Posted in: Letters To Readers
Published on Jul 05, 2011 by Phyllis Chesler
A Front-Line Activist Needs Your Help
Dear Readers, Colleagues, and Supporters:
This will be a long letter, so please bear with me. In May of 2011 I wrote 24 articles; in June of 2011 I only wrote 5 articles. I was forced to slow down due to major surgery and the inevitable post-surgical setbacks. Forgive me for not being able to post my usual 2-3 articles every week.
As you may know, I have been a pioneering voice in terms of Israel advocacy and in documenting the worldwide rise of genocidal anti-Semitism. In 2003, after 18 months of feverish research and writing, I published The New Anti-Semitism: The Coming Crisis and What To Do About It. My book was the first to expose and analyze the dangerous alliance of western progressives and leftists, including Jewish liberals and feminists, with Islamist misogynists; among the first of my generation to discuss the betrayal of both the Jews and the truth by the allegedly "good" people on university campuses, at international conferences, among human rights activists, and in the media. I envisioned the possibility of a new kind of Holocaust early on and wrote about it from 2004 on. I went on to write hundreds, perhaps thousands, of articles, deliver countless lectures, and give hundreds of media interviews on these subjects.
Some leading rabbis, academics, and Israeli counterterrorist experts praised my work as "prophetic" and "visionary." Liberals and leftists condemned it and refused to publish or review my work in this area. I was viewed as a traitor and no longer invited to speak or consulted by academics or left-liberals on the burning issues of the day. Often, I was disinvited—or subjected to heckling and badgering at my lectures.
Undeterred, in 2005, I published my thirteenth book, The Death of Feminism, which focused on the penetration of Islamic gender apartheid in the West. I explained that feminism's original vision of universal human rights had, regrettably, morphed into a pro-totalitarian and isolationist multi-cultural cultural relativism.
As you may also know, I am an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies and the author of fourteen published books which have sold approximately 4-5 million copies worldwide, My work has been translated into many European languages (French, German, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Polish, Spanish) and into Hebrew, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. In the past, I was a regular contributor and interviewee at all the major mainstream media. Today, my work on Israel, anti-Semitism, jihad, and Islamic gender and religious apartheid have found no publishing homes abroad.
In the last decade, my work as an Israel advocate, an anti-jihad and pro-American journalist-activist, and as a scholar of Islamic gender and religious apartheid, has gained a serious, increasingly respectful, sometimes even reverent audience. I publish regularly at FOX News, Israel National News, Middle East Quarterly, Frontpage, The Jewish Press, and The Jewish Week. For the last five years I blogged regularly at Pajamas Media and at my website (www.phyllis-chesler.com) draws more than 100,000 visitors per year from 170 countries on every continent , including readers from 36 Muslim-majority countries. In addition, many of my articles go viral on the internet and are routinely picked up by 50-100 websites. A single article of mine can reach anywhere from 5,000 to 100,000 readers.
However, over the last decade, I alone bore the lion's share of subsidizing the costs involved in operating my small not-for-profit organization. I took no salary. I gradually impoverished myself. Authors do not earn money by publishing books which slowly or rarely ever earn out their advances; and the advances rarely cover one's research costs. A writer does not write books for money. Writing on the internet pays very little and often pays nothing at all. I view such writing as a civic virtue and a public service.
For the last three years, I have been privileged to have had two main donors who together have covered almost half of my operating costs. Those costs include a webmaster, a research assistant, a 24/7 computer troubleshooter, rental of a small office, the cost of utilities, office supplies, equipment, etc.
I now face a crisis. One of my two major donors has just had his own funding cut. And, understandably, many philanthropists are planning to put their money down on the next American presidential race. I can't blame them but I wish they understood that work such as mine will be very helpful in that area.
If my basic operating costs (above) are not covered I must, with great regret and sorrow, cut back if not shut down completely. I cannot bring myself to say that I will resign. There is really no one to take my place.
On the other hand, after 9-10 years, many large and small grassroots organizations and individual bloggers have begun to repeat my lines and my analysis as well as those of the handful of other bloggers and journalists who started out as lonely, pioneer voices at the same time. Thus, perhaps I am no longer needed in quite the same way. True, I am a trailblazer and could potentially continue to explore as yet uncharted territory. But I cannot do so without partners. I cannot do so alone.
Why has funding eluded me? Like a handful of other important contemporary voices, I, too, am not a Company Woman or a herd animal; I am an independent thinker. I do not play to the crowd for the sake of money, security, or mere attention. These virtues are actually handicaps in the competition for funding. Being older, being a woman, being a feminist, being a Zionist, being an American patriot, being the author of fifteen books, being a retired academic with standards in an internet age—being all of these things at once—also functions as a handicap, not an advantage.
True, my lack of proper funding is also my own fault. I did not choose to slow down, publish fewer articles, do fewer studies, introduce fewer people to each other, conceive of fewer activist projects in order to become a full-time or even part-time fundraiser. Many people do just that because it is required. But we were and still are at war and I chose to get the work done, to remain at my post.
