Thursday, September 15, 2011

Needed: A Leader in the White House

From BESA Center PerspectivesPaper No. 149, September 13, 2011, by Prof. Eytan Gilboa*:

  • The cornerstones of US President Barack Obama's Middle East strategy have collapsed. 
  • Turkey, once an exemplar moderate Islamic democracy, and Egypt, once an exemplar stable and moderate Arab power, have become increasingly unreliable allies. 
  • The lack of leadership and clear policy principles evinced by the Obama White House have severely weakened America's position in the Middle East, leaving a void to be filled by hostile regional powers such as Iran.

In April 2009, during his first official visit overseas, US President Barak Obama delivered a historical speech before the Turkish parliament in Ankara. Two months later, he delivered a similar speech at Cairo University. These visits and speeches marked a sharp turn-about in America's Middle East strategy. Obama vowed to replace military might with soft power and diplomacy; to reconcile with the Arab and Muslim world; to conduct effective negotiations with enemies; and thus to bolster America's position in the Middle East.

The Cornerstones of Obama's Doctrine: Turkey and Egypt

Ironically, the latest changes in Ankara's regional strategy and the upheavals in Cairo clearly demonstrate the total failure of Obama's plan, as his two doctrinal cornerstones have collapsed.

The US viewed Turkey as a model for a moderate, pro-Western, Islamic democracy, worthy of emulation by the authoritarian Arab states. Obama also saw in Turkey a promising ground for his new strategy, which distinguished between fundamentalist-extremist Islam, such as Al-Qaeda, against which an all-out war should be conducted, and moderate Islam, such as the Turkish model, with which one should strive to cooperate. Mubarak's Egypt seemed an island of regime stability, a moderate regional superpower, pro-American and peace-seeking by virtue of the example it set for the Arab world when it signed the first Israeli-Arab peace agreement.

The fall of Mubarak's regime is, in part, a result of Obama's back stabbing. The transitional military government displays great ineptitude and operates, for the most part, at the behest of the radical street. The prevailing Egyptian anarchy enabled the severe Palestinian attack on Israelis along the Egyptian-Israeli border and the attacks on the Israeli embassy in Cairo. It is likely that the forthcoming elections will greatly increase the influence of the radical Muslim Brotherhood on Egypt's domestic and foreign affairs.

The Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, reached through dramatic US mediation, is in jeopardy. The US, which gives Egypt on average $2 billion in annual aid, stands helpless. Any hope for the establishment of a stable, democratic regime has evaporated. Instead, the US strives to minimize damages by cooperating with the Muslim Brotherhood. Such cooperation, however, is doomed to fail. A similar plan collapsed in Iran in 1979. Prior to Khomeini's rise to power, the aides of then US President Jimmy Carter naively thought that if they assisted the toppling of the Shah's regime and negotiated with Khomeini's people, they could establish friendly relations with the new government in Tehran. While the reverse outcome of this deluded policy is well known, it seems that present policy-makers in Washington have not learned from this experience.

Collapse of the Turkish Model

Over the last year, Turkey has become more Islamic and aggressive, and less democratic and cooperative with the US. The Turkish model of moderate Islamic democracy has become unreliable. Prime Minister Erdogan has systematically violated basic civil rights. He imprisoned journalists of whom he did not approve, appointed judges who were loyal to his party and creed, and deposed and imprisoned military officers whom he suspected of disloyalty. Erdogan conducts himself in the region as the local thug: Enabling the deterioration of relations with Israel, supporting radical Islamist groups and movements, and threatening to use force conflict with Western interests, particularly those of the US.

In the era of uprisings in the Arab world and among demands by the masses for democratization, the Turkish model no longer represents a recipe for genuine democracy. In contrast to Obama's perspective, the Turkish regime represents a real danger in its potential to serve as a bad example, both in domestic and foreign affairs, to Islamic regimes that could replace authoritarian regimes which have fallen or are about to fall. Despite this, Washington still perceives Erdogan as a moderate Islamic partner.

Toward an "Islamic Winter"

Obama's appeasement strategy has been perceived by the Arab and Islamic world as an exploitable weakness. The endless, failing and costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the severe economic crisis, have increased the feeling in the region that the US is on the decline and its influence is limited. America's frenetic and inconsistent policy vis-à-vis the recent uprisings in many Arab states has only added to the lack of faith in US leadership and resolve.

Between Ankara and Cairo, American diplomacy has lost its influence. Obama failed to halt the Iranian race for nuclear weapons; he failed to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table and to foil their plan to obtain a UN resolution for the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders; and finally, he has failed to mediate a compromise between Turkey and Israel based on the Palmer Report on the flotilla to Gaza. Had there been a strong, determined leader at the helm in Washington, it is doubtful that Erdogan would have adopted such a hostile and belligerent policy toward Israel. It is just as doubtful whether Mahmoud Abbas would have ignored the US and bypassed negotiations with Israel by going to the UN.

