Category Archives: feminism

How Academics think about Freedom of Speech: Fisking the Email that Killed Phyllis Chesler’s Talk on Shame-Murders

In preparing an article on how Phyllis Chesler, one of the few scholars and feminists to tackle the problem of honor-killings/shame murders in the Muslim world (and elsewhere, eg, Hindus in India, Sikhs to a much lesser extent everywhere), got disinvited from a conference on the subject of honor-killings, I managed to get a hold of the email that nixed her invitation. Written by three professors from the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at University of Arkansas: Joel Gordon (History, author of email), Ted Swedenburg (Anthropology), and Mohja Kahf (Comparative Literature), it addressed Thomas Paradise, the Head of the King Fahd Center.

The letter is deeply embarrassing to its signers in its stupefying polemic, its craven reasoning, and its complete disregard for academic integrity. My guess (hope) is that its authors will object to its being made public in much the same way that “professors” of Middle Eastern Studies object to having their talks and class lectures made public.

UPDATE: Tom Paradise has been suspended as a result of his canceling Chesler’s participation, and the brave people who scuttled her are busy scrambling to get out of the hot seat. Ted Swedenburg told a journalist:

We did not call for her to be disinvited and how that happened, I don’t really know, because none of the three of us were a party to that discussion.

You be the judge of whether the letter quoted below reflects this disavowal.

NB: issue of terminology. “Honor-killing” is a supposedly neutral term that does not judge. Instead, I think, it enables, using “to kill” where, by any standards of modern democracy, these are murders. My use of “shame-murders” not only identifies the act as murder, but makes it clear that this is not restoring family honor – what family is honored by killing its daughter? – but rather it is a grotesque and criminal way of trying to wipe out shame.

Below, a fisking of this McCarthyite letter attempting to ban a major researcher on the basis of a dogmatic and anti-intellectual ideology.

Dear Tom:

It has come to our attention that MEST is co-sponsoring Phyllis Chesler to lecture via Skype at the University of Arkansas Law School’s symposium about honor killings on 14 April 2017. 

Chesler’s writings frequently feature on the ultra-right Breitbart forum as well as many other right-wing platforms.

“Right-wing” is thus, by definition, not acceptable. Merely the use of the term in describing someone renders that person unpresentable, outside of the realm of acceptable speech.

Sand Storm helped me work on a 50-year old puzzle: Predestination

I went last night to the Jerusalem Cinematheque for a screening of Sand Storm by Elite Zexer, sponsored by the Times of Israel. The film is superb, a testament to the enormous talent and empathy of the director, right up there with Footnote and To Fill the Void for movies that penetrate into seemingly alien cultures and yet touch on deep human dilemmas, leaving the viewer with a brilliant “end” that is not an end.

In her excellent conversation with Jessica Steinberg that followed, Zexer made the interesting point that she did not want it to be an “anthropological” film that depicted this foreign culture in all its strangeness, and she certainly succeeded. There was no heavy-handed allusions to (my favorite topic) honor-shame cultures, and the kinds of pressures it puts on the members of the tribe, even though the entire drama revolves around a classic honor-issue: whom does a daughter marry – the youth she met at university in Be’er Sheva, or the tribal member her father chooses for her?

No dark allusions to shame-murders (aka honor-killings), no explicit dialogue about how various figures have shamed or might shame others, no lectures on honor and its preservation, no allusions to the shameful fact that the father is an “abu-banat” – father of only (4) daughters, no invocation of kalam al nass, the deeply judgmental “talk of the people” that, at least according to some observers, paralyzes Arab society. All sous-entendu.

And yet one theme – one might say the main theme – of the movie was the conflict between the father and his women over how to behave. Repeatedly the father makes decisions that damage his family emotionally, and repeatedly he justifies it by saying “I don’t have a choice.” And repeatedly, both his wife and daughter challenge him by insisting “You always have a choice.”


Fake News and Queer Theory: Feminists on Anti-Semitism at Hebrew U.

This post is now up at Times of Israel.

I just attended a session at the Sassoon Center for Antisemitism at Hebrew University on Sartre and the Jewish Question.

11:15-13:15 Session 3 Sartre, Fanon, and the Subject of Decolonization

Chair: Martina Weisz, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Louise Bethlehem, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Sartre, Fanon and the Subject of Decolonialization: Preliminary Remarks

Vinzia Fiorino, University of Pisa Jean Paul Sartre, “Frantz Fanon and Carla Lonzi: a Bizarre Genealogy”

Nina Fischer, University of Edinburgh “Minor (Transnational) Intersections: Jews and Aboriginal Australians between Anti-Semitism and Racism”

Sarika Talve-Goodman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem “Blackness and the Body in a Transnational Frame: From ‘Anti-Semite and Jew’ to Black Lives Matter”

Revital Madar, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem “A Moment of Inconsistency: Letting the Black Body into the Sphere of Western Humanity”

About half way through the introductory remarks by Bethlehem I realized I was actually witnessing the kind of parody that I had only imagined in reading Judith Butler: a presentation thick with feminist, queer theory, jargon, promoting a radical (even messianic) political agenda of liberation and authenticity, that, among others, considered axiomatic the identity of Black and Palestinian suffering; and the corresponding racism of Israelis and American whites.

Sarika Talve-Goodman traced an arc of “racially marked bodies unfit for personhood,” and the “heterosexism” that drove this inhumane way of treating the “other,” from European racist imperialism (Fanon) through Israeli treatment of Palestinians and police treatment of Blacks in the US. In her “intersectional and herstorical perspective,” all this is part of a liberationist agenda aimed at challenging “violent imperial masculinity” with “a theory of sexuality” that promotes a “non-homophobic, non-racist politics.”

All of this discourse might just have been an academic matter, amusing to some, obviously very grave from the perspective of its performers.  But these revolutionaries take their vocation seriously. These were not theoretical speculations divorced from the real world, but attempting at least, to engage the world, and presumably, to influence the world, profoundly. And part of the movement involves making common cause with other victims of hierarchical (state, hetero-patriarchy) interventions.

(Talve-Goodman advertised her approach as offering to “open our collective eyes to new dimensions of state interventions into our lives.”)

Ferguson, she asserted, became “ground zero” in the global struggle against racism. “For a moment, Ferguson became the world.”  And in that moment, that the Palestinian and Black movements came together in intersectional solidarity. The brave new alliance of the coming years of world struggle against racism.

On Anorexic Jews and Virtue Signaling: Hasia Diner and Marjorie Feld, “Historians”

Somewhat predictably, Ha-aretz has published a piece by two American Jewish scholars on why they have “left Zionism behind.” Although they claim to be historians (and in their chosen fields they may be), their argument is much more based on myths – Palestinian myths – which they have allowed to colonize their minds, and which they regurgitate without any critical thinking at all.

Apparently being critical of one’s own people is enough to quality as “critical”, even when the assertions they make have virtually no grounding in any historical reality. On the contrary, what we seem to have is a blanket, counter-empirical application of a Post-Colonial paradigm and the “virtue signalling” that lets everyone know what good, “Righteous Jews,” they are, Jews who show their virtue by taking sides against their own people.

Part of what’s so shocking about their piece, which has already solicited five indignant responses, here, herehere, here, and here, is their open revulsion at Zionism and any Jew who supports Israel. Here we find a strong echo of what Edward Alexander calls “anorexic Jews” – Jews so ashamed of their body (politic), namely Israel, that they turn against their own corporeal self.

