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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

The Samira Ibrahim Affair

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

This isn’t a big story, but it has some interesting aspects.

In observance of International Women’s Day today, Michelle Obama and John Kerry will be recognizing 9 International Women of  Courage, including — posthumously — the anonymous victim of the infamous Delhi rape.

There were to be ten honorees, but one of them, Samira Ibrahim of Egypt was caught sending several vicious tweets, one calling the terrorist bombing of a bus full of Israelis in Bulgaria “sweet news,” one quoting Hitler approvingly, and even one celebrating the anniversary of 9/11. When the State Department put her award on hold, she at first (unconvincingly) claimed her account had been hacked, but then said “I refuse to apologize to the Zionist lobby in America regarding my previous anti-Zionist statements under pressure from American government therefore they withdrew the award.”

Despite hating Jews and the United States, Ibrahim certainly was courageous. She was originally picked because she sued the Egyptian government when they performed a degrading “virginity test” on her after she was arrested for protesting in Tahrir Square, and forced them to end the “tests.” And of course, she is not  afraid of the “Zionist lobby” either.

If we include Ibrahim, five out of the initially ten women selected are Muslims, possibly illustrating the importance the State Department attaches to establishing good relations with the people who, more than anyone else in the world, want to kill Jews and Americans.

But it is not surprising that — especially in Egypt — they had a hard time finding someone who did not share the common prejudices.

Let’s understand that Egypt, which has rendered itself almost entirely free of Jews (it’s estimated that there were less than 100 in 2004), is nevertheless a nation obsessed with hatred of Jews.

When non-Jewish journalist Lara Logan was swarmed and sexually attacked in Tahrir Square in 2011, the crowd shouted “Jew!” They also decorated pictures of Hosni Mubarak with the star of David. Egyptian T.V. often casts Jews as villains, and recently presented a series based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Hitler’s Mein Kampf, in Arabic, is a bestseller in Egyptian bookstores (I mentioned that one of Ibrahim’s tweets quoted Hitler).

It isn’t just Egypt. They would have had a hard time in the “advanced” nation of Turkey, too:

A study by Turkey’s Hrant Dink Foundation has found that Jews have become the main object of hate speech in the country, followed by Armenians, Christians, and Greeks.

I bet it would have been much easier to find a courageous Israeli woman, perhaps one who lives in the southern part of Israel and who has been subjected to rocket bombardments day after day and year after year, who doesn’t hate Arabs, Egyptians or Turks. But that wouldn’t help the message, which is that the U.S. is a friend to the oppressed; and by definition an Israeli can’t be oppressed, she can only be an oppressor.

One more interesting connection: The New York Times blogger Robert Mackey, known for his anti-Zionist take, asked Samuel Tadros, who originally broke the Ibrahim story, whether he was a Coptic Christian and if this could have influenced his reporting.

The mind boggles. If a Coptic academic sees and translates a Jew-hating or anti-American tweet, is his reporting thereof invalid? Is everything now ethnically relative?

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Tribute to my Wife on Our 25th Anniversary

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

A century is a large amount of time and any significant slice thereof is itself significant. A child of divorce whose parent’s marriage ended after 13 years can be forgiven at his own sense of astonishment that his marriage has, with God’s infinite blessing, reached the quarter century mark.

Those who know us would congratulate me, but they would give all the credit to Debbie. There are those women, stable and sturdy, capable of sharing their lives with wounded men and restoring them. There exist in this broken and hollow world creatures of light who can give chase to the darkness in a man’s shattered heart. There are human seraphs the wings of whose healing glow can gently touch a man’s pain and make it vanish.

Debbie and I come from opposite backgrounds. My parents love me infinitely and have both been remarkable sources of inspiration. But the conflict I witnessed as a child was ultimately internalized. A child of divorce is born on the front lines. Witnessing his parent’s hurt, he is essentially denied a childhood, forced as he is to become something of a caregiver to his mother and father. Seeing that the world is harsh rather than tender, he puts his guard up and is unaware of a time when he allowed himself to be completely vulnerable.

Mine, like many children of divorce, is a life built on a bedrock of battles and it shows in some of the confrontations I have been prepared to endure for convictions I strongly believed in. But when you’re a young woman who stems from a marriage that is all sweetness and harmony, it can be an awakening to follow your newly-wed husband across the world from Australia to Oxford, England, right after your twentieth birthday. I was ready for the mêlée. Debbie was wondering what she had got herself into.

That she won over, and continues to win over, all whom she meets, due to her kind and giving heart, was perhaps predictable. Any one of the thousands upon thousands of people whom Debbie has hosted for Shabbos dinners over the last twenty-five years can bear testimony to the warmth of her hospitality and glow of her smile. But that she would flourish, amid an essentially shy nature, as a role model to countless women of how to be retain their essential femininity in an aggressively masculine age, was something that softened her entire environment. That she has done so while being the mother of nine children makes the achievement all the more remarkable.

