Women victims of Israeli occupation


PressTV | Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:14PM GMT
Interview with Dr. Maria Holt, an author and Senior Lecturer in the Democracy and Islam Programme

A prominent female author has written a book exposing impact of the Israeli occupation on the lives of Palestinian women.


In her book, she also highlights pain and suffering of Palestinian women living at home and abroad.

Press TV interviewed Dr. Maria Holt, an author and Senior lecturer in the Democracy and Islam Program, to give an insight to her book.

Press TV: We have seen three separate stories retold here, but all interconnected. Does this ring a familiar bell for you?

Holt: Of course, I mean one hears these stories all the time. You travel around the West Bank, Gaza, and everyone talks about these things. Everyone has a story; all the women I meet have a story of how they suffered in various ways.

I mean the woman that we are hearing about over there is a human right activist. But even women who are housewives, students, professional women, all of them suffer, because of the occupation. And the daily obstacles that women have to go through, as your report mentioned, checkpoints between cities, traveling is very difficult.

I mean for me traveling around the West Bank — you can’t plan to do something – it will take hours to get a few miles passing through several check points sometimes.

Press TV: One of the issues that goes unnoticed is that the effect that it has on the family. Sometime there are men, sons, husbands and uncles and so on, who are imprisoned or who are in exile, and the women are looking after that family if they are still in those territories. What happens when they are aboard?

Holt: I have been doing some work on the Palestinian refugee community in the camps of Lebanon, so I have been interviewing women all over the country about their experiences of exile, and on the various forms of violence that affects their ability to cope with the situation in which they are in, and its enormously difficult for many of these women.

In some way it is worse for them than Palestinian women, who are still living on their own land in the West Bank and Gaza, because they have the additional cruelty of not even being sure, not knowing that they are even able to return to their home land and feeling that they won’t.

They talk about it in terms of, you know, their parents or grandparent might have left Palestine in 1948, they are waiting to return, and some of them say “maybe I won’t return but my children will”. And even if they don’t, we keep telling the children, we keep telling them about their homeland, so that they will be able to return. So it’s desperately sad.

Press TV: What can fix this, because an end to the occupation is one thing, but these are scars that have built up for so many of these women over decades?

Holt: Of course, over generations. We are looking at four generations now of people in exile in Lebanon. So, you can go into family homes and find the great grandmother, who left Palestine in 1948, her daughter, her granddaughter, and even great granddaughter. So we are talking about several generations.

I think the problem of the people in Lebanon is one of the most difficult. I mean all the people you speak to and say what do you want, they say “well we want to go back, [and] we want to return”. And if you asked them if you want to return to the West Bank in Gaza, to the possible future Palestinian state, they say “no, we want to go back to our villages”, the villages of usually northern Palestine, or what was of northern Palestine. They want to go back to their land, not to some future Palestinian state. So that’s really difficult.

I mean there aren’t that many of them; I think that there is something like just over 400,000 registered refugees in Lebanon. So even if somehow some of these people have the right to return, it wouldn’t be so terrible for Israel. I’m sure they could be absorbed in some way.



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