Fisking below.

We’re American Jewish Historians. This Is Why We’ve Left Zionism Behind

Our connections to Israel flourished, faltered and finally ended even though we grew up, live and work in the heart of the American Jewish community.

Hasia Diner and Marjorie N. Feld Aug 01, 2016 11:46 AM

Hasia Diner: The Israel I once loved was a naïve delusion

When I was asked to run as a delegate on the progressive Hatikva platform to the 2010 World Zionist Congress, I encountered my personal rubicon, the line I could not cross. I was required to sign the “Jerusalem Program.” This statement of principles asked me to affirm that I believed in “the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem as capital” for the Jewish people. It encouraged “Aliyah to Israel,” that is, the classic negation of the diaspora and as such the ending of Jewish life outside a homeland in Israel.

That’s impressive, and impressively insecure. It’s not like it demanded Aliyah, just encouraged it. But somehow even that is too much (how dramatic is “my own personal rubicon [sic]”?). The idea that Israel and moving there, represents somehow a negation of the diaspora is an astonishing leap of logic. It sounds a lot like more like Diner’s notion of Diaspora (see below) is a negation of Israel. This is Judith Butler talk, nicely characterized by Edward Alexander as illustrative of

…Orwell’s view that some ideas—like the virtue of Jewish powerlessness—are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.


The Double Bind of the Useful Infidels: Feminist Meredith Tax on the Red-Green Alliance

One of the few – alas! – feminists to defend feminist principles against Islamism rather than fold before the (incomprehensible) PC claims of Islamism (see also Phyllis Chesler and Gita Sahgal). H/T: Steve Antler

Just to give you an idea of how insane this has become, our Secretary of State and First Lady were about to give an award for courage to a Muslim woman whose anti-American and anti-Semitic credentials are impeccable.

In the meantime, rather than dwell on the murky depths, let’s ascend to the heights of courage (alas that denouncing Islamist misogyny should be the heights of courage in our age), namely Tax’s work.

Double Bind: tied up in knots on the left

MEREDITH TAX5 February 2013

I have spent the last twenty years working on issues of women and religious censorship.  As a feminist activist in International PEN and then in Women’s WORLD, I couldn’t help noticing that increasing numbers of women writers were being targeted by fundamentalists. Not all these fundamentalists were Islamists; some were Christians, Jews, or Hindus.  In fact, one of my own books was targeted by the Christian Coalition in the US.

Nobody on the left ever objected when I criticized Christian or Jewish fundamentalism.  But when I did defence work for censored Muslim feminists, people would look at me sideways, as if to say, who are you to talk about this?  This tendency has become much more marked since 9/11 and the “war on terror.”

Telling detail here. Jihadis attack us and the “Left” jumps to the defense of the very ideology that inspires them (i.e., the goal of a global Caliphate). Who’d have expected so many useful infidels after 9-11?

Women Journalists in Gaza: A New Niche for the “Third Gender”

An interesting reflection on the new and central role of female Western reporters from Gaza. I’ll add some comments about the role of honor-shame culture in producing (and shaping) this encounter, and conclude with some questions about the implicit role of intimidation.

The unique advantage of female war reporters in Muslim countriesMost of the first correspondents to file reports from Gaza when the latest conflict began last week were women. Emma Barnett discovers what their unique advantage is over their male colleagues in Muslim cities and countries.

Destroyed house after an Isareli air strike in Gaza

Image 1 of 2
Phoebe Greenwood is currently reporting for The Telegraph from Gaza City – where she has noticed the majority of correspondents are female. Photo: EPA
Emma Barnett

By , Women’s Editor

4:04PM GMT 21 Nov 2012

Phoebe Greenwood was frantically filing her latest piece for The Telegraph in Gaza City earlier this week when she noticed something.

Sat in the main lobby of the Al Deira Hotel, which has become effectively become a big newsroom in the war-torn strip of land, Greenwood observed that all of the correspondents of the American, Australian, Spanish and British broadsheets writing around her were women.
Jodi Rudoren (New York Times), Ruth Pollard (Sydney Morning Herald), Harriet Sherwood (Guardian), Ana Carbajosa (El Pais), Abeer Ayyoub (freelance Palestinian journalist) and Rolla Scolari (Sky Italia) have all been Greenwood’s comrades during the latest troubles in the Middle East. On the job she has also been accompanied by Heidi Levine, whom she describes as a “ridiculously tough war photographer” and worked alongside Eman Mohammed Darkhalil, an award-winning and heavily pregnant photographer.
Let’s not forget Karen Laub of the AP.
At the start of the latest Israel-Gaza conflict last week, Greenwood, a freelance reporter based in Jaffa, Tel Aviv, said the majority of the correspondents first on the ground were women and what’s even better, it’s no longer remarkable.
“I think this high number of female correspondents in a conflict zone is as a result of gender-equality finally filtering down – making it totally normal for women to report from the front line,” she explains.
Interesting formulation. The fact that it occurs in the Arab-Israeli conflict where one can be most secure that Israelis will not target you if you don’t report according to their liking, that, as Stephanie Gutmann put is, Israel is the only place in the world where you can comfortably be a pregnant war correspondent, does not seem to factor in here.

Reactionary Modernism in Saudi Arabia: Electronic Trackers for Guardians of Women

In a seminal book about the Nazis, Jeffrey Herf wrote about what he called Reactionary Modernism, that is the combination of fascination with and openness to new technology combined with a regressive politics. People who make the mistake of considering an opening to technology with an openness to modernity may be making a fundamental category error.

In my work, I define “modernity” as the effort to organize polities around the principles of equality before the law. Most other aspects of what we call modernity (and post-modernity) stem from that egalitarian impulse. One of the main points of Bernard Lewis’ analysis in What Went Wrong, is the disconnect between the Muslim desire for Western technology and their inability to adopt the socially egalitarian principles that generated that technology. For those who have not read it, I recommend my father’s chapter on Arab poverty despite their oil wealth in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations

Indeed, the misunderstanding of the “Arab Spring” as a democratic movement was based on the assumption that if the people in the street were using twitter and facebook, then they must be as liberal-minded as college students.

Below, is an article from al Arabiya describing the use of tracking devices to keep track of women who might be acting too independently for the tastes of a culture deeply committed to gender apartheid. (H/T:ES)

‘Where’s my wife?’ Electronic SMS tracker notifies Saudi husbands

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country. (Photo courtesy:

Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country. (Photo courtesy:

Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Gitlin comes to the Defense of Butler’s Diasporic Non-Violence: Red Meat for the Vegan Crowd

The Butler controversy continues. For some reason Todd Gitlin, whom even people who disagree with him consider “nuanced,” comes out with a defense of his colleague at Columbia, Judith Butler. Despite the obvious daylight between him and Judith, he frames this as part of a schoolyard fight where he’s defending his friend, and is just one stage before, “I’m rubber and your glue…”

Not what I’d call a serious contribution to the issues at hand.

