My Jewish Feminist Problem

Why my sisters can’t think straight about Israel

By Phyllis Chesler, TABLET

These days, Israel is far too dangerous a word to pronounce in a Western intellectual or social setting. Say it—and you risk uncivil argument.

For example, it’s ten months after Sept. 11, and I am having dinner with a friend and colleague of many years. We are talking up the usual storm, laughing a lot, enjoying each other’s company when one of us uses the word: “Israel.” My friend, an independent and sophisticated thinker stops talking. Suddenly, the air becomes thin. She takes a deep breath. Her tone is no longer light; it has become dark, coarse, mocking.

“Israel?! It deserves exactly what it’s getting. And more. And don’t think America doesn’t deserve what it’s getting too.”

We are sitting a mile away from Ground Zero in New York City.

“Have you no compassion for the innocent?” I say, shocked by her cold, driven, vehemence.

“Innocent? No one is innocent. We are all guilty. Don’t tell me that you would dare to defend the Zionist apartheid state or the multinationals.”

Her dear face has been utterly transformed into the face of a one-woman lynch mob. I do not want to fight: I can’t bear the ridicule and intimidation. I know that I must say something; I am tired of having to do so. I do not want this friendship to shatter over the Jewish Question, that perpetual elephant in the living room of the world.

My friend is a Jew, a feminist, a leftist, and she prides herself on being an independent thinker. “According to you,” I want to say, “only Americans and Israelis deserve to die for the sins of their leaders? I don’t hear you wishing a hellish death upon Chinese or Iraqi civilians because you disagree with their government’s policies.” But my heart is not into “making points.” My heart is beating too fast. I am afraid of her anger.


As you can see Chesler is a terrific writer. She has published many books. While this article is long it makes for good reading.

December 18, 2014 | 3 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. @ Bert:
    With all due respect, truth and logic have their place within the spiritual context. Without truth and logic, so-called spirituality degenerates into foolishness and superstition.
    As for “we Jews keep ignoring our Torah,” I have found people outside of Judaism who maintain a highly devout, spiritual life. They truly follow the spirit of the Torah although they themselves do not know it. Thus they don’t have the egoism of the “highly learned”.
    Then we have the fact that when the Jews went to the gas chambers, many of them were highly devout. Many of them were highly learned in Torah. Many of them were innocent children. Many of them had no pretensions to “higher learning” but were good people; good Jews perhaps.
    Does God keep statistics that tell him that if, say, 35% of the people don’t follow the Torah to the letter, He will allow them to be killed? I find this line of thinking highly insulting…
    Following the law will only protect us inasmuch as we are dedicated to actively protecting ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually. This motivation comes from within us, but we sometimes deviate from it because we listen to those within our community who falsely claim to be our protectors sometimes under the guise of religiosity.
    Yehuda Hamaccabi was apparently not one of those who followed blindly, although personally I don’t know a great deal about him. If he had waited passively for some kind of divine intervention, his people – our people – would have suffered the same fate as those who perished in our most recent Holocaust, no matter how much of the Torah they followed.

  2. This argument with the degenerate leftists is secular and impossible to ever win. We Jews keep trying to use truth and logic when the real issue is spiritual. It is NOT Israeli policies but Judaism itself which is the target. We Jews keep ignoring our Torah which states clearly that ignoring the Law will expose us to attacks from our enemies but following the Law will protect us. See Deuteronomy chapter 28.

  3. My friend is a Jew, a feminist, a leftist, and she prides herself on being an independent thinker.

    There’s enormous irony there. It’s self-evident that she (her friend) is a typical “group thinker” who would never dream of investigating situations for herself. Better to get her ideas from charismatic characters who spout and write ideologically-based fantasies, and by absorbing them indiscriminately, pretend to make them her own.

    Some “independent thinker”…