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The Palestinianization of Feminism in Montreal

Posted on October 20 2010 9:00 pm
Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York. For extended biography visit The Phyllis Chesler Organization.

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It’s now official: Apartheid is a feminist issue.  For years, I have been challenging feminists to take up this cause. Had I finally found oil, discovered gold?

I received an invitation via email, both in English and in French, which began:

Calling all feminists…We are inviting you to participate in the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sections) 2010 Conference…from October 22 to 24, 2010, artists, academics, activists…and concerned individuals will converge upon Montreal for this historic conference, which aims to consolidate and push forward the global movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israeli apartheid…”The Conference workshop ‘Israeli Apartheid as a Feminist Issue’…[will] explore ways in which feminist organizations in Quebec, Canada and beyond can contribute to the BDS movement.

Ah, for a minute there I thought the conference would actually address real apartheid, namely that which is practiced by Islam in terms of both gender and religious apartheid; and indeed, in Gaza and on the West Bank, where honor-related violence, including honor killings, normalized domestic violence, forced veiling, polygamy, arranged child marriage and Arab female illiteracy, is rife and rampant.

No such luck.

This conference, ostensibly featuring “feminists and queer artists,” will gather at University of Quebec in Montreal to compare the 1960 South African massacre in Sharpeville in which police opened fire on a crowd of black protesters killing 69 and injuring 180 with—you guessed it—Gaza and Palestine.

Didn’t Israel leave Gaza? Did I only dream that this happened?

No matter. The purpose of this conference has little to do with feminism. It is focused entirely on business as usual, namely boycott, divest, delegitimize Israel—the only democracy in the Middle East and the only country that does not persecute and torture “queers.” The conference seems carefully and specifically organized with trade union and worker support for BDS, and academic, cultural, community sector, queer sector, government, and consumer boycott support.

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