The Trouble With Judith Butler—and Her Critics

September 4, 2012, 2:24 pm

By Todd Gitlin

Whatever one wants to say about the philosopher Judith Butler’s contribution to contemporary thought, I suspect that not even her most devoted disciple would call her a lucid writer. In her introduction to an early book, Gender Trouble, she writes:

  • There is a new venue for theory, necessarily impure, where it emerges in and as the very event of cultural translation. This is not the displacement of theory by historicism, nor a simple historicization of theory that exposes the contingent limits of its more generalizable claims. It is, rather, the emergence of theory at the site where cultural horizons meet, where the demand for translation is acute and its promise of success, uncertain.

What we have here, and throughout Butler’s writings, are not so much [sic?] sentences that carry propositions as a whiff of the burning of incense before an idol called “theory.” There are some in the academy who find this practice “emancipating.” I do not.

I agree (nice image), although this is hardly the most impenetrable of her smoke columns. It actually brushes close to comprehensibility.

Be that as it may, the author of those unilluminating sentences is soon to receive the City of Frankfurt’s triennial Theodor W. Adorno Prize, named for the brilliant, prolific, vastly complex, often tangled, so-called Frankfurt School German-Jewish thinker genius who was himself given to wild overstatement of the sort that Butler, in fact, quotes in the epigraph to another one of her books: “The value of thought is measured by its distance from the continuity of the familiar.” A moment’s reflection shows this to be nonsense. Adorno had bad days, too.

Actually it’s one of the unspoken goals of most academics who want to make an original contribution: the counter-intuitive truth. Who wants to spend a lifetime regurgitating Vérités de la Palice?

The politics of “theory” and prize committees would be interesting subjects on their own, but the focus of vehement attack by The Jerusalem Post and organizations devoted to My-Israel-Right-or-Wrong politics is a more specific claim.

This is an interesting trope that one runs across often: “my Israel right or wrong” or the “Israel firsters.” It’s an effort to dismiss as some kind of primitive incarnation of an “us-them” mentality, people who defend Israel against calumnies. Most people identified as Israel-firsters are not. They are capable of both recognizing legitimate criticism and even articulating it.

But we draw lines between constructive criticism and destructive, between criticizing policies soberly and demonizing, between concerned tochachah and existential hatred. Most people who dismiss defenders of Israel as Israel-firsters, on the other hand, are “Israel is wrong firsters,” who, like Judith Butler, have no trouble finding their full-throated voices when criticizing Israel in no uncertain terms and based on highly uncertain sources, but somehow mumble and fumble when it comes to denouncing her ferocious enemies.

In the context of a battle with an enemy that has one of the most regressive “my side right or wrong” attitudes – “love my side and hate everyone else” – which is constantly being reinforced by the opposite “progressive” meme of “your side right or wrong” that must accept the epistemological priority of the subaltern “Other” (as does Helena Cobban), it’s a pretty ugly accusation. It goes hand in hand with the common trope, “any criticism of Israel is considered anti-Semitic,” which Butler and her convulsively anti-Israel colleagues uses constantly as a smokescreen for vicious criticism.

In the words of the Post’s Benjamin Weinthal, Butler “advocates a sweeping boycott of ties with Israel’s cultural and academic establishment and has defended Hezbollah and Hamas as progressive organizations.”

This slovenly slash-and-burn propaganda, masquerading as journalism, has occasioned a crisp reply by Butler:

Wow. This is pretty amazing. Weinthal’s piece is slash and burn propaganda, while her long, rambling, and insubstantial reply is “crisp”? Surely a scholar of nuance, like Todd Gitlin can do better. This is red-meat language for the carnivore “progressive” choir.

Judith Butler, the Adorno Prize, and the Moral State of the “Global Left”

The following is a long version of a response to Judith Butler that will appear in various forms at other sites, including SPME. This version is here either for those who enjoy my overwrought prose, of those who find that the logic of edited versions elsewhere is interrupted by the cuts.

Judith Butler’s feelings are hurt because some professors who claim they’re for “peace in the Middle East,” have criticized her and openly called on the Adorno Committee to withdraw the Prize that they have announced would be offered to her this year, on Adorno’s birthday, 9-11. Stung by the criticism, Butler responded at the site of the notoriously anti-Israel Jewish blog, Mondoweiss. in her defense. The defense illustrates every aspect of the problem with Butler’s approach to the criticism of her work, including the folly of German intellectuals to raise her up as a heroic example.

The criticism of her receiving the Adorno prize involves the following three points: 1) Her criticism of Israel for violations of (her) moral standards is exceptionally harsh, even though she has very little to say about exceptionally harsh violations among Israel’s enemies. 2) She has taken this moral imbalance from mere rhetoric to determined action, supporting extensive and punishing academic boycotts of Israel (e.g., Kafka archive should not go to Hebrew University). And 3) she enables and encourages virulent anti-Semitism both in this participation in BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), and in identifying some of the worst offenders where that ancient hatred is concerned (Hamas and Hizbullah) as part of the “progressive, global, Left.”

Her response was a long, rambling, self-defense (2000 words) in which she systematically misrepresents the critique, and shields herself by claiming the status of a suffering victim of a vicious attack that deeply hurt her feelings.

Norway tries to deal with a wave of Muslims raping Norwegian Infidels

NB: I have received several comments and a letter from a Norwegian journalist questioning the validity of this report. We are checking into it, but as of now, there is no corroboration of the account that Yehuda Bello gives. Will update as soon as I know. (I have added the comments from the journalist below in the comments section.)

UPDATE: Ursula Duba, a writer of great integrity and courage has posted the following.

“The sentence “Norway’s justice minister blames Israel for Muslim rape wave” which is posted on Robert Spencer’s wall on FB (the link has been removed in the meantime, even though the headline  is still on Robert Spencer’s wall) and is also quoted on Professor Richard Landes website The Augean Stables should be considered a lie. The statement by Norway’s justice minister was allegedly quoted in a headline in ARUTZ SHEVA by Gil Ronen. From there it spread around the globe like wildfire. I never saw that headline in Arutz Sheva of Dec 5, 2011. As of yesterday or even earlier, the statement attributed to Norway’s justice minister is nowhere to be found in Arutz Sheva, nor does Gil Ronen offer an explanation as to why he altered the headline to “Muslim ‘Rape Wave’ Reported in Oslo” at Without proof as to when and where the alleged statement by Norway’s justice minister was made, the statement itself should be considered as untrue and as slander.
We owe Norway an apology. I herewith apologize to Norway for this slander. I hope that all decent people will join me in a) apologizing to Norway and b) will make sure that any such statements are in fact TRUE. Quoting a sixth or seventh blog as a source is totally unreliable. This is how lies and defamation run amok on the internet. I will have none of it.”

After more than a week of waiting for the people involved in this story to get back to me about what the real sources are, I have come to the conclusion that this is the most appropriate position to take. I apologize to Norway for running this unverifiable approach, and hope that they show the courage necessary to tackle this grave problem of rape.

Women, Journalism, and Violence in the Middle East

The Grey Lady reports on the Egyptian demonstrators’ assault on Laura Logan in Tahrir Square last month and the issue of both violence against women and against journalists in the Middle East (except, of course, Israel, which despite being better by far on these issues, is somehow viewed as worse). Logan shows great courage in discussing these matters, even if she reveals an amazing naivete. (HT: NBH)

CBS Reporter Recounts a ‘Merciless’ Assault

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Lara Logan, a CBS News reporter, was sexually assaulted while working in Cairo on Feb. 11.

