During a meeting at the United Nations this month, Arabs blamed Israel for Palestinian men beating their wives.
The accusation was made when a report was submitted at a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting detailing violence against women – a document containing an allegation so outlandish that a watchdog group rebuked those delivering it instantaneously.
Where’s the link?
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) announced that information from the abuse report pointed to a direct cause-and-effect.
“[The report showed] a clear linkage between the prolonged occupation and violence against women,” PMW's Marcus and Zilberdik reported, indicating that another linkage was much more likely.
But the two from PMB suggested another source that could have likely spurred widespread wife beatings among Palestinians.
“Palestinian Media Watch has documented that Palestinian Authority TV teaches Palestinian men how to beat their wives according to Islam,” Marcus and Zilberdik noted.
Shortly after Arabs at the U.N. meeting made their claim pointing to the report, U.N. Watch Director Hillel Neuer cited a PMW video to set the record straight – a recording where a Palestinian religious official is caught on tape from a PA TV broadcast where he lays out the specifics on the permissible conditions under which a Palestinian man may strike his wife in accordance with Islamic law.
Neuer was quick to point out the flaw in the report’s assumption.
“[The report on] violence against women [was undermined] by its subservience to the recurring and unproven assumption … that there is, quote, ‘clear linkage between the prolonged occupation and violence against women,’” the director asserted, according to WND. “In other words, what you are saying is as follows: When Palestinian men beat their wives, it’s Israel’s fault.”
It was then argued that there was absolutely no proof indicating that there was any connection between Israelis and Palestinian wife beatings.
“Where is the data?” Neuer rhetorically pressed, as reported by WND. “I don’t see it anywhere in the report.”
He went on to inquire why the most rudimentary comparisons – including analyzing similar statistics from other Arab nations such as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon -- were not made by those who submitted the report.
“Why have you not done so?” Neuer demanded, noting that instructions on how men should beat their wives are regularly broadcasted on Arab television.
Proof found on PA TV
Numerous instructions broadcasted on official Palestinian Authority TV directed to Palestinian men on how to “properly” beat their wives – according to Islamic law laid out in the Islamic holy book, the Quran – were listed off by PMB.
"To those who use beatings and violence to solve their marital problems: Carefully read the Quranic verse again [Sura 4:34],” a PA TV reporter from official PA TV announced on April 1. “There are solutions before giving beatings. If you have to, there are religious rules for beatings that must be obeyed. Guys, the goal of the beatings is rebuke in a way that does not cause injury."
Late last year on November 24, PA TV broadcasted other directives on how Palestinian men should beat their wives into submission.
"Let's say that a husband senses that his wife is lying – first he needs to rebuke her and quote the Quran and Hadith on the ban on lying,” academic lecturer on Mufti Sheikh Samih Hajjaj asserted on television. “The [Muslim] scholars said that the beating can be with a small brush or a handkerchief, and the number of blows should not exceed 10."
When the host of the show asked, “Not with a stick or a pipe?” Hajjaj gave more specific directions with an explanation straight from Islam’s top prophet, Muhammad.
"No, no – not in the face,” he explained on PA TV, according to PMW. “Even when we hit with a handkerchief or small brush, Prophet [Muhammad] said: 'Do not hit the face, and do not make her ugly.' If you want to hit, hit [her] back or leg, hit in places that are not seen, and do not cause a permanent mark."
Going past the Islam’s prophet, the Mufti of Gaza, Hassan Al-Laham, referred to the words of Allah – the god of Islam – to prove his point on PA TV as to why Muslim men must beat their wives.
"Allah said: ‘Warn them [the wives], and separate from them, and hit them’” Al-Laham said on PA TV last year on Feb. 8, according to PMW. “She may be from a more socially respectable family than yours, however, she became your wife, and she is under your command, and is under your care, so that you should treat her according to Allah's command... [Quran:] 'Warn them [the wives] and separate from them.' The separation means separation in the bedroom... She will ask why, and he will explain: 'You made a mistake and I am angry about it.' Perhaps this will lead to reconciliation... After the warning and separation, comes the hitting - hitting that does not make her ugly... Not hitting that will bring the police, and break her hand and cause bleeding, or hitting that makes the face ugly... The hitting is not meant to disfigure, harm, or degrade. The hitting will be like a joke. He will hit her jokingly. Not a blow that breaks a bone or makes the face ugly, and he will not curse and the like. This hitting is a kind of reminder that the love and friendship that Allah commanded, is still found between us (i.e., the couple)."
Several years earlier, a senior lecturer at the Technion in Haifa, Yusuf Jabareen, described the true nature of Muslim men.
"Part of our identity is to kill women, for example, to kill women – to beat women," Jabareen stressed on PA TV on June 21, 2012.
After the PA TV host responded by telling the guest, “You generalize,” and that “Not everyone is the same,” the lecturer set the record straight.
“No, I don’t generalize,” Jabareen insisted. "Part of our identity is to attack women – we must acknowledge it... Palestinian identity has its charms, but there are things that we have adopted from Arab culture for centuries that harm the individual and the woman. For example, in recent months, look how many [Arab] women were killed in Lod, in Ramle, and in Acre, and so on. That's part of our identity."
And five years earlier, Dr. Ismail Nawada, a Palestinian cleric, laid down Islamic law to state his case on PA TV.
"The other issue that disgraces us is the topic of [wife] beating,” Nawada stated on PA TV on March 14, 2007. “First of all, the beating is not a severe beating, and as the experts in Islamic law said: 'Hit her with a handkerchief.' Some asked: 'What use is that?' It's a case of psychological treatment and not a physical issue to hit her. When the wife understands that her husband only raised his hand to her, she will be affected, if she is very sensitive. This is why no one should assume he is allowed to hit his wife with a stick, to make her bleed, or to hit her in the face. This is only a sign: 'Oh wife, you need hitting. Don't necessitate [this] again.'"
Making connections in thin air
The claims against Israel in the U.N. report were written by the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Šimonović.
“[Šimonović] filed dual reports based on her trips to the region in 2016,” Breitbart News reported on June 17. “The report in question focuses on the ‘causes and consequences’ of violence against women in the region.”
She highlighted the so-called “clear linkage” between the “Israeli occupation” and domestic abuse against Palestinian women at the hands of their husbands.
“While recognizing the imperatives related to security and stability in the region, the Rapporteur highlights the clear linkage between the prolonged occupation and [violence against women], and she notes, like her predecessor, that the occupation does not exonerate the State of Palestine from its due human rights obligation to prevent, investigate, punish and provide remedies for acts of gender-based violence (GBV) in the areas and for persons under its jurisdiction or effective control,” Šimonović stated in her filing that was initially reported by U.N. Watch.
More unsubstantiated allegations were then made in the claim.
“Several testimonies the Rapporteur collected highlighted that the economic situation, the level of unemployment and the pressure of the occupation have a greater impact on women’s and children’s lives, making them more vulnerable to domestic violence, in particular, in Gaza, due to the constant pressure felt by the blockade and the recurring cycles of conflict, and the overcrowding that limits their mobility and privacy,” the report from Šimonović continued, according to Breitbart.
After Neuer criticized the baselessness of the claims made in the report, Šimonović attempted to justify her anti-Israel contentions from her report.
“But when we are speaking about human rights responsibility and due diligence responsibility, then we are at a different level, because states have due diligence responsibility to prevent violence against women and to establish measures to prevent such violence; to punish perpetrators of violence and to provide compensation to victims,” Šimonović concluded while evading the question – and still failing to back any of her claims.