With all the whisperings over America's weakness, it is unsurprising that players like Iran and Turkey are looking to fill the vacuum left in its place – to become regional powers with global influence. One should not be overly impressed by US pressures on Egypt to extricate Israeli security personnel from the embassy in Cairo, or from US criticism of Erdogan's threats to send battleships to escort future flotillas to Gaza. A strong and deterring United States would not have needed to take such steps. These actions do not display leadership and determination, which are still missing from Obama's White House.

All signs indicate that prior to the birth of an "Arab spring," the Middle East is likely to first experience an "Islamic winter." Such an outcome would severely challenge the US, the West and Israel.

When the US is perceived as strong, so are its allies, like Israel, and when it is perceived as weak, its allies weaken as well. Perhaps a new US president, who may be elected one year from now, will be able to restore the US to its former might and influence. In the meantime, Israel must contend with a hostile Arab and international public opinion and a declining United States.

*Prof. Eytan Gilboa, an expert on US foreign policy, is Director of the School of Communication and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, both at Bar-Ilan University.

Ramadan in the Palestinian Authority - A time for glorifying terror

From PMW, 14 Sept 2011, by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik:

During the month of Ramadan, the Palestinian Authority made a special effort to honor Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel.

The Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, stepped up his honorary visits to the homes of families of prisoners. Likewise, the two programs on PA TV for and about prisoners were broadcast every day as opposed to the usual twice weekly. Many of the prisoners glorified by PA TV, the minister and other PA officials are terrorists imprisoned for murdering Israeli civilians in terror attacks.

The PA TV program In a Fighter's Home, which honors prisoners with visits to their families' homes, chose to glorify, among others, terrorist prisoners Anas Jaradat, who headed the Islamic Jihad in Jenin and was responsible for 3 car bombings in Israel, causing the death of dozens; Ahlam Tamimi and Muhammad Wael Daghlas, both accomplices of the suicide bomber who attacked the Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem in August 2001, killing 15 people, 7 of them children; and Yasser Al-Sharbati who was involved in planning a suicide bombing in Jerusalem. (For complete translations, see below.)

Terrorist Anas Jaradat was glorified further when a Fatah official referred to him as "the heroic Jihad-fighter prisoner Anas Jaradat" and said the following:  

"What Anas and all the heroic prisoners did is a glorious deed (i.e., 3 car bombings), a badge of honor for him, for his family... for our Palestinian people, and for all the free and noble people of our nation."

Terrorist Al-Sharbati was also honored when District Governor of Hebron, Kamel Hamid, awarded his family a gift from PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and conveyed his greetings during a visit at which the Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, was also present.

The PA TV program For You honored terrorist prisoner Salim Hajja, calling him the "heroic fighter prisoner" and included words of praise by his mother-in-law who stated how "proud" she is, and his son who said: "Daddy is a hero. I am very proud of him." Salim Hajja is serving 16 life sentences for involvement in three suicide bombings; the bombing of a night club, the Dolphinarium, in June 2001 in which 21 people were killed and 120 wounded; the Sbarro restaurant bombing in Aug. 2001 in which 15 people were killed and over 100 wounded; and a suicide bombing of a bus in Haifa in Dec. 2001 in which 15 were killed and 40 wounded. (For complete translations, see below.)

Dead terrorists, in PA terminology "Martyrs," were also honored during the Ramadan. A special representative of President Mahmoud Abbas laid a wreath on the grave of Amin Al-Hindi, who was one of the senior planners of the murders of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Speaking at the event, Abbas' representative said: 
"Al-Hindi left us early. From the time he joined the ranks of the Palestinian revolution in 1962, he was a pinnacle of giving... We shall not forget him; we had hoped that he would be at our side on our difficult path..."

The article in the official PA daily further mentioned that Al-Hindi was "directly connected to the Munich operation of 1972."

The PA TV program The Best Mothers chose to visit the mother of Darin Abu Aisheh, a suicide bomber who blew herself up at a roadblock in 2002, wounding three Israelis, as well as the mother of bomb maker Yusuf Shaker Al-Asi from Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

PA TV is directly under the control of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' office.

Click to view PMW report From Terrorists to Role Models

The following are these and more examples of the PA's honoring of terrorist prisoners and "Martyrs" during the Ramadan (chronologically as they appeared):

PA TV program In a Fighter's Home visited the home of prisoner Amer Abu Sarhan, convicted of stabbing 3 Israelis to death in 1990. 
PA TV host: "Welcome, dear viewers, to this episode about the heroic prisoner Amer Abu Sarhan from Al-Abidia."  
District Governor of Bethlehem, Abd Al-Fattah Hamayel: "I'm glad to be in this thriving home, home of the father of the heroic prisoner, Amer Abu Sarhan. We honor him greatly through you [PA TV]. To all his fellow prisoners -- the brave and heroic who are resolute in Ribat [religious conflict] -- to the glorious female prisoners in the occupation's prisons -- we salute you and express our utmost appreciation and pride."
[PA TV (Fatah), Aug. 2, 2011]

PA TV program The Best Mothers interviewed the mother of a bomb maker from Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, named Yusuf Shaker Al-Asi. PA TV included in the edited feature a poem and a poster of the bomb maker with an inscription praising Martyrdom for Allah: 

Mother: "People always told me, 'Marry him off, so he will bring you happiness.'
I said to him (my son), 'I want to marry you off.'
He said, 'Are you laughing at me? Just one wife?'
I asked him, 'What do you want? Four, according to [Islamic] tradition?'
He said: 'I won't rest until I have 70 [wives].'
'I want 70', he told me."