Published: April 28, 2011
Her experience in Cairo underscored the fact that female journalists often face a different kind of violence. While other forms of physical violence affecting journalists are widely covered — the traumatic brain injurysuffered by the ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff in Iraq in 2006 was a front-page story at that time — sexual threats against women are rarely talked about within journalistic circles or in the news media.

There are huge areas of violence and intimidation against journalists that are not reported. We didn’t hear for months that NYT reporter David Rhode had been kidnapped in Afghanistan; and we don’t have any idea how often reporters are abducted in places like Iraq, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, etc., for a few hours and then released, thoroughly intimidated (including about speaking about what happened) into the mainstream pool to then report back to us about “what’s going on.”

Eileen Read at HuffPo calls for Caroline Glick’s dismissal for “We Con the World”

There’s a joke about “how many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?”

“That’s not funny.”

(The original one was, “5, 1 to do it and 4 to write about it.” But that got the above-mentioned response so often that it got replaced by it.)

Now I’m not bringing this up to accuse feminists of lacking a sense of humor (another post), but rather to focus on feminists as a subset of radicals who take themselves entirely too seriously. Eileen Read, now a columnist for the Huffington Post has an interesting profile which suggests just the kind of earnest “we can save the world” milieu that Caroline Glick’s Latma piece is designed to skewer.

Her response: “that’s not funny” in the current aggressive-progressive mode: that’s racist.

And typically, she misreads the song from start to finish.

If this is what passes for intelligence in the “progressive” community, we’re all in trouble. (HT/Daled Amos)

The Jerusalem Post Should Fire Caroline Glick for Making a Racist Video
Eileen Read
Los Angeles-based journalist focusing on foreign policy
Posted: June 5, 2010 05:07 PM

Comments 323
‘We Will Slaughter the Jews,’ goes a blatantly racist music video that has had nearly 700,000 views on YouTube.

Its title is, ‘We Con the World,’ sung to the tune of ‘We are the World.’

However, the video’s keffiyah (headscarf) wearing, knife-wielding ‘Arabs’ and other members of the ‘Flotilla Choir’ clearly aren’t Turks or Gazans. They’re Jewish Israelis singing “there’s no people dying” about the Gaza humanitarian-aid flotilla, in which nine people were killed last Monday by Israeli commandos, and many others were shot. A 19-year-old American aboard was shot five times at close range.

The lyrics begin:

There comes a time when we need to make a show
For the world and CNN
There’s no people dying so the best that we can do
Is create the greatest bluff of all

The press office of the Prime Minister of Israel sent this video around the world. Apparently inadvertently, according to spokesman Mark Regev. Regev notes nonetheless that “”I called my kids in to watch it because I thought it was funny. It’s what Israelis feel.”

Clearly not all Israelis, since thousands and thousands of them massed in Tel Aviv today to protest the mess their extreme right-wing government is making of their nation’s image abroad.

“It was not intended for general release,” said a statement from the press office. “The contents of the video in no way represent the official policy of either the Government Press Office or of the State of Israel.”

On her blog, the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick, claims credit for the video. I never take Glick-bylined pieces seriously because they’re all the same, since she constantly talks about continuing the occupation of Palestine, trashes Obama (and she is from Chicago!) and is a favorite on the lowest-level of American right-wing tv, like the Laura Ingraham show.

But this is lower than I’ve ever seen someone go who carries a management title at a journalism organization. I’m ashamed to say that Glick and I are both Columbia alums. Even if she hates people of another race or religion and is allowed by her editors to poke fun at them in a tasteless and blatantly racist way, she should be fired for making fun of the dead.

It’s hard to think of a better example of the kind of aggressive stupidity that inspired the title of my next book: They’re so smart cause we’re so stupid: A medievalist’s guide to the 21st century. Think Eric Holder, and John Brennan, and the Department of Defense, and the list of useful infidels goes on and on.

To be a little less polemical, Eileen, if you really care about people who really suffer, and want to oppose the people who make them suffer on purpose, you need to consider the following possibility: your definition of racism makes it impossible to criticize precisely people in the latter category.

Caroline, and all of the rest of us who find that video a bitter sweet-piece of right-on, know what you apparently don’t. That the demopaths they’re spoofing are not “the Palestinian people,” much less the “Arab race,” but a bunch of thugs who present themselves as their “leaders,” but who, in typical pre-modern fashion, exploit their own people.

And when you allow them to dupe you, you enable their oppression.

And when you jump on us for “racism,” you both silence our voice, and impoverish the ability to deal with reality of all those who care about human dignity.

“A psychotic sense of vanity and barbarous presumption” – David Thompson on Identity and Grievance

David Thompson is one of my favorite bloggers. Always right on. He tackles a particularly interesting issue that takes him from the flakey Duke U. faculty and their feminist proclivities to the indulgent (and BBC-indulged) rage of Jihadis over the Danish cartoons.

Elsewhere (15)

Stuart Taylor takes another look at Duke University, where its infamous far left faculty has dug in even deeper.

    Duke’s rules define sexual misconduct so broadly and vaguely as to include any sexual activity without explicit “verbal or nonverbal” consent, which must be so “clear” as to dispel “real or perceived power differentials between individuals [that] may create an unintentional atmosphere of coercion.” The disciplinary rules deny the accused any right to have an attorney at the hearing panel or to confront his accuser. The rules also give her – but not him – the right to be treated with “sensitivity”; to make opening and closing statements; and to receive copies of investigative documents.

Jeff Goldstein notes why Duke’s infestation will persist.

    The fact is, the people who make up these activist identity groups need their “isms.” And because fighting a particular “ism” is what gives them their identity to begin with, they cannot allow the “ism” ever to be stamped out without, in effect, obviating their own identities.

As Jeff, myself and others have pointed out, the relevance and power of identity politics advocates requires a cultivation of grievance among those ostensibly being championed. The grievance narrative must never be allowed to go away, whatever the actual situation, since grievance (or professed grievance) is the principal source of leverage, influence and funding. Even if this entails exaggerating minor slights or distorting statistics, or framing the issue so tendentiously that almost any kind of dissent can be deemed oppressive and malign. See, for instance, the ludicrous campus rape claims of Barbara Barnett, formerly of Duke, or the reactions of many feminists to factual correction by Christina Hoff Sommers, or the outrageous treatment of Keith John Sampson and Thomas Thilbeault.

And Ophelia Benson notes some routine moral flummery at the BBC.

    It had to report on this al-Shabab guy trying to kill Kurt Westergaard so therefore it had to make sure you didn’t get the wrong idea and think it, the BBC, didn’t think Kurt Westergaard deserved it, at least a little bit.

Indeed. Yesterday morning, the BBC’s Today programme performed much the same manoeuvre, suggesting the attempt to murder the 75-year-old cartoonist with an axe showed the strength of “feeling” on the issue and the “anger that still exists over what he did.” A more realistic response might stress instead a psychotic sense of vanity and barbarous presumption – one that validates the point of Westergaard’s cartoon.

Feel free to share your own items of interest.

Post further examples here and at his blog.

NOTE: I have not had time to check the links, but I trust Thompson’s judgment. Please let me know if you find problems.

The Reality-Challenged Community: Feminism and Moral Inversion

In my own research I have run across a feminist claim that we should see honor-killings as part of continuum of domestic violence, little different from the assaults on women that take place in western countries (and most especially in the USA). Phyllis Chesler has done yeoman work in this area, making it clear how vast a gulf separates the culture of the US, and those in which parents feel driven by community pressures to kill their daughters for the sake of family honor.

