Why is the #MeToo movement refusing to condemn Hamas for its mass rape and sexual mutilation of Israeli women?
When #MeToo International emerged in 2017, its purpose was to provide a voice for victims of sexual violence and a vehicle to protest their attackers and enablers. All victims—not just members of particular nationalities or ethnic groups. And all attackers—regardless of their political affiliations or agendas. If, for example, Palestinian Arab terrorists rape Israeli women, even those who support the Palestinian Arab cause should be willing to speak out against them. But that’s not what happened.
From literally the day after the Hamas attack, there was credible eyewitness testimony of sexual assaults. The widely respected online Jewish magazine Tablet published a report about it on October 8, authored by one of its most seasoned contributors, Liel Leibovitz.
“I’ve spent the last 12 hours speaking to Israelis who were at the Supernova music festival [where hundreds were massacred],” Leibovitz began.
He quoted a survivor saying, “Women have been raped at the area of the rave next to their friends’ bodies, dead bodies.” He noted that “several of these rape victims appear to have been later executed,” while “others were taken to Gaza.” Another survivor described seeing the corpses of “young women, lying cold and mutilated.” Leibovitz also pointed out: “In photographs released online, you can see several paraded through the city’s streets, blood gushing from between their legs.”
In the days and weeks to follow, there were additional published accounts by survivors who witnessed Hamas terrorists sexually assaulting Jewish women. There were “trophy videos” that the terrorists themselves circulated on social media. Some Israeli coroners reported finding women victims with shattered pelvises and other evidence of sexual mutilation.
In other words, there was more than enough basis for the #MeToo movement to say something.
Yet, for some reason, it took #MeToo International until November 13 to issue any kind of statement about the mass sexual violence against Israeli women that took place five weeks earlier.
If the delay was due to bureaucratic inertia, that speaks poorly of a movement that should be prepared to respond promptly, given the urgent and often time-sensitive nature of the issues it addresses. If the reason has to do with the fact that the victims were Israeli Jews, that is far more disturbing.
The #MeToo movement’s brief November 13 statement—just 335 words—was outrageously inadequate. The identity of the victims—Jewish Israelis—was not mentioned. The identity of the perpetrators—Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists—was not mentioned. Incredibly, the main focus of the statement from the international movement against sexual violence was not Hamas’s sexual violence against Israelis but rather the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
The statement briefly noted that sexual violence in any war is “abhorrent,” “horrific,” and a “war crime,” without even acknowledging that it had taken place in southern Israel. The statement then pivoted back to the humanitarian crisis.
After a barrage of protests, #MeToo International issued an “updated” statement two days later. It was just as bad as the first.
The updated version began by acknowledging that “Israeli women have given horrific accounts of gender-based violence in the last month.” Speaking vaguely about “accounts”—without affirming their credibility—is far from the sacred principle of “believing the women.” How many “accounts” should it take before women’s rights activists apply the same standard to the dozens—perhaps hundreds—of Israeli-Jewish rape victims that were applied to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh?
Incredibly, #MeToo’s “updated statement” repeated the central flaw of the previous statement: it refused to acknowledge that the perpetrators were Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists from Gaza who invaded Israel.
Their identity is critically important because their sexual assaults were not random, back-alley attacks. They were part and parcel of the terrorists’ goal of violently humiliating Jewish women, as Jewish women. The attackers were making an ideological statement on women’s bodies. Yet, from reading the two #MeToo International statements, a person who has not been closely following world events could come away thinking that the Israeli women may have been raped by Israeli men.
The updated #MeToo statement then proceeded into the realm of “everybody does it.” There have been “acts of gender-based violence” in “places like Israel, Palestine, Sudan, Congo, and Tigray,” it asserted. The clear implication was that both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists have engaged in those “acts of gender-based violence.” But that’s false. One side did it. The other didn’t and doesn’t.
The sacred principle that sexual assault should never be politicized has been left in tatters by #MeToo International. If #MeToo’s leaders think they are helping the Palestinian cause by shielding Hamas from criticism of its rapes, they are mistaken; we all see what Hamas did. In its glaring attempt to cover up for Hamas, all the #MeToo leadership has accomplished is to undermine the noble cause for which #MeToo is supposed to stand.
(Dr. Medoff is the founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and the author of more than 20 books about Jewish history and the Holocaust. His most recent book, America and the Holocaust: A Documentary History, was published by the Jewish Publication Society of America / University of Nebraska Press. And available on Amazon, as are his other books)Dr. Medoff is the founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and the author of more than 20 books about Jewish history and the Holocaust. His most recent book, America and the Holocaust: A Documentary History, was published by the Jewish Publication Society of America / University of Nebraska Press. And available on Amazon, as are his other books)