Mohammed Abu-Khdeir and the Politics of Racial Terror in Occupied Jerusalem by Sarah Ihmoud 

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In Genocide and Settler Society, Dirk Moses argues that in colonial contexts, genocide is a dynamic process that has the potential to be released in ‘circumstances of crisis’ (2004, p. 33). Flashpoints of exterminatory violence released by colonial agents and social hysteria among settler communities on the frontier, what Moses terms ‘genocidal moments’ (ibid. p. 34), reveal not only the complex relationship between settler communities and the state in its various forms, but also the deep structure of settler society. Shalhoub Kevorkian has argued that the Israeli settler colonial project is energized by a structure of genocidal dispossession, a structure predicated on a racial schema that evicts Palestinians from the realm of the human, relegating them to zones of non-being and death (2015b).
What interests me here is not only the creation of a genocidal moment that gave way to Mohammed’s murder, one that further evidences Israel’s structure of genocidal dispossession, but also the resurgence of a discourse of colonial sexual violence in conjunction with the creation of this genocidal moment.

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Sexual Violence, Women’s Bodies, and Israeli Settler Colonialism by Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Sarah Ihmoud and Suhad Dahir-Nashif

Sexual Violence and Palestinian Genocide Since the Nakba

Understanding the intensified attacks on Palestinian women’s bodies in times of heightened attacks by the settler colonial regime requires a feminist analysis. Such an analysis takes the Nakba as its analytical point of departure. Israel was built on the ruins of the Palestinian homeland, on its land, pain, and displacement.  It was built on the destruction of our communal social ties, the violation and invasion of our homes and bodies.

Rape and killing of Palestinian women was a central aspect of Israeli troops’ systematic massacres and evictions during the destruction of Palestinian villages in 1948. During the Deir Yassin massacre, for instance:

All the inhabitants were ordered into the village square. Here, they were lined up against a wall and shot.  One eyewitness said her sister, who was nine months pregnant, was shot in the back of the neck. Her assailants then cut open her stomach with a butcher’s knife and extracted the unborn baby. When an Arab woman tried to take the baby, she was shot…Women were raped before the eyes of their children before being murdered and dumped down the well…

Thus our struggle for indigenous sovereignty within anti-colonial activism as feminists is necessarily situated in the protection of Palestinian women’s bodily safety and sexuality, family, and communal right to life. It is a struggle against the hypermasculine Zionist military and settler apparatuses that frame Palestinian women as inherently threatening racialized Others whose bodies must be violated and destroyed as the internal enemy and “reproducers of Palestinians.” This logic is inseparable from the settler colonial logic of elimination.

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