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512 Feminist Studies 45, no. 2/3. © 2019 by Feminist Studies, Inc. Sarah Ihmoud Murabata: The Politics of Staying in Place Making my way from the Muslim quarter to the Al-Aqsa compound , known throughout the Muslim world as Al Haram al-Sharif (the noble sanctuary), the streets are empty but for the children—Palestinian and Jewish—walking to school.1 The Jewish children travel in groups under the protection of private settler security agents, who herd them through the winding pathways of the Old City streets, a rifle casually slung over a shoulder or a handgun barely concealed under a t-shirt. The Palestinian children walk alone. They are on their way to segregated schools. I stand watching their paths cross at the entrance to the Souq Al-Attareen, under the purview of five security cameras. The gate to the compound is guarded by two Israeli soldiers. As I approach, one of them motions towards me with a single word: “Huwiyyah” (ID in Arabic). I hand him my US passport. “Where is your Jerusalem ID?” he asks. “I don’t have one,” I reply, motioning to the Israeli tourist visa that expires in a month’s time. He mutters something into his radio, and after a few minutes of studying my documents, waves me through: “Ok, you can go, but you leave this with me.” I am uneasy with the thought of leaving my passport with this man but have no other choice. In return, 1. Throughout this paper, women sometimes refer to Al-Aqsa mosque, Al-Aqsa compound, and Al Haram al-Sharif interchangeably. The mosque is the central site of religious worship within the grounds of the compound. Sarah Ihmoud 513 he hands me a slip of paper with a number on it. “Open your bag,” he demands, and searches my belongings. Entering the Haram is an immediate respite from the crowded Old City. Whether this is your first visit or your hundredth, you are at once struck by the bountiful open space—35 acres of gardens, fountains, and buildings; a center of Islamic worship and learning for nearly fourteen centuries; the elegant splendor of the Dome of the Rock sparkling in the early morning light. I text my contact with the Murabitat al-Haram, a group of women who see themselves as protectors of the holy grounds, and she asks me to meet her just outside the mosque. After telling her what I am wearing so that she can recognize me, I make my way there. It is early in the morning, but groups of Palestinian women and men are already gathered, sitting in circles and drinking coffee, joking, reading the Quran, and socializing throughout the abundant space. Children run after each other, playing hide and seek on their way to the school that sits inside the grounds of the compound. The smell of tear gas lingers in the air, a reminder of the military incursion into the mosque that had happened just a few hours earlier. It ended in a standoff between Palestinian youth, who barricaded themselves inside the mosque, and Israeli soldiers, who broke windows and shot canisters inside the holy grounds. This article seeks to understand the subjectivity and political praxis of the Murabitat al-Haram, a group of Palestinian women that was formally outlawed by the Israeli state in September 2015. The murabitat are a collective of women, young and old, who travel to the Haram each day to gather, pray, study together, and defend the holy grounds from Israeli incursions and deepening settler control. Drawing on the voices and experiences of the murabitat, I argue that Palestinian women’s daily experiences with state violence reveal the gendered and sexualized order of power that structures relations between colonizer and colonized. At the same time, I analyze the collective’s praxis of murabata—the act of staying in place and defending sacred space—as one in a constellation of underexplored and undertheorized strategies of Palestinian feminist resistance, world-making and belonging. In doing so, I center Indigenous women’s marginal position as a site of privilege for other kinds 514 Sarah Ihmoud of knowing.2 Centering the oppositional knowledges forged by women reveals...

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