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My Jewish Feminist Problem

Why my sisters can’t think straight about Israel

Phyllis Chesler
December 16, 2014
(Tablet Magazine / Esther Werdiger)
(Tablet Magazine / Esther Werdiger)

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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.


I have been talking to a number of Arabs and Muslims from around the world. They are all educated and worldly people. One man, let me call him Mohammed, came for dinner. He is fluent in five languages, tells charming stories, and knows “everyone” in the Islamic world. He enjoys unmasking the hypocrisy of tyrants and mullahs. He shocked even me as he described the foibles of major Islamic figures who are cocaine and opium addicts, alcoholics, liars, thieves, incredibly stupid, vain, insane, and so on. They shall remain nameless since I have no way of knowing whether this information is true or not.

Mohammed joyfully zeroed in on hypocrisy. For example, according to my friend, “The Saudi princes use religion; they themselves are not particularly religious. For example, they drink. [Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol.] Once, when I was in Pakistan, my host and I went to five black market liquor stores. They were all sold out. And why? Because a world Islamic conference was taking place in town!”

This man—so charming, so well-informed—earnestly pressed upon me three Internet articles that “proved that the Zionists really do run America.” The fact that he understands that America is the world’s supreme super-power does not stop him from believing that the Zionists—who run a country about the size of New Jersey—also control both America and the world. Nothing I said could change his mind. Eventually, he politely, wisely, changed the subject.

If I cannot persuade him that the Zionists really do not run America, how can I hope to persuade other educated Muslims?

Another friend, an elegant woman from an Islamic non-Arab country who has lived in exile in Paris for a long time, unsettled me with a long and eloquent diatribe against America. She reminded me of Europe’s colonial past, the untold grief it caused, the arrogant carving up of the Ottoman Empire by Britain and France, and of America’s long and ugly history of funding corrupt and sadistic tyrants in every Islamic country. She is, by and large, correct. (Strangely, she was not angry at the French whom, I have been told, “went native” in a way that the British did not).

She tells me: “Please understand, what is going on is that the frustration of the people has finally boiled over. It has come time to pay the price for America’s having backed the Shah of Iran, a man who was not even royal, just the son of an army colonel, bought and paid for by the Americans. The Shah stole $36 billion from his people when he fled Iran—and who protected him and his money? The Americans. The American oil companies—that’s who runs the American government! They wanted to create a pipeline running through Afghanistan and they wanted to stop the Soviets. That’s why they approached and funded the Pakistanis who are hardcore religious zealots, who turned around and created the Taliban out of the illiterate and impoverished Afghan refugees. The Taliban were originally supposed to ride shotgun and protect the new gas and oil pipeline that would run through Afghanistan. Well, that did not work out. So now, America has put a new puppet, Hamid Karzai, in place. Everyone knows that Saddam Hussein is a blood-thirsty animal. But who put him there? The Americans. Again, the reason was oil and gas. If the Americans get rid of him they’ll only put another puppet in his place. That’s why 9/11 happened.”

She pauses, briefly, then says, “And that’s why America has got to stop backing Israel. When and if it does, that will signal to the Islamic world that America is interested in brokering some justice.”

I am somewhat speechless but quickly say, “Assuming America abandons Israel to its enemies, assuming that another sacrificial bloodbath of Jews takes place, how will that change the historical record or improve matters in the rest of the Islamic world?”

She answers me by coolly saying that “15 percent of the United States Senate is Jewish. The American Jewish Israel Lobby is very powerful. They will never allow America to broker a just peace in the Middle East.” Actually, the 108th Congress (which includes both the Senate and the House) has 535 members of whom 37 or 7 percent are Jews. But no matter.


I have lived and loved both in the Islamic and in the Jewish-Israeli world. My son’s father is an Israeli who now lives in America, and I have remained active in Israeli feminist politics, first as a secular activist, then more recently as a religious rights activist. But I also remain close to my first husband, a Muslim from Afghanistan, who also lives here, and to his second wife and grown Turkish-Afghan children. Both husbands are soft-spoken and charming; each has deep black eyes and an olive complexion. I think of them as the sons of Yishmael and of Yitzhak. I also understand that, unlike their Biblical prototypes, these half-brothers are now worlds apart.

