Jaraar and Zoabi: the true faces of Palestinian resistance
Article of 17 April 2015
Haneen Zoabi (left) and Khalida Jarrar have dedicated their life to Palestine
Khalida Jarrar and Haneen Zoabi have spent their lives fighting occupation while the men in charge have squabbled and squandered everything.
The phrase used to praise women is an inherited customary expression that refers to them as “the sisters of men”.
However, that expression is often unfair, because it actually attributes praise to the men when it really belongs to a women.
It becomes even more unfair when anyone dares to use it to describe a woman who is at the forefront of the confrontation with Israel and is showing rare courage, while her supposed brothers continue to pursue miserable and desperate peace deals.
Khalida Jarrar and Haneen Zoabi are two Palestinian women who have spent their lives fighting Israeli occupation, each in her own way and each in keeping with her surrounding circumstances and the facts of her objective situation.
They have succeeded in stripping the occupation of all its civilised masks, particularly in the last few weeks and months, and shown it up for what it really is: a racist, fascist entity that is exposed by the impotence of its power before their will.
This would have seemed less surprising had it occurred during a phase different to this one, in which the Palestinian cause has fallen to the lower levels of the Arab and international list priorities, while the massacres of despots against their peoples, accompanied by the spread of the dark forces of sectarianism through vast parts of the Arab world have gained a higher priority.
However, the arrest of Khalida Jarrar in the middle of Ramallah, which is supposed to be under the control of the Palestinian Authority, and the issuing of an unjust verdict to keep her under administrative arrest for six months, serves as a reminder of where priorities should be.
We are speaking here of a woman who took it upon herself, since her early youth, to carry the burden of defending prisoners in Israeli jails through her work as director of the Dameer (Conscience) organisation.
The Palestinian people showed its confidence in her by electing her as a member of the legislative council, in addition to her membership in Popular Front’s politbureau.
When Israel issued a military order to exile her to Jericho last September on the pretext that she was a severe security risk, she refused to comply and responded in a manner likely to lay the ground for a wide-scale popular revolt against the occupation authorities.
She pitched a protest tent and people rallied around her. Her recent arrest is a clear message that says that Palestine was and will remain the first and last concern, no matter how complicated the other conflicts raging around it become.
That message also says that every peace deal that allows Palestinian land to remain under occupation is a sham, and that any resistance that does not confront the occupiers is false.
Just like Khalida Jarrar, Haneen Zoabi followed a courageous course in confronting Israel. She has done so at the very heart of Israel’s institutions, and succeeded in becoming the first woman to run as a candidate on the Arab List, winning Knesset membership in 2009.
She provoked the anger of most Israelis when she opted, during the swearing in ceremony, to leave the Knesset just before the Israeli national anthem was played, saying that it constituted a hypocrisy of which she would not be part.
Her participation in the Freedom Flotilla to break the siege against Gaza in 2010 prompted some Israelis to call for lifting her parliamentary immunity, for putting her on trial and for expelling her from her country.
Extremist right wing groups tried to prevent her from running in the recent legislative elections, but failed. Palestinians of the interior (Galilee, the Triangle and the Negev) showed their confidence in her by re-electing her, so that she would conscientiously defend their national rights, and remain a cactus thorn in the throats of Netanyahu, Lieberman, Eli Yishai and other members of the extremist racist Israeli elite.
At this time of darkness and injustice throughout the Arab world, Khalida and Haneen protect the embers of our fire and guard what is left of our rights, which have been lost by leaders and generals, all of whom are men with not a single woman among them.
Given this situation, they are not the sisters of such men, who are only good at grovelling before Israel. Perhaps the biography of each of them requires a reconsideration of the traditional saying, so that a man who takes a courageous stand can be told, for example, that he deserves to be described as the brother of a woman called Khalida or Haneen.