Op-Ed: What Jonathan Kay Got Wrong
Prof. Phyllis CheslerThe writer, a Fellow of the Middle East Forum and recipient of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has published three studies about honor killing and is at work on a fourth. Her new book, An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan) has just been published to great acclaim. Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com
I disagree with my colleague Jonathan Kay’s recent article “American super-hawks demand to know: ‘Are you Jew enough?’”
First, let me thank him for referring to me as “a feminist-turned anti-Islamist” and not as “anti-Muslim” or as an “Islamophobe.” However, in becoming an “anti-Islamist” I did not check my feminist credentials at the door; my work on honour-based violence, including honour killing among Muslims and Hindus (mainly in India) is pure feminist work. The victims are primarily women of colour, and yes, in the West, they are primarily Muslims.
I am championing their cause just as I have championed the cause of non-Muslim Western women. I work with Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents who share my Enlightenment values, a single universal standard of human rights, and who, like me, have taken a stand against the persecution of girls, women, homosexuals, free thinkers and pro-Israel advocates in the Muslim world.
Second, my good colleague Kay is wrong about the early demise of conspiracy theories and blood libels against the Jews. There are so many late 20th- and early 21st-century varieties: Zionism=Racism, the Mohammed al-Dura blood libel, the Jenin massacre libel, not to mention claims that Israelis are sterilizing the Palestinians, harvesting their organs for profit, and killing babies.
Many people in North America and Europe, as well as in the Muslim world, still believe that the forgery known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a true and accurate picture of Jews. Twenty first century European surveys, media coverage, cartoons, and direct verbal and physical attacks upon European Jews, Jewish Centers, and synagogues all document a rising hatred towards Jews and towards the only Jewish state (which is seen as controlling the world and the media).
And, in 2012, a survey in the United States, found that 35 million American adults (or 15% of the population) believe that “Jews have too much power in the United States” and are “more willing to use shady practices.” More than 70 million American adults believed that American Jews are “more loyal to Israel than to America.”
I don’t know of any surveys that poll Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, or Muslim-Americans on the dual loyalty question.
We also know that Canadian universities sponsor Israel Apartheid Week quite regularly and activists, students and professors call for boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) from one country only: Israel. Not from Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or India where Muslim-on-Muslim, Muslim-on-Christian, and Muslim-on-Hindu violence and real gender and religious apartheid are epidemic.
On Thursday, at Brooklyn College, in New York City, there was yet another hate fest, this time sponsored by an academic department and featuring Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler, who are both strong supporters of BDS. There are no opposing views being presented. Hate speech and falsehoods are now being granted the protection of academic freedom and, in America, the protection of the First Amendment.
Thus, I am worried — and Jonathan Kay should share my concern. Like me, Kay is a feminist and a civil libertarian. However, unlike myself, he is unable and unwilling to see how much anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism (today the two are twinned), is emanating from left-liberals: Western intellectuals, academics, artists, and journalists whose “politically correct” racism i.e. anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism has made common cause with Islamist forces who very clearly desire the extermination of one state only: The Jewish state, and who are at war with women and with Western values.
I welcome the support of Christian Zionists, Evangelicals, and conservatives. I will not mock them merely because we disagree on some other subjects any more than I would mock feminists because we disagree on other burning issues.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I did not label the Shin Bet or the filmmaker of “The Gatekeepers” as “suicidal and traitorous.” I wrote this: “To the extent to which this film is accurate I salute it. To the extent to which it is false, defamatory, biased, exaggerated — I consider it suicidal and traitorous.”
By the way, Kay should know that these Shin Bet heads went public in 2003, not in 2012, and that they are the ones who urged Prime Minister Sharon to pull out of Gaza. Which he did. Israel now has Hamastan and constant rocket barrages on her border. Does Kay believe this is actually good for humanity and for the Jews?