It has come to our notice that our earlier statement on this issue is being widely misrepresented in the mainstream media, on social media and by various actors in the VAWG (Violence against Women and Girls) sector as not being sufficiently vocal on sexual violence against Israeli women. It appears to be part of a concerted effort to silence criticism of the genocide in Gaza, unless you condemn both Hamas and the sexual violence against Israeli women unequivocally.
To eliminate any doubt, we condemn the use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war. Anyone familiar with our history will also know that we have a long tradition of campaigning against religious fundamentalism of all shades, whether it is Islamism, Zionism, Christian Evangelism or Hindutva. Hamas is an Islamist organisation which is anti-democratic, anti-equality and anti-women and LGBT rights.
However, nothing can justify a rate of killing which according to Haaretz is unprecedented since the start of the 20th century and has disproportionately affected women and children. The violence to life and limb of thousands of Palestinian women and children must also be held in the frame.
As feminists who condemn sexual violence in any situation, we are appalled by the ideological weaponisation of it.
No provocation justifies Israel’s brutal response and we won’t be silenced in criticising Israel’s actions by having to prove our credentials on the issue of sexual violence first.
We utterly reject a perspective which has come to dominate the mainstream narrative.