Kristin Raworth and Ariella Kimmel: Believing almost all women
Hamas has used rape as a weapon of war; why are so many so-called feminists denying it?
By: Kristin Raworth and Ariella Kimmel
On October 7th, 2023, Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel and committed the worst massacre of Jews in a single day since the Holocaust. More than just a massacre, Hamas tortured their victims, including brutally raping women, young and old. Yet the silence of many women’s organizations and leading voices who stand tall, claiming to be “strong feminists,” is deafening.
When the #MeToo movement started, the mantra was “believe all women.” As high-profile women spoke out, the feminist movement stood with them. So why, in the wake of the most horrific terrorist attack in Israel’s history, which included rape, do these women not deserve the same solidarity?
A month later it is not just the complete silence of the women’s organizations that causes pain, it is the active justification and gaslighting of the Jewish community, which has including denying the truth of what happened on October 7th, by demanding proof, rather than believing survivors. Many may recognize these tactics as those used as abusers against their victims in cases of domestic and sexual violence, a tactic that has become known as “DARVO” — Deny, Attack, and Reverse, Victim Offender.
When reports first surfaced of the sexual assaults committed by Hamas, many of us took to Twitter, the only place where we knew to raise our voices. Immediately our replies were filled with folks who otherwise would believe survivors, but were seemingly comfortable demanding immediate forensic evidence in this case. Survivor accounts were not enough; even a video released by the Israeli government that painted a clear picture of Hamas’ brutality was not enough. Hamas terrorists themselves recounting their actions was not enough.
Sarah Jama, an MPP in Ontario, has gone so far to publicly state that the accounts of rape are a lie pushed forward by the “zionist lobby.”
We have seen people like Ghada Sasa, a former board member of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, going on a podcast and not just claiming that Hamas treated civilians fairly, but that Israel was to blame for the massacre at the Nova music festival.
Meanwhile member of Parliament Niki Ashton claimed that a “feminist government” would call for a ceasefire; yet she has not once condemned the use of rape by Hamas as a war crime. This is a highly selective read of feminism.
Even more appalling has been seeing sexual assault centres, and those who sit on their boards, minimize or dismiss the rape of Israeli women. The University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre shared a post on Instagram promoting an anti-Israel student walk out, which was held on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, a pogrom against Jews carried out by the Nazis from November 9-10, 1938. The poster itself justified and legitimized the October 7th attack with statements like “resistance is justified” and “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.” Could you imagine being a Jewish sexual assault victim going to them for help following this?
So let us speak clearly and say what these people and groups have not: the #MeToo movement centred believing women precisely because of the horrible truth that many sexual assaults happen without witnesses and leave little evidence. Yet in Israel, Hamas’s sexual violence against Israelis has been corroborated by witness accounts of rape, first responder accounts of finding victims of rape, statements by medical examiners reporting injuries consistent with rape, photographic and video documentation of scenes consistent with rape, as well as, according to reports, statements by captured terrorists who participated in the attack. This is, by the standard of any #MeToo allegation, overwhelming evidence.
Yet it is not enough to believe. Why?
These individuals and organizations cited above, who are so often quick to tout their feminist credentials, may not represent majority views on this particular subject. Nor is every person or organization noted here engaged in exactly the same behaviour — we have noted their specific failures for a reason. Different people and groups have responded to the October 7th pogrom differently.
But they all do have one thing in common: they hold positions of truth, authority and responsibility in feminist and pro-woman spaces. They accordingly help set the tone for other politicians and activists. And it’s simply impossible to ignore the selective silence and hypocrisy on full display.
In the aftermath of the unprecedentedly large mass-casualty event, Israel’s overtaxed morgue facilities had to make decisions on what physical evidence of sexual assault they had capacity to collect amid their ongoing scramble to identify the people killed, many of whose bodies were mutilated and burned. More than a month after Hamas’ rampage, Israel is still identifying the dead through disaster victim identification protocols. There is a limited window of time during which rape kits can be administered to collect evidence, and Israel was not always able to secure massacre sites for evidence collection in time, due to continued combat operations.
This decision is being used by many active and vocal so-called feminists to push a narrative of skepticism over Hamas’s sexual abuse of victims while it held control over parts of southern Israel on October 7, despite the medical forensic teams working to identify bodies being clear that they have seen several bodies that had signs consistent with sexual abuse, including broken legs, broken pelvises, bloody underwear, and women stripped below the waist.
The skepticism is an attempt to downplay the scale of Hamas’s atrocities on October 7, especially as international attention quickly moved on from the Hamas’ brutality, to the Israeli military response. This is where we come to the “Reverse, Victim Offender” part of DARVO.
When the allied forces liberated the concentration and death camps of the Nazi regime, the full extent of the Third Reich’s crimes became clear. The allied forces bore witness to the horrors of the Holocaust; the Nazis themselves kept meticulous records of the atrocities they committed. The evidence is clear. It's there. In black and white. To deny the Holocaust is to be on the fringe of what is acceptable or believable.
Hamas didn’t just commit atrocities, they livestreamed them, yet it is acceptable within the progressive feminist movement to deny and justify their actions.
If you advocate for women, then that advocacy cannot be dependent on whether you agree with the government of the country from which the victim comes. We implore these advocates to ask themselves why is it that Israel, the only Jewish state, has to actively try and make you believe.
The international feminist community has failed Israeli women. They have at best turned their backs on them, and at worst continue to revictimize them.
Ariella Kimmel is Vice-President, Strategic Communications and Development for Winston Wilmont, and a volunteer within the Jewish community.
Kristin Raworth is a sexual assault victim advocate
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