I first learned how different the Judeo-Christian West and the Islamic East really are long ago, in the early 1960s, when I was a bride living in Afghanistan in an era of pre-Taliban gender apartheid. Afghanistan had never been colonized, so there were no Westerners to blame. It was there that I learned how not to romanticize wily, colorful, third-world tyrants.

Scholars do not often gain access to insider information for years. When they finally do gain access, they also tend to disagree with one another about what the documents mean. Today, one scholar tells us that Jews flourished under Islam. A second scholar strongly disagrees and insists that Islam persecuted Jews, Christians, and all infidels on a continuous basis. A third scholar tells us that the truth is more complicated than that and may lie somewhere in between “savage persecution” and “robust flourishing.” A fourth scholar says that what is happening today bears little resemblance to what happened five or ten centuries ago.

I am not a scholar in this area. I only know that I loved the “soft-and-easy” of Islamic and Arab countries and people, their sophisticated ceremonialism and familial intimacy, their trade-route jingle-jangle. My sense is that Islam was once, in some ways, in some places, for some people, more live-and-let-live than it is today. After all, Muslims once presided over cosmopolitan cities, great cross-roads of civilization, silk-routes, caravans, scientific academies. David Warren is a non-expert expert. He is a Protestant Canadian who grew up in Lahore, Pakistan. He posted the most interesting lecture, “Wrestling with Islam” on the Internet. In this lecture he reminds us that the strength of Islam was that it stayed in the background.

The religion wasn’t oppressive because it did not have an independent Church-like vanguard…[During] the Golden Muslim Age in Al-Andalus the Arab Court in Spain was not necessarily religious, at least compared to the courts in contemporary Europe. The glorious city of Cordova was where Europe went in the Middle Ages to learn Greek, and some table manners; to see fabulous gardens and noble homes; paved roads and street lighting; indoor plumbing and outdoor irrigation that made the desert bloom; ladies in splendid finery; international banks—they came and felt like country bumpkins.

Likewise, Baghdad, in the time before the Mongol invasion, was the center of the civilized world, the New York of the 12th century. Intellectuals would migrate there…looking for a job, or a chance to study…[T]hey came because they preferred the more open atmosphere in the Islamic realm, the big city feel.

I, too have romantic memories of life in the Islamic East and of a way of life that may no longer exist. I have known utterly charming, truly enchanting Muslims. Yes, prick them and they will bleed. Long ago, in Afghanistan, I personally experienced enormous kindness, humor, and good-naturedness among Muslims—more among the women and children than among the men, but still, even among the men. The ritualized importance of guests and the stately pace of each meal were balm to my spirit. I had longed for a slower pace, a grand, biblical intimacy, and I had found it.

In Kabul, behind closed doors, I also observed many kinds of resistance: poking fun at the mullahs, the civil service, the monarchy: protecting or at least comforting female relatives about their husbands’ cruelties, which included normalized rape, battery, and the taking of second and third wives. I do not believe that militant Islam—which is the most serious practitioner of gender apartheid in the world—is capable of destroying such individual acts of sanity and goodness.

I sometimes experience the strangest but most profound nostalgia for Afghanistan. What can I be thinking? Forty-two years ago, when I was there, my mother-in-law tried to convert me to Islam almost every day—this, even as she proudly insisted that some of her best friends, the Sharbonis, had been Jews. My new relatives were utterly willing to accept me, but only if I became more Afghan, less American—something that I would never do.

Still, I am not likely to forget certain heart-stopping, eerily familiar sights, sounds, tastes, smells that, at the time, moved me so: flocks of sheep, camel-caravans, fierce, tender, turbaned men armed with rifles, stars so thick and close-clustered you’d think you could touch them (Afghanistan is more than 5,000 feet above the sea); ancient bazaars, awesome mountains (I could see the foothills of the Himalayan mountains from my bedroom window); minarets; the muezzin’s hoarse call; cooking outdoors on an open fire; delicious, too-sweet candies flavored with roses (!); exquisite, salted pistachios; communal sandalis (which warmed one’s feet on freezing nights); turquoise-colored ceramic hookahs (also known as hubble-bubbles), in which one smoked tobacco or hashish.

