From Socialist Voice, March 2008

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day celebrations

The Communist Party of Ireland organised a series of meetings in Dublin and Belfast to celebrate International Women’s Day. In keeping with its long-standing practice of international women’s solidarity, the party invited two speakers from a region of the world that is the most horrific example of imperialist intervention: Ahlam Sadoun of the Iraqi Women’s League and a former leader in the Iraqi Students’ Association, and Aida Touma-Sliman, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of Israel and a prolific writer about injustice.
     Both spoke of the conditions in their countries and region under occupation and war and of the experience of being a woman in such a situation.
     Ahlam Sadoun, a former activist in the Iraqi Students’ Association, had to leave Iraq because she was subject to pressure to join the Ba‘ath Party. She is now the secretary of the London branch of the Iraqi Women’s League. She and her family have all been victims of the Ba‘ath regime: her father was imprisoned several times, and her sister was arrested and put to death because she was a member of the Iraqi Communist Party. Her brother also had to leave Iraq for his own safety.
     Ahlam read a statement making clear the policy of the Iraqi Women’s League, whose aim is to build national unity and to oppose the occupation forces of American and British imperialism as well as the sectarian gangs that operate on the streets of Iraq. It also aims to allow the voice of Iraqi women, rejecting all forms of exploitation and abuse of dignity, to be heard by the world.
     Aida gave a very full account of the views of the Communist Party of Israel on the political conflict between Palestine and Israel and what they believe could be worked for to resolve the situation. She also spoke of the difficulties of being an Arab woman in Israel and how Arab Israelis are discriminated against. She was quite clear that Israel under its present leadership is intent on the annihilation of Palestine, and while saying that their vicious and murderous response is to Hamas rockets only they are continually planning new moves into more Palestinian lands.
     Of course she was critical of those attacks on civilians in Israel but understands the frustration of a people pushed to extinction. Living in an area herself that has rockets falling that don’t distinguish between enemies and supporters, she said that it is a constantly terrifying experience, but, in common with many Israelis, she blames the government for not negotiating a genuine peace.
     Responding to questions about what the Communist Party of Israel saw as a solution to the problem, she said that the two-state solution, recognising the 1967 borders, would now seem to be the only viable resolution of the conflict.
     She also spoke of the hope of talks within Palestine between al-Fateh, Hamas and other groups so as to form a strong united front. She was critical too of surrounding Arab countries that, seeing the plight of the Palestinians, stay silent.
     Specifically dealing with the situation of women, she said that while the conflict is unresolved, getting down to the fight against the ingrained inequalities remaining in customs and religions has to wait, on the whole, until the greater issue is resolved.
     That is not to say that there are not continual gains made by women, but they are unfortunately not to the fore when one is fighting for life and peace. Particularly she said how important solidarity was to the cause of peace, and she urged everyone to protest, write letters and lobby politicians and to make the plight of the Palestinians as widely known as possible.

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