Israeli Propaganda on Muslim Womens’ Rights

Tel Aviv and Washington try to hijack the internal social and political struggles of Arab and Muslim societies for their own sinister reasons, writes Ramzy Baroud.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan in July, during a Security Council meeting on the Middle East. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

By Ramzy Baroud
MintPress News

A new trend is emerging in the Israeli hasbara discourse targeting Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims: women’s rights.

The word “new” is not exactly accurate. The misuse of the genuine struggle for women’s rights in the Arab and Muslim world is only new insofar as the increasing reliance on the tactic within the larger Israeli propaganda discourse.

This was demonstrated in a most bizarre way during the speech of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Sept. 19 at the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The story was orchestrated by Gilad Erdan, a mediocre Israeli diplomat and Tel Aviv’s U.N. ambassador.

Erdan’s real strength comes from the fact that he is supported by the same Western governments that continue to fund and defend Israel’s war machine and military occupation of Palestine.

Naturally, he is also given a disproportionate amount of media coverage by corporate Western mainstream media when compared to any other U.N. diplomat.

Erdan’s work is predicated mostly on a single tactic: If he is not pleased by the conduct of his peers at the U.N. General Assembly, he simply accuses them of being “anti-Semitic,” as a matter of course.

At times, the entire U.N. political body is accused of being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

This Israeli strategy — defaming truth sayers as anti-Semites — only succeeds because it is part of a massive political and intellectual discourse that is constantly fed by the media and accepted as a fact by Western politicians.

Indeed, if Erdan is judged as a diplomat, completely independent from the unquestionable support he receives from Western media and governments, he would have been forced to find another profession altogether.

His recent conduct at the UNGA was a perfect illustration. In a terribly choreographed gesture, he began walking up and down the Assembly Hall, raising a photo of Mahsa Amini, who died in Tehran last year. The placard said: “Iranian women deserve freedom now.”

[Related: AS’AD AbuKHALIL: The Iranian Govt.’s Loss of Legitimacy]

Consistent with the rules of the U.N., Erdan was eventually removed by security, which he must have anticipated.

Iran’s President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi addressing the 78th U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 19. (UN Photo/Cia Pak)

For him, however, his charade was a success, as it created the needed distraction, not only from the speech of the Iranian president but in the coverage of Raisi’s speech altogether.

Though some have suggested that Erdan had humiliated himself, namely because of his removal from the UNGA hall, I wonder if he was, in any way, surprised by the outcome of his behavior.

He wanted to be a star, at least for like-minded anti-Iranian governments and organizations; he wanted the conversation to shift from the rights of the Palestinians to that of Iranians. For him, the mission was accomplished.

Israel’s War on Palestinian Women 

The “No Man’s Land” in what Israel calls the buffer zone along the Gaza-Israel border, 2008. (Kashfi Halford, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Of the many articles and news coverage that followed Erdan’s display, few, even in the Middle East, spoke about Israel’s war on Palestinian women: the killings, imprisonment, torture, denial of freedom of movement, daily humiliation, denial of life-saving medications, and much more.

According to the United Nations, at least 253 women were killed in Gaza in the 2014 war alone.

These numbers are only the tip of the iceberg, as every single Palestinian woman living under Israeli occupation, anywhere in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza suffers daily. These women are hardly removed from the collective struggle and suffering of all Palestinians.

Erdan had no signs prepared for those women; neither do many mainstream, supposedly feminist organizations that continue to rally in solidarity with Iranian women while ignoring the pain and humiliation of Palestinian women at the hands of the Israeli military and government.

Sadly, little action followed a damning report issued by Israel’s rights organization, B’Tselem, on Sept. 5, where Palestinian women from the Ajlouni family were humiliated and paraded completely naked in front of their children. This episode took place while the Ajlouni’s boys and men were handcuffed and blindfolded and while Israeli soldiers stole the women’s gold and money.

This is, of course, the norm, not the exception. It seems that whatever Israel does to Palestinian women, little action, aside from that organized by Palestinians and their supporters, ever follows: No placards at the UNGA, no U.S. State Department-led campaigns, no unique hashtags, no mass protests, nothing of the sort.

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When advocacy for human and women’s rights only applies in situations where the culprit is an enemy of the U.S., one must question if human rights have anything to do with the discussion altogether.

The irony is that Israel has been one of the main political forces behind the deadly U.S.-Western sanctions imposed on Iran for years, which devastated Iranian society and families – women and men alike.

That, too, was another missing context from the coverage following Erdan’s U.N. act.

But Erdan is not alone. Sheltering behind women’s rights in the Middle East is now the go-to tactic in many public conversations, conferences and media coverage of Israel and Palestine.

Even if the tactic fails to strike a major shift in the perception of the Israeli occupation and apartheid in Palestine, at least, in the minds of some, it does create a distraction.

I have personally experienced this during many of my tours in various parts of the world, from Vancouver, Canada, to Madrid, to Nairobi. Sadly, often well-intentioned people engage in the side discussion, either defending Middle Eastern societies, or nodding in agreement with the self-proclaimed women’s rights “activists.”

U.S. Propaganda About Women in Iraq & Afghanistan 

Nov. 21, 2009: U.S. solider, right, with Afghan woman during the celebration of Eid,
Kandahar, Afghanistan. (ISAF Headquarters Public Affairs Office, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)

But Israel did not invent the “liberation of women” as a strategy aimed at deflecting or justifying its own war crimes against civilians. The U.S. used it as the backbone of its massive propaganda that preceded the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

And, of course, once the invasions and subduing of these countries were completed, Iraqi and Afghani women disappeared from media coverage.