Men ultimately fall in love with those women who bring out their best qualities. Among the innumerable stories I can recall was the time an important politician was coming to our home for Shabbos, and, since she was arriving with a large retinue, I asked Debbie to cancel our regular guests, among which was an elderly woman with no place else to go. Debbie told me she would, and that I was fortunate since, with even her own place empty, since she would be eating at the elderly woman’s apartment with her, I could have fit even more important people that Shabbos. “I remember when every soul was equal to you, Shmuley. That’s the man I married, and that’s the man you’re going to be.”

After our engagement we had a stormy period and I thought of calling it off. I interpreted Debbie’s gentility as detachment. I needed more than I felt she could give me. As I said goodbye to her and dropped her off, perhaps for the last time, I saw that her eyes were bloodshot. She said, “I know that you’re going to do great things in your life. I look forward to reading about it. Some people just have it. You’re one of those people. Goodbye.” In my stubbornness I drove off but stopped two blocks later. In my agony, two things went through my mind. First, causing pain to one so noble and gentle was a sin against God and goodness. Second, her words pierced the cynical layer of doubt that lacquered my soul and made me believe that God had given me, like everyone else, a unique gift. I turned the car around, begged her forgiveness, and we married a short time later.

The Ketubah as a Prenup

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

I was just reading an article in The Forward about a “Jewish prenuptial agreement” being upheld in the American courts.

For the first time, a state court has affirmed the constitutionality of a Modern Orthodox-sponsored prenuptial agreement meant to protect agunot — Jewish women “chained” by husbands who refuse to grant them a religious divorce. Read more.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I have always considered the Ketubah, Jewish Marriage “contract” to be a prenup of sorts.  Actually, it’s not a contract; it’s more of a signed pledge by the husband to give financial compensation to the wife if the marriage must end.

The main purpose of the ketubah is to prevent a husband divorcing his wife against her will, which, in talmudic times, he had the right to do. The knowledge that he had to pay his wife her ketubah would serve as a check against hasty divorce.

The wife promises nothing in return.  The Chabad site adds more information:

The ketubah is a binding document which details the husband’s obligations to his wife, showing that marriage is more than a physical-spiritual union; it is a legal and moral commitment. The ketubah states the principal obligations of the groom to provide his wife with food, clothing and affection along with other contractual obligations.

If the Ketubah would be taken seriously, as an enforceable legal document then there would be fewer agunot, “chained” women awaiting Jewish divorce from their husbands.  And maybe some men would think a lot more before threatening their wives with divorce.

What’s interesting is that the Ketubah actually gives the wife the upper hand in marriage.  It lists what the husband must do and basically takes for granted that the wife will do whatever is expected.  She doesn’t sign the document.

It’s too bad that the Ketubah isn’t taken more seriously in courts, both in Israel and abroad.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

What Jonathan Kay Got Wrong

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

I disagree with my colleague Jonathan Kay’s recent article “American super-hawks demand to know: ‘Are you Jew enough?’”

First, let me thank him for referring to me as “a feminist-turned anti-Islamist” and not as “anti-Muslim” or as an “Islamophobe.” However, in becoming an “anti-Islamist” I did not check my feminist credentials at the door; my work on honor-based violence, including honor killing among Muslims and Hindus (mainly in India) is pure feminist work. The victims are primarily women of color, and yes, in the West, they are primarily Muslims. I am championing their cause just as I have championed the cause of non-Muslim Western women. I work with Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents who share my Enlightenment values, a single universal standard of human rights, and who, like me, have taken a stand against the persecution of girls, women, homosexuals, free thinkers and pro-Israel advocates in the Muslim world.

Second, my good colleague Kay is wrong about the early demise of conspiracy theories and blood libels against the Jews. There are so many late 20th- and early 21st-century varieties: Zionism=Racism, the Mohammed al-Dura blood libel, the Jenin massacre libel, not to mention claims that Israelis are sterilizing the Palestinians, harvesting their organs for profit, and killing babies.

Many people in North America and Europe, as well as in the Muslim world, still believe that the forgery known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a true and accurate picture of Jews. Twenty first century European surveys, media coverage, cartoons, and direct verbal and physical attacks upon European Jews, Jewish Centers, and synagogues all document a rising hatred towards Jews and towards the only Jewish state (which is seen as controlling the world and the media). And, in 2012, a survey in the United States, found that 35 million American adults (or 15% of the population) believe that “Jews have too much power in the United States” and are “more willing to use shady practices.” More than 70 million American adults believed that American Jews are “more loyal to Israel than to America.”

I don’t know of any surveys that poll Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, or Muslim-Americans on the dual loyalty question.

