Story of a feminist march shaken by the Israel-Hamas war

Story of a feminist march shaken by the Israel-Hamas war

Right in the middle of the procession, two groups face each other. On one side, young women brandishing the Palestinian flag, on the other, a sea of ​​purple signs reading “raped, tortured, mutilated because they are Jewish.” Like every March 8, a demonstration is organized for Women’s Rights Day in Paris. But this year, tensions linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict crept into the crowd.

2 p.m. The parade begins calmly, with peaceful demands: we chant against wage inequalities and feminicides, or support for Afghan and Iranian women persecuted in their countries… Then comes the turn of the pro-Israeli activists, crisscrossed by men dressed all in black and masked to avoid being recognizable. They provide security. “Quickly, online,” one of them shouts. Around, a group of young pro-Palestinian women try to slip into the crowd. And there, the demonstrators who usually stand together during this event, become fractured. In this cacophony, it is the camp that will shout the loudest. “Zionists, fascists, you are not feminists”, we insist on one side. Opposite, the response bursts out: “Hamas, rapists, we see you.” Faces frown, anger is visible on both camps. The rhythm of the drums from the “Action Against Hunger” association just in front suddenly seems so distant.

For an hour, we stand together. “It horrifies me!” exclaims a fifty-year-old brandishing the Palestinian flag. “They are not used to demonstrating, they come with hooded men, it’s not normal. I have been demonstrating for ten years, I have never seen that!” Tension escalates. “Look at the feminists today! They attack old ladies,” shouts a demonstrator from the pro-Israeli procession, facing another who defends Palestine. The altercation ends with middle fingers and insults. Around, the same scenes occur.

Wouldn’t they have liked to parade together, hand in hand? Both sides shake their heads. This is a point on which they agree.

The sisterhood is no more. Slogans in favor of women turn to war. The men – young and older – wearing Palestinian keffiyehs around the neck, also interfere and clash with those from security. A kilometer from the end of the march, this bubble of tension explodes with glass bottles on the ground and tear gas bombs in the air. After the clashes, the procession of women defending the Israeli hostages and victims of October 7 branched off into another street, this time surrounded by the CRS, who had intervened in the meantime. Under the coughing of women with the Palestinian flag. In the distance, an activist who had been standing aside sneaks in, brandishing a sign: “Solidarity with women around the world.” Not sure the message is being heard yet.

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