David Thompson, whose critique of post-modernism I have highlighted and commented on here has a new post on the strange world of feminist discourse that sheds light on this effort at moral equivalence. It chronicles the astonishing misrepresentations that come from a radical political agenda disguised as human rights talk.

Every Bit as Hobbled

I’ve previously noted the tendency of some academic activists to indulge in wild overstatement, not least those entranced by the Holy Trinity of race, class and gender. As, for instance, when Barbara Barnett, a product of Duke’s infamous English department, claimed that, “20%–25% of college students report that they have experienced a rape or attempted rape.” Barnett’s assertions were subsequently debunked by KC Johnson:

Barnett… thereby [suggests] that college campuses have a rate of sexual assault around 2.5 times higher than the rate of sexual assault, murder, armed robbery and assault combined in Detroit, the U.S. city with the highest murder rate. For those in the reality-based community, FBI figures provide a counterweight to Barnett’s theories: not 20%-25% but instead around .03% of students are victims of rape while in college. Duke’s 2000-2006 figures, which use a much broader reporting standard than the FBI database, indicate that 0.2% of Duke students “report that they have experienced a rape or attempted rape.”

Studies in Honor-Shame: Reda Mansour and a Druze “Dis-“Honor Killing

In response to a previous post here on Honor-Shame culture, EG, one of our regular discussants, left the following comment about a Druze “honor-killing” and the response of the Reda Mansour, the Druze Israeli consul to Atlanta who argues a liberal position against honor killings. The article and the talkbacks (in Hebrew, translated in parts by EG) offer tremendous insight into the clash between a pre-modern mentality and a modern one, between PCP and HSJP.

EG: An interesting insight into processes that are now taking place within a “traditional Middle-Eastern” civilization in an Occidental-oriented context (Israel).

On May 23 this year, an Israeli Druze from the village of Beit Jan, working at the prison administration (hence possessing a gun), presented himself at a police station, confessing to have shot his daughter, whose body was in his car. The reason he invoked for murdering her was “family honour”. Apparently, he didn’t approve/like her boyfriend.

RL: We see here the dilemma of a “man of (family) honor” in a civil society: he knows he breaks the law; he must do so anyway. I want more detail on why he killed his daughter. “Apparently, he didn’t approve of her boyfriend” is inadequate. This brief article claims she violated “the tenets of Islam,” which is strange if the man is a Druze: he would likely not discuss religion, however he identified it.

EG: On June 1st, Reda Mansour, Israel’s consul in Atlanta, a Druze, published an opinion article titled The distance between murder and honour on Ynet (in Hebrew), arguing that “honour killings” should end.

Translated excerpts:

“The girl from Beit-Jan is her father’s victim, but her father is a victim of a traditional society which educated him that murder can get one honour. Yet there are no 2 words as distant from one another as murder and honour.[…]

You can’t get a nicer distinction between honor-shame and integrity guilt culture (or the political systems they engender) than this sentence.

These days, in all minority villages in the country, extra marital relations between men and women are common. This is why such murder cases have become exceptional, but that’s no consolation. Because the traditional society keeps accepting the link between honour and having sex, and the idea that only women should pay the price of dishonour.”

To unpack that. In honor-shame cultures alpha males get points by being sexually virile (i.e., quantity not quality), while females lose honor by not protecting their virtue. As a result, women pay the price of a promiscuous culture of sex on the part of men. (If they were easy, there’d be no honor in nailing them.) I’m interested in his report that “these days” extramarital affairs are common… is that true, or has it always been so? Are they more visible, more easily acknowledged?

War is not the Answer? Depends on the Question.

While on the Cape last week, I saw a number of signs that read “War is not the Answer.” I had only recently brought up this bumper sticker with my students in order to illustrate the problems of liberal cognitive egocentrism: No culture has ever proposed such an idea, with the exception of some messianic groups. Those that have (and survive), live in exile (Jews after Bar Kochba, Tibetans). Indeed, it’s hard not to savor the irony of these well-intentioned folks, living peacefully on the land of the Wampanoags whose plague-decimated numbers were finally reduced to some 400, and completely subjugated by “King Phillip’s War.”

A visit to the sponsoring site of this pacifist sign reveals that it is, indeed, a messianic pacifist group, the Quakers, who arose out of the messianic crucible of the 17th century English Civil War. They address the obvious question: “If war is not the answer, what is?

The practical instruments of negotiation, aid, and development assistance, the psychological instrument of respect for human dignity and equality, and the political instruments of human, juridical, and civil rights provide a more effective, just, and moral answer.

I agree with all of those “instruments” when they are practicable. But in the (hopefully rare) situation where they do not work, applying them actually backfires. Remember Gandhi’s famous non-violent resistance (suicidal) advice to the Jews when dealing with the Nazis — which, alas, too many instinctively followed. Such techniques only work when dealing with people who have a liberal conscience (like the British in India). When dealing with political cultures that seek dominion at any cost, such kindness registers as weakness and triggers aggression, not reconciliation.

Later today I will be on a committee examining a thesis on the failures of the US Intelligence Community in dealing with the “civilizational Jihad” of the Muslim Brotherhood against the United States. It is a staggering tale of political correctness that renders us dupes to demopaths who have learned to use every principle we treasure in order to dupe us into allowing them to flourish.

CAIR’s mission statement sought “to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.” This sounds wonderful, but is not the true intent of the organization. The reality is that this is another organization within the [Muslim] Brotherhood running a deception campaign. The Brothers’ real objectives are to use CAIR as an instrument to influence the United States by mounting a public relations campaign under the guise of a civil rights campaign. The Brothers know how to use words and issues in ways that Americans want to hear. In one of the documents there [in the material entered in evidence at the “Holy Land Foundation” trial] is reference to a dictionary of terms that will placate the American public.

If they ever need any help, going to the “Friends'” site will give them all the buzz-words they need.

While meditating on these issues, I ran across the following piece in the Jerusalem Post by Caleb ben-David, one of their more reflective writers. It illustrates the problems of “peace advocacy” in prime-divider cultures where violence — male violence, to be redundant — is a norm.

Apr 24, 2008 12:23 | Updated Apr 25, 2008 1:39
Snap Judgment: The last journey of Pippa Bacca

The killing earlier of this month of Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, “Pippa Bacca,” has received little media comment outside the country of her birth, Italy, and that of her death, Turkey.

It should, though; Bacca was apparently a very special kind of “performance artist,” who saw her life, or at least the way she chose to live it, as her “brush,” and the whole world as her canvas. Tragically, the end of that life turned out not in the way she intended – nor left behind exactly the message that she had hoped it would convey.

Bacca, 33, set off from Milan last March together with fellow artist Silvia Moro on what they dubbed a “Brides on Tour” journey, with both wearing white wedding dresses and taking separate routes from Italy through southern Europe and the Middle East, with the intention of meeting up together at the end here in Jerusalem sometime this month.

The central point was to promote peace and faith in one’s fellow man, in part by doing the entire trip via hitchhiking. Although to many the idea of a single woman thumbing rides through some of the most conflict-ridden regions of the globe sounds more than a little naïve and dangerous, this apparently was the very point. The Web site they created for the “Brides on Tour” project declares: “Hitchhiking is choosing to have faith in other human beings, and man, like a small god, rewards those who have faith in him.”

