The left’s grotesque betrayal of Jewish women
The lack of solidarity for the women who were brutalised by Hamas is sickening.
Remember when it was rapists who weren’t welcome in Hollywood? Now it’s people who oppose rape. Witness the fury that swirled around Gwyneth Paltrow when she posted an Instagram story saying: ‘Rape is not resistance or freedom-fighting.’ She was referring to Hamas’s use of sexual violence as a weapon against the women of southern Israel during its pogrom of 7 October. And for that – for humbly suggesting that it was wicked of the marauding misogynists of Hamas to visit such sexual horrors on Israeli women – she’s been branded scum.
She’s added ‘her support to pro-Israel genocide propaganda’, thundered rapper Lowkey. When the official Twitter account for the State of Israel shared a screenshot of Paltrow’s IG story, the replies were insane. She’s a ‘genocide apologist’ and ‘genocidal freak’, wailed an army of the demented. One radical outlet accused her of ‘align[ing] herself’ with the ‘genocide propaganda’ of those evil Zionists. Just a few months ago, an actress speaking up about rape would have been lauded online – now she risks being defamed and damned.
Gal Gadot had a similar experience. In November, the Israeli-born actress arranged a screening in Hollywood of the 43-minute film that shows some of the unutterable crimes committed by Hamas on 7 October, including against women. And there were literal brawls outside the venue. Anti-Israel activists rained punches down on attendees. Gadot herself didn’t attend due to ‘concerns for her own safety’. There you have it: raising awareness about rape is now a risky business in Hollywood. Not long ago, Hollywood stars got a round of applause if they said ‘Time’s Up’ for rapists – now they risk being physically assaulted.
It was darkly ironic that Gadot’s screening of the pogrom footage took place at LA’s Museum of Tolerance. You couldn’t have asked for a better snapshot of the Israel Derangement Syndrome of so-called progressives than them wailing and raging outside an institution devoted to tolerance, all because inside a Jewish lady was trying to raise awareness about anti-Jewish violence.
Who in Hollywood will stand with Paltrow and Gadot? Not many. #MeToo solidarity has evaporated into thin air. Either out of ideology or fear, few stars are willing to speak up for Israel’s women. As the Jewish Chronicle reports, some in showbiz admit ‘privately’ that they fear the ‘backlash and potential threat to their lives’ that might follow advocacy for Hamas’s victims.
It’s worth pausing to take in the magnitude of this, the sheer treachery of it. In recent years the virtuous of Hollywood have devoted themselves to exposing ‘the patriarchy’. They have fumed against every instance of problematic male behaviour, from the serious, like Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults, to the unserious, like bad dates with comedians. Yet following the worst act of racist terror of modern times, during which women were violated and slaughtered, the once noisily righteous fell silent. They stared at their shoes as that handful of Hollywood women who did speak up were dogpiled and threatened. Remember this next time one of them launches into a preening, sanctimonious monologue at the Oscars.
Perhaps only a fool would expect better of Hollywood. Perhaps only the naive would expect moral consistency from millionaire thespians. Sadly, though, it isn’t only Hollywood. It isn’t only shallow celebs who betrayed the women of Israel following that most barbaric assault on their safety and dignity. Feminism more broadly has been cravenly silent about Hamas’s rape of Jews. The left has looked the other way. It took UN Women 53 days just to mention it. We are ‘alarmed’ by ‘reports of gender-based violence’ on 7 October, it said on 25 November. That it took you nearly two months to pipe up about these war crimes suggests you weren’t ‘alarmed’ at all – ‘indifferent’ would be more accurate.
Even worse than official indifference to Israeli women’s suffering has been the outright hostility to any discussion of it. Nothing sets off the radical left quite like someone saying ‘Hamas raped women’. Last week, in a meeting at the House of Lords, Sheryl Sandberg, Cherie Blair and other dignitaries gathered to hear the testimony of Israeli officials who helped to look after the bodies of women who were slain on 7 October. Woke bros online weren’t happy. ‘She needs to keep quiet’ given her husband launched wars that ‘murdered’ many, said one tweeter of Cherie Blair’s presence at the meeting. Keep quiet. He got 3,000 likes for this vile instruction to a woman to shut the fuck up about rape.
There is a pathological unwillingness to believe Hamas brutalised women. Despite numerous eyewitness accounts, despite in-depth, graphic reportage in the New York Times and the Guardian, still the Israelophobes deny. The accounts of what Hamas did to women are nerve-shattering. There is evidence that women were shot in their intimate areas, including their breasts and vaginas. Women’s bodies were found in a state of undress. Pelvic injuries on some of the dead point to extreme acts of sexual degradation. And yet the Israel-haters either say ‘It didn’t happen’ or ‘Where’s the proof?’.
The speed with which the right-on went from saying ‘Believe women’ to ‘Rape pics or it didn’t happen’ is mind-blowing. Their cry in recent years was that every woman who makes an allegation of sexual assault must be believed. Women must be ‘listened to and believed’, they used to say. Fast forward a decade and this principle has been incinerated. We arrive at the surreal situation where upper-class women who say a Tory MP touched their knee are instantly believed, while the nightmare vision of Israeli women burnt to a cinder, their underwear removed, provokes only chin-stroking. Can we be sure they were raped?
So widespread is the rape denialism that some activists have felt compelled to take to the streets to raise awareness about Hamas’s sexual crimes. At the weekend, British Jews and their allies gathered near BBC HQ to say ‘Rape is not resistance’. Some wore jogging bottoms with stains between the legs, in solidarity with Naama Levy, the 19-year-old Israeli woman who was glimpsed in just such a state shortly after the Hamas pogrom. Ms Levy remains in captivity in Gaza. ‘Each minute is an eternity in hell’, wrote her mother recently about her desperate wait for the return of her daughter. The woke silence on this suffering is unconscionable. The treachery of the feminists is unforgivable.
Now we know: it’s ‘#MeToo unless you’re a Jew’, in Nicole Lampert’s words. Believe women, except Jewish women – that’s the true slogan of the woke. When it comes to 7 October, the duty of the right-on, it seems, is not to believe women, but to believe Hamas. To believe that regressive army of Islamists, anti-Semities, misanthropes, homophobes and misogynists when they say, ‘We didn’t rape women, we swear’. We’ve gone from ‘Believe women’ to ‘Believe fascists’.
How do we explain this grotesque betrayal of Jewish womankind? This vile abandonment of women by self-styled feminists, and of Jews by self-styled anti-racists? In part it’s a function of identity politics, which divides people according to ‘privilege’ or ‘oppression’, and decides their moral worth accordingly. Jewish women have more privilege points than Palestinian men, apparently, and thus they can’t possibly have been violated by Hamas. They’re oppressors, right, not victims? And partly it’s yet another expression of the Socialism of Fools that has been soaring in recent years, where the Jewish State has come to play the same role that the Jewish people once played: that is, as an entity responsible for all the world’s ills, and thus deserving of hate and nothing else.
More broadly, though, I think it speaks to the creeping victory of the forces of barbarism among the ‘virtuous’ of the Western world. These people glimpse in the violence of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Houthis a visceral revolt against a West they themselves loathe, and it excites them, it makes them feel alive, it adds the frisson of apocalyptic denouement to their otherwise dull political lives. And nothing – not the safety of Jews, not the dignity of women – can be permitted to interfere with the moral thrill these people derive from a barbarism they mistake for rebellion. If Jewish women must be collateral damage in this unholy marriage of Western self-loathing and Islamist barbarism, so be it. Yes, that’s it – they are willing to sacrifice Jews, especially female Jews, to the requirements of their own moral vanity. It must never be forgotten.
Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy
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