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Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid, Israel, Academic Boycott, Gender

Published on Dec 06, 2015 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for New York Post

'Women's studies' is betraying women under Sharia law


Last week, the National Women's Studies Association membership voted to boycott Israel. The resolution reads, in part:

"As feminist scholars, activists, teachers, and public intellectuals . . . we cannot overlook injustice and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, perpetrated against

Palestinians and other Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, within Israel and in the Golan Heights, as well as the colonial displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba."

This vote is an utter betrayal of both reality and of women — especially women who live under Sharia law.

In 1970, I taught one of the first Women's Studies courses in the country. What I had envisioned for the discipline has nothing to do with today's anti-American, anti-Israel, post-colonial, faux-scholarly feminist academy.

Today, Women's Studies has been Stalinized and feminist professors are less concerned with the "occupation" of women's bodies world-wide than they are with the alleged occupation of a country that has never existed: "Palestine."

So I wasn't surprised that the association held a plenary panel last year on that crucial feminist issue: "The Imperial Politics of Nation-States: US, Israel, and Palestine." Panelists included former communist Angela Davis, the recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize; Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of the infamous anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace; and Dr. Islah

Jad of Birzeit University, whose focus seems to be Palestinian women only.

They vowed to get the association to boycott Israel. Now they've succeeded.

But these "Feminists for Palestine" are in denial about Islam's long and ugly history of imperialism, colonialism, gender and religious apartheid, anti-black racism, conversion via the sword, executions of apostates and slavery.

The association doesn't condemn, for example, the atrocities being practiced by Hamas, ISIS, Boko Haram and the Taliban against Muslim women, children and dissidents and against Christian,
Yazidi and Kurdish women whom ISIS has captured as sex slaves.

This Women's Studies group isn't boycotting the honor killings among Arabs in Israel, on the West Bank, in Gaza and among Muslims in the West. They aren't condemning the forced face and body veiling of women in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, or the forced wearing of the hijab and heavy coverings in Iran and Nigeria.

The association doesn't focus on the pervasive nature of female genital mutilation in Egypt or on the increase in child marriage across the Arab and Muslim world. There's little mention of the terrible fate of women — even royalty — who dare to choose their own husbands.

Israel may not be flawless — what society is? — but it's still a modern democracy that protects the religious rights of all its minorities. These rights simply don't exist in the Arab Middle East or in Muslim Central Asia where Christians must hide their religious identities and risk being crucified. By now, the ethnic cleansing of Jews in the Muslim world is almost complete.

By contrast, according to Israeli feminist lawyer Frances Raday, Israel's Declaration of Independence was one of the "earliest constitutional documents in the world to include sex as a group classification within a guarantee of equality in social and political rights."

Today, Israeli women not only vote; they're elected to the parliament — right now 23 percent of Knesset members are women. Women also serve as judges on the Israeli Supreme Court. Women constitute 34 percent of all soldiers and 57 percent of all Israel Defense Forces officers. The majority of students studying at universities are women.

In addition, Arab citizens of Israel not only vote, but also serve in the Knesset and as judges on the Supreme Court. While they may be intimidated by Islamist death threats of "disloyalty" if they praise their Israeli citizenship, few would trade it to live under Hamas in Gaza.

Israel isn't a feminist paradise. Women are seriously limited by the ultra-Orthodox control of marriage and divorce, and control of public holy places. However, Jewish women have been successfully fighting for our religious rights in the Israeli Supreme Court.

I suspect that were our feminist counterparts to do so in Mecca, Mogadishu, Tehran, Islamabad or Kabul, their fate would consist of being jailed, raped, tortured, beheaded, stoned or murdered in some other way.

Phyllis Chesler is emerita professor of psychology and the author of 16 books including "Living History: On the Front Line for Israel and the Jews, 2003-2015."


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