Prof. Phyllis Chesler is an internationally known name. She is a writer, opinion maker, research scholar and academician. She has written more than eighteen books including the best-seller Women and Madness (1972). Recently she accorded an exclusive interview to Blitz editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. Here are the excerpts:
Blitz: Profound gratitude for kindly agreeing to this interview. We know you are a powerful writer, opinion maker, professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island, (City University of New York/CUNY) and globally acclaimed research scholar. You have authored more than eighteen books including the best-seller Women and Madness (1972). You have been writing on diversified issues including anti-Semitism, Islam and honor killing. You have been arguing saying many western intellectuals, including leftists and feminists, have abandoned Western values in the name of multicultural relativism, and that this has led to an alliance with Islamists, an increase in antisemitism, and to the abandonment of Muslim women and religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries. Do you see this trend actually helping Islam in expanding fast in the West?
Answer: Yes, absolutely. When a Jihadist terrorist attack is launched by a Muslim screaming “Allahu Akhtar,” whose computer contains instructions to kill the Infidel, who attends a mosque known for “radical” ideas, and whose wife wears hijab and/or Niquab, the Western media usually claims that this was the act of a mentally ill lone individual, not the act of a Jihadist soldier. The Western media and progressive professoriate have been writing and saying this for so long and have been mocking all other views as “paranoid,” “racist,” and “alarmist” that by now, several generations in the West refuse to believe their eyes. Although Islam is not a race but an ideology, a theology, a radically totalitarian force in history, all those Westerners who pride themselves on being anti-racist, multi-culturally relativists, refuse to admit that Islam has always preached war, not peace; that it has always preached death to the infidels, especially the Jews, but also Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ba’haii, Zoroastrians, pagans, and today, overwhelmingly Christians; and that Islam has also practiced gender apartheid.
Blitz: You are the eldest of three children raised in a working class Orthodox Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York. As a youth you joined the Socialist-Zionist, anti-religious youth movement, Hashomer Hatzair, and later Zionist youth movement, Ein Harod. Recently we are seeing socialism clashing with Zionism. We can bring here the example of Aledria Ocasio-Cortez, the newly elected member of the US Congress. Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed socialist has been echoing the voice of the enemies of the Jewish State. In your opinion, why socialists are opposing Israel?
Answer: What was once liberalism and even democratic socialism has become increasingly hardened into fascist-socialism. Face-masked and violent demonstrators shout down all who are not among them, censor all speech and thought that does not agree with their own. Once, Soviet Russia had hoped and believed that Israel, with its socialist-style kibbutzim would become a socialist paradise. That did not happen. Soviet Russia, with geopolitical interests of its own in the Middle East turned on tiny Israel and made common cause with the Muslim Arab League and eventually with Khomeini’s goons.
Blitz: You have played important role for the religious rights of Jewish women in Jerusalem. Do you think, in today’s world, Jewish women are enjoying rights to religion?
Answer: Globally, and in Israel, Jewish women are studying Torah, becoming experts on Jewish law, (halachic scholars), and teachers. In the West, Jewish women are rabbis. Religious literacy is increasing among Jewish women. However, the Jewish state is a theocratic state (just as neighboring states are all Muslim) and only Orthodox rabbis control matters of marriage, divorce, conversion and burial. Jewish women and men both in Israel and in the West are fighting for expanded religious diversity, acknowledgement, and rights. I have been part of a group that prayed at the Western Wall in the women-only section for the first time in 1988. Had Muslim women done the equivalent in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, or Sudan, they would have been be-headed or jailed for a long time. Ultra-traditionalists fear that if women become religiously autonomous and authoritative that our entire precious tradition will be lost. This struggle is very important but it is a tribal struggle. I am not willing to defame Israel in the court of public opinion given the double and triple standards by which Israel is unfairly judged.
Blitz: The case of Jamal Khashoggi is receiving huge media coverage. All of us know, Khashoggi was an associated with Muslim Brotherhood and had been defending Al Qaeda. There is a public perception saying Iran and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are playing the Khashoggi card with the agenda of isolating the Saudi royals. What is your opinion on this matter?
Answer: This seems probable but I have no inside information. Ironically, Turkey has also killed or exiled a huge number of journalists or thinkers whom the government perceived as dangerous dissidents. Khashoggi’s murder is being used for rank political gain.
Blitz: With gravest concern, we have been witnessing the rise of antisemitism in a number of countries in the world. There is an argument saying anti-Zionism actually leads to antisemitism and Israel bashing. What is your opinion on it?
Answer: In my 2003 book “The New Anti-Semitism,” I explained that today, anti-Zionism=(equals) Racism. Today, the Jewish state is the Jew of the world, the whipping girl, the scapegoat for the crimes committed by others. My fear is that given that so many blood libels have been launched and believed that the next step is, once again, fully underway with graffiti, cemetery vandalism, physical attacks on Jews, mass murder of Jews. One important and recent book about the Jew-hating blood libels is “Jews Make The Best Demons: Palestine And The Jewish Question” by Eric Rozenman. I would also recommend the work on Professor Richard Landes at his website “The Augean Stables.” Professor Andrew Pessin and Ben Dror-Yemini have also addressed the blood libels that still menace the Jews.