Photograph of Al-Asi shown, with inscription: "Allah, before we die we ask Your forgiveness, and when we die - Shahada (death for Allah), and after death - Paradise, Master of the world." (One of many versions of popular Islamic/Muslim prayer.)

Poem displayed: "Do not weep and do not be upset; be most patient in a most beautiful way...
Don't think that I am dead when I die as a Shahid; rather, I have truly achieved a good life... I am living well in my Paradise... Oh mother, how beautiful Paradise is! There are dark-eyed [virgins]... Life is precious, but for the Shahid it is like a seed... There I shall remain with goodness forever... So be happy, smile and rejoice."
[PA TV (Fatah), Aug. 2, 2011]

PA TV program In a Fighter's Home visited the home of prisoner Anas Jaradat. Jaradat headed the Islamic Jihad in Jenin and was responsible for 3 car bombings in Israel, causing the death of dozens. He is serving 35 life sentences.
Father: "I send greetings to [my son] Anas, who is a real hero. When I say 'hero' I recall all the actions which he carried out. (i.e., 3 car bombings) He is a hero in the full sense of the word. The reports that we hear confirm his heroism."  
Father begins to cry 
PA TV Host: "You are the hero's father. We don't want to see the hero's father cry." 
Secretary of the Fatah branch in Jenin, Ata Abu Ramila: "We say to brother Anas - the heroic Jihad-fighter prisoner Anas Jaradat - and to all the heroic prisoners: ... What Anas and all the heroic prisoners did is a glorious deed (i.e., 3 car bombings), a badge of honor for him, for his family... for our Palestinian people, and for all the free and noble people of our nation. The occupation (i.e., Isrel) will pass away, Allah willing. The occupation will pass away only through the pure blood which has poured from our courageous Martyrs, and through the suffering of our heroic prisoners, first among them this heroic prisoner, Anas Jaradat."
[PA TV (Fatah), Aug. 3, 2011]

PA TV program The Best Mothers chose to visit the mother of Darin Abu Aisheh, a suicide bomber who blew herself up at a roadblock in 2002, wounding three Israelis. PA TV focused on a poster of the terrorist displayed in the mother's home with the following text and Quran quote: 

"Fight them, and Allah will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame, help you (to victory) over them, heal the breasts of Believers" [Quran 14, 9]
[Quran translation from the Yusufali
"The Palestinian National Liberation Movement - Fatah - Beit Wazan branch is happy to announce [the death of] the heroic Martyrdom-seeker, Darin Muhammad Tawfiq Abu Aisheh Member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades"

The mother spoke with pride of how she received the news of her daughter's death, seeing it as her wedding: 
"I didn't scream, even my scarf stayed on my head. Everyone came.
Everyone heard what happened... I was sitting and started to sing to her.
I said, 'It's the night before your wedding, Darin, and we won't see you anymore, my daughter.' People around me said, 'Allah be with you.'
I said, 'I haven't gone mad, I'm not crazy. I want to sing, Darin is a bride.'"
[PA TV (Fatah), Aug. 3, 2011]

Headline: "District Governor of Hebron awards a gift from the president to family of prisoner Al-Sharbati and visits released prisoners" 
"District Governor of Hebron, Kamel Hamid, awarded a gift from the president to the Al-Sharbati family, four of whose members are prisoners in the occupation's (i.e., Israel's) prisons. This was while he participated in a meal, breaking the [Ramadan] fast with the family of prisoner Yasser Al-Sharbati, in the presence of the Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake... During his meeting with the prisoner's family, the district governor emphasized that the issue of the prisoners is a central one, and one of the fundamental principles, and that it is a priority for the Palestinian leadership. He conveyed greetings from President Mahmoud Abbas."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 8, 2011]

Al-Sharbati was a senior member of Tanzim, a military wing of Fatah, and was involved in planning a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

PA TV program In a Fighter's Home also honored terrorist prisoner Yasser Al-Sharbati, by visiting his family together with the PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, and District Governor of Hebron, Kamel Hamid. 
[PA TV (Fatah), Aug. 15, 2011]

