Hamas commentary says women spread disease

If a mainstream Israeli party such as Likud was promoting vile slanders against women, it would be plastered all over the BBC. When it's Hamas, the silence is deafening

by Yorker on 2 February 2013 09:17

Imagine if the leading outlet associated with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu had featured an article replete with misogynystic prejudices about women being responsible for spreading disease across Israel. Imagine that the essence of the argument was that women are chatter boxes who have a natural tendency to gather in groups. Imagine finally that the best defences against the health dangers that women pose were for them to wear face masks so as to stop them infecting people and that they should submit to the discipline of men.

Plainly, you'd never hear the end of it. But since it is Hamas, and since Western media outlets such as the BBC are engaged in a campaign to whitewash the realities of mass societal bigotry among Israel's opponents, it is completely ignored.

Fortunately, organisations such as the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI, exist to provide a more rounded picture of the realities of the Middle East.

In its latest report, MEMRI highlights a disturbing illustration of what Hamas is all about. The article, pegging off an epidemic of Swine Flu in the West Bank, is by columnist Issam Shawer in the Hamas daily Falastin. In it, the author says the following:

"I believe that women are the most numerous and fastest transmitters of viral diseases and epidemics such as swine flu... [For example, when there is need] to make a condolence call, women emerge from every corner and flock from every direction, even from afar, and then congregate in one place. They comfort [the family] and also trade stories – this is very important to them – and spread news and rumors, but also viruses that waft through the stuffy air."

But there is an antidote to this:

"Some of them take the necessary precautions and wear face masks when they are alone, yet, when they meet, they remove the masks in order to chat and to do what they are best at: exchanging news. But viruses also find their way to new victims in this manner."

Of course, the whole problem can be sorted out if the men folk are willing to discipline the women with sufficient vigour:

"They [the men] can also take a greater part in fighting disease by imposing stricter constraints on the movement and gatherings of the womenfolk, as broadly as possible... at least in the next three months."

Compared with some of the Jews-descended-from-apes-and-pigs rhetoric that is commonplace, such banal, misogynistic rantings may not be thought especially shocking. They nonethless provide a stark insight into the mindset of the people who run Gaza, and the people whom Israel is expected to forge a peace with -- not that Hamas actually wants a peace deal with Israel.

So, to return to the musings in the opening paragraph, why is this sort of thing routinely ignored by a Western media that would be shouting it from the roof tops if it was coming from Israel? Thoughts, anyone?

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