It is also true that because of fragile health, I could not appear at many conferences, banquets, and rallies to use these events to network for fundraising purposes. Again, I remained on duty at my computer. Perhaps one cannot compete for funding without being all things to all people—and in person, in the flesh. If so, I take responsibility for my failure to raise the operating expenses without which I cannot function. But I did try. How I tried. And, here I am talking mainly about the pre-economic meltdown period, before Mr. Madoff gutted many Jewish organizations and individuals of every faith.
I knocked on many, many doors for financial support but found none. To my surprise and sorrow, when I first published The New Anti-Semitism, one large Jewish-American organization immediately saw me as unholy competition and not only closed their doors to me but intentionally interfered with my ability to support my work by delivering paid lectures. Despite my increasing visibility, other large Jewish organizations did not approach me, and when I mentioned to their various presidents and directors that I needed funding, it was as if I had never spoken.
When I approached various "Kings of the Jews," all of whom praised my work to high heaven, they either did not answer my requests for funding advice and assistance or sent me on to foundations that never returned my letters or which turned me down flat. One very supportive Prince among men told me to call a particular foundation that specializes in contemporary anti-Semitism. When I did so (in late 2010), the woman in charge told me that she had never heard of me, was not familiar with my work, and that I was not allowed to call her or to send her any of my articles.
Individual pro-Israel philanthropists (multi-millionaires, some billionaires) asked me to deliver speeches for them which I did; they also consulted me; their compliments and praise humbled me. Not a single good soul understood how much time went into researching and writing each piece or lecture; perhaps they thought I was in a trance channeling God and thus, none of my admirers ever undertook to fund my operating expenses. And I asked them to do so, how I asked. What I did not do was beg or emotionally manipulate them.
The Israeli government did not view the War of Ideas as important until only a few months ago. Thus, although I publish in the Jewish and Israeli media, I remain completely unsupported by the Israeli government, which has never led me to any Jewish philanthropists outside of Israel.
Christian Evangelical groups thanked me profusely for my work and told me that they were using it to educate their flock but that their funding efforts had to remain within the Church.
The various conservative think tanks which I approached also complimented me on my work (and invited me to deliver unpaid lectures, which I did). However, they said they could not fund my work and that I could not be affiliated with them unless I brought in a huge "dowry" of my own.
The mainly conservative media outlets for whom I write pay very little (some pay nothing at all) for articles that may take anywhere from two to eight hours each to research and write. Requests for better payment and/or for a grant from these valuable websites and organizations have not been successful.
I have done the first and only major academic studies about honor killing; both appear in Middle East Quarterly and at my own website. I and am now at work on a third such study. I have been condemned by many western feminists for this work. No feminist group, individual, or philanthropist has funded this work, nor have they funded my coverage of Islamic gender apartheid in both Muslim-majority countries and in the West. This includes Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and ex-Muslim feminists and anti-jihad activists who frequently quote from my work and who privately acknowledge it. My work on behalf of girls and women in flight from being honor murdered and who are seeking asylum in the United States has similarly gone unfunded.
This work, which I have undertaken with my whole heart and mind is a crucial part of defending Western values, defending both America and Israel, defending the human rights of women, Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents, and religious minorities trapped under Muslim rule. It also constitutes bridge-building and is meant to address the "hearts and minds" of those who live in the West and those who live in jihadic civilizations.
The good news is this: In addition to the advances for my recent books (again, such advances do not even cover the cost of one's research assistant), in the last eight years, four people donated $5000 one-time-only grants, two people donated $500 apiece, and one kind soul donated a one-time grant of $1000. About fifteen to twenty readers sent checks via paypal for amounts ranging from $10 - $500 Several supporters ardently desired to help me raise funding but since they are not professional fundraisers or people with disposable incomes, nothing came of it.
Together, my two major donors have gifted me with a total of $40,000-$50,000 per year for the last three years. Given current funding and investment realities, this will soon be significantly decreased. My operating expenses come to approximately $100,000-$125,000 a year, with no salary to me.
Of course, I still have many pro-Israel and anti-jihad projects to work on. I cannot do so without funding. I also have a new book to promote (it is about custody and divorce) and a very important new book to research and write, tentatively titled: My Afghan Memoir. I have been wanting to do so for nearly fifty years. There is absolutely no guarantee that I will find a publisher or that it will earn out its advance. I am not being pessimistic; I am an utter realist about such matters. Authors require philanthropic funding unless they are young and healthy enough to work in the proverbial garret and are willing to starve while they write.
If any of my readers are—or know—philanthropists who are familiar with my work and are willing to partner with me financially, I will be forever grateful. I do not expect this to happen, but I am "putting it out there."
Ten-twelve donors who can each write a check for $10,000 each year will keep me visible and influential. Twenty--twenty five donors who can each write a check for $5,000 will work just as well. One hundred donors who can each write a check for $1,000 would be equally superb.
It has been a privilege to serve on the front lines in the war of ideas in these most Orwellian of times. I regret nothing. But I cannot continue to fight a "Yom Kippur" war without weapons, boots, or food. I must step back until or unless suitable funding can be found.
I welcome your ideas and am grateful for all the support you have shown my work.
We are not accepting comments at this time, please go to the Facebook page to generate discussion!