In her recent report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay revives the bizarre charge, made by one of her colleagues in 2005, that when Palestinian men beat their wives, it’s Israel’s fault:
Violence against women Women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory face multiple layers of violence and discrimination. The analysis made by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women in 2005 remains valid. She found that the combination of decades of Israeli occupation, the use of force against Palestinians by Israel, the different forms of resistance used by Palestinians against such use of force and the patriarchy prevailing in Palestinian society expose women to a continuum of violence in all spheres of life.
The 2005 analysis invoked by Pillay was published in a report by Yakin Ertürk, then the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women. Why do Palestinian men beat their wives? The report tells us:
Women with husbands explained that the dire economic situation and the pressures of the occupation have made men more violent because they have lost their ability to provide and protect — two essential elements of manhood in a traditional patriarchal society. As men become stripped of their manhood, women become the shock absorbers of the crises as targets of domestic violence.
In other words: it’s Israel’s fault. This dangerous theme of moral displacement pervades the report:
Security measures are directed at the entire Palestinian population; in this regard, women are subjected to violence emanating from these measures in similar ways to other members of the society. However, owing to the diverse ways in which occupation and patriarchy intersect, the direct and indirect impact of security measures tends to have specific and compounded consequences for women. In order to demonstrate this, I focus on four measures employed by the Israeli authorities…
By Navi Pillay regurgitating Erturk’s 2005 canard, the UN is once again telling Palestinian men that they have no moral agency, and bear little or no responsibility for their inhumane actions against women. What the UN is doing, once again, is to displace moral responsibility and prime agency. Palestinian men are not primarily to blame for their violence against women, says the UN. Israel is.