Countless Palestinians have also testified to the use of rape and sexual torture in Zionist prison cells, and to how the Zionist surveillance apparatus manipulates the intimate lives of Palestinians to leverage power under interrogation: the threat that one’s own intimate or sexual lives will be made public if one refuses to comply under interrogation or collaborate with Zionist intelligence forces is a common tactic used to attain false confessions.
Such examples signify how Zionist settler-colonialism must be understood as a project of gendered and sexual violence and why a feminist vision for a free Palestine is central to comprehensively challenging Zionism’s political, economic, racial, and social governance over collective Palestinian life and land. Resultantly, a Palestinian feminist framework and path do not re-entrench the way Zionist discourses weaponize women’s rights and queer rights against Palestinians but instead overturn them by shedding light on the systemic gendered and sexual violences that have always been central to Zionist settler-colonialism.
Refusing Erasure and Demonstrating Palestinian Feminist Agency
Released by a collective of intergenerational Palestinian and Arab women and feminists in the US, the pledge challenges the climate of anti-Palestinian repression in the US today. Accounting for the scores of Zionist repression campaigns waged in the US that have worked endlessly to suppress free speech on Palestine, silence dissent and criminalize Palestinians and their co-strugglers, the pledge demonstrates a direct act of refusal on the part of Palestinian and Arab feminists to be bullied into silence and vanish. Instead, it demonstrates a profound awareness of the ways such repression campaigns—even as they operate outside of the historic homeland—are consistent with Zionist settler-colonial logics and structures that work to annihilate Palestinian existence. For instance, pledge action items number two and three call on global communities to “Support Palestinian rights to free speech and political organizing everywhere”; and “Reject the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, in particular the legal enforcement of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.” Both action items seek to secure the right of Palestinians and their co-strugglers everywhere to create, preserve and disseminate Palestinian narratives, discourses and aspirations freely without retribution.
Further, the pledge offers a powerful refusal of liberal discourses that continue to erase and criminalize Palestinian feminist visions:
Liberal and Zionist feminisms rely on Orientalist discourses to silence and undermine the collective aspirations of Palestinian women and their co-strugglers, contributing to intensified political repression that criminalizes free speech on Palestine and Palestinian liberation.
Thus, the ideas present in the pledge unearth narrowly defined Western feminisms and break open the margins for Palestinian feminists and their co-strugglers to lay claim to feminism as something that is profoundly their own. Such sentiments violate the dictates of settler-colonial erasure which work vehemently to erase Palestine from world maps, expunge Palestinian narratives from historic records, and decimate Palestinian archives. The collective ethos that the pledge embodies restores the perseverance of self-determined Palestinian expressions of identity in exile and aspirations for freedom, particularly of women. As such, the pledge presents a display of the tenacious energy that drives a collective assertion against vanishment for and by Palestinian and Arab feminists and their co-strugglers.
Affirming Historical and Transnational Connectedness
Though the PFC is a relatively new formation, the pledge argues that such visions are built “upon the history of Palestinian women and their co-strugglers who have worked to end multiple forms of oppression.” The pledge’s citational references pay tribute to historical Palestinian women’s movements, authors and scholars which have laid the groundwork for newly proclaimed undertakings of Palestinian feminist thought and praxis in the present. The pledge also draws direct inspiration from contemporary Palestinian feminist movements unfolding in Palestine and other geographies where Palestinians live presently, citing the work of groups such as Tal3at, a feminist movement in Palestine which combats the growth of femicide in Palestine and across the world by calling on political movements to account for gendered and sexual justice more intentionally, arguing there can be “no free homeland without free women.”