Nevertheless, my life as an American, a Jew, and a wife was cheap and I nearly died there. All great adventures take their toll. Many Western adventurers whose hearts are in the East invariably come crawling back with malaria, minus a limb, minus their sanity, with their tongues cut out, either literally or metaphorically. Today, romance aside, jihadic Islam is no longer soft and lovely. It is quite the opposite: aggressively programmatic, intolerant, savagely misogynistic, and militaristic in quite a new way.

The refusal of corrupt Arab and Muslim leaders to allow for open societies, their long history of pocketing the wealth for themselves and of torturing and executing dissidents, and the history of honor killings, ethnic rivalries, and slavery in the Islamic world are also to blame for Arab and Muslim suffering. Such barbarous customs preceded both Zionism and the “Evil American Empire,” which cannot then logically be blamed for such barbarisms.

My so-called “Western” feminism was certainly forged in that beautiful and treacherous country where I observed and experienced the abysmal oppression of women, children, and servants.

I regret nothing. I am not recanting my ideals as an anti-racist or as a feminist; nor have I gone over to the dark side. And yet, and yet, I must now calmly but clearly part company with many of my former friends and colleagues.

This is not the first time that an internationally-minded Jew has found herself in this position. I now find it necessary and sane to think tribally as well as internationally, to think as an American and as a Jew who is not only concerned with justice for all but also with the survival of America and of the Jewish people.

There is no shame in this, only honor.

Thus, on my left stand the internationalists (some of whom are Jews). I may remain among them as long as I am strongly anti-Zionist and anti-religious Judaism. For my part, I must also remain silent as the internationalists embrace all ethnicities and demonize only one: mine. On my right, are the ultranationalists and theocrats (some of whom are Jews). They will forgive my history as a firebrand feminist as long as I don’t mention it, especially if I allow them to think I have renounced it.


I had first encountered anti-Semitism among women on the feminist left in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During that period it was quite fashionable among the “radical chic” to despise Israel as a “racist,” Eurocentric state, a puppet of U.S. imperialism, and oppressor of the newly underdog Palestinians. Never mind the actual ethnic and cultural diversity of the emerging Jewish state, the intransigence of the surrounding Arab nations in their stated intention to destroy Israel and push the Jews back into the sea where they had come from. No, my feminist friends and colleagues could not tolerate this little nation’s struggle for identity and survival against overwhelming odds because the Israelis were Jews, and Jews were held to a different standard. They were fair game for self-righteous attacks from progressive feminists who were, in my opinion, guilty of frank and outright anti-Semitism.

I called anti-Semitism by its rightful name immediately and have not stopped doing so ever since. But my credentials as a radical were impeccable, so when I began wearing big Jewish stars to rallies, I was neither challenged nor shunned. Perhaps my Star of David was seen as a mere fashion statement; perhaps I got away with it because I was the “right” kind of Jew: secular, ideologically sophisticated, universalistic, anti-racist. I had even been married to a Muslim. I worked with Iranian Muslims against the Shah. I was one cool Jew.

What do I mean by anti-Semitism? I mean the raw and filthy kind, in which the prejudice is both blatant and eroticized, without any left political cover. For example, I once rescued a (Christian) feminist colleague from being psychiatrically institutionalized against her will. Afterwards, she treated me to a monologue about how “The Jews are dirtying up the beaches.” Poor soul, she reminded me that when one goes mad, one’s political or philosophical orientation cannot withstand the ideas embedded in our collective unconscious. A stream of anti-Semitic vitriol came flying out of this genius’s mouth.

Another (Christian) feminist confided in me. She said that in her view, “the pushy Jews had taken over the feminist and lesbian movements;” she was very unhappy about this. She was proud of her friendship with one particular Jewish woman, but she also viewed the “pushy” Jewish women as “slutty, sexy” scoundrels.

A third feminist, an African-American (Christian) woman of enormous beauty and dignity continually confronted me, albeit privately. She said: “How can you call yourself a feminist and still support Israel, an apartheid state?” Nothing I ever said about Israel ever got through to her. She understood the symbolic and political importance of African-Americans converting to Islam, of African nationalism; she simply did not extend the courtesy to the Jews.

