Posted in: Israel, Islam
Published on May 11, 2011 by Phyllis Chesler
Ivy League Lesson Plan
Aspiring Intern Attempts to School Me on Her Third Worldist "Feelings"
Life is funny, life is great, but life is also strange, the way it all boils down to one's views on only two or three subjects, namely Israel, Islam, and America.
Yesterday, I met with a potential intern sent my way by a local area college with whom I've happily worked before. She seemed alert, bright, interested, talented and ready to start her (unpaid) full-time summer internship almost immediately. I had already told her to visit my website and to read some of my articles and assumed that she knew my current subjects and views. She did. In fact, on the phone, she went out of her way to agree with me on my critique of the academic feminist view that the Islamic face veil and polygamy are "liberating" for women.
Just after we finished discussing hours and possible projects, she stopped, smiled smoothly, and said this:
"But I have to tell you that I take issue with your position on Israel."
"Oh" said I. "Have you lived in Israel, do you know any Palestinians, have you read many books, written many articles, taken many courses about Israel and about the Middle East?"
"Well no," she said, "but I feel strongly about it."
And then I said: "So, based on your feelings and perhaps on some peer pressure, you are willing to give up an internship that you might otherwise want?"
I stressed that I had no problem with her holding a view different than my own. I asked her whether she could work with someone with whom she did not agree exactly on this one issue.
She paused. And then she said: "But I have another problem. I think it is wrong to condemn all of Islam."
Now I looked at her for a moment without saying anything.
Then I spoke. "But I don't. In fact, I champion the work of some religious Muslims as well as those of secular Muslims and ex-Muslims and I work with Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents and feminists. To expose honor killings, to challenge Islamic gender apartheid practices is not the same as condemning all Muslims or all Islam."
Again, I told her that I could work with someone with whose views I did not completely agree; could she? Although by now I was fearing that if she said yes that instead of working for me she would force me to teach her in an unpaid tutorial.
She was not yet done.
"I also take issue with an article you wrote in which I believe you are stereotyping lesbians and Jewish lesbians."
Friends: I actually managed not to laugh out loud.
I assured her that I was not at all biased against lesbians or against Jewish lesbians but indeed, that I had seen many lesbians, including Jews, who were "Queers for Palestine," and who defended a toxically homophobic "Palestine" over the Jewish state when that Jewish state actually grants political asylum to Palestinian homosexuals who have been tortured and near-murdered by their Palestinian families, neighbors, and political leaders.
And then I said: "Look, if you decide that you can work for someone with whom you do not agree, call me."
She left. Calm, cool, unruffled, almost satisfied.
This was the second time in which a young woman–no more than 20 or 21 years old–felt entitled to preach at me, rather righteously, when they were applying for a job with me. The first young woman was applying for a paid position but she did not let me speak until she first spent 15 minutes "filling me in" on her Third Worldist views. Yesterday's cream-of-the-crop came all the way for an interview, ultimately in order to challenge me up close and personal.
For all I know, a tape recorder might have been running in her bag because when she left my apartment she seemed strangely happy.
Why is this all important? Because these two young women (granted, they do not represent all young Ivy League women), do not seem to respect authority or at least authority with whom they do not agree. This means that, potentially, they might be willing to destroy their own civilization since they disagree with its authorities on certain key issues. Standing on no serious knowledge base, they and others of their generation nevertheless feel absolutely entitled to stake out a position based on "feelings."
Is this a continuation of the student uprisings in Europe and America in the 1960s? Is this the result of the politicization of knowledge, i.e. its Stalinization and Palestinianization?
Where will this end if we do not stop it? And, how can we do that?
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