Western Feminists Have Become ‘Stalinized’ and ‘Palestinianized,’ Says Prominent US Women’s Movement Pioneer (INTERVIEW)
“The feminism I helped found was based on women’s rights,” leading American feminist Phyllis Chesler told The Algemeiner on Wednesday, a week after the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) voted to join the anti-Israel BDS movement. “The only activism members of the NWSA engage in aims for the destruction of the Jewish state.”
Chesler, professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island (CUNY) and the author of 14 books – most recently An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir (2013), about her 1961 marriage to an Afghani and her time spent in his harem – said that “Western feminists have become totally Stalinized and Palestinianized.”
Chesler was expanding on her recent article, “The Death Knell for Women’s Studies,” lambasting the NWSA for adopting a resolution to align with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel – a move, she asserted,
is a betrayal of all the girls and women who are being honor killed on the ‘West Bank,’ in Gaza, and in Arab Israel — not by Israelis, but by their own families; a betrayal of all those girls and women who are being forcibly face-veiled, forcibly married as children to their first cousins, forcibly genitally mutilated — not by Israelis, but by their own families.
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More important, passing this resolution is a betrayal of all those girls and women — as well as public intellectuals — who are being tortured and murdered by Muslim regimes and by the imposition of Shari’a law in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Indonesia, Nigeria, and in the Gaza Strip under Hamas, and in the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority and Fatah.
The resolution in question was sponsored by Feminists for Justice In/For Palestine, an ad hoc group established at the NWSA annual conference in Puerto Rico in 2014.
Indeed, Chesler said, “These so-called ‘feminist’ academics today are more concerned with the occupation of a country that never existed – ‘Palestine’ — than with the occupation of women’s bodies all over the world. They do not understand that they have joined a totalitarian movement that subjects women and girls to honor killings and the rest of it.”
On the one hand, she explained, “They love championing victims. On the other, they are incapable of doing that when the victimizers are men of color, like Arab Muslims.”
Meanwhile, as watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch revealed this week, the Palestinian Authority Minister of Women’s Affairs (a woman) recently praised the “uniqeness” of women in her society for rejoicing over news of the death of their sons killed while committing stabbing and other acts of terrorism against Israeli Jews.
Minister Haifa Al-Agha also praised women and girls in Palestinian society for taking a more active role in the current terror wave, which some have called the “lone-wolf intifada,” by not merely relying on the boys to do the dirty work.
About this particular form of “gender equality” Chesler said that the triumph of Palestinian men is that they have successfully propagandized women to go against nature – to have no normal feelings towards the loss of a child.
“This is only possible in a society that utterly devalues women,” she said. “But this, of course, is not something the post-colonial academy in the West factors in. There’s no room for it, just as there is no room to factor in Palestinians as terrorists. In this Orwellian universe, it matters only if an Israeli kills a Muslim — never mind that it’s in self-defense; it does not matter if a Sunni kills a Shiite or a Hamas member kills someone from Fatah.”
Why, though, does the NWSA, founded in 1977 to “promote and support the production and dissemination of knowledge about women and gender through teaching, learning, research and service in academic and other settings,” concern itself mainly with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and ignore the plight of women in the Middle East?
“I don’t consider these women’s studies people feminists,” Chesler said. “Instead of resolutions condemning Islamist policies that harm girls and women, they condemn Israel.”
This, she argued, “is because they are anti-American and anti-Israel reflexively; they don’t know how to talk about the indigenous nature of barbarism. They can’t allow themselves even to comprehend it, because it defies their paradigm. It’s a case of mass brain-washing. We have to think of it as a cult in academia.”
This is true of what Chesler called the “true believers.” Where other, perhaps less ideologically “pure,” women academics are concerned, Chesler explained their refusal to see and “tell the truth, as I have been doing,” as a form of self-protection against losing tenure, funding and friends.
“They don’t dare risk offending the group-think that holds their lives and reputations hostage,” she said.
Chesler, who published The Death of Feminism in 2005, called this phenomenon “beyond hypocrisy. It is a brazen betrayal of our vision of universal human rights. It is multicultural moral relativism that allows Muslim men to get away with murder.”