PA TV program In a Fighter's Home decided to honor two terrorists serving multiple life sentences for murder while visiting the family home of one of them:
Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi led a suicide bomber to his attack at the Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem in August 2001. 15 people were murdered in the attack, 7 of them children. She is serving 16 life sentences.
Muhammad Wael Daghlas planned the attack and sent the suicide bomber, and is serving 15 life sentences. 
During the visit, the PA TV host decided to send special greetings and praise to Ahlam Tamimi: 

"We, [at] the program In a Fighter's Home, send best wishes of loyalty to Ahlam Tamimi. We wish her freedom - she and [the rest of] our glorious female prisoners. Special wishes to you, Ahlam, from the program In a Fighter's Home and from the program team, from the home of the heroic fighter prisoner, Muhammad [Wael Daghlas]. You both belong to the same group."
[PA TV (Fatah), Aug. 10, 2011]

PA TV program For You honored terrorist prisoner Salim Hajja, by visiting his family. Salim Hajja is serving 16 life sentences for involvement in three suicide bombings; the bombing of a night club, the Dolphinarium, in June 2001 in which 21 killed and 120 wounded; the Sbarro restaurant bombing in Aug. 2001 in which 15 people were killed and over 100 wounded; and a suicide bombing of a bus in Haifa in Dec. 2001 in which 15 were killed and 40 wounded.
PA TV host: "Well, come along with us, our prisoner brothers, for a visit to the family of the heroic fighter prisoner, of course - Salim Hajja, and I want to greet his father, his mother Taibe, his brother Mustafa, the whole family, his wife and his son, and of course you, Mustafa (i.e., she means Salim). Allah willing you will live a free life - you, your son, your wife and your family, in a normal way, like the other families in the world and in this country. Allah willing." 
Prisoner's mother-in-law: "Praise to Allah... Omar [son of Salim] will follow in your (Salim's) footsteps, and praise to Allah he will be a hero like you, Allah willing. As Allah lives, I am proud of you, that you are the husband of my daughter. I swear to Allah - I am proud of you. My daughter's husband. I hold my head up high when someone says to me that my son-in-law is a prisoner. ... Inside, I am proud of him, that he is my son-in-law."
Prisoner's son: "Daddy is a hero. I am very proud of him."
[PA TV (Fatah), Aug. 11, 2011]

PA TV program In a Fighter's Home honored terrorist prisoner Rima Daraghmeh by visiting her family together with the PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake. Rima Daraghmeh intended to carry out a suicide bombing and was caught with the explosives at home. She was also involved in enlisting the woman who carried out a suicide bombing in Afula in 2003.
[PA TV (Fatah), Aug. 16, 2011]

"Abdallah Al-Ifranji, special representative of President Mahmoud Abbas, laid a wreath yesterday on the grave of Amin Al-Hindi, 'Abu Fawzi', former commander of the General Intelligence Services, on the first anniversary of his death... He said, 'Al-Hindi left us early. From the time he joined the ranks of the Palestinian revolution in 1962, he was a pinnacle of giving: he was the head of the executive body of the Student Union in Germany, and thereafter the deputy of Shahid Abu Iyad (i.e., one of the founders of Fatah and Head of the Black September terror group. Planned the murder of 11 Israeli athletes in the Munich Olympics in 1972 and the murder of two American diplomats.).' He added, 'We shall not forget him; we had hoped that he would be at our side on our difficult path...' Al-Hindi was born in Gaza in 1940. He worked in Fatah from the time of its establishment, within its security service, and he was directly connected to the Munich operation of 1972. He served as the first head of the PA security services."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 18, 2011]

Amin Al-Hindi was one of the senior planners of the murders of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

PA TV program For You honored prisoners Abd Al-Rahman and Abdallah Al-Wahsh, by visiting their family's home in Jenin.
Abdallah Al-Wahsh was active in Islamic Jihad, which sent a suicide bomber to the Karkur junction in 2002. His attack killed 14 Israeli civilians.
Abd Al-Rahman sentenced to 18 years as a leader of the Jerusalem Brigades, military wing of Islamic Jihad, involved in military operations. 
[PA TV (Fatah), Aug. 18, 2011]

The Truth About the Peace Process

From: DannyAyalon  | Sep 12, 2011:
Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon explains the historical facts relating to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The video explains that the reason there is no successful peace process is because of decades of Palestinian and Arab recalcitrance and the main reason for the conflict is not Israel's presence in the West Bank, but successive Palestinian leaders resistance to Jewish sovereignty.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Response to a Critic

From Feminist Theory, August 2007, by Phyllis Chesler:

I thank the editors for allowing me to comment upon this article by Sunera Thobani, which appears in this issue of Feminist Theory.[1]