Blitz: According to historical fact, Palestinian’s statehood is illegitimate. Arabs adopted the Roman term “Palestine”, a word which is has no meaning in Arabic. Palestinians claimed indigenous status as “Palestinians” who lived in the area for generations. A review of history though, shows that from the time of the expulsion of the Jews by the Romans, the inhabitants of the area fluctuated. Yasser Arafat’s full name for example, is Yasser Yusuf Arafat, Al-Qudwa, Al-Husseini. While he claimed he was born in Jerusalem, he was born in Cairo and his father’s family originates from the tribe of Al-Qudwa, which is in Syria. His mother, Husseini, was an Egyptian citizen, though the name exposes her roots in the region between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Considering these facts, one can easily say – the so-called statehood of the Arabs is false. What is your opinion on this?
Answer: I have recently written an article for Israel National News which argues that “Palestine” is an imaginary country. But today many people believe that we can construct our reality—that there is nothing “real” out there. Thus, someone can say they are African when they are really Caucasian. A man can say that he is really a woman and a woman can say that she is really a man. I disagree with all this. However, the more imaginary the concept is, the more sacred it seems to become. Disbelief in its existence or sacredness leads to harassment, death threats, etc.
Blitz: Do you see the conflict between Israel and Arabs as a political one or religious?
Answer: It is a religious struggle on the part of the Arab Muslim countries. The entire Muslim world is already “Judenrein,” it has been ethnically cleansed of Jews. What’s left is Jewish Israel—which the Muslim world has not been able to abide. Christians are also under the most profound siege in Muslim lands today. The West is terrified of Muslim violence. What other reason can there be for Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi not yet being granted asylum by the Vatican – or by any other Western country?
Blitz: There are allegations of ‘Palestinian authorities’ giving jihadist indoctrination to their children. By doing so, aren’t they violating international rules?
Answer: They are—but Muslim-on-Muslim crimes are rarely acknowledged or condemned by either Muslims or non-Muslims. Killing your own daughter for “honor” has not been prosecuted by world bodies or covered that adequately in the world media. Using children as human shields, turning children into homicide bombers, has been a Muslim-on-Muslim crime. This has not been prosecuted in international legal forums. It is important to understand that there are anti-Islamist Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents whose lives have been threatened or taken in this war of ideas, this clash of civilizations. Think: Salman Rushdie, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Seyran Ates, to name only a few.
Blitz: Iran poses grave threat to security in the Middle East and the world. It is evidently proved – Iran is a terror patron nation. Iranian regime chants slogans of elimination of Israel from the map of the world. There are some countries, particularly Muslim nations, who too are echoing this Iranian madness. By doing so, aren’t they also becoming cohorts or collaborators of a terror patron nation?
Answer: Iran has exported propaganda and terror. It was behind blowing up the Jewish Center in Argentina and is now in Gaza and Syria. It’s own civilians are at the mercy of mad mullah leaders. America’s former president Obama chose Shia Iran over Sunni Saudi Arabia. This was a terrible idea.
Blitz: What are your personal views about BDS and J Street? Do these groups pose any threat to Israel and the Jewish population?
Answer: They do not pose an immediate threat to Israel but they are adding to the Blood Libels against the Jewish people.
Blitz: A section of Jews are also seen opposing to Israel. They even demand elimination of the Jewish State. Does such tendency cause any harm to Israel?
Answer: I have written about this many times before as have Ruth Wisse, Edward Alexander, and Kenneth Levin. Some Jews sincerely believe that opposing their own people is a Jewish ethical obligation if there people seem to be doing something wrong. Some Jews feel that the burden of being Jewish and under suspicion, under siege, is too heavy a burden for them and they want to be safe, loved, and popular; thus, they believe that by being the first to criticize alleged or real imperfections in the Jewish state that they, personally, will be spared Jewish fate.
Blitz: There are a section of people who though support the State of Israel but oppose Zionism. In your opinion, how much important is Zionism for the existence of the State of Israel?
Answer: In our times, one must support the right of the one and only Jewish state to exist.
Blitz: In today’s world, media plays an important role. Israel has always been facing an adverse or biased media. Even international news outlets are evidently seen inclined towards anti-Israel bias. Under such circumstances, as a writer, scholar and defender of Israel, how will you assess the importance of a newspaper like Blitz, which has been consistently defending Israel and promoting Zionism for past 15 years?
Answer: The Blitz is, quite simply, doing God’s work. May your readership and influence continue to grow and may you inspire others to follow in your path. Long ago, I called for an “Iron Dome” against the ugly propaganda war against the truth, the West, Western enlightenment values, and the Jews.
First published in Weekly Blitz.