The Feminist Movement and the Struggle for a Free Palestine

The following article is a transcript of a speech comrade Eleni Mitsou made at a feminist solidarity public meeting for the Palestinian people. The public meeting, which took place in Athens on January 19, 2024 was organized by 4 feminist organisations under the title “There is no free country without free women“.

Today’s event takes place after 105 days of war of extreme brutality. In the recent months we have seen bombings of schools and hospitals,  mass killings of civilians. There is no safe place in Gaza. What is happening is genocide. A genocide broadcasted live on our screens.

One of the most shocking images, described by one of the previous speakers from Palestine, is that of mothers writing the names of their children on their bodies, in order for them to be recognised and buried together with their parents if they are among the victims

The propaganda machine of the Israeli state and its allies completely distorts reality. They call the turning of Gaza into rubble and the killing of thousands of people “right to self-defense against the October 7th Hamas attack”.

This propaganda machine also uses pseudo-feminist “arguments”. It tries to use feminism as a weapon against the Palestinian people. I will refer to two issues that are being discussed at an international level.


Feminist organisations internationally have been called upon by those who support the Israeli government and the attack on Gaza to condemn the rapes committed by Hamas in the October 7 attack. They have also succeeded in setting up a UN committee to discuss the issue they have named “premeditated and planned sexual violence in the October 7 attack”. Among the participants will be women such as Hillary Clinton, one of the top officials of the US war machine. Clinton, who has the blood of hundreds of thousands of people on her hands, will “defend” women’s rights….

The same propaganda machine dares to claim that, unlike Hamas, the Israeli army does not rape and sexually assault Palestinian women.

Rape of women (and some boys and men) is unfortunately part of every war and every military regime. In this part of the world, rape and sexual assault against Palestinian women in particular, but also against some boys and men, is a weapon the Israeli State has been using for a very long time in order to attack and subjugate Palestinian women.

Palestinian women have been facing rape during interrogations and/or during imprisonment in Israeli prisons. These are not only isolated incidents or practices by some guards, interrogators, soldiers, etc., but are often acts carried out on the orders of Shin Bet (Israeli security service) officers as part of a plan to torture, humiliate and break Palestinian women. Some of the Palestinian women who have spoken out about being raped in prison have reported that their rape was filmed. The filming not only adds to the humiliation, the intensity of the psychological side of the abuse, etc. but the videos are meant to be used as a means of blackmail of the Palestinian women after they are let free.

Sexual assaults have also been documented at checkpoints, where for example soldiers force women to undress and touch their genitals, and during army raids on Palestinian homes. The last reported sexual assault during a home raid, I know of, took place before the war in Hebron, in August, when the women of a family were forced to undress and were carried naked from room to room in front of their children. These types of sexual assaults are not only carried out by male soldiers, but also by female soldiers.

Palestinian women have also reported sexual assaults during the visit of relative in prison or when they attend a court hearing.

These incidents and practices are not only reported by the Arab media. They are also reported by Israeli organisations fighting for peace, Israeli organisations who support Palestinian rights, including the right to an independent state. They include organisations of conscientious objectors, people who refuse to serve in the Israeli army and denounce it as an army of occupation, people who refuse to continue serving in the army after seeing and experiencing army operations in the remaining Palestinian territories, reservists who refuse to serve again for the same reason, etc.


Another pseudo-feminist argument used by the Israeli propaganda machine and its allies, especially for the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip, is that the defeat of Hamas will benefit Palestinian women by freeing them from the oppression of a fundamentalist Islamist organisation.

In principle, it is ridiculous to talk about liberating women when indiscriminately bombing and killing tens of thousands of people.

But it is an argument that convinces some lyers in developed Western societies. And this is not the first time this type of argument has been used. The same argument was usedto justify the US invasion of Afghanistan from a “feminist” perspective. The narrative was that the invasion would save Afghan women from Taliban oppression. Two decades later, Afghan women are in exactly the same situation as before the invasion.

It is also an extremely hypocritical ‘argument’, Women are oppressed heavily in the ultra-orthodox communities of Israel, as well as in a number of ‘Christian’ countries Think of Russia, where domestic violence is decriminalised and the global LGBTQ movement is labelled a terrorist organisation!


Systemic feminists, that support the Israeli state war against the Palaistinians deny that a genocide is taking place, refuse even to support the demand for a ceasefire, for more humanitarian aid to Gaza, etc. Yet there are other feminists. Feminists that struggle with and for the oppressed, for solidarity and peace.

In Israel, there are left-wing organisations, trade unions, conscientious objector organisations and, of course, feminist organisations fighting to stop Israel’s constant attacks on the Palestinians and supporting Palestinian rights, including their right to an independent state.

Young men and women who, when called to serve in the army, refuse to do so because they do not want to be part of a racist, occupation army. And they are mad to pay for their refusal with imprisonment and persecution.

People from these organisations, trade unions, etc. take part in Palestinian mobilisations, go to the refugee camps in the remaining Palestinian territories, despite the risks, and try to build links and common struggles with the Palestinians. Even during the war, activists  went to the West Bank and to the Bedouin camps to protect the Palestinians and their houses from the attacks of the Israeli settlers i.e. act as human shields. These activists also organise mobilisations inside Israel against the war their government has unleashed – and of course they become a target for the Israeli state.

Feminist organisations are an important part of this movement for solidarity and peace in Israel.

Women Wage Peace, the largest of this type of feminist  organisations, and its sister organisation in Palestine, Women of the Sun, jointly organised a mass mobilisation of thousands on October 4, three days before the Hamas attack, demanding an end to the conflict and violence. This was not the first such mobilisation. In 2016, for example, a joint mobilisation of 4,000 Israeli and Palestinian women took place in the West Bank.

These organisations in Israel did not retreat from their positions when the war broke out, even though there have been casualties in their ranks. Vivian Silver, one of the founding members of Women Wage Peace, was killed in the October 7 attack, but the organisation has not stopped advocating the need for joint struggles with the Palestinians, demanding an end to the war and a just solution.


The forces that defend the rights of Palestinians and stand for a joint struggle of Israelis and Palestinians are small, but together with the international solidarity movement are the only thing that the Palestinians can hope that eventually will put an end the cycle of bloodshed, and create a basis for a just and viable solution in the region..

And it must also be said that blind attacks like the October 7 Hamas attack do not help the development of such movements. On the contrary, they alienate large sections of Israeli society from these movements. This is not to say, of course, that there is any comparison between the violence perpetrated by Hamas and the violence perpetrated against the Palestinian people since 1948: mass deportations, assassinations, economic exclusion and suffocation, the creation of a regime rightly called apartheid, a policy of genocide, and so on.

The international anti-war movement is very important in this respect. Especially the movement led by jews in the US, because of the symbolism. This movement which cries out “not in our name”, denouncing the governments of Israel and the US for trying to weaponise the Holocaust as an alibi for attacking the Palestinians, committing genocide, etc.

We need to invest in these movements, support these movements. And at the same time build mass organisations of the working class, with  with revolutionary ideas that will link up, support and try to boost movements in Israel and Palestine.

Because the Palestinian question cannot be solved  throughwar. The Palestinians cannot be wiped off the face of the earth, as Netanyahu wants, nor can Hamas be defeated in this way. And certainly the state of Israel cannot be destroyed, which is the ultimate goal of Hamas.

The foundations for a solution to the Palestinian problem can only be laid in terms of internationalist cooperation and class struggle. In practice, this means developing bi-communal organisations, fronts and struggles that defend all the rights of the Palestinians, including the right to an independent state with the withdrawal of settlers and soldiers and the right of the refugees to return to their homes.

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