Thobani’s article condemns me and two other American feminist scholars (Judith Butler and Zillah Eisenstein) as racially “superior” white women who collaborate with the “imperial imaginary” and with “colonialism.” Thobani also condemns us for daring to present “whiteness” as “vulnerable.” She mocks the alleged “racial paranoia of imperial subjects” (that’s us), claiming that in our work we three experience our own “imperial” aggression as a form of victimization which then allows us to justify the aggression as self-defence.[2]
One might wonder why I am taking the time to respond to this inflammatory article. There are four reasons. First, her diatribe is typical but has rarely been answered in the pages of a feminist academic journal. Second, I could not allow her condemnation of three Jewish feminist theorists to pass unchallenged. Third, I had recently been invited to deliver a keynote address at a distinguished British university as part of an international feminist conference. When I raised questions about security and about the utter absence of kindred spirits, and despite the fact that I had stressed that neither factor would keep me away – I was summarily disinvited. These feminists have invited me to lecture alone at some future date, but not within the context of an international conference. (They were only covering their legal backsides because they never did invite me.) I therefore decided that responding to Thobani might be one way to be “heard” in the UK and in international feminist circles. Finally, I felt it was important to explain how Thobani’s paper (and so many others like it) is the written equivalent of what happens today on campuses when genuine dissent or non-politically correct feminist speech dares appear.

Instead of a respectful hearing what ensues is this: the politically incorrect feminist speaker is peppered with hostile questions, then silenced by boos, catcalls, foot-stamping, and name-calling; she might even be physically menaced. Security might be required. This is hardly an atmosphere in which a free exchange of ideas can occur. Similarly, like the Mearsheimer-Walt[3]and Joan Wallach Scott[4] papers, Thobani’s seemingly sophisticated paper, replete with footnotes, is trying to pass for an academic or even intellectual work. But hers are ideological, not scholarly, views. The attempt to pretend that one is the other is what I have characterized as a new totalitarianism among Western intellectuals.
Thobani’s article is an angry and self-righteous declaration of war. She does not have one positive thing to say about any of our work. Responding to Thobani in kind — with rage and condemnation — gives me no pleasure, for what do we gain? Two warriors growling, slicing the air with paper swords while millions of Third World women and men of diverse skin colors and ethnicities are indeed being tormented and slaughtered — but mainly by other Third World men and women of diverse skin colors and ethnicities — while we do nothing because to intervene or even to acknowledge that this is happening is politically incorrect? (By the way, “white” folk have sorrows too, but enough about that.)

Ethnic Arab Muslims are genocidally slaughtering black African Muslims, Christians, and animists in Darfur; Muslims are blowing each other up when they pray in mosques in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia; Muslim men are shooting down and beheading their own intellectuals and dissidents in unimaginable numbers. According to one compelling source, such numbers far outpace anything the combined American and Israeli forces have done in the last 50 years. The estimated number of Third World Muslim violent deaths at the hands of other Third World Muslims, country by country, vastly exceeds that of Third World Muslim deaths in so-called “white imperial” wars.[5]

Thobani seems to believe in racial purity and therefore in the rights of racially oppressed victims to engage in apocalyptic “resistance.” Thobani is not deterred by the fact that “white” and “colored” skin color are not pure, have no significant scientific basis, and often have different meanings as a function of other variables such as class, caste, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, religion, educational level, marital, national, and immigrant status, birth order, character, destiny, etc. (Haven’t feminist academics said so over and over again?)
Reality does not conform to Thobani’s ideological “imaginary.” The American population (we three “white” feminists are American citizens), the victims of 9/11, the members of the American Armed Forces, and the large number of immigrants to America, including those from Muslim and Third World countries, are not all “white.” As of 2005, over 73 million Americans (or 25 per cent of the population) were “non-white.” An additional 40 million Hispanic-Americans do not identify themselves as either “black” or “white” but as “Latino.”[6] (Latino skin color ranges from white to black.) Also, nearly 36 per cent of American soldiers are “nonwhite” Americans[7] and about 15 per cent of American soldiers are women.[8]  (As of 2010, according to the U.S. Census, 28% of Americans are “nonwhite.” There are now fifty million Hispanics in America too).[9]

Thus, Thobani’s alleged “white” perpetrators are not all white.[10] Nor are the victims of Islamic Holy War all white. However, such real-life distinctions about color do not matter to Thobani. For example, approximately 24 per cent of those murdered in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks were identified as “non-white.”[11] In London, almost one-third of the population (which one assumes uses public transport) identified itself as “nonwhite.”[12] On July 7, 2005, 52 people were murdered and nearly 800 injured by Islamic jihadist attacks on the London transportation systems. France’s 2005 version of the Palestinian intifada against Israel was characterized by nearly two months of rioting, attacks on the police, and car burnings — and by the exceptionally horrific torture of one young North African-Jewish man, the olive-skinned Ilan Halimi (may his memory be for a blessing). Over a three-week period, black African and ethnic Arab North African criminals slowly tortured him to death, while many people came to watch or to participate.[13] One year later, in 2006, this France-based jihad was commemorated by bus and car burnings.[14] I am particularly haunted by the fate of one young, black-skinned, French-African woman who was torched when the bus she was riding on was set on fire.[15] (She turned white.) The rioting arsonists have yet to be tried. Although their ethnicity has, carefully, not been described, I predict that if and when we find out who they are, they will probably not be “white” feminists.

