As everyone knows, Brandeis publicly announced that they would award Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary doctorate–and then, under siege by nearly 30% of their professors, and by thousands of their own students, they publicly disinvited Hirsi Ali. This campaign was orchestrated by the Muslim Student Association and by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization which is the American face of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Someone sent author Naomi Wolf a copy of my latest article about this scandal: “Brandeis Feminists Fail the Historical Moment.” It was my response to Brandeis’s shameful dis-invitation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I noted that 21% of the signatories taught in Women and Gender Studies and I mourned the abysmal state of academic feminism. In response to my article, Wolf published this at her Facebook site:
I know Phyllis Chesler. I believe she is funded these days by pro-Israel advocacy organizations that support journalists and writers to advocate ‘the party line’ in terms of hardline anti-Islam and right-wing policy outcomes regarding Israel. She is welcome to contradict this if I am mistaken. She has made some outlandish, grossly factually incorrect attacks on me whenever I write anything that encourages Western readers to have a deeper understanding of Islam.
One of Wolf’s followers immediately seconded Wolf’s allegations about me and upped the ante: “It is well known the ‘respected’ Australian political magazine Quadrant was originally funded in the 1960’s by hidden CIA budget lines…Outside the United States during the cold war billions were spent by the Americans subverting communism in a systematic war-like set of directed actions…This is well documented in respect of the 1960’s …”.
And there you have it. Now I am both a Zionist agent and, according to one of Wolf’s followers, also a CIA agent!
Wolf claims that I, among other writers, have failed to disclose that I receive funding from “pro-Israel advocacy groups.”
First, let me point out that I do disclose all funding to the government and acknowledge funding for my published academic research.
Second, is my crime “failure to disclose” or is it taking money from…Zionists? Is it a crime–a thought crime–that I do not receive or accept funds from the Democratic Party and that unlike so many feminists, including Wolf herself, that I am not a Democratic Party operative?
Let it be known: No government, no political party, and no individual Zionist has to pay me to express my views. I am not for sale. I do not exercise my First Amendment rights merely for money.
I would never bother asking Wolf publicly about her funding sources. But now that Wolf has opened this door–I fear I must also walk through it.
Naomi: Are you on the payroll of the public relations crisis management team Brandeis has reportedly hired? Are you now or have you ever been funded by George Soros? Or merely by the Democratic Party? Is Al Gore, for whom you once consulted, and who sold his cable channel to Al-Jazeera, backing you? Is he supporting your Woodhull Institute? Or are the Jordanian royals helping you? I know you visited with them and wrote about them very favorably.
I have known Naomi Wolf since she was a pale, young girl. Her mother, Deborah, once worked for me. Wolf attended some of the Manhattan feminist Passover sedarim that E.M. Broner, I, and a handful of others first organized in 1975. I attended the book party for Wolf’s first book and she kept thanking me over and over again for doing so. I think Wolf is beautiful, talented, hard-working, well-connected, ambitious–and a bit dim-witted.
When last I saw Wolf, it was at another author’s book party, possibly in 2004 or 2005. After engaging in friendly small talk, I tried to engage her in a discussion about rising anti-Semitism. Wolf widened her eyes, then said something like: “Really? You don’t say? You really believe that?” And then made a beeline for someone else. She had eyed me as if I had an infectious disease that she might catch.
Naomi Wolf’s comments at her FB site lack substance and mainly concern the source of my presumably unacknowledged funding. Wolf thinks she can derail the substance of my argument by “outing” me as a Zionist or as on some secret Zionist payroll.
Would that I were on a Zionist payroll! If a check arrives, I will cash it forthwith.
This is so typical a ploy. Smear the bearer of truth so that people will not hear her. And, what is the worst thing that a feminist intellectual can be accused of? Well, being a “racist” and an “Islamophobe,” usually work. They shame and taint one’s credibility. Ah, but an accusation of being a secret Zionist agent–that is right up there with poisoning the wells and using Christian baby blood to prepare Passover matzot.
Wolf has published some of her views about Muslim women. They toe the Obama Democratic Party Line and are “come-hither” attractive to those Muslims who feel misjudged. Here is one example. In 2008, in the Sydney Morning Herald, Wolf wrote:
The West interprets veiling as repression of women and suppression of their sexuality. But when I traveled in Muslim countries and was invited to join a discussion in women-only settings within Muslim homes, I learned that Muslim attitudes toward women’s appearance and sexuality are not rooted in repression, but in a strong sense of public versus private, of what is due to God and what is due to one’s husband. It is not that Islam suppresses sexuality, but that it embodies a strongly developed sense of its appropriate channeling–toward marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home.
Unlike Wolf, I view the burqa as a sensory deprivation isolation chamber and as such, a violation of human and woman’s rights. I was once held captive in purdah in Kabul. The polygamous family which isolates and sequesters women is totally against freedom for women. While I enjoy all-women company just as much as Wolf does, I would never enjoy it if it was the only company I was allowed to keep.
Naomi: I challenge you to address the issues. Do you agree with the Brandeis signatories and also believe that women on the Brandeis campus are as endangered as women in Iran, perhaps in Evin Prison are? As endangered as child brides in Afghanistan or genitally mutilated girls in Indonesia? As endangered as the 100 girls just scooped up by an Islamist paramilitary group in Nigeria to be their sex slaves? As endangered as a girl who wants to choose her husband is in parts of India? As endangered as a girl who wants an education in Pakistan or who insists on driving her car in Saudi Arabia? Do you believe that the face veil and the burqa are religious choices, or “sexy” and mysterious? Even if girls and women who refuse to wear them are honor killed by their families for this very reason?
AUTHOR BIO: Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, a Fellow at the Middle East Forum, the author of thousands of articles, including studies of honor killing, and the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness and Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. Her fifteenth book, An American Bride in Kabul won a 2013 National Jewish Book Award. Dr. Chesler is a co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and of the National Women’s Health Network (1975). She may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com.