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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
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Heroes In Dark Times


Reality has become somewhat Scandinavian. It grows dark early and it is bitterly cold here in New York City and over a good portion of our fair land. Our Prince of Peace (The Norwegian Nobel, not the noble variety) is not yet asking whether “to be or not to be.” Perhaps he is not entirely convinced that “that is the question.”

Meanwhile, a mad jihadist just tried to kill brave Danish “Muhammad” cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and his little granddaughter in the cartoonist’s own home – and Lars Vilks, the Swedish “Muhammad” illustrator, has also just been threatened with death by a Somali who spoke to him in “accented Swedish.”

You see what I mean by a “Scandinavian” reality.

Surely, it is a time of rogues and scoundrels, death-eaters and their death-loving collaborators – and yet it is also a time of heroes. Let us talk about some good deeds, acts of kindness and of those of great vision. Such tales will keep us warm.

First, there are the religious people who literally go out into the cold in order to feed and clothe the cold and hungry homeless and those who sleep on subways or under bridges. I have a dear friend who often does this once a week together with other members of her synagogue. And there are church people who bring food and clothing to shelters for the homeless and to shelters for battered women.

Advertisement Long may they live.

Then there are those American women of a certain age who personally crochet and hand-stitch blankets for wounded American soldiers. I watched a documentary about them on television. Their steady, careful, patient hands bring comfort, perhaps even healing, to so many broken bodies and war-shattered minds. The fact that they exist certainly uplifted and consoled me.

Long may they live.

And then we have the heroes of vision and activism with whom I was privileged to meet recently. The Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam is a rainbow organization of individuals who take radical Islam very seriously and who wish to educate the entire world, beginning with the United States, about the danger we all currently face.

Thus far, the coalition consists of Coptic Christians, Sudanese Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and Jews. As a group, and as individuals, they are actively recruiting liberal Jews(!), conservative and liberal Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and of course, Muslims, beginning with Muslim dissidents and Muslim feminists. They are most interested in reaching out to women and to women’s groups of all kinds – Iranian women’s groups especially.

I have been working with (or at least communicating with and writing about) this group for more than a year now. Jihadic terrorism and Islamist religious and gender apartheid affect a huge number of people, beginning with other Muslims – if only most people understood this.

The Coalition asked me to explain whether feminists would be interested in joining up for this battle. Such recruitment, I said, would take time and not be easy. Actually, I’ve written a book, The Death of Feminism, and hundreds of articles on this very subject.

In short, the fear of being labeled “racist” trumps feminist concerns about “sexism” or women’s rights under Islam. Many feminists have become politically correct cultural “relativists” who are more concerned with the “occupation” of one country that does not exist (Palestine, of course) than they are with the “occupation” of women’s bodies and minds world-wide.

Jacob Keryakes, a Coptic Christian, (joined by Caroline Labib Doss), spoke movingly about the plight of Coptic Christians in Egypt. Keryakes said the Coptic bishop in the United States can’t speak freely about the persecution of his co-religionists in Egypt; if he did, there would be a backlash against Copts in Egypt. The safest champions of their cause are people who are not part of the Coptic Church.

“We are,” he said, “witnessing a silent genocide of Christians in Egypt.”

Simon Deng, formerly a slave in Sudan, said, “I’m not a radical, I’m a victim.” He asked why people in the West care so much about the 200,000 Muslims who have died in Darfur but not the 2,000,000 Christians who died in the earlier conflict in southern Sudan. He asked why the liberals who have obsessed over Darfur fail to mention who exactly the “bad guy” is in this conflict.

About the Author: Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a professor emerita of psychology, a Middle East Forum fellow, and the author of fifteen books including “Women and Madness” (1972), “The New Anti-Semitism” (2003), and her latest, “An American Bride in Kabul” (2013). Her articles are archived at www.phyllis-chesler.com.


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Reality has become somewhat Scandinavian. It grows dark early and it is bitterly cold here in New York City and over a good portion of our fair land. Our Prince of Peace (The Norwegian Nobel, not the noble variety) is not yet asking whether “to be or not to be.” Perhaps he is not entirely convinced that “that is the question.”

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