A fourth feminist, who was living and teaching in Colorado, told me that she’d been thrown out of her feminist consciousness-raising group for being “too pushy, too smart, too verbal.” I was astounded. “Are you Jewish?” I asked. “Was anyone else Jewish in your group?”

“No, I was the only one. But I never thought of it this way.”

A fifth feminist blamed Betty Friedan’s homophobia and woman-hatred primarily on her “heterosexual Judaism.” A sixth feminist blamed what she saw as Bella Abzug’s rage and self-destructive ambition on her Judaism and probable Zionism. (I must say that Bella was as compassionate as she was angry and that her Zionism was of a limited nature.)

Encountering such anti-Semitism within progressive political circles sent me straight to Israel for the first time. In 1972, when I was in Tel Aviv, I remember coming upon a review of my recently published first book, Women and Madness, in Time magazine. Freud was caricatured as a big-nosed, ugly, pygmy-midget, clearly “in lust” with the tall, blonde Viking Princess on his couch. The pure racism just leapt off the page at me. I was shocked. I hated the anti-Semitic illustration even more than the reviewer’s anti-feminist bias.

Between 1973 and 1975 I tried, but, with the exception of Aviva Cantor and Cheryl Moch, failed to interest other Jewish feminists in meeting on a continuous basis to discuss the problem of anti-Semitism. At the time, one rising feminist light said: “Phyllis, it may be a problem, but it’s not my problem.” Another said that she didn’t identify as a Jew anyway—and hoped I’d give it up too.

By the late 1970s I had begun working for the United Nations. I coordinated a conference in Oslo that took place right before the 1980 United Nations World Conference on Women in Copenhagen. I saw with my own eyes how the entire agenda, both officially and unofficially, was hijacked by the PLO, Soviet Russia, the Arab League, and Khomeini’s Iran. The official United Nations conference voted 94 to 4 for a 186-point “plan of action” that included a paragraph that listed Zionism as one of the world’s main evils, along with colonialism and apartheid. Cuba submitted this amendment when the conference formally opened.

Copenhagen was my first post-modern “pogrom,” and I put it in quotes because it was not like the pogroms of old in which synagogues were torched, women raped, babies thrown up on bayonets, men tortured and murdered. It was something else: a “pogrom” of non-stop words and ideas, an exercise in total intimidation perhaps similar to those perfected in Russia and China that are supposed to result in ego-breakdown, “confession,” a show trial, and death. There is no absolution. The method was now being fine-tuned for use in an international setting filled with ardent, active, naive women.

Official delegates blamed their own regional problems on Zionism and apartheid. Bands of 30 to 50 Soviet-trained Arab and Iranian women, headed by PLO representatives roved the hallways. They had been trained to interrupt each and every NGO panel and to take them over with propaganda against America and against Israel. Their behavior was that of attackers on the march, bullies. They did not pretend to be feminists or to be concerned with women. They did not have to be: No one held them to this standard.

The bullies made no eye contact with anyone as they yelled “Jews must die! Israel must die! Israel kills babies and tortures women. Israel must go!” Many of the unofficial panels were also rigged so that moderators only called upon pro-PLO speakers from the audience. In one panel, they interrupted a speaker for five full minutes with the following chant: “Cuba sí, yanqui no, PLO, PLO!” I heard women say: “The only good Jew is a dead Jew,” and “Zionism is a disease which must be attacked at the cellular level.”

Mina Ben-Zvi, who had commanded the Israeli women’s armed forces in the 1948 War of Independence, wept in my arms. She could not believe that both Israelis and Jews could still be so irrationally hated. Many Jewish women were completely unprepared for the battle-level animosity, its uniformity, omnipresence, ruthlessness. I had personally sent for civil rights member of Knesset Shula Aloni, the founder of Israel’s Civil Rights Party (Meretz) to debate Leila Khaled, who in 1969 became the first Palestinian woman to hijack a plane (TWA), which she had flown to Damascus.

“I will only talk to her out of the barrel of a gun,” Khaled said.

