MESOP : A GHAZA FOLLOW UP BY Jadaliyya
DIALOGUE IN UTERO : A JUDITH BUTLERESK APPROACH
Can Palestinian Men be Victims? Gendering Israel’s War on Gaza / by Maya Mikdashi
Today, the difference between Palestinian womenandchildren and Palestinian men is not in the production of corpses, but rather in the circulation of those corpses within dominant and mainstream discursive frames that determine who can be publicly mourned as true “victims” of Israel’s war machine.
Thus the sheer number of womenandchildren dead are enough to mobilize the US president and the UN to make statements “condemning” the violence—but the killing, imprisonment, and maiming of Palestinian men and boys in times of war and ceasefire goes uncited. In Israel men, settlers, and even soldiers are framed as victims of Palestinian terrorism and aggression. All are publicly mourned. (… ) Sex is often thought of as an accident of birth: after all, we had no say in our development in utero. We did not get to offer an opinion when others decided that we had been born with a vagina (and were thus female) or born with a penis (and were thus male).
Recently, a spokesman for Israel answered Noura Erakat’s condemnation of Israel’s violation of international human rights by sharing this gem of wisdom: “Hamas, they wouldn’t allow a young, liberal, secular woman to express her views like you do, ma’am. They would not allow my gay friends to express their sexuality freely.” This statement aims to mobilize the gendered discourse of the War on Terror, a discourse that plays on the affective registers of US liberalism through a pandering to feminist and LGBTQ rights. This pandering allows Islamophobia and war to be manifested as a public and international good—after all, it is “we” that are defending the helpless from the ravages of Muslim and Arab men. Laleh Khalili has called this “the use of gendered ‘telling’ to distinguish those who are to be protected from those who are to be feared or destroyed.” This discourse is so powerful that it does not need to rely on facts—it has in fact overridden them.