Alas, on the way Bacca met a man who had a very different outlook, and in early April her corpse was discovered near the Turkish town of Gebze, southeast of Istanbul. Traced through his use of her cellphone, a local man was later arrested and confessed to her rape and murder shortly after he picked her up.

“We cannot blame all Turks for this incident,” Bacca’s mother told the Turkish press. “No one could have predicted my daughter would encounter such a maniac.”

Of course not – though a Western woman hitchhiking alone through the Turkish hinterlands surely must be aware of a very real element of risk.

I would be a little less understated in responding to this poor mother’s comment: “What are you talking about? Anyone with any knowledge of honor-shame, alpha-male behavior and its enormous power in cultures like that of Turkey could have predicted precisely this.” Of course, her sister, quoted in the NYT, anticipated my comment and refuted it:

    “Just read any newspaper — people get killed for playing music too loudly, and women get raped in the subway; there are fiends everywhere,” Ms. Pasqualino said. “This was not a question of Turkey or of religion.”

Not surprisingly, the comment was echoed by Turkish and Italian officials. And it may be true in some sense, although I do think the odds vary depending on the culture.

Bacca’s murder generated widespread revulsion in Turkey, sparking demonstrations by local women wearing placards declaring, “We are Pippa,” and demanding the government take greater steps to ensure that unaccompanied women in the streets are free from harassment.

This gets to an interesting tension within these cultures of male-dominance. Women generally live lives of quiet desperation. If Bacca’s murder were to give them voice, it would not have been in vain. But for that to happen, not only would these women need to speak up, but the international press would have to cover this story in its details and thereby shame Turkish officials into taking real measures.

Bacca’s artistic collaborator Moro, who cut short her own trip after her friend’s murder, told The New York Times she “still hoped to take to the road to finish the performance. Otherwise it would be a failure, and I don’t want the message to fail.”

“I am not disowning the project,” she added firmly. “This tragedy only highlights how difficult peaceful relations are and how much work there is still to do.”

This is classic messianic behavior in a state of cognitive dissonance. When your premise has been disproved, keep pursuing the goal, which is more important than reality testing.

INDEED. I sincerely hope Moro does carry on (with greater precaution) her and Bacca’s project, even the performance they were planning to stage in Tel Aviv at its end, when they were planning to ceremonially wash their wedding dresses.

Their journey, said Moro, was intended to show that “by overcoming differences and lowering the level of conflict individuals and cultures could come together… Meeting people was the key.”

But if their project is to retain its artistic integrity, it should honestly take into account Bacca’s tragic fate, and incorporate it into the work and the meaning it seeks to convey. And surely that message is that sometimes faith in fellow man and a desire for peace is not enough in this world; often it is wise, if not essential, to combine those elements with strong doses of hardheaded – and hearted – caution and concern, pragmatism and patience. If not, the end result may turn out to be not only failure, but violent failure that ends up defeating the very message of trust and peace the original effort was meant to convey.

Precisely. In other words, when one pursues peace only through negotiations when dealing with a bloody-minded foe, one ends up strengthening the very forces one hopes to overcome. PCP strengthens Jihad.

Strangely enough, I thought of Pippa Bacca this week while attending a press conference in Jerusalem featuring former US president Jimmy Carter discussing his own recent travels and encounters in the region, with the likes of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal.

This was performance art of its own kind – “ex-president on tour” – that was also all about promoting peace in the region. Again, meeting people was key, as was giving them the benefit of the doubt and taking them at their word, even when in contradiction to good sense. Fortunately for Carter, the conditions under which he traveled virtually guaranteed a safe final arrival in Jerusalem to close his trip.

If I am inclined under these circumstances to be far more generous to Bacca’s wanderings, it is in the certainty that at least in her case there is no doubt her motives were entirely good-hearted, and that the only possible harmful outcome of her trip was to herself, which regrettably did come to pass.

Pippa Bacca was a dreamer – and yes, perhaps so is Jimmy Carter. Peace, of course, is always worth dreaming about. But the longer I live in this country, and this region, the more convinced I become that peace is not made by the dreamers, but the realists, especially weary and wary old warriors such as Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, King Hussein, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak.

Peace is not made by simply choosing to have faith in other people – which one should – but by taking reasonable precautions that if that faith is not rewarded, the end results will not be cruelly catastrophic. Though I appreciate her idealism, this to me is the real meaning of Pippa Bacca’s final journey.

The Bully Left: What Lurks Behind Ms. Magazine’s Rejection of AJC Ad

[Note: This post was a joint effort by Lazar and RL]

Since 2000 in particular, the ‘progressive’ movement has increasingly been held in thrall to one tenet that seems trumps all others – the adoption of the Palestinian people as the “chosen people” and the corrolary demonization of Israel as the imperial/colonialist/racist oppressor holding them in subjection. So pervasive has this ideological proclivity gone that progressives abandon core beliefs if those beliefs either question the allegedly “progressive” motives and goals of the Palestinians or — and this is still more astonishing — portray Israel in a positive light. The far “left” allies itself with Muslim groups that preach against civil rights and liberal democracy, and by any impartial standards, qualify as racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic. But, since these groups are involved in a struggle against Israel, the progressive movement ignores all the core freedoms that the groups oppose in principle and embraces them as ideological brethren in the struggle against colonialism.

The feminist movement, alas, is no different. The anti-American, anti-Israeli narrative that blames those countries for Third World violence and sexism takes priority over actually supporting country like Israel that promote women’s rights. Israel was the second Western country with a female Prime Minister. The IDF features women in high profile roles, including generals and fighter pilots, and continues to open positions to women wherever possible. Israel has scholarship programs specifically designed to encourage Bedouin women to attend college, and the first female Bedouin doctors have begun practicing. Israeli police work with southern Bedouin to combat the practice of honor killings, urgently needed to defend the lives of women. And, Israel’s President of the Supreme Court, Knesset Speaker, and Minister of Foreign Affairs are all women.

This is not to say that women in Israel live in a feminist paradise. There are many problems that face women there, as in any liberal democracy dedicated to gender equality. But compare their status to any of the surrounding cultures, and unless you’re a hyper-self-critical Israeli/Jew solipsistically focused on your own faults, and any impartial observer would conclude that women in Israel do live in Paradise. Indeed, as a woman lawyer who worked in a shelter for battered women noted to me, the Arab women that fled there had enormous difficulties reintegrating in their own communities, not merely because the men hated them for escaping their patriarchal control, but because the women accused them of “thinking they’re Jewish” in expecting unacceptable levels of autonomy.

Nonetheless, this record of supporting the advancement of women is not enough to trump anti-Israel sentiment on the left, and a curious recent incident at the flagship feminist magazine, Ms illustrates the problems involved.

The American Jewish Congress submitted an advertisement to the magazine for publication. The ad featured (unflattering) pictures of Dorit Beinish, President of the Supreme Court, Dalia Itzik, Knesset Speaker, and Tzipi Livni, Minister of Foreign Affairs, with three words underneath that read “This is Israel”.

ajc ad for ms

This innocuous ad merely points out women that have risen to influence and prominence in Israel’s liberal democracy, and implies that Israeli society encourages, or at least allows, women to rise to positions of importance. As Zionist propaganda, it’s pretty mild — no demonization of Palestinians, no militarism, no religious defense of the right to settle every square inch of the “whole land of Israel.” Just a relatively anodine affirmation of a western ideal: the empowerment of women.

