There is a picture circulating on social media sites that portrays and sums up the role of the Palestinian woman in the struggle against Zionism and the colonialists’ greed and ambitions in Jerusalem. The picture should be studied in universities around the world as part of the media and communications curriculum. This picture is truly worth a thousand words and is the clearest example of the tools and means, and all of their components, used in the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation. This picture of the Palestinian women’s activism comes at a difficult time, 70 years after the Nakba when the people of Palestine were forcibly displaced from their historical homeland. It comes after the ongoing Zionist plotting, since the Balfour Declaration in 1917, to establish a state, and even before then when Zionism chose Palestine as part of its devious dream to seize the area in a systematic and cancerous manner.
This picture shows the struggle of the Palestinian woman, who appears to be “traditional” in her headscarf, as she, alongside other Palestinian women, carry pots of traditional Palestinian food, such as vine leaves and maklouba, which they learned from their mothers and grandmothers. They mastered the dishes, which taste and smell of Palestine, their homeland, which they are fighting for by every means possible. Perhaps this picture reminds us that the women have been fighting and struggling alongside the men from day one.
READ: Saladin’s maklouba
The women’s pots and the smells of what they have poured into the large trays in Jerusalem recently, as they courageously remained stationed by Al-Aqsa Mosque, defy the hatred and weapons of the brutal Israeli arm. Food has become a national method and culture that illustrates to the world the extent of the Palestinians’ connection and dedication to Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian state they are working to preserve and to protect its Muslim and Christian holy sites. The role of women and their existence only as mothers, wives and homemakers, has changed to become an act of resistance and a means to challenge the occupation. These women’s pots of maklouba and vine leaves filled with meat and the taste of home, were cooked with their sweat, love and religious, social and political faith. They serve it to the Palestinian fighters, prisoners and to every home around the world via the photos taken, which irk Israel as they carry meanings and messages of fruitful mass labour.
Palestinian women participated in the women’s movement and joined the national movement early on. They rejected the Balfour Declaration under the Anglo-Zionist colonialism during the British Mandate and participated in the protests. Jerusalemite women confronted then-British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, in 1921 when he provoked the masses and glorified the Crusaders during his visit to Jerusalem. The women of Jerusalem transported the wounded to hospitals and helped heal their spirits after the attacks on the protesters. Jerusalemite women participated in a historical act following the Buraq Uprising in 1929 and held the first Palestinian women’s conference in Jerusalem, attended by 300 women from various Palestinian cities. Despite the challenges, they were marching in headscarves, bonnets and dresses, side by side, and challenged the High Commissioner, refusing to drink coffee with him when they met with him to express their anger and rejection of the colonial policy. Perhaps men showering the patriotic women with flowers as they drove down the streets of Jerusalem in cars was a sign of welcoming, encouraging and honouring the Palestinian woman, mother, wife and homemaker, as well as all forms of political work.
The national and political action remained alive and became even stronger, as the Palestinian women participated in the glorious Palestinian revolution in 1936. Their activism became distinctive. They also attended the first historical Eastern Women’s Conference in Cairo for Palestine in 1938 at the invitation of Huda Sharawi, leader of the women’s movement in Cairo.
The Palestinian women’s activism in still ongoing, despite the fact that the Palestinian issue is plagued by more complexities and injustice to the Palestinian people under occupation and in the diaspora. This is as a result of Zionist and American policies that both explicitly and implicitly aim to eliminate whatever hope and commitment the Palestinians still have to Palestine and its capital Jerusalem. This is despite the pro-Zionists’ alliance with the new colonisers, who are indifferent to the right of return and returning the stolen land, along with its vineyards and bright green vine leaves, which have become a weapon used against the enemy with a special taste made by the beautiful Palestinian women. I salute them a thousand times!
This article appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 30 May 2019
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.