This response to a vicious opinion piece in the New York Post was submitted on February 28th, but unsurprisingly rejected by the Post. We publish it ourselves now.
On Saturday, February 25th, the New York Post published an opinion piece by Kyle Smith that openly ridicules the idea of women striking on International Working Women’s Day, March 8th. Smith also attacks our own Rasmea Odeh, one of the women calling for the day of protest. As usual, The Post is in despicable company, as ultra-right-winger and white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos has also attacked the protest and vilified Rasmea.
Smith says that the only thing the authors of the call have is outrage. Given the month that we’ve had since Trump’s inauguration, yes, we are outraged. He and everyone else should be outraged, too.
International Working Women’s Day is recognized throughout the world. It’s a day that celebrates the women who have struggled for equality and against oppression. It is appropriate to respond with strikes and marches to an election of an openly male chauvinist president, one who has been accused by numerous women of assault, and has publicly admitted to sexual assault; one who campaigned on a platform that included overturning the right of a woman to control her own body; and one who threatens the rights of LGBTQ folks, oppressed nationalities, and working class women.
The Trump administration has executive orders flying out of the White House at a dizzying speed. Why must there be a second women’s march? It’s because every single one of the executive orders that Trump has signed affects women. The #MuslimBan affects Muslim women. Closing borders to refugees from war-torn countries affects refugee women. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rounding up immigrants without due process affects immigrant women. Therefore, a protest on March 8th is not only warranted, but absolutely necessary.
The sensationalist headline Smith uses to tear down Rasmea Odeh is shameful. He writes that Odeh was a “convicted terrorist,” while failing to disclose that an Israeli military court (which, according to its own records, as reported by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “convicts” 99.74% of Palestinians who come before it) found her “guilty” based on a forced confession illegally obtained through torture and sexual assault. Smith doesn’t include that Odeh is a pioneer in the women’s movement, as she spoke publicly—at the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva in 1979—about the sexual torture that she experienced and survived.
Furthermore, since Odeh moved to the United States, she has been integral in helping Arab and Muslim women in her community of Greater Chicago. In 2013, she received the Outstanding Community Leader Award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance. She has been a fighter and protector of women for over 50 years, and slandering her is the work of a completely anti-Palestinian and misogynistic bigot.
We urge everyone to organize for March 8th; to support Rasmea in her struggle against repression, as we prepare for an [April 25th] hearing in Detroit on a defense motion to dismiss the government’s new indictment against her; and to continue fighting for all the rights that Trump is trying to take away. Together we are strong, and our voices loud and clear. Join actions across the U.S. on International Working Women’s Day, strike for justice, and demand #Justice4Rasmea!
Michela Martinazzi, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, NY, and Suzanne Adely, U.S. Palestinian Community Network, NY–for the Rasmea Defense Committee
February 28, 2017