This Thursday, September 11, Naomi Wolf and I will be debating the question, “Is Israel guilty of genocide in its war against Hamas?” at the Manhattan Jewish Experience on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Naomi is a friend of mine. We both have history at Oxford. She earned her degree as a Rhodes scholar and I served as rabbi to the students for 11 years. Naomi reached out to me for a book she was writing and having been a fan of her work I greatly enjoyed making her acquaintance. She subsequently attended Shabbat dinner with my family. Naomi’s books have raised important issues, particularly in the realm of women’s rights and social justice, which is why I was shocked when I learned that Naomi was involved in a blood libel against the State of Israel with false and shocking allegations of a Palestinian genocide.
In The New York Observer I pointed out that genocide is the targeting of a distinct ethnic group for mass murder and extermination. Describing Israel’s righteous and defensive war against the Hamas terrorists death cult as a genocide is itself an abomination.
Naomi responded to my article by asking whether the war in Gaza is what God truly wants from the Jewish people and mused on whether it is worth having a Jewish state if it means we must ferociously fight enemies and become hardened as a result.
I, in turn, responded that in all her condemnations of Israel Naomi manages to virtually omit all mention of the brutal attacks and true genocidal ambitions that Hamas has toward the Jewish state and the Jews. Naomi in an interview later said that she never meant by her words that the Jews didn’t need a Jewish state. I challenged her to a public debate and she graciously accepted.
Naomi asserts that she tries her very best to “be always nonpartisan” and endorses “a two-state solution as supported by Jimmy Carter.” But a brief perusal of her Facebook posts calls into question the above claims and exhibits a convoluted logic and naivety that leads to dangerous results when broadcast to a wide audience.
The first red flag is that despite Naomi being a world-renowned feminist, she at times seems to betray her own beliefs. In 2008 she wrote an article lauding the dress code for women in the Muslim world. She starts by describing “a woman swathed in black to her ankles, wearing a headscarf or a full chador walks down a European or North American street, surrounded by other women in halter tops, miniskirts and short shorts.”
She continues that while traveling in Morocco, Jordan and Egypt, she came to the conclusion that, “The West interprets veiling as repression of women and suppression of their sexuality.
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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.”
Now I am all for extolling the virtues of women who choose to dress modestly, but only when it is the product of choice and not coercion. In many countries, like Iran, women face prosecution for dressing immodestly and in countries like Afghanistan they face violent reprisals. Naomi also omits mention of the approximately 100 million Muslim women who have experienced some form of female genital mutilation.
Feminist author Phyllis Chesler, who herself lived in Afghanistan as a virtual slave in her marriage, responded to Naomi’s palliating and glaring omissions, writing, “Most Muslim girls and women are not given a choice about wearing the chador, burqa, abaya, niqab, jilbab, or hijab (headscarf), and those who resist are beaten, threatened with death, arrested, caned or lashed, jailed, or honor-murdered by their own families.” Chesler asked if Naomi was so “thoroughly unfamiliar with the news coming out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan on these very subjects.”
Naomi adds a small caveat at the end of her whitewash that says choice is important when it comes to dressing modesty. But this does nothing to correct the damage caused by her failure to call out and condemn the oppressive Middle Eastern cultural norms that many women endure on a daily basis.
Naomi has no issue in falsely condemning Israel for genocidal mass murder while simultaneously acting as an apologist for the suffering of far too many women at the hands of radical Islamists.
While she has the strongest distrust in every statement stemming from Israeli leaders, Naomi seems only too ready to believe almost anything coming from the mouth of Hamas terror leader Khaled Mashaal. With regard to the interview Mashaal gave to Charlie Rose, she wrote on 29 July, “Reposting. This interview seems reasonable. But in the US it is being spun as ‘Hamas leaders says he will never coexist with Israel.’ That is not exactly what he said... he said the occupation must end then Palestine can decide as a sovereign nation what its relationship to Israel shall be. Which is, as I understand it, how the law of nations works?” Naomi manages to somehow miss the dozens of recent videos in which Hamas leaders, including Mashaal, call for the total annihilation of Israel and the genocide of all its Jews.
In regard to another Mashaal interview she writes, “Elias Eskander says that this interview shows Hamas asking for ‘67 borders not to wipe out Israel.... Take that Fox news!” She writes this even while the official Hamas charter continues to call for the murder of every Jew in every country on the face of the earth.
Naomi repeatedly questions what solid evidence exists that the tunnels leading into Israel were actually meant to be used to murder and kidnap civilians. I assume she thinks they were perhaps built as a kind of Cony Island Tunnel of Love.
She ignores the thousand of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas whose only intention is the mass murder of her own people.
Her dedication to defending Hamas seems to be something of an irrational addiction. In one post she defends Hamas by condemning people who “repeat the uncritical allegations of the IDF that Hamas is ‘hiding’ among civilians. Where else the f--- are they supposed to go NOT to ‘hide’? Gaza is all civilian! There is no battlefield!” This astonishing comment demonstrates not only a total ignorance of Gaza topography but justifies Hamas using schools for weapons caches and infirmaries and hospitals to fire rockets. It would also deny Israel the right to defend itself so long as Hamas terrorists reside among civilians.
But not content to demonize Israel, Naomi is so enmeshed with conspiracy theories that she even questions whether ISIS is a true threat. Last Saturday she posted, “And I am very sorry to report that Obama has put together a coalition of nine moneygrubbing War Inc oligarchs, sorry, allied nations, to hunt ISIS creating pretext for all kinds of metanational heavy breathing mayhem.”
One can only assume that by “creating pretext” she is referring to the thousands of innocent Arabs that ISIS has shot in the head and crucified. It seems that if Arabs murder other Arabs Naomi has no real objection just as long as they are not Palestinian terrorists killed by Israel.
While Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and Americans are beheaded by ISIS, Naomi chooses to philosophize and ponder at leisure just how bad ISIS truly is. Perhaps she should talk to one of the thousands of young Arab girls who have been sold into sexual slavery by ISIS to determine if this constitutes the kind of evil to which a renowned feminist ought to object.
An analysis of Naomi’s views demonstrates an irreconcilable contradiction between her feminist, humanitarian side and the radical left-wing propaganda she has so thoroughly embraced.
Naomi’s decision to side with the latter has not only contributed to her trivializing genocide. Sadly, it has utterly undermined her credentials as a champion of women the world so sorely needs.The author, “America’s rabbi,” is founder of This World: The Values Network, the foremost organization influencing politics, media and culture with Jewish values. The international best-selling author of 30 books, he has just published Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer.
His debate with Naomi Wolf will take place this Thursday, September 11, at 131 W. 86th St. at 7 p.m. Tickets available at www.shmuley.com. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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