Why I Didn’t Celebrate International Women’s Day

The people who know me are well aware of my strong opinions. I am unabashedly critical of people in power, people around me, all ideologies and religions, and even some of the things that are considered politically correct these days. Respect Everyone. Worship No One. I live by this principle.

I also identify as a Noachide. As a gentile who feels a deep connection to the Jewish people, I am committed to the principle of Tikkun Olam, which means heal the world in Hebrew.

This blog is testimony to that commitment. It is also a place where I have discussed complex, polarizing issues like anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

I am a liberal Zionist (I believe that Israel and Palestine can coexist as two independent states alongside each other) and a feminist. Many anti-Israel thinkers believe that to be a contradiction. For them, I can’t support Israel and the Palestinian people at the same time. And I can’t be a feminist because I support a country that imprisons children like Ahed Tamimi.

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Ahed Tamimi/Various News Sources

Needless to say, I disagree with their entire line of thinking. I care about Ahed and the hundreds like her affected by the occupation in the West Bank. I also care about the Jewish people. I care about Israel. And that is why I am sharply critical of its actions. Jewish morality demands that we love the stranger. Israel cannot do that while it imprisons children like Ahed. That hurts me and bothers me. But it is also why I fight alongside organizations like J Street and Tikkun.org to let the world know that we stand with Ahed, that we will not stop raising our voices till she and her people are free, that we will not stop asking difficult questions till the occupation is over, and that we will work to build two states alongside each other– a prosperous Palestine and a secure Israel.

That is why I didn’t celebrate International Women’s Day. We have not reached that point yet.

But there is more to it. When I think about women’s struggles around the world, I cannot ignore the Rohingya refugee women who are struggling under the burden of statelessness and the oppression they face from the Burmese state. I also cannot ignore the millions of women trapped in Syria, fighting to survive in the face of bombing, torture, starvation, disease, and rape. And in-between these, are the stories of the average women and non-men fighting against racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, communalism, casteism, and other forms of bigotry at home and at the workplace.

When I look at these remarkable people whose very existence is an act of resistance, every day is a celebration of our continuing fight to make this world a better place.

Somehow, designating one day in a year to honor women seems cheap, like a commercialized token whose value has been changed and diminished by forces beyond its control. There is so much to womanhood that I cannot fit it in the confines of a single day of commemoration. For me, every day is women’s day.WD13To be woman is to be human. To be human is to love all the world. No matter what our personal politics are, we can find it in ourselves to love one another despite our differences. And with that faith, we will pave the way to harmony.

Note: An initiative called the Firgun Project is working to help people trapped in difficult circumstances through storytelling, discussion, and practical guidance in matters of academics, careers, and issues of identity. Click here to learn more.

Note: If you are as disturbed as I am by the situation in Syria, donate to either the International Rescue Committee or Doctors Without Borders here and here respectively. 

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