We also know that Canadian universities sponsor Israel Apartheid Week quite regularly and activists, students and professors call for boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) from one country only: Israel. Not from Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or India where Muslim-on-Muslim, Muslim-on-Christian, and Muslim-on-Hindu violence and real gender and religious apartheid are epidemic. On Thursday, at Brooklyn College, in New York City, there was yet another hate fest, this time sponsored by an academic department and featuring Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler, who are both strong supporters of BDS. There are no opposing views being presented. Hate speech and falsehoods are now being granted the protection of academic freedom and, in America, the protection of the First Amendment.

Thus, I am worried — and Jonathan Kay should share my concern. Like me, Kay is a feminist and a civil libertarian. However, unlike myself, he is unable and unwilling to see how much anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism (today the two are twinned), is emanating from left-liberals: Western intellectuals, academics, artists, and journalists whose “politically correct” racism i.e. anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism has made common cause with Islamist forces who very clearly desire the extermination of one state only: The Jewish state, and who are at war with women and with Western values.

I welcome the support of Christian Zionists, Evangelicals, and conservatives. I will not mock them merely because we disagree on some other subjects any more than I would mock feminists because we disagree on other burning issues.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I did not label the Shin Bet or the filmmaker of “The Gatekeepers” as “suicidal and traitorous.” I wrote this: “To the extent to which this film is accurate I salute it. To the extent to which it is false, defamatory, biased, exaggerated — I consider it suicidal and traitorous.”

By the way, Kay should know that these Shin Bet heads went public in 2003, not in 2012, and that they are the ones who urged Prime Minister Sharon to pull out of Gaza. Which he did. Israel now has Hamastan and constant rocket barrages on her border. Does Kay believe this is actually good for humanity and for the Jews?

Stop Messing with our Children

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

In the Middle East, children are being used by the adults who should be caring for them to turn them into jihadist weapons to conquer the world — sometimes with bombs strapped onto them to kill their perceived enemies. Children are given gun training to learn how to kill Jews, and are told that dying for the sake of jihad is the highest honor and the only guarantee to go to heaven. If these are not abuses of the human rights of the child, what is? In the elementary school we attended in Gaza, the political and cultural agenda of the Arab world was pushed down our throats in effectively every subject.

American children today are also suffering from adult agendas shoved down their throats: the environmental agenda, the feminist agenda, the gay agenda, the Islamist agenda, the class-envy agenda, the racial-divide agendas, the animal-rights agenda, ad infinitum. What people in the West fail to see is that they, too, are using their children as weapons: as tools to bring about social, cultural and political change, often to destroy the American system as we know it and replace it with a new America that the popular culture and many Americans seem so desperate to accomplish.

Experiments in child rearing do not only happen in ignorant third world countries, where people do not know better. My daughter came home from high school asking which topic to pick for an essay she was asked to write. The topics were: suicide, mass murder, or being bullied and oppressed because you are gay or from a certain race or national background. When I suggested “none of the above,” her answer was that this was the list the teacher given.

Boys are told that what was once considered normal boy play. Roughhousing, has now become a crime, bullying. Girls are encouraged to perceive themselves as victims of men and marriage and to feel hurt about it.

The American political and social divides are trickling down to our schools and placing horrific pressure on our kids. In divorces, the father watches his kids taken away from him while the mother is told she can do everything on her own without a father. In political and cultural divisions, adults are also acting like hostile, divorcing parents tearing their kids apart during custody battles. As in the Middle East, where kids are unintentionally hurt for political, social and psychological experimentation, in America we are also usurping their innocence.

Adam Lanza, mentally ill or not, may not have had to end the way he did. He lacked fear of authority while living in the isolation of a large home with a mother desperate to please him by taking him shooting, buying assault weapons, guns and ammunition for a son she knew was not well. This mother was told by the popular culture that she could replace the father in her son’s life and that the son would not feel any difference whether the father’s activities were done by the father or her. This poor mother told her friends she was trying to bond with her 20-year-old son — what she unfortunately did not know was that this is an age when young men hate to be seen with their mothers.

American culture has hurt women, children and the family structure by telling women they could do everything, by telling men they are disposable and by telling girls that motherhood and marriage are unnecessary.

In the larger picture, the American epidemic of mass gun shootings by young men could be a cry for help by several generations of American kids who have suffered under decades of experimentation and indoctrination in our public schools. It could also be a cry for help by American single mothers, who are told they can take the role of both men and women in the family including the difficult task of raising young boys to adulthood alone. Women need a break; kids need fathers as much as they need mothers. They also need the traditional extended family relations: the nurturing grandmother, the funny uncle or aunt, cousins. It is time for America to end the self-righteous pressure on our kids to change America.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/stop-messing-with-our-children/2012/12/20/

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