I wonder whether Thobani realizes that all three of her alleged “traitors” are not only major and original feminist theorists and activists but also Jews. In George Orwell’s novel 1984, someone named “Goldstein” is designated as the permanent traitor whom Big Brother denounces for monstrous crimes, thereby brainwashing the masses into extraordinary group hatred against him. Are we meant to be Thobani’s version of “Goldstein”? Does she not understand that Jews come in all colors, and that even when we have white skins we are still not considered “white” but exotic, Oriental, Semitic? (This does not mean that anti-Semitism, or Judeophobia, which is primarily about Jews, is the same as or even analogous to “Islamophobia” which is a false concept of recent vintage and with a different historical trajectory.)

Thobani specializes in the postcolonial work that has increasingly come to dominate what once used to be called feminism or women’s studies. I document this unfortunate, even tragic trend in The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (2005). It is a trend that ultimately justifies an isolationist position vis-à-vis the rights of women and dissidents in the Third World. Westernized Third World feminists and their Western feminist counterparts all refuse to view any formerly colonized culture of “color” as barbaric, even when it is, because all cultures are presumably equal.

Thobani views the cause of women as served only by a Marxist-Stalinist-Islamist critique of Western foreign policy and by virulent anti-Americanism. She does not seem to address any core or burning emergency issues that concern women.

In this paper, Thobani is utterly silent about the international trafficking in women and children (female sexual slavery) that may far exceed all other illegal enterprises. She is also silent about female genital cutting, wife- and daughter-beating, honor murders, forced veiling, purdah (segregation – sequestration), and arranged and polygamous marriage. These barbaric customs are normalized, not criminalized, and they characterize what I term Islamic gender apartheid. These practices also preceded Western imperialism and colonialism.

Thobani is also silent about the high rate of AIDS with which young girls and women are being infected by their male partners (especially in the Third World), and about sexual, reproductive, and physical violence, including incest and within marriage, and about both economic discrimination and rape in general (again, especially in the Third World). She is silent about the repeated public gang-rapes of genitally infibulated girls and women in the Sudan which have been carried out against black African Muslims, Christians, and animists by ethnic Arab Muslims. (In my writing, I have referred to this as “gender cleansing.”) She is silent about the history of Muslim slave traders, about the current black African slave trade among ethnic Arab Muslims, and about the genocide against black Africans being carried out in the Sudan by ethnic Arab Muslims.

What matters to theorists like Thobani is this: she will condemn Third World deaths only if they have been caused by “white” people, but not if those deaths have been caused by Third World people of “color.”

Thobani is perfectly free to criticize, even to demonize the West, in the West, because she is living in a democracy where academic freedom and free speech are (still) taken seriously. Were Thobani to dare criticize the barbarism, misogyny, and despotism of Third World countries, were she to do so in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Bangladesh, or Saudi Arabia (to name only a few such countries), she would be in serious danger of being shot to death in her own home, as happened recently to an Afghan woman journalist, or of being imprisoned, tortured, and murdered. This has happened to many Muslim dissidents and feminists. In 2003, Wajeha Al-Huwaider was barred from publishing in the Saudi Kingdom; in 2006 she was arrested, interrogated, and forced to sign a statement agreeing to cease her human rights activities.[16] Bangladeshi writer Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury had his office bombed, was jailed for two years and is now on trial for his life. His crime? “Praising the Jew and Christians,” “attempting to travel to Israel,” and “predicting the rise of Islamist militancy.” These charges may carry a death sentence.[17] (Guess what? Choudhury has since been exposed as a fraud, a double agent, and as someone who preyed upon Jewish women for their money.)[18]

In The Death of Feminism, I describe what I mean by Islamic religious and gender apartheid in Muslim countries and I document how such customs have penetrated both Europe and North America through immigrant communities. Let me mention two Muslim-world examples that I cite in the book. In 1990, Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam published a carefully rendered account of how, on August 16, 1986, a thirty-five year old woman was stoned to death in a small village in Iran. Soraya was savagely lynched and then stoned to death by the villagers with whom she had lived all her life. Her own father, her two sons, and her husband all threw the first stones.[19] I also describe another incident which took place in July 2001 in Hassi Messaoud, Algeria, in which a mob of three hundred men conducted a three-day pogrom against thirty-nine economically impoverished Algerian women. In his Friday sermons, the local mullah, Amar Taleb, had described these women as “immoral” because they were working for a foreign company. The men tortured, stabbed, mutilated, gang-raped, buried alive, and murdered these women.[20]

