Feminist icon blasts Israel PM over travel ban

Gloria Steinem. (Reuters/File)
Updated 18 August 2019

Feminist icon blasts Israel PM over travel ban

  • Online supporters have rallied under the hashtag #MyPalestinianSitty, posting pictures of their grandmothers and descriptions of their struggles under Israeli occupation

JERUSALEM: Feminist icon Gloria Steinem has called Israel’s prime minister a “bully” and says she will not visit as long as he remains the country’s leader.

In a statement posted online on Saturday, she said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to bar a visit by two Democratic congresswomen was “a welcome sign that I never have to enter any country or place under your authority.”

Israel denied entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar last week over their support for the Palestinian-led boycott movement. The two are outspoken critics of Trump and of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.  They were subjected to a series of racist tweets from Trump last month, in which he told them to “go back” to their “broken” countries. Both are US citizens.

“I know that Donald Trump, the accidental occupant of the White House, is drawn to successful bullies,” Steinem wrote, addressing Netanyahu. “If you and Trump continue to imitate each other, you will eventually be alone together at the table. I could wish both of you no greater punishment than that.”

Israel later granted permission for Tlaib to visit her grandmother in the occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds, and released a letter purportedly signed by Tlaib in which she promised not to advocate boycotts during her visit.

Tlaib declined to come, saying Israel’s “oppressive” conditions were designed to humiliate her.

Israel accused her of staging a provocation.

Tlaib tweeted that she could not allow Israel to “use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies.”

“Sitty,” spelled different ways in English, is an Arabic term of endearment for one’s grandmother.

Online supporters have rallied under the hashtag #MyPalestinianSitty, posting pictures of their grandmothers and descriptions of their struggles under Israeli occupation. Many were said to have lived through what the Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba,” or “Catastrophe,” when hundreds of thousands fled or were forced from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

“#MyPalestinianSitty is trending and I am overcome with emotions realizing how we are finally humanizing one of the world’s most dehumanized peoples,” Omar tweeted.


Security conference told of ‘Iranian menace’ to shipping in the Gulf

Updated 22 October 2019

Security conference told of ‘Iranian menace’ to shipping in the Gulf

  • “Aviation and maritime security are at the top of the policy agenda in the region,” says Bahraini FM
  • Pompeo warned of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program

MANAMA: Delegates from more than 60 countries including Saudi Arabia met in Bahrain on Monday to discuss maritime security after attacks on tankers in the Gulf and Saudi oil installations, widely blamed on Iran.

“Aviation and maritime security are at the top of the policy agenda in the region,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told the conference. “We must take a collective stand ... to take the necessary steps to protect our nations from rogue states.”

In a message to delegates, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program.

“This meeting comes at a critical moment in history,” he said. “The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, whether by air or sea, poses a serious threat to international peace and security.

“Together, we must all be committed to taking the necessary actions to stop countries that continue to pursue WMD at great risk to all of us.”

Countries taking part in the conference, including Israel, belong to the Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group, created in February during a Middle East conference in Warsaw.

“The meeting is an occasion to exchange views on how to deal with the Iranian menace and to guarantee freedom of navigation,” Bahrain’s foreign ministry said.

After the tanker attacks, the US formed a naval coalition to protect navigation. Bahrain, which hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, joined in August, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE followed in September. The UK and Australia are the other main Western partners.