The Truth-Teller's Gulag

The price is high, but the cost of remaining silent far exceeds the left's swift punishments for telling the truth.

Prof. Phyllis Chesler

OpEds Prof. Phyllis Chesler
Prof. Phyllis Chesler
Joan Roth

One always pays a price for telling the truth—especially about anti-Semitism, Israel, and radical Islam.  

Our allies in Muslim countries have been jailed, tortured, and executed. Such truth-tellers who live in the West, often write under pseudonyms, live in hiding or in exile, and with round-the-clock protection. They are demonized as racists, death-threatened, sued into poverty.

I am an intellectual and a writer and I live in the West. I have not been physically beaten, imprisoned, or tortured, nor have my books been burned. However, I have been cast into a peculiar kind of Gulag. After a long and successful career, my work—both past and current—has been “disappeared” by those who once praised it.  

My earned credibility and economic health have been seriously compromised so that I cannot be the kind of effective advocate for Israel and the Judeo-Christian West that I believe this struggle requires. This is equivalent to having both arms tied behind your back every single day as you engage in the battle of ideas upon which civilizations rise or fall.

At the turn of the 21st century, I saw that a “slow motion Holocaust” was taking place in Israel—a Holocaust that remained invisible to most of the world. While Israeli civilians were being blown up in cafes, nightclubs, hotels, buses, and supermarkets, I began writing around the clock. I wrote that anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism; and that a “perfect storm” was underway, coming to Israel and the West from the Islamic world which had, for centuries, persecuted, murdered, taxed, and exiled Jews—a world with which politically correct westerners were now allied.

I published The New Anti-Semitism in 2003. It was as if I had not spoken—but paradoxically, oddly, my words were treated as “traitorous.”

For the first time in my career, the mass media was not interested in reviewing this work or in interviewing me. This was a new experience for me. 

I was immediately attacked as a war-monger and a racist.

A professional psychology listserv group where my work was formerly revered allowed a graduate student to rant against me and Israel without silencing her.

I was purged from a Left-feminist listserv group and called a “Zionist bitch.” I had known many of these women since the late 1960s.

The president of a national feminist organization ordered me to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times recanting my views—or else, “I would be destroyed.”

The president of a national feminist organization ordered me to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times recanting my views—or else, “I would be destroyed.”
Left-feminists, including Katha Pollitt of Nation magazine, tried to persuade New York State NOW to dis-invite me as a keynote speaker because I was a “racist” and a “conservative.” To its credit, NOW resisted and gave me this correspondence.

I lost life-long political allies and cherished friends. More important: I was not invited to speak at feminist conferences and social events. I was dis-invited by Cambridge University. I often needed police protection on campus. My 21st century work on honor-based violence and honor killing was mocked.

Author Bruce Bawer told me that when my work was mentioned at the National Women’s Studies Association conference sarcasm, jeers, and laughter accompanied the mention. This Association’s 2014 annual meeting invited Angela Davis, Dr. Islah Jad of Birzeit University, and Rebecca Vilkomerson (Jewish Voice for Peace) as their keynote pseudo-feminist speakers to pontificate about…Palestine.

This problem was much bigger than a feminist problem. For example, there was the ADL.

In 2003, I was invited—then disinvited—by the ADL because, I was told, they viewed me as the “enemy competition.” (Abe Foxman was about to publish a book about anti-Semitism some months after mine—a book that missed the boat completely.)

On a panel at Columbia University, one of his right hand men, Ken Jacobson, publicly mocked me as a “Jewish Cassandra.” The man did not know his classics! (Her warnings were not heeded and Troy was burned to the ground).

A lecture I had in Detroit was cancelled at the last minute because Foxman had just booked the largest hall in the city to speak on the same day at the same time on the same subject—and when I called his office to suggest that we speak together and give all the money to Israel—he never returned my calls.

I did not speak in Detroit.

I was not invited to speak by liberal synagogues (including my own former synagogue), Jewish Museums, large Jewish organizations, and by the places that had previously welcomed me. This included groups that I myself had co-founded.

I was seen as “too Jewish” (they meant “politically incorrect”), “too conservative,” an “Islamophobe”—a Zionist, and therefore a traitor to the cause of human and women’s freedom. Really, who could make this up?

Those in the West who benefited from free speech, women’s rights, gay rights, and freedom of religion were defending or at least refusing to criticize the utter absence of such rights in the Muslim world. They focused “disproportionately” on Israel alone and condemned her.

However, my work was respectfully reviewed at conservative media venues. Conservatives—not liberals, not feminists—featured and supported my work on Israel, anti-Semitism, and Jihad as well as on honor-based violence and honor killing.  

As a feminist, I agree with many conservatives on many issues: the superiority of Western civilizational values; the inferiority of Islamic cultures (not Muslim individuals); the fact that Western civilization is being attacked from within by its own intelligentsia; and the clear and present danger of Islamist fundamentalism, totalitarianism, jihad, and barbarism.

I decry the free speech protection being given to Big Lies, including anti-Jewish and anti-Christian hate speech—coupled with the condemnation of truth-telling about Islam as “hate speech.” I know that Israel is the symbol for the Western commitment to individual, human, and women’s rights, religious freedom, the right of dissent, and the rule of law.

Thus, by 2003, I proudly began publishing articles in Orthodox Jewish and conservative media outlets. I wrote for Israel National News and the Jewish Press as well as for FrontpageFox NewsPJMediaMiddle East Quarterly, and Breitbart.

Such is the relatively small cost, in my case, for speaking out on behalf of my people, my country, and my ideals. But what is the cost of remaining silent? Isn’t it obvious, don’t we already know it? Evil always triumphs when good people do not oppose it.

The failure to defeat barbarism and tyranny always means more suffering, more deaths, more despair, a deeper cynicism.

Evil triumphs when good people do not stand against it.

It is as simple as that.