The Arab woman vs. the Western woman
I was asked once, by someone who came to me to learn, if it was true that Palestinian women did not love their children but instead raised them to be suicide bombers in hopes of receiving government compensation. The asker was serious and in asking the question showed no sign of self-reproach; that it might be an indelicate question to ask a person of palestinian heritage, let alone an absurdly racist one, completely evaded her. We talked through a lot of things over the semester and, as a person raised to believe that all Arabs are essentially bloodthirsty barbarians, she had a few minor crises upon encountering her own ignorance. I don’t know how I was so patient with her, but she seemed so bizarrely receptive, and at some level I deeply pitied her.
Eventually, understanding anything proved to be too heavy a burden, so she rejected everything she had learned and immediately after graduating moved to Israel with the express purpose of joining the IDF. I imagine her current job is made easier by considering her enemies subhuman.
It shouldn’t be so easy to ignore truisms. No one, least of all a student at a feminist-identified women’s college, should have to be told that one can’t generalize the feelings of an entire culture of mothers towards their children. The default assumption should never be that people breed for vengeance and monetary profit. But these insane ideas are widely validated, not only by radical Zionists foaming at the mouth with racist propaganda but by a culture that continues insidiously to foster orientalist constructions of arab femininity. That the west continues to oppress entire nations of arab peoples and yet remains fixated on the fallacy of liberating arab women through imperialist white feminism only makes obvious how very close we’ve stayed to the tropes we’ve held dear since the fucking crusades. The story about IDF girl only illustrates how quickly this shit materializes, that it’s not a question of a few off-color comments or misplaced “intercultural curiosity” but a system of dangerous, misogynistic attitudes that exist to justify violence. I mean, it’s no news to anyone reading this, hopefully, but seeing the quote above got me thinking about my last failed attempt to convert a zionist and I just… ugh.