Women’s Perspectives on Occupation and Apartheid
Featuring Rela Mazali (via Skype), Anat Matar (via Skype), and Ghada Ageel
Wednesday, March 7 (Noon – 2:00 pm)
Telus Building Room 236/238
Corner of 111 Street & 87 Avenue, University of Alberta Campus
(Click here for map)
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Three women — both Israeli and Palestinian — active in solidarity with Palestine will share their stories and perspectives on the occupation and how to move towards a just resolution to the question of Israel/Palestine.
Rela Mazali will focus on the militarization of Israeli society. Militarization — continuous and pervasive — is one of the central processes characterizing society and state in Israel. It is a social-political process which is arguably central to every settler society and state engaged, as all of them are or were, in the systematic displacement, dispossession and subjection of an indigenous population. A society practicing or undergoing militarization maintains a state of readiness for, and acquiescence with or even support for, combat, conflict and war, to which it accordingly consents to allocate a huge chunk of its resources, including the bodies, minds and lives of its children. In order to achieve and reproduce, such acquiescence, support and consent in a militarized society, in order to perpetuate and justify this continual social process, militarization obviously requires an image of The Enemy, a proverbial “other,” which it repeatedly constructs and finds ways of providing. So, for instance, in 2008, after Hamas observed an extended period of ceasefire, it was Israel that decided against a renewal, preferring instead to step up its illegal summary executions of Palestinian leaders. This aspect of militarization is obvious and visible. But it’s only from a feminist perspective that another, vital component of ongoing militarization becomes visible and obvious. Militarization requires and produces not just The Enemy but, in addition, an-Other Other: “Her,” a feminized, idealized image of the vulnerable, soft, gentle, warm woman whom the soldier has to protect. Rela’s talk will outline some of the major implications of militarization in the settler society she is part of and lives in, touching particularly on some of the gendered phenomena in militarized Israeli society. She’ll also talk about the feminist activism resisting the reality of deep-running militarization.
Anat Matar will focus on the issue of Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. There are currently over 4000 Palestinian prisoners classified as “security” prisoners in Israeli jails; over 300 of them are administrative detainees, i.e., detainees held in prison without charge or trial – sometimes for years. Anat’s talk will shed some light on political persecution, on the conditions of these prisoners and detainees, on several special groups of prisoners (veteran prisoners – including Israeli citizens, organizers of demonstrations, members of the legislative council), and also on the lack of interest of the Israeli public in this issue. She will also offer a comparison between the Israeli attitude towards Palestinian prisoners and its attitude towards Palestinians in general – since the latter, too, all of them, are taken merely as “threats” rather than autonomous human beings craving for freedom, independence and political self-control.
Ghada Ageel will focus on the impact of military occupation and an apartheid regime on Palestinian people’s basic and fundamental rights to food, life, land, education, health care, parenthood, safety, and freedom. From a woman’s perspective and through lived stories, Ghada will shed light on the odd and oppressive limbo that Palestinians, both in West Bank and besieged Gaza, endure on a daily basis and will tell a tale of a nation that has been made to live with broken hearts, expecting to grieve at any minute.
Among the questions that Ghada will attempt to answer are: What does it mean to be a refugee in one’s own land, stateless with no citizenship, no rights and no power over one’s own or ones family’s lives? What does it mean to be directly connected to an endless conflict that impacts every single aspect of daily life? How does it taste to live under hardship, humiliation and devastation all day/every day? How does it feel to be deprived to see one’s husband, father, brother or son for years and perhaps decades? How possible is it at all to plant seeds of hope amid these exceptional circumstances of suffering and dispossession?
About the speakers:
Rela Mazali is an author, an independent scholar, and a feminist anti-militarist activist from Israel. Active against Israel’s occupation since 1980, one of the founders of the New Profile Movement to Civilize Israeli Society (in 1998) and the Coalition of Women for Peace (in 2000), one of eight women from Israel nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize by the 1,000 Peacewomen project, a member of the Jury of Conscience of the World Tribunal on Iraq in 2005, co-founder and co-coordinator of the disarmament project, Gun Free Kitchen Tables in 2010. Rela’s latest book is Home Archaeology (in Hebrew 2011), and she is also the author of Maps of Women’s Goings and Stayings (2001), WhaNever (in Hebrew 1987). Among her recent articles: “A Call for Livable Futures,” “Telltale Maps: Narrated Resistance in a Jewish Palestinian Contact Zone,” and “Ethnically Constructed Guns and Feminist Anti-Militarism in Israel.” (aia Skype)
Anat Matar is a senior lecturer at the Department of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, and a longtime anti-occupation activist. She presently sits on the steering-committee of Who Profits? – Exposing the Israeli Occupation Industry, and is the chair of the Israeli Committee for the Palestinian Prisoners. She recently edited, along with Adv. Abeer Baker, a collection of analyses and testimonies about Palestinian political prisoners, entitled Threat – Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel. (via Skype)
Dr. Ghada Ageel is a third generation Palestinian refugee. She was born and raised in the Khan Younis Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, were she attended high school and completed a BA in Education. In 1999, Ghada won the Jerusalem Studies’ Scholarship of the University of Exeter in Britain, where she completed her Master’s degree in Middle East Politics, and her PhD in Refugees Studies. Sine then, Ghada has worked with several organizations and institutions in Canada, UK and Palestine. She currently lives in Edmonton and works at the Canadian Red Cross.
Also presented as part of Feminist Edmonton’s Feminist Week.