But Ms. magazine rejected the ad.

They Wanted Women’s Body Parts: Hitchens on the London Bombing

Hitchens brings out some disturbing details of the London bombing plot, links them to a larger problem with Islamism and pounds away at our averting our eyes in the face of such evil.

Don’t Mince WordsThe London car-bomb plot was designed to kill women.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, July 2, 2007, at 1:11 PM ET

Why on earth do people keep saying, “There but for the grace of God …”? If matters had been very slightly different over the past weekend, the streets of London and the airport check-in area in Glasgow, Scotland, would have been strewn with charred body parts. And this would have been, according to the would-be perpetrators, because of the grace of God. Whatever our own private theology or theodicy, we might at least agree to take this vile belief seriously.

Instead, almost every other conceivable explanation was canvassed. The June 30 New York Times report managed to quote three people, one of whom attributed the aborted atrocity in London to Tony Blair’s foreign policy; one of whom (a New Zealand diplomat, at that) felt “surprisingly all right about it”; and one of whom, described as “a Briton of Indian descent,” was worried that “if I walk up that road, they’re going to suspect me.” The “they” there was clearly the British authorities, rather than the Muslim gangsters who have declared open season on all Hindus as well as all Jews, Christians, secularists, and other kuffar or infidel filth.

On the following day, July 1, the same newspaper informed us that Britain contained a “disenfranchised South Asian population.” How this was true was never explained. There are several Muslim parliamentarians in both houses, often allowed to make the most absurdly inflammatory and euphemistic statements where acts of criminal violence are concerned, as well as several districts in which the Islamic vote keeps candidates of all parties uneasily aware of what may and may not be said. True, the Muslim extremist groups boycott elections and denounce democracy itself as profane, but this does not really count as disenfranchisement.

One might add that there is a large population of non-Muslim “South Asians” who do not behave in this manner. Disenfranchisement is not the cause of terrorism, otherwise the world, filled as it is and has been for millennia, would be a cesspool of terrorism.

Only at the tail end of the coverage was it admitted that a car bomb might have been parked outside a club in Piccadilly because it was “ladies night” and that this explosion might have been designed to lure people into to the street, the better to be burned and shredded by the succeeding explosion from the second car-borne cargo of gasoline and nails. Since we have known since 2004 that a near-identical attack on a club called the Ministry of Sound was proposed in just these terms, on the grounds that dead “slags” or “sluts” would be regretted by nobody, a certain amount of trouble might have been saved by assuming the obvious. The murderers did not just want body parts in general but female body parts in particular.

I suppose that some people might want to shy away from this conclusion for whatever reason, but they cannot have been among the viewers of British Channel 4’s recent Undercover Mosque, or among those who watched Sunday’s report from Christiane Amanpour on CNN’s Special Investigations Unit. On these shows, the British Muslim fanatics came right out with their program. Straight into the camera, leading figures like Anjem Choudary spoke of their love for Osama Bin Laden and their explicit rejection of any definition of Islam as a religion of peace. On tape or in person, mullahs in prominent British mosques called for the killing of Indians and Jews.

Liberal reluctance to confront this sheer horror is the result, I think, of a deep reticence about some furtive concept of “race.”
It is subconsciously assumed that a critique of political Islam is an attack on people with brown skins. One notes in passing that any such concession implicitly denies or negates Islam’s claim to be a universal religion. Indeed, some of its own exponents certainly do speak as if they think of it as a tribal property. And, at any rate, in practice, so it is. The fascistic subculture that has taken root in Britain and that lives by violence and hatred is composed of two main elements. One is a refugee phenomenon, made up of shady exiles from the Middle East and Asia who are exploiting London’s traditional hospitality, and one is the projection of an immigrant group that has its origins in a particularly backward and reactionary part of Pakistan.

To the shame-faced white-liberal refusal to confront these facts, one might counterpose a few observations. The first is that we were warned for years of the danger, by Britons also of Asian descent such as Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali, and Salman Rushdie. They knew what the village mullahs looked like and sounded like, and they said as much. Not long ago, I was introduced to Nadeem Aslam, whose book Maps for Lost Lovers is highly recommended.

He understands the awful price of arranged marriages, dowry, veiling, and the other means by which the feudal arrangements of rural Pakistan have been transplanted to parts of London and Yorkshire. “In some families in my street,” he writes to me, “the grandparents, parents, and the children are all first cousins—it’s been going on for generations and so the effects of the inbreeding are quite pronounced by now.” By his estimate and others, a minority of no more than 11 percent is responsible for more than 70 percent of the birth defects in Yorkshire. When a leading socialist member of Parliament, Ann Cryer, drew attention to this appalling state of affairs in her own constituency, she was promptly accused of—well, you can guess what she was accused of. The dumb word Islamophobia, uncritically employed by Christiane Amanpour in her otherwise powerful documentary, was the least of it. Meanwhile, an extreme self-destructive clannishness, which is itself “phobic” in respect to all outsiders, becomes the constituency for the preachings of a cult of death. I mention this because, if there is an “ethnic” dimension to the Islamist question, then in this case at least it is the responsibility of the Islamists themselves.

The most noticeable thing about all theocracies is their sexual repression and their directly related determination to exert absolute control over women
. In Britain, in the 21st century, there are now honor killings, forced marriages, clerically mandated wife-beatings, incest in all but name, and the adoption of apparel for females that one cannot be sure is chosen by them but which is claimed as an issue of (of all things) free expression. This would be bad enough on its own and if it were confined to the Muslim “community” alone. But, of course, such a toxin cannot be confined, and the votaries of theocracy now claim the God-given right to slaughter females at random for nothing more than their perceived immodesty. The least we can do, confronted by such radical evil, is to look it in the eye (something it strives to avoid) and call it by its right name. For a start, it is the female victims of this tyranny who are “disenfranchised,” while something rather worse than “disenfranchisement” awaits those who dare to disagree.

Look it in the eye, call it what it is, and denounce it to the heavens. The only way such cultures of death thrive is because we, in some strange version of modesty, look away from such horrors. This is not about race, but about culture, even if the other side makes it about race. And it’s time to assert our culture’s remarkable respect for tolerance by showing profound disapproval of the vicious intolerance that has us in its cross-hairs.

They’re prisoners of their world of honor and shame. We have a great deal of power over them even without the use of violence. We just — so far — refuse to use it. And worse, we attack those who do.

Feminists Debate: Pollit vs. Chesler

To fully understand this exchange, you need to read the previous issues raised by an article at the Weekly Standard by Christina Hoff Summers and Pollit’s response, both available at an earlier posting of mine Subjection of (Muslim) Women and Fecklessness of (Western) Feminists

New York City

Contrary to Katha Pollitt’s June 11 “Subject to Debate” column, my books The New Anti-Semitism and The Death of Feminism have not “tanked.” On the contrary, they have opened important doors for me to the worlds of heroic ex-Muslim and Muslim dissidents and antijihadist intellectuals, some of whom are conservatives and many of whom are feminists. Yes, Virginia, there is a wide world out there beyond the narrow confines of the left. Just because a book is not reviewed in The Nation or similar media does not mean it does not exist and has not attracted a serious and influential audience. How can a book “tank” and yet, in Pollitt’s words, its argument take on “a life of its own”?

