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Posted in: Feminism, Letters To Readers

Published on May 10, 2010 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Demonized for Failing to Attack Conservative Christians


I'm sitting here, minding my own business, when I suddenly and unexpectedly receive the kindest and fairest of letters from the editor-in-chief of ZEEK, which is a Forward-affiliated journal. Jo Ellen Green Kaiser alerted me to a piece just posted by her online publication. She said that her online editor Joel Schalit, and the author Rachel Tabachnik, both failed to show the piece to her or to allow me to comment. Kaiser did so.

The first six paragraphs of the piece quote me at length and accurately. Quotes are taken from my books The New Anti-Semitism, and The Death of Feminism, and from various interviews in The National Review, The Guardian, FOX News, and from a Symposium at FrontPage. The remaining fourteen paragraphs are an all-out attack on the right-wing Christian supporters of the teenage apostate Rifqa Bary. After trying to pigeonhole and demonize me in terms of my association with David Horowitz, Robert Spencer, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Daniel Pipes, etc., Tabachnick describes me as "an unlikely star in some sectors of the Religious Right world….most recently for her interviews and commentary concerning Rifqa Bary." I am proud to work alongside people who support Israel and oppose Islamist terrorism.

But what is this really all about?

First, I am also a star burning brightly in the feminist firmament and not ashamed to say so.

Second, I am stunned, and saddened by the need to demonize Bary in terms of who her supporters may be. Why are Jews and Israelis demonizing the kind of Christians who most strongly support Israel's right to exist? Or, is that the reason, namely, that the "right" kind of progressive Jew is supposed to be against Israel's right to exist.

Third, I purposely stayed far away from Bary's supporters—not because they were Christians or conservatives but on the off chance that my academic studies about honor killings might become part of the legal record in this case.

I don't know about Tabachnick or Schalit but I am disheartened by the enormous vulgarity and hatefulness of the extreme left, including the Jewish, anti-Zionist left. Why aren't Schalit and Tabachnick? And yes, agreed, there are many slick and vulgar amateurs who blog on the right, whose ability to hate and insult, and whose need for constant attention easily matches that of their opponents. So what? God is weeping.

Here is what I wrote in response to this weird piece which came at me out of left field, literally. I wish to thank Jo Ellen Green Kaiser for her blessedly old-fashioned sense of right and wrong and for publishing the following:

After reading Tabachnick's piece, Zeek editors asked Phyllis Chesler to respond. She does so here

Thank you so much for contacting me. I do not know why this reporter is so committed to portraying me as a right wing zealot. The author certainly did not attempt to reach me for a comment. My radical feminism stands for all time and has been actively in the world since 1967. I doubt this author can describe her own work in this way.

But there is something more insidious going on here. Rachel Tabachnick is saying that young, politically progressive Jews should stay away from cases where potential honor killings are alleged or involved because those who support such cases are right-wing Christian zealots. Neat trick. This certainly scapegoats right-wing Christian zealots for the considerable crimes of Islamic/Islamist gender and religious apartheid, including honor killings.

Why would ZEEK want to publish such a view and at such length? Why would ZEEK wish to demonize me, not only for my stated views, but to find me guilty by association with other demonized thinkers?

For the record: I have had absolutely nothing to do with the activism around the Rifqa Bary case and do not know and have had no contact with the various people whom the article names. Tabachnick and your editor, are further endangering a vulnerable and innocent young girl (Bary) with this attempt to paint both her and her supporters as…hateful, chaotic, frenzied, irrational, etc. And why would they do that? It is so painfully off topic.

Perhaps that is the point: To rile your audience up against right wing Christians so they will forget all about Islamist hatred of infidels, opposing Islamic sects, women, and the general practices of Islamic gender and religious apartheid.

All best,

Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D

Co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969); co-founder of the National Women's Health Network (1975); co-founder of the New York Feminist Seder (1975); co-organizer of the first Jewish Feminist Conference (1973, 1975); Co-founder of the International Committee for Women of the Wall (1989); member, steering committee for the Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam (2009); Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies (1969-1998); author of fifteen books (including the landmark Women and Madness (1972), Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2002), and The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and thousands of articles, including two studies about honor killings–and the woman who was once chosen as one of the 50 most important Jews by…The Forward itself.


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