Under the Hamas regime, groups of radical Islamic Salafis, or fundamentalist Muslims, associated with al-Qaeda and more extreme than Hamas ideologically, have been growing at an alarming rate. In May, masked gunmen stormed a UN summer camp for children after fundamentalist Muslims accused the UNRWA organization of “teaching schoolgirls fitness, dancing and immorality.” Such Salafi groups have targeted internet cafes, burned down institutions associated with Christianity, and have attacked foreign schools and wedding parties in Hamas‘s controlled Gaza Strip.
Hamas legislator and preacher, Yunis Al-Astal, noted that it wasn’t a coincidence that youth were the targets of these strict Islamic laws. “We are working on young people, the next generation to be more correctly Islamic,” Al-Astal has stated. Al-Astal was among those individuals banned from the UK’s Home Office for hate incitement in 2009.
Indeed, if this is the kind of “free” Gaza that Greta Berlin and those other liberal-minded Californian counterparts have in mind, one must question what is the real agenda of the Free Gaza Movement. As 21-year old Jihad Rostom told BBC news in March 2010, “Hamas wants to force themselves onto the people. They want the people to submit to them, this is their cover. They destroyed the reputation of Islam, by saying we’re doing this because it is religion. This is how they won the elections.”
Another Gazan resident, Lama Hourani who campaigns for the rights of working women in Gaza also told BBC, that the way Hamas presents Islam, “the liberties of a woman are always subject to the consent of a male relative. They don’t look at men and women as equal.”
In her media campaigns to generate support for her Gaza narrative, Berlin (who also works as a media and presentations coach) fervently portrays Israel as “starving and humiliating“ Palestinians. One must question the rationality and objective behind Greta Berlin’s media campaigns. Does she truly support the children and women of Gaza or are they being used as an excuse to vent out her hatred against the existence of a Jewish state of Israel?
Berlin has said nothing about the treatment of Palestinian women under the Hamas regime in Gaza. There is no freedom of political expression or gender equality under radical Islamic Hamas and the extremist Salafi groups that want to control Gaza.
The political freedoms that Greta Berlin enjoys living in the USA as an American woman and the political freedoms enjoyed by women living in Israel — Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike — are almost non-existent for the women of Gaza and many other Muslim countries. This is a fact of life in Gaza that has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with Hamas’s interpretation and implementation of Sharia law.
It is shameful that women of Western and liberal mindsets do nothing to support the rights of Muslim women in countries where political freedoms are allotted only to the men who support the political parties in power.
Anav Silverman, a native of Maine, writes from Jerusalem, Israel where she is an instructor at Hebrew University’s Secondary School of Education. She also works as an international correspondent at Sderot Media Center: www.SderotMedia.org.il
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