Feminists need to acknowledge that this is happening. We need to wrestle with it and take a stand against it. We need to make common cause with Third World and Muslim feminists and dissidents who want to create alliances.
Today, in Muslim countries, after a hundred years of successful Muslim feminist struggle against the veil, Muslim women are being more forcefully and fully veiled. They are being imprisoned, gang-raped, flogged, and in Iran, often hung or stoned to death when they allege rape or run away from unusually cruel and life-threatening families.[21] Honor murders are either increasing or have become more visible. In the fall of 2006, Human Rights Watch published a new report in which they documented that violence against Palestinian women is increasing and that it is primarily due to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the ascent of Hamas.[22]

Increasingly, Muslim women professionals are being warned not to work for women’s rights or are being ordered to veil or to veil more fully. Those who are seen as disobedient are badly beaten, flogged, or murdered. Recently, in the fall of 2006 (the end of Ramadan), perhaps a thousand men conducted a “sexual wilding” in Cairo. They surrounded individual girls and women who were fully veiled, partly veiled, and unveiled, and groped and assaulted them. Individuals tried to help these women — who escaped from the male crowds naked and half-naked. The police refused to make any arrests and the media did not cover it. I and others only learned of this incident because some foreign journalists blogged it — and because one brave

Egyptian woman spoke about it on a live Egyptian television programme.[23]
But worse things happened during Ramadan 2006. In Indonesia, three Christian high school girls were beheaded as a “Ramadan trophy.” Their heads were dumped in plastic bags in their village with a note: “Wanted. 100 more Christian heads.” The man charged with this offense had, it has been reported, decided that beheading Christians would “qualify as an act of Muslim charity.”[24]

My experience in Kabul, Afghanistan, about which I write in The Death of Feminism, was not as a “white” do-gooding “imperialist” but as the wife of a westernized olive-skinned Muslim national. My own experience of Islamic gender and religious apartheid, which included purdah, polygamy, pressure to convert to Islam, normalized Jew hatred, normalized domestic violence, and cruelty towards children, women, and servants, the omnipresent head scarves, chadari (or chador), and the internalization of Islamic fundamentalist values by everyone, including the women who most suffered from such values, taught me that such barbaric gender and religious apartheid is indigenous and that it preceded, and was not caused by, Western capitalism, imperialism, or colonialism. I was in Kabul in 1961 and Afghans were very proud that no one — not even the British — had ever colonized them.

Because I survived and managed to escape from Kabul, I was able to draw some conclusions which, according to Thobani and other multi-cultural relativists, amount to heresy. I no longer romanticize Third World countries or despots as noble victims. Nor do I ascribe evil in the universe only to the West.
Precisely because I am not a racist I am therefore not a multi-cultural relativist; I am a universalist. I believe that human rights are universal and apply to people everywhere. This is not the same as saying that I believe in crusades or conversions or that I blindly support imperialist ventures abroad or that I confuse them with feminist ventures. I have simply decided that Western democratic and secular ideals and (imperfect) practices must be extended universally, that the survival, dignity, and freedom of women and intellectuals depend upon this.

I will not respond to the specific points Thobani raises about my book, The New Anti-Semitism. But, for the record, let me say that she draws highly biased conclusions and quotes from my work only in order to discredit it and in a particularly incendiary way. In doing so, she utterly misinforms the reader.[25]
Thobani writes,
Chesler’s analysis pivots on her reproduction of Muslims as an absolute Other, whose actions cannot be comprehended rationally.
How can this be true since I call for alliances with dissident and feminist Muslims in both recent books and in my articles? There is a difference between “Muslims” and “Islamic, terrorist, fundamentalists.”
Thobani also quotes my description of the pre-cursor to the Durban hate fests, the 1980 United Nations conference in Copenhagen, to prove that I see all Arab or Palestinian (or Iranian goon-squad) women negatively.

Not so. In the paragraph Thobani quotes, I am not describing “Muslim women.” I am describing a Soviet-funded and orchestrated campaign under United Nations auspices to torpedo and hijack a conference that was supposed to be about women. The Soviets trained and used female PLO and Khomeini operatives whose choreographed aggression, hostility, and threatening behaviors do not represent “Muslim women” or Muslim feminists.
Again, let me thank the editors of Feminist Theory for giving me this opportunity to respond. And let me ask them a question: Why are you publishing non-feminist and anti-feminist work in a feminist journal? Is it because the so-called feminist has been born in Tanzania, is a “South Asian” Muslim[26] feminist “of color”[27] and thus, can do no wrong because she is not “white”?


  • Chesler, Phyllis (2005) The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Sahebjam, Freidoune (1994) The Stoning of Soraya M. New York: Arcade Publishing.
  • Solaro, Erin (2005) Women in the Line of Fire. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press.
  • Thobani, Sunera (2007) ‘White Wars: Western Feminisms and the “War on Terror”‘, Feminist Theory 8(2).

