Behind the Intifada by Joost R. Hiltermann

Behind the Intifada by Joost R. Hiltermann

Author:Joost R. Hiltermann [Hiltermann, Joost R.]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: History, Middle East, General
ISBN: 9781400843763
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Published: 2021-04-13T01:13:47+00:00


The women’s committees were established on the crest of the general efforts to organize the masses in the Occupied Territories, and at the same time in reaction to the perceived limitations of existing organizational frameworks. At the end of the 1970s, a generation of women who had been in their teens at the beginning of the decade was now coming of age, entering universities or the labor force, and attempting to make their voices heard in the established organizations: student committees, voluntary work committees, trade unions, and charitable societies. In their effort to articulate their needs and aspirations, they encountered a number of obstacles in all of these organizations: their exclusion from participation as women, especially at the leadership level (except in the charitable organizations), and exclusion from discussion of the issues they raised. Yet they knew from their own experience, for example in the voluntary work and student groups, that they had an important role to play.

The charitable societies, despite their role in preserving the Palestinian heritage and organizing literacy and educational programs and vocational courses, were, according to Giacaman, “unable to extract themselves from the charitable perspective and their efforts, in spite of attempts to fill the gap, remained a palliative treatment to a recurring disease.”14 They provided care for a sector of the population, especially women, but they did not provide these women with the tools that might enable them to involve themselves actively in the operations of Palestinian society and effect social change. As for the trade unions, they might have offered this opportunity to women workers. However, social restrictions that kept women from joining organizations that were seen as men’s institutions and a perceived lack of a receptive interest on the part of the unions’ male leadership in the problems encountered by women in the workplace proved generally prohibitive to the recruitment of women in trade unions.15

A new generation of activists, prompted by pressing social needs and encouraged by the political leadership, therefore looked for frameworks in the 1970s that would accomodate their interests. When they found none, they set up their own.


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