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Jessica Cogan

 
Jessica Cogan: Op-Ed: Jen Zoratti proves that Intersectional Feminism died on October 7th.

by Jessica Cogan, posted here Feb 2, 2024


I read with absolute shock and disgust Jen Zoratti's opinion piece that was published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 26, 2023 titled "The battlefield between feminism and rapes of war."

I was at the Jewish Child and Family Services program on January 24 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and I am left wondering how Ms. Zoratti could have left that program with the viewpoint that she did, without even a shred of compassion for the victims discussed that evening.  That she was able to write such an egregious opinion exposes not only an obvious bias on her part but also her selective humanity towards some groups and not others.

In her piece, Ms. Zoratti says that she believes that Israeli women experienced sexual violence and that "it is terrible that Israeli and Jewish women feel abandoned and ignored."  It would have been a smart decision to stop there.  Instead, she goes on to scold us for the way we are being forced to "bear witness".  Does Ms. Zoratti live under a rock?  Has she not seen the vehement October 7 denial that is going on in the world?  Much like Holocaust denial, some allege that Oct 7 was a hoax, that it did not happen, that women were not raped. This was evident recently at NYU where a lecturer was dismissed for telling his students that the events of Oct 7th, did not happen.  Does Ms. Zoratti think that these are the types of pictures that we want to show and the types of stories we want to tell?  How I wish we had the PRIVILEGE of making a different, less heartbreaking choice. It's a privilege afforded only to certain people - people like Ms. Zoratti.

The scolding does not stop there and it gets worse.  Ms. Zoratti then accuses the Jewish Community, including Jewish women, of exploiting "women's bodies to drive a political agenda and justify violence . . .Violence that, every day, is killing women."  There are so many thoughts that come to mind when I read this point, most of which cannot be printed in this paper.  Does she mean the violence that Israel did not ask for and did not start?  Israel has abided by every single ceasefire that it has agreed to and there was one in place on October 6th.  This is victim-blaming of the highest order.  In what gender studies classes did Ms. Zoratti learn this approach?  I graduated with a major in Women's Studies and I certainly learned quite an opposite theory of victim-blaming such as;  it is both damaging to the victim and completely unacceptable. It is galling that Ms. Zoratti is writing any of this under the banner of feminism.  Victim blaming is not a part of my feminism.

Unfourtunately, she continues.  Ms. Zoratti continues her scolding because the event did not talk about the suffering of Palestinian women. Instead, reference was made to "all women matter" and "women matter everywhere".  I am a Jewish woman of colour and I have experienced antisemitism and racism.  One of the big concepts I learned in 2020 in learning how to be an ally to my Black brothers and sisters is how dangerous and hurtful "whataboutism" is.  It serves to silence voices, diminish the experience of the storyteller and erase the pain and trauma of the victim.  This JCFS evening was about the story of the gender-based violence that Israeli women experienced on October 7th.  Would Ms. Zoratti go to an event hosted by the Muslim, Black, or Indigenous communities and have the audacity to "what about" them?  Tellingly, Ms. Zoratti had no hesitation in doing so to the Jewish Community.  Again, it speaks for itself.

The one thought of Ms. Zoratti's that made me laugh out loud was, "Since there are clearly no limits to human suffering, there cannot be limits to our compassion."  How ironic.  The one glaring omission from Ms. Zoratti's opinion was any hint of compassion or empathy towards the Israeli victims or the members of Winnipeg's Jewish community who assembled that evening.  World Jewry has not been given the chance to mourn after October 7th, much less grieve.  This event afforded our community what was supposed to be a safe space to gather, talk, and share our grief.  Again, in learning to be an ally, I was taught to enter these sacred spaces silently with ears open and mouths closed.  Enter them with open and respectful hearts.  Somehow, inexplicably, Ms. Zoratti did the opposite and turned our evening into a battleground on top of the bodies of our dead and the shattered hearts of those they left behind.

Finally, Ms. Zoratti states that feminists "need to speak up" and "must demand an immediate ceasefire and end to the siege,..." etc.  Hamas has turned down every ceasefire offered and violated those it accepted.  Of whom does Ms. Zoratti demand a ceasefire?  Or is her idea of a ceasefire that Israel should unilaterally lay down its arms, Hamas can keep shooting its rockets and then this can clear the way for October 7th to happen again and again, as stated by Hamas leadership? 

Additionally, the one thing that this feminist warrior shockingly does not demand is the unconditional release of the hostages!  Even the ICJ had the good sense to demand that.  Ms. Zoratti is aware that there are female hostages that are still being held by Hamas and are likely being raped every day.  Israel is having to, devastatingly, create a program to treat these women should they return pregnant.  It is beyond imagination.  Yet Ms. Zoratti with all of her virtue-signalling, does not see fit to call for an end to this gender-based violence (against women and men) by calling for an immediate and unconditional return of these women and of all the hostages. Disgraceful.  Hypocritical.  Telling.

Under the circumstances, Ms.Zoratti ought to issue an unreserved apology.

 
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