Women from Palestine - a report on what was spoken

Women from Palestine - a report on what was spoken

26 July 2023

Written by Harley Stapleton-Brister

I have recorded in this blog post some of what was talked about by the two women from Palestine who joined us on the evening of 24th July to discuss their experiences.

We had two women from Palestine speaking about their experiences, Sara and Sireen, with someone from CADFA (Camden Abu dis Friendship Association) chairing. Sireen, interestingly, has an Israeli passport, yet in her day to day life living in Jerusalem she’d be treated like any other Palestinian woman by Israeli soldiers.

Both speakers talked about the day to day violence and oppression they face. Sara talked about a situation where her brother got arrested when he was twelve years old. Apparently it’s quite common now for Palestinian children to be arrested and detained for a few days even.

Sireen mentioned a situation where she had to show a pass to Israeli soldiers to travel somewhere, and even though the pass granted her access to where she was trying to go, the soldiers played around with her, pointed their guns at her and threatened her, for no other reason than as a sick joke.

Both speakers talked a little about passes, having different colour codes offering certain privileges and access to certain areas and facilities. There's a mistaken idea in some circles that Palestinians can gain access to Israeli citizenship, but this is untrue, they only can get access to passes which will enable them to access certain areas of land.

Sireen went on to mention a situation where her home area was fired upon by Israeli soldiers who were situated on top of a nearby university building. She talked also about her youth experiences as a child in Jerusalem, being forced to learn the Israeli curriculum, whilst also learning the Palestinian curriculum in secret. There would have been consequences for her teacher had she been caught learning the Palestinian curriculum.

The audience were mostly sensitive and responsive, but in these situations it’s difficult for people to fully understand the reality of the situation. There were questions taken later in the event. One question was about the ways people of different faiths are treated and how they treat each other, but the speakers were quick to answer that the conflict is primarily about politics, not religion.

There was a question about solidarity with dissenting Israeli citizens and the current protests against Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul. The speakers were quick to mention that unfortunately questions about the treatment of Palestinians is almost entirely excluded from this agenda.

There was a very good question made about how one survives as a Palestinian woman, to which one of the speakers answered something akin to: “Palestinian women are the strongest people in the world.”

People came to hear the speakers from various organisations, including but not limited to Jewish Socialists’ Group, Student Christian Movement, Amnesty International UK (Hong Kong Programme), the Council for World Mission, and Islington North Labour Party.

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