Cry freedom

israel-criticism1

Last week, when Neve Gordon, an Israeli professor of political science, published an article in The New York Times arguing that boycotting Israel is the only way to make any progress towards justice for Palestine, Israelis and Jews all over the world called for his dismissal. Their excuse for opposing boycott is ‘academic freedom’.

Yet, as philosophy professor in Tel Aviv University Anat Matar reminded Ha’aretz readers, only when well-heeled Israeli academics begin to pay a real price for the continuous occupation of Palestine, will they take genuine steps towards ending the occupation. Continue reading “Cry freedom”

Veiled threats?

France considering banning full veil
France considering banning full veil

Five years after the French parliament passed a law forbidding children from wearing the headscarf or any other “conspicuous” religious symbol in schools – read forbidding Muslim girls from wearing the veil in public schools, the French government has recently indicated it was prepared to legally ban the burka. In guise of defending Muslim women from what is seen as a ‘submissive act’, the French government spokesman Luc Chatel argued that women’s rights were compromised by the garments, suggesting that the government is seriously considering bringing in legislation to prohibit full veiling in France .

It seems that only several thousand French Muslim women, out of a Muslim population of five million, wear full veils, which politicians have described as ‘walking coffins’. This assumes that all Muslim women are coerced into wearing the veil, though research has shown that outside countries where veiling is mandatory, such as Afghanistan or Iran , Muslim women veil for a variety of mostly political reasons. Some veil in reaction to their more assimilated parents, others in response to the westernisation of society; and for many others veiling spells not deprivation but rather freedom from male harassment. Continue reading “Veiled threats?”