Complements or Alternatives?

Women’s Associations and Arab Palestinian Political Parties in Israel
By Élisabeth Marteu

The study of women’s mobilization in Israel/ Palestine highlights complex relationship between gender and nationalist struggles. Relations between Arab women’s organizations and Arab political parties in Israel reveal a multiplicity of forms of cooperation, autonomization and tensions between those two spheres of involvement. In analysing the evolution of those relations since 1948, this article underlines how feminist and women’s organizations relate differently to the concepts of politics and the political. Often originating from communist and nationalist movements, some women leaders perceive associations as professional alternatives to conventional politics and an autonomous space for the politicization of gender issues. Their militant careers reveal a conflict between professional legitimacy and partisan closeness. On the contrary, Islamic women’s organizations continue to work under the leadership of the political movement through developing a non-militant social discourse. By articulating the study of relations with political parties and the perception of women activists regarding the concepts of politics and the political, this research points out the mobility and porosity of borders between women’s organizations and the partisan sphere.


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