP group at the University of New Orleans.
When Anat Berko visited Tulane University a few weeks ago, she gave a message that was fundamentally pro-Palestinian. She spoke of how Palestinian women are often marginalized and disenfranchised in their societies where hyper-patriarchy is the norm and men often dictate to the women in their families what they can and cannot do, how not to dress, and how to behave. When they get “out of line”, this often leads to repercussion, which takes the form of persecution or, even worse, death by honor killing.
For some, an honor killing is unbearable if it is inflicted by another person. Instead, a type of retroactive honor killing via suicide bombing is preferable. In this way, women hope to keep from being completely shamed in the process of taking their own lives. Yet, not even this method suffices; after the woman is dead, the male leaders in her community often berate her for committing this act because she did so autonomously. They claim that they own her body — in life and in death.
Unfortunately, this systematic oppression of women within Palestinian society was of secondary importance to the protesters who showed up at the event. They were more concerned with denying Jews the right to certain civil liberties — like the right to live freely in the land of their ancestors, the right to self-determination in that land, and the right to pray freely in that land.
These pseudo-social justice activists who have the luxury of living in a free society also have the luxury of ignoring those who do not. They are more inclined to sweep under the rug the real plight of Palestinian women because it does not fit their “us vs. the Jews” narrative. Whats worse is that they cloak their anti-Jewish racism in a vernacular of “pro-Palestinian advocacy,” while doing a disservice to both Jews and Palestinian Arabs in the process.
Yet the Tulane Jewish community and her allies fought back against the protestors. We were engaged in debates with them which lasted for almost 2 hours after the event was over. We demanded that they respect Jewish identity and when they did not, we called them out on it. Loudly. Passionately. Unabashedly. This is not something we merely enjoy doing; It is our duty and our responsibility.
This past Thanksgiving season serves as a reminder that we should be thankful for the liberties we are so blessed to have in this country. But with this freedom comes an obligation to speak truth to power. Anat Berko does this; Zionist organizations like CAMERA does this; We must do this too. This entails not only speaking up for our own rights but also calling out those who threaten them.