Suad Amiry Presents No Sex in the City, 10 October 2007
Suad Amiry Speaks at the Casa Internazionale delle Donne, Roma. January 2009
Suad Amiry, Public Lecture, UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, 8 April 2008
Excerpt from Ines Gramigna and Virginia Fiume, “Portrait of a Lady: Encounter with Suad Amiry” (Alternative Information Center, 26 August 2009) / “Ritratto di signora: incontro con Suad Amiry” (Peace Reporter, 28 August 2009):
Through the memories of different Palestinian activists of the PLO, who had reached the 50s of their lives, Suad Amiry wrote with her usual irony the story of Palestine. She admits that she tried to “compare the menopausal situation of these women and the condition of the PLO. All my women friends went through menopause and lived that as a moment for analyzing what we did in our life. Sex is very symbolic: a woman in menopause faces the loss of sexual strength, the PLO and Fatah had lost their power. No Sex in the City means that, with Hamas’ victory, Palestinian society risks becoming very conservative. The novel is a play with women and Palestine, Fatah and Hamas.”
And so, finally, we end up speaking about women and politics. In the past months we often heard the sentence: “Between the 1970s and now, the role of women has changed in Palestine, and, anyway, we have to deal first with the Israeli occupation and then we will handle civil rights.” We couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask Suad about her idea on the topic. Her analysis was clear and deep, as are all of her answers: “For a long time, the agenda of women was political. I mean that during the 1970s and the 1980s, activity for the liberation of women was connected with the national struggle. In the leftist parties (Popular Front, Democratic Front, and Communist Party) there were more women in positions of leadership. And the process of liberation was natural: if you leave your home, you go to Beirut to join the PLO, you live and travel on your own and a mission is given to you, maybe in southern Lebanon, and of course you are liberated.” According to Suad’s experience, it is in the 1990s that the political agenda transformed itself in a “women agenda.” “Now Palestinian women are more similar to Italian women, at least those who come from big towns, if you take into account the standard of living, education and exposure. If you take someone from a conservative village in Hebron and give her the same opportunity of traveling and education, you will have the same kind of experience.”
Speaking about the evolution (or involution) of the political role of Palestinian women, Suad identifies a vacuum: “The new generation of women is more qualified, but they don’t have much interest in the general theme. I know that the PLO gets upset when I say so, but I think that Hamas is filling the vacuum. Hamas is the 1972 PLO now, except that they are religious. We had Marx and Mao Zedong as sources of inspiration, they have God. Anyway I think we are living in the end of the era of political parties: everybody talks about Hamas, while the Democratic Front, the Popular Front and the Communists are not any more a subject of conversation. Until new parties and new movements (also a new women movement) will come out, I see the Left as being very scattered.”
Suad Amiry is a Palestinian writer and architect. She is the director of the Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation. (Riwaq is currently working on a project titled “A Geography: 50 Villages,” which will be presented in October 2009 at the Venice Biennale.) She participated in the 1991-1993 Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and later served as the Assistant Deputy Minister and Director General of the Ministry of Culture in Palestine. In 2006 she was appointed Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Birzeit University. Her book Sharon and My Mother-in-Law has been translated into 17 languages and was awarded the prestigious Viareggio Prize in 2004. Her second book was No Sex in the City. Her next book, which is scheduled to come out in Italian in September, is Murad Murad: an account of an 18-hour trip she took, disguised as a male laborer, in the company of Palestinian workers struggling to get work in Israel. Amiry lives in Ramallah with her husband, sociologist and political activist Salim Tamari.