[1] I assume that readers have already read through Sunera Thobani’s paper titled ‘White Wars’ and thus will not summarize it here.
[2] Although the published version of Thobani’s article is less personalized than the original version to which I was responding in this paper, she still ignores the fact that I call for Judaeo-Christian alliances with Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents and feminists, and that in my view, the clash is not between civilizations but between civilization and barbarism.
[3] Phyllis Chesler, ‘Academic Anti-Semitism’, National Review, 30 May 2006 [
E2Y2YxZmU3OTQ3ZjZhZDA3MmU=]; Alan Dershowitz, ‘Debunking the Newest – and Oldest – Jewish Conspiracy: A Reply to the Mearsheimer-Walt “Working Paper”‘, Harvard Law School, April 2006 []
[4] Phyllis Chesler et al., ‘The Lamentable Case of Joan Scott’, FrontPage Magazine, 21 February 2006, []
[5] The article from which this information was drawn was written by Ben Dror Yemini for the Israeli newspaper Maariv. The original article can be found at []. This article may be dismissed by anti-Israel fanatics as mere propaganda, but it carefully goes through the history of each country and notes who both the perpetrators and victims were in different wars. I recommend that you read the article and decide for yourself.
[6] 2005 American Community Survey Data Profile Highlights, US Census Bureau. American Factfinder Website [
[7] 2003 Demographics; Profile of the Military Community, Military Family Resource Center. []
[8] See Solaro (2005).
[10] But according to Thobani, all ‘imperial subjects’ have agency and are therefore guilty of collaboration – just as we three theorists allegedly are. The fact that ‘imperial subjects’ are actually non-white does not exempt them. Thus, Thobani cannot argue that American people of ‘color’ are being forced to do their Master’s bidding while American ‘white’ people freely choose to do so.
[11] New York City Health Department, Summary of Vital Statistics 2000 [, 2000],
Special Report: World Trade Center Disaster Deaths, 45.
[12] Office of National Statistics, 2001 Census [, 2001], Key Statistics: London: Ethnic Groups.
[13] Nidra Poller, ‘The Murder of Ilan Halimi’, Wall Street Journal, 26 February 2005, The Opinion Journal []
[14] BBC News, ‘Police Deployed in Paris Suburbs’, BBC News, 27 October 2006, Europe Section []
[15] BBC News, ‘Five Held for Marseille Bus Blaze’, BBC News, 31 October 2006, Europe Section []; Nidra Poller, ‘Burning Buses: “She Was Black but She Looked White, her Skin Was Peeled”‘, Pajamas Media, 3 November 2006 []
[16] Sarah Leah Whitson and Human Rights Watch, Letter to Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, 20 October 2006 []
[17] Bret Stephens, ‘Darkness in Dhaka’, Wall Street Journal, 16 October 2006, The Opinion Journal Global View []; Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, ‘My Day in Court’, Israel Insider, 14 November 2006, Diplomacy, Choudhury Persecution []
[19] Chesler, 2005: 58–9; Sahebjam, 1994.
[20] Chesler, 2005: 187–8.
[21] Phyllis Chesler, ‘Islamic Gender Apartheid’, speech at an American Committee for Democracy in the Middle East Senate Briefing, Washington DC, USA, 14 December 2005.
[22] Human Rights Watch, A Question of Security, Vol. 18, No. 7(E), November 2006 []
[23] Anonymous, translation of ‘Mass Sexual Assault in Downtown Cairo’, ‘Unnecessary, and Not Very Diverting, Musings’, posted 15 November
2006 []; Mona El-Naggar and Michael Slackman, ‘Silence and Fury in Cairo after Sexual Attacks on Women’, New York Times, 15 November 2006, World Section, Africa; BBC News, ‘Cairo Street Crowds Target Women’, BBC News, 1 November 2006, Middle East Section []
[24] Stephen Fitzpatrick, ‘Beheaded Girls were Ramadan Trophies’, The Australian, 9 November 2006, The World [,20867,20726085–2703,00.html]
[25] Thobani’s expanded critique of one of my thirteen books, The New Anti-Semitism, is still very biased. Clearly, she is unaware of my political activism of long duration, beginning in 1973, against the Israeli occupation of disputed territories and she is unaware that I have been a named-plaintiff in a landmark Israeli Supreme Court lawsuit in which I sued the Israeli state on behalf of Jewish women’s religious rights as well. (I co-authored a book about this titled Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism’s Holy Site.) Quite apart from the body of my feminist work, these two facts would suggest that my reading of Israeli morality is nuanced, careful, fair. Alas, historical realities have tempered my original view that if Israel gave back land – as it has given back Gaza – that this would lead to peace and to the acceptance of the Jewish state by Jew-hating and anti-Zionist Muslim nation-states. Events on the ground from 2000–2007 have cured me of that dream and I explain this to some extent in The New Anti-Semitism and again in The Death of Feminism. I have not pronounced feminism ‘dead’; rather, I challenge what often passes for feminism (as this article by Thobani tries to do) and suggest that feminism ought to return to its original concepts of universalism.
Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the author of 14 books and an emerita professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies. She once lived in Kabul, Afghanistan. She may be reached through her website