LIVSHITS | The Israel-Hamas War is a Feminist Issue

This past International Women’s Day, it seemed we had forgotten Audre Lorde’s burning flame: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” In a prime portrayal of our failed intersectional feminist activism, despite Kimberlé Crenshaw’s ’81 definition of it and her lecture on campus earlier this semester, Cornellians had been polarized by the Israel-Hamas War and denied the dignity of reproductive freedom and livelihood to all women. 

My Instagram feed — which is likely only a crude reflection of Cornell’s political climate — was filled with the Coalition for Mutual Liberation’s condemnation of Cornellians for Israel’s plans for rape theatre featuring volunteers imitating Hamas’ sexual violence against Israeli women in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. CFI later rejected ties to a proposed Hamas sexual violence demonstration, despite a previous call for volunteers in their WhatsApp group, writing that they “have been exploring ways to honor and bear witness to the suffering of victims and survivors,” on their Instagram. Whether or not CFI was ever serious about holding the “rape theater” event, pro-Israel groups on and off campus have consistently demonstrated no moral qualms about morally reprehensible forms of activism and protest ranging from doxxing to hyperbolic proselytizing.

While I wholeheartedly condemn the (denied) proposal to CFI’s executive board of rape as a spectacle and the organization in and of itself, I further understand that there needs to be more support for the Israeli victims and survivors of rape. Acknowledging this in-between is difficult. An even more challenging distinction to maintain is that I value CFI’s tastefully restrained display of Israeli rape victims last week, but fully oppose the club and its pro-Israel agenda. Yet, I am committed to being a critic of Israel’s government and a voice against the genocide it is committing in Gaza while recognizing that the contention around Hamas’ use of sexual violence — explicitly the rape of Israeli women — is sickening. Opposing sexual violence against Israeli women is not the same as supporting a Zionist organization.