Aloni was unfazed, as was Tamar Eshel, then the head of Na’amat. But, most other Israeli Jewish women experienced Copenhagen as a psychological pogrom. For months afterward, many could not and would not talk about it. They would start talking, then start crying, or start talking and abruptly stop; they said that they were unable to convey what Copenhagen had been like in words.

Thus, anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist goon squads were already well-trained and on the march long before Israel was forced to invade Lebanon in 1982. Such programmed hate was upon us long before Sharon ascended the Temple Mount in 2000. And it rained down upon us from both the left and the right, and from all four corners of the globe.

In 1980, in Copenhagen and Oslo, I met otherwise pleasant and progressive Scandinavians who automatically supported the PLO and automatically hated Israel—reason be damned. As socialists, they had already been well programmed to espouse the most profound disgust and hatred for all things American, Jewish, and Zionist—and in the most aggressive manner. Their considerable anger with religion did not lead them to march against the Vatican, but it did lead them to “march” symbolically against the Zionists. Their anger at imperialism did not lead the Danes or their counterparts all over Europe to demand that France, England, Holland, Spain, and Germany pay serious reparations to all those whom they formerly colonized; but it did lead them and their European counterparts to scapegoat both America and Israel, as America’s “imperialist” outpost in the Middle East.


For years, I have attended a number of synagogues in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. All pride themselves on being politically correct. Thus, most members remain adamantly and aggressively concerned with the plight of the Palestinians and consumed with hatred for Israel. In one synagogue, the rabbi carefully, dutifully, announced pro-Palestinian and anti-American marches as “peace” marches and remained relatively quiet in public about any pro-Israel marches. I understood he wanted to keep his job but this was still very disquieting, disappointing. One day, I committed an unforgivable crime in that synagogue. After services, I stood up and said that the United Nations had just voted to condemn Israel. I said nothing else. I was not yelling or crying or emotionally demonstrative in any way.

Afterwards, a woman whom I did not know came up to me and began haranguing me at close quarters. “I know who you are,” she said, darkly, menacingly. Her rage was enormous, totally unexpected, and frightening; she was quivering with it. I thought she would hit me. I stood there, white-faced. This was the level of rage that I’d encountered long ago when I’d debated people about abortion or pornography—and when I’d worked on locked psychiatric wards. I did not want to engage in such a hateful dialogue in a synagogue and on a Shabbos (Sabbath).

I absorbed all her vicious words until I could bear them no more and then I tried to appease her by reminding her that I was still a Jew, and still a progressive—not the Devil, not her enemy. She would have none of it and after having had her say, stormed off. I stood there, a little faint. A friend passed by. She stopped, touched my elbow, asked me if I was all right.

“No,” I said. “I am definitely not all right.”

A few weeks later, I found myself at a Passover Seder at a friend’s Manhattan home. I was seated opposite a young Italian Jewish woman. We talked about Italian and French writers. My crime this time was mentioning, with admiration, a well-known European intellectual who had decided to leave the Communist party and who was, in addition, a strong supporter of Israel. Woe! She turned out to be a Communist party member whose command of English was painful to the ear. For a full 15 minutes, she skewered both this man and Israel as if his defection from the Communist party was brought about by Zionists like me. She grated on, nonstop, against Israel and against anyone who would dare support the “criminal, Zionist state.”

Please understand: She did this during a Passover Seder. My guard was down, I felt violated as if I’d been dealt a blow to the stomach while at prayer. It’s hard to say whether I suffered more from her training in interpersonal brutality, her lack of respect both for the occasion and for her elders (that’s me, because I am more than 30 years her senior), or from the harshness of her accent in English.

She was young, smart; perhaps we could try to “hear” each other. I asked her to step away from the table with me—not to fight but because I did not want to engage in a public debate with her. My heart was heavy with grief on the subject of Israel and terrorism; I had no easy answers, certainly no doctrinaire answers. For another 15 minutes I tried to talk with her about the tragic history of the Jews, about Israel’s long time commitment to semi-socialism and democracy, about the various super-utopian pro-peace projects that Israelis have engaged in. Her mind was closed, as was her heart. Nothing any Israeli had ever done was right; the country itself was a crime against the left.

I left the Seder early.