[Related: THE ANGRY ARAB: The Lessons of the Taliban]

In both cases, tens of thousands of women were killed, raped and tortured by the U.S. military. As for those ‘activists’ who had originally joined the initial U.S.-championed women’s rights campaigns, they often disappear when women become victims of the U.S., the West and Israel.

While Arab and Muslim societies have their own social and political struggles, we must be wary not to allow Tel Aviv and Washington to hijack these struggles for their own politically sinister reasons.

It does not follow that, for women to be ‘freed’ from one society, the women of another society would have to live in perpetual bondage of permanent occupation and racist apartheid.

This logic should apply to all situations of inequality, injustice, discrimination and racism anywhere in the world.

And, a defender of war crimes, like Gilad Erdan, must not be allowed to serve two roles: an apologist for the mistreatment of women in Palestine and a freedom fighter for women anywhere else.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out. His other books include My Father was a Freedom Fighter and The Last Earth. Baroud is a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). This is his website

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9 comments for “Israeli Propaganda on Muslim Womens’ Rights

  1. Arch Stanton
    October 8, 2023 at 04:27

    Zionism and it’s rabid support by the colonial west is a cancerous tumour on mankind, until it’s is removed or rejected there will never be any peace in the Middle East and beyond. End the legalised genocide and apartheid of Palestine now.

  2. Dr. Hujjatullah M.H.Babu Sahib
    October 8, 2023 at 00:47

    The fourth last paragraph nailed the key truth here. Israel and its apologists the world over are a total disgrace to humanity. The “emancipators of Muslim women” are nothing but the mass-murderers, genociders and brothelizers of womenkind everywhere else across the world. If in doubt, please check with the Vietnamese, Chinese, Koreans, Kashmiris, Afghans, Iraqis and also right across Latin America !

  3. Sing
    October 7, 2023 at 18:16


  4. JonnyJames
    October 6, 2023 at 16:32

    Great points raised here.

    The dominant far-right Zionist political culture in Israel and the US simply calls anyone who does not agree with genocide and ethnic cleansing as “Anti-Semitic” or a “Self-Hating Jew” (Ask Max Blumenthal, Dennis Bernstein and many others).

    However, Zionists are the worst anti-semites as they equate Israeli policy with world Jewry. Not all Jews support these horrific policies of course. Just like not all white Americans support racism, warmongering, and mass murdering brown folks.

    How much concern does Israel have for women when they drop bombs on them? How much concern for women did they have when they assassinated Shireen Abu Akleh in broad daylight? Human rights?

    Same goes for the US racist propaganda against Afghanistan and other countries. Did Madeleine “The price was worth it” Albright care about Iraqi girls and women? Did HRC care about Libyan women when they bombed the place into the Stone Age?

    • Valerie
      October 7, 2023 at 04:21

      “How much concern does Israel have for women when they drop bombs on them? How much concern for women did they have when they assassinated Shireen Abu Akleh in broad daylight? Human rights?”

      We are about to find out Jonny after the latest declaration of war today by the Israelis. I wonder too why Hamas are always referred to as “militants” and not “freedom fighters”.

      • JonnyJames
        October 8, 2023 at 12:59

        It is hard to witness another mass slaughter, Valerie, but this sort of thing happens every few years it seems.

        I noticed the MassMediaCartel immediately repeated the Israeli press releases as usual: The ‘unprovoked attack’ was totally unexpected (false). A population under occupation and attack (Palestine) has a right to fight back under international law, as I understand it. This is not a war, it is illegal occupation by Israel. Gaza is likely the largest concentration camp in the history of the world.

        • Valerie
          October 9, 2023 at 03:04

          Saturday (and i have the screen shots as proof) within an hour the bloody guardian online changed the heading on an analysis article from “stealth” attack to “murderous” attack. Now today they have a “what has happened and what caused the conflict”. Stupidly i believed we were to be told of the apartheid treatment of the Palestinians; land theft; water/electricty control; bombing of hospitals/schools; killing of innocent children and journalists by the Israelis. Not a mention of any of these causes. It was only to describe the attack which surprised the Israelis.
          Very hard to witness, as you say Jonny.

    • Sing
      October 7, 2023 at 18:41

      BTW, its not my part of the world, so I might be wrong, but Afghanistan once did have government that was in favor of the rights and education of women. It was the Socialist government that was friendly to the Soviet Union.

      Zig Brezenski was a neoliberal national security adviser to Jimmy Carter back then. The USA of course automatically hated anyone friendly to the Soviets or in any way ‘pinko’. When the religious conservatives in Afghanistan started to object to women having rights and being educated, they found foreign support and supplies.

      Eventually, the Soviet Union came to the aid of their neighbors who were being attacked by islamic conservatives. In America, this is known as The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. Zig thought he saw an opportunity to ‘give the Commies their own Vietnam’, so he began to pump more money and arms to the conservative rebels. The right-wing Republicans jumped on board the bandwagon, always happy to fight Commies or Russians. IIRC, Tom Hanks made a movie called “Charlie Wilson’s War” about how they ended up promoting these armed islamic religious conservatives as ‘freedom fighters’. Eventually the government that respected women’s rights fell under the proxy war assault by a superpower.

      That is how the Americans support women’s rights.

      • JonnyJames
        October 8, 2023 at 12:55

        I agree. However Zbig was not an economist, he was not “neoliberal” (an economics term) he was a scholar of the “Realist” school of IR (International Relations). He was a right-wing, authoritarian imperialist as well.

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