Aitemad Muhanna

Aitemad Muhanna


* Blames Israel for its conflict with Palestinians
* Accuses Israel of human-rights violations
* Gives moral justification to Palestinian terrorism

Aitemad Muhanna is a Palestinian Muslim whose family fled from the Israeli village of Masmeia in 1948 and settled in Gaza’s Shati refugee camp. There, Muhanna attended schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), infamous for their anti-Israel, anti-Semitic teachings.

In the mid-1990s Muhanna became a “development professional,” working with the United Nations Empowerment Project for Women (UNFEM). In this role, she helped establish a shelter and an empowerment project to teach Gazan women the basics of sewing, marketing, and economics, so they could get jobs in the garment industry — formerly a strictly male preserve — and develop some degree of financial independence. Speaking openly about the oppression of women in Palestinian society, Muhanna said: “Women here have lived under social and political violence from the whole society. They cannot go outside because of social tradition. They cannot participate in political activity. Many have lives almost without hope.”

Muhanna’s Project for Women also offered psychological counseling, family intervention, and legal assistance to women suffering from the domestic violence and oppression of Gaza’s male-dominated society. In 1999 Muhanna publicly acknowledged that: “Violence against women in Gaza basically means domestic violence. Women are beaten by their husbands, beaten by their fathers, and even beaten by their brothers…. Other abuses include harsh insults, sexual abuse among family, and marital rape.”

Notwithstanding her willingness to expose the underside of Palestinian culture, Muhanna in recent years has directed her most strident criticisms exclusively at the state of Israel. In March and April 2005, for instance, she criss-crossed the United States in a tour organized by Partners for Peace [PFP], an American anti-Israel group. In this, its ninth annual tour, PFP followed its traditional strategy of featuring three women — a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian, and an Israeli Jew — to present “three perspectives” on the Arab-Israeli conflict. But PFP carefully vetted all applicants to ensure that each of those perspectives agreed that Israel was an oppressor state, guilty of committing the most egregious human-rights violations against the Palestinian people.

To this day, Muhanna continues to lecture widely on the Arab-Israeli conflict. While expressing a desire to see Palestinians and Israelis “live as two equal nations cooperating together rather than fighting against each other,” she blames only Israel for the hostility and violence in the region. Most notably, she routinely fails to provide context for Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. For example, when Muhanna lamented the fact that Israel had taken strong security measures in the Shati refugee camp where she resided, she did not mention that Hamas had transformed the camp into a veritable terrorist stronghold.

Muhanna justifies Hamas’ violence (including suicide bombings) as an understandable reaction to the suffering caused by the Israeli “occupation.” “It’s the atmosphere, particularly the TV news, that pushes [Palestinian] people to participate” in such violence, she says.

In 2001 Muhanna attributed the Second Intifada, which was then raging, to the fact that Palestinians “are seeking for [sic] a dignity and an identity.” In the course of her musings, she stated that the “martyrs” brought “honor” to their families.

Portions of this profile are adapted, with permission, from

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