I am not saying that these women are not entitled to express themselves or that I even disagree with everything they have to say. Over the years, I have probably made some of their same points. What struck me in each instance was their level of anger: righteous, vicious, merciless. I might almost say it was a pathological level of anger, but I think it is something else as well: These women have been politically energized and empowered to express their anger—mainly on this subject and mainly against other Jews. The very women who might be “angry” about sexism or about human rights atrocities everywhere else in the world are eerily silent on all subjects save one: Israel‘s wrongdoing.

In the 1960s, Albert Memmi, a Tunisian-born Jew who lived in exile in Paris, wrote a number of mournfully elegant books about Jewish (male) self-hatred and anti-Semitism. Permit me, in his honor, to say a few words about female Jewish self-hatred and anti-Semitism.

Many progressive Jewish women, both here and in Israel, seem obsessed with the Palestinian point of view. (It seems to be a new form of Orthodoxy.) It reminds me, just a wee bit, of the women who used to march outside the Museum of Natural History protesting the experiments on animals, but who refused to march for abortion rights or against rape. I believe that their rage against the oppression and frustration in their lives, and against patriarchy in general is being unconsciously transferred onto Israel in particular. All wrongs are Israeli; all rights are Palestinian. American Jewish feminist pacifists are romanticizing or at least justifying fundamentalist terrorism; they reserve their pacifist standards only for the Jewish state.

Of course, both Jews and women have been underdogs for so long that whenever a battle exists, both Jews and women tend to root for the underdog. But, at some point, for reasons not entirely clear and that may amount to a form of group madness, a good number of American Jewish feminists stopped fighting for women’s rights in America and began fighting for the rights of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Had they given up on themselves—or was this a blind bid for the most politically-correct-of-them-all-prize? Was this a classic assimilationist tactic—or were they truly trying to practice Jewish religious ethics in a secular way? I am not sure, but I agree with Jacques Givet, the author of The Anti-Zionist Complex, when he says

That there should be Jews to challenge the existence of Israel and indulge in lengthy public self-questioning on this theme represents warped thinking, a breach of faith, and a human tragedy. And this is a unique phenomenon, no Algerian, Cambodian, Chilean, Czech (and now, Afghan) exile, however bitterly opposed to his current government, questions his country’s right to exist. … The language of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism—blatant, insinuating, grotesque or vulgar—is monotonous enough, testifying more to the existence of a psychological malaise than to any originality of thought.

What does a Jew, a female Jew, do when she is faced with a conflict between her desire to lead her one precious life and the reality that her tribe is under siege? Some Jewish women marry and multiply as quickly as possible so that Hitler will not have the last word, to make up (not that this can ever be done) for the missing 6 million. Some Jewish women refuse to be limited by misogynist tribal demands and insist on identifying themselves in other ways.

A Jew can pretend to herself that she is not really Jewish, or rather, that she is the “right” and only acceptable kind of Jew (assimilated, anti-religious, anti-Zionist, pro-peace, and ironically, pro-PLO) and therefore does not and should not have to deal with anti-Judaism or anti-Semitism. It is not her problem; if and when it becomes her problem—clearly, it is the fault of the other “bad” Jews who are stubbornly, stiff-neckedly, refusing to melt away among the nations. To fit in, get along, disappear.

The Jewish problem is not, God forbid, Christian or Muslim anti-Semitism. Not at all. What plagues Jews are … other Jews. Jews get other Jews into trouble. They are too rich or too poor, too pushy or too passive, too clannish or too internationalist, too Zionist, too anti-Zionist, too … Jewish.

Adapted from the revised and updated edition of The New Anti-Semitism.


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Phyllis Chesler is the author of 18 books including the landmark feminist classics Women and Madness (1972), Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman (2002), and An American Bride in Kabul (2013), which won a National Jewish Book Award. Her new memoir is titled A Politically Incorrect Feminist. She is a founding member of the Original Women of the Wall.

Phyllis Chesler is the author of 20 books, including the landmark feminist classics Women and Madness (1972), Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman (2002), An American Bride in Kabul (2013), which won a National Jewish Book Award, and A Politically Incorrect Feminist. Her most recent work is Requiem for a Female Serial Killer. She is a founding member of the Original Women of the Wall.

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