Contrary to Pollitt’s dismissal of any experience that occurred “almost fifty years ago,” contemporary Tunisian intellectual al-Atif al-Akhdar writes, “Why have the people of the world managed to mourn their pasts and move on, while we (Arabs and Muslims) have…our bereavement over a past that does not pass? Why do other people love life, while we love death and violence, slaughter and suicide, and call it heroism and martyrdom?” Akhdar describes Islamic cultural dynamics that do not seem to change. The dynamics I encountered in Afghanistan long ago remain and have actually worsened in many Muslim countries. I call it Islamic gender and religious apartheid. Feminists should be—but are not—calling for boycotts of those countries where this is practiced.

Pollitt does not come in for “unhinged abuse” in The Death of Feminism. Lawyers vetted the pages that document her bullying and intolerance on a feminist listserv to which we both belonged. I was not her only target, but she challenged me viciously and nonstop on issues ranging from my book Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman (published by Nation Books!) to my analysis of RAWA as a marginal group whose political influence would have no future other than as dancing dogs among the American left. My views on anti-Semitism, Israel and religion came in for particularly scathing attacks. Finally, when I began to publish in FrontPage magazine and wrote a column in which I said I was merely thinking about voting Republican for the first time in my life, Pollitt led a totalitarian-like and successful purge of my presence on the listserv.

Unlike Pollitt, I take very little credit for my work on behalf of freedom in the Islamic world. The task is so huge. Pollitt, however, claims immediate credit for small and symbolic feminist gestures. It is too soon to congratulate ourselves for tasks we have yet to accomplish.

Phyllis Chesler

New York City
 If Phyllis Chesler is happy that according to Bookscan The Death of Feminism sold around 1,000 copies in hardcover and 300 in paperback, who am I to dissuade her? Her book has had influence not because it is accurate or well thought out or well written—in fact it is execrable and full of spelling mistakes—but because a self-described feminist who attacks the women’s movement is a godsend to right-wingers like David Horowitz and the editors of The Weekly Standard, who have no interest in women’s rights except as an excuse to invade more countries.

Lawyers vetting her book is a joke—all that means is that I wouldn’t sue, not that she wrote the truth. But for the five people in the world who care, the most vehement discussion involving Chesler on the History in Action list was provoked by her heavy use of unverifiable personal anecdotes in Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. The journalists on the list had trouble with that, and she took umbrage (although if memory serves, Chesler herself had raised the issue). Chesler was never “purged” from the list, which included many of her longtime friends. When it became obvious that she was planning to use material from the list in The Death of Feminism, people, including me, understandably felt betrayed. Chesler left of her own accord.

As for Chesler’s imputations that I boast of small good deeds, I agree that the deeds are small. Still, it is hard to defend yourself against charges of selfish indifference to injustice and atrocity, except by presenting the evidence that the charges are false.

Katha Pollitt

Not Pollitt at her best. Even if her information is accurate — for which we have no evidence but “she said, she said” — the tone is an good example of the kind of snarky dismissal of people who disagree with you that so characterizes the self-insulated world of the “progressive” left. It feels like one of the bully alpha females on the playground, doing her best to humiliate someone who’s not (no longer) in the in-group. Certainly much more heat than light.

Protecting Women from Honor Killings in the West: A Fundamental Confrontation with Honor-Shame Cultures

An article in the Guardian illustrates the enormous problems that Westerners have in dealing with honor-killings. Sounds Kafkaesque for the woman under attack. Why the police behaved so badly is susceptible to multiple speculation. How much of this happens all over the West? What do we do about it? (Hat tip: ELS)

Murder victim told police four times she feared her family: each time in vain
Karen McVeigh
Tuesday June 12 2007
The Guardian

Police are failing to protect young women at risk of being murdered by their families in so-called “honour” killings, despite a high-profile prevention scheme set up four years ago, senior officers have told the Guardian. They say a raft of measures aimed at saving lives have been shelved, delayed or ignored by Scotland Yard. Among them were plans to train frontline staff in how to spot vulnerable women and a system to ensure potential victims of “honour”-based violence were risk-assessed and properly dealt with.

The admissions came as the Metropolitan police were criticised for their handling of the case of Banaz Mahmod, a young Kurdish woman whose father and uncle were yesterday convicted of her murder. One detective, who asked not to be named, said that if the Met prevention scheme had been in place Ms Mahmod might be alive today.

He said: “We started to learn lessons and then stopped learning them as a result of political correctness. And then Banaz died and that should never have happened.”

A lack of formal training for officers had also resulted in a “police station lottery”, where women like Ms Mahmod were in danger of being ignored or not given adequate protection.

Another officer said: “If it were young white girls complaining that their lives were at risk, there would be an outcry.”

In the Mahmod case, the Old Bailey heard that she had repeatedly told police her family was trying to kill her.

Banaz Mahmod, 20, told officers on at least four occasions between December 4 2005 and January 23 2006, about threats made. She wrote a letter, naming those she thought were plotting against her.

On New Year’s Eve that year, she told them her father had tried to kill her but the officer did not take her claims seriously.

Her body was found months later on April 28 2006, crammed into a suitcase and buried in a pit, the bootlace used to strangle her still around her neck.

Yesterday, after a three-month Old Bailey trial, her father, Mahmod Mahmod, 52, and her uncle, Ari Mahmod, 51, both of Mitcham, south London, were found guilty of murdering her.

A third man, Mohamad Hama, 30, had earlier pleaded guilty to her murder.

Detective Inspector Caroline Goode, in charge of the investigation, said Ms Mahmod was a loving and caring young woman whose death at the hands of her family was the “ultimate betrayal”.

A number of police officers will face an internal disciplinary inquiry over their handling of Ms Mahmod’s case in the weeks before she died. Their actions will also be the subject of a police-led investigation under the Domestic Violence Crime and Victims Act.

The inquiry will look at whether police might have increased the risk to Ms Mahmod by speaking to her parents after the New Year’s Eve incident, or by approaching her mother on an earlier occasion. Met guidelines on such investigations clearly state: “Do not approach the family.”

The Met began a review of the way it handles “honour” killing cases after the murder of Kurdish-born teenager Heshu Yones in 2002. Her father, Abdalla, became the first person to be convicted of an “honour” killing in Britain in 2003.

In 2003 a strategy to deal with such crimes included recommendations for training all officers and a “flag” system for “honour”-based violence. But it was not introduced until last year.

Laura Richards, senior behavioural analyst at the Met’s homicide prevention unit, said they had failed to learn lessons from previous cases.

“We need to plug the gaps,” she said. “The detectives and specialist officers have training but we need to revise our frontline training to desk officers and 999 call handlers.”

Jasvinder Sanghera, director of Karma Nirvana, a group that supports victims of “honour”-based violence, accused police of “fumbling in the dark”.

“There is a lack of confidence among women that police will protect them,” she said. “There is a misconception that forced marriage and ‘honour’ killing is part of our culture – but these are criminal activities and they need to be treated as such. The officers who dealt with Banaz failed in their public duty to protect her. The sad thing is Banaz will happen again.”

The Southall Black Sisters and the Iran and Kurdish Woman’s Rights Organisation called for an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and urged the Crown Prosecution Service to bring the remaining suspects to justice.