ATTENTION BOOK CLUBS!
You are cordially invited to attend my book events. The following is a current list of my appearances which I will update over time. For further information about all events please contact the sponsoring organization.
This Bride Wears Aqua On Camera
Here is a video that is now up on YouTube. In May it will have a permanent home at Palgrave's new website. We shot this video in the Flatiron Building, where Palgrave is located. I love their Belle Epoque elevators, the lacy black grillwork. As it rises, I always imagine I am in Paris before World War One and am holding a parasol and wearing a hat. I am answering questions about An American Bride in Kabul. Enjoy!
Most women—men too--are already exhausted long before the first Pesach Seder: they have been cleaning, swapping out sets of dishes, shopping for food, new clothes for children, inviting guests, accepting invitations as well as last minute guests--all before they even step foot in shul. Then, after days of creating or serving matza-based cakes, puddings, kugels, candies, entertaining guests and being entertained, exhaustion has reached a fever pitch. "Will Pesach ever end?" "Each year we leave Egypt but each year we're back there again." "Will we ever really leave Egypt?"
Such exhaustion often allows for transcendent experiences.
This is perfect since the last days of Pesach represent a mystical and messianic moment.
Sometimes, an exhausted Jew can actually see the future and experience it with his or her whole being in the present. This is precisely what Miriam and the women do when they sing and dance with joy, accompanied by their drums or tambourines, in recognition of God's miraculous redemption at the Reed Sea.
Sometimes the future is also pre-figured in the beginning.
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:
The Brandeis professors who demanded that Ayaan Hirsi Ali be "immediately" dis-invited wrote that "we are filled with shame at the suggestion that (Hirsi Ali's) above-quoted sentiments express Brandeis's values." The professors also castigated Hirsi Ali for her "core belief of the cultural backwardness of non-western peoples" and for her suggestion that "violence toward girls and women is particular to Islam." The professors note that such a view "obscure(s) such violence in our midst among non-Muslims, including on our own campus."
This is exactly what these professors are teaching the more than four thousand Brandeis students who signed a petition to rescind Ayaan Hirsi Ali's award. (Read it here.)
Are eight year-old girls being genitally mutilated at Brandeis or forced into polygamous marriages with men old enough to be their grandfathers? Are they being forcibly face-veiled or honor murdered for refusing to marry their first cousins? Perhaps they are being executed because they have been raped, for leaving an abusive marriage, or for daring to express an independent opinion?
That's me! Please enjoy this brief and utterly charming video interview which appears at New York Natives. Click HERE to watch video.
On a more sober note, please find what I've written about Passover in the pages of the international edition of the Jerusalem Post. Click HERE to download.
Long ago, in Jerusalem, in Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, King David's son, famously wrote: "There is nothing new under the sun."
How right he was. Brandeis's decision to disinvite Ayaan Hirsi Ali is "nothing new" under the liberal Waltham sun.
In 2003, Brandeis partnered with Al-Quds University—and did so, year after year, until 2013, when violent demonstrations broke out on the Al-Quds campus, replete with traditional Nazi salutes.
In 2006, the Brandeis community of students and professors did not protest the Distinguished Professorship Brandeis awarded to the "inflammatory" anti-Zionist playwright Tony Kushner.
In 2006, Brandeis also staged a "Voices of Palestine" exhibit. Seventeen paintings by Palestinian youths depicted their lives under Israeli "occupation." This time, refreshingly, Brandeis students had the exhibit taken down because there was absolutely no Israeli perspective being exhibited.
This was not surprising. There usually isn't an Israeli perspective exhibited. Kudos to these Brandeis students.
By now, we all know that Brandeis University was about to bestow an honor on the elegant and distinguished author and activist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, best known for her critique of Islam, her decision to leave Islam, and her championship of Muslim women's rights.
One might understand why an apostate intellectual might be in danger in Somalia, the country of her birth, or in Saudi Arabia, where she once lived.
However, she has just been dishonored by Brandeis University, which withdrew its offer of a Distinguished Professorship because the Muslim Brotherhood in America, known to us as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its national student group, the Muslim Students Association, which is also allied with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) mounted a successful campaign against the award. Both CAIR and ISNA are unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing case.
CAIR provided the Muslim Student Association (MSU) at Brandeis with outdated, out-of-context, and highly inflammatory quotes from Hirsi Ali. They did not provide her thought-provoking, stirring, moving passages of which there are many. Brandeis simply caved to the lynch mob.
I have been in an Afghanistan state of mind lately--but I have also been alarmed by Saudi policy on atheism and on not allowing Jewish-American journalists in to cover an American President's visit; the persecution of Arab Christians by Arab Muslims and the silence of the Western mainstream media; the human rights records of China and Iran; the pimping of British children ("easy meat") by male Muslim gangs. I promise, if spring actually arrives, I will write about it but until then--here is a round-up of what's caught my attention.
Amazing Afghan Photos by Niedringhaus
Yesterday, a fearless and legendary leader of Jewish women, Rivka Haut, was memorialized, mourned and buried.
The funeral took place at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale on March 31. Rabbi Avi Weiss compared Rivka to black fire and white fire — the black fire are the letters and words of the Torah, the white fire, upon which these words are written, are more fluid, tender, kind. Just like Rivka. It was an apt and yet extraordinary comparison.
There was a delay in bringing the casket into the synagogue. And so I said, to lighten the moment, "Rivka has probably flown the coop. She cannot bear such attention and so much praise." People laughed. Here is what I said at Rivka's funeral:
"Easy meat" is how Islamic doctrine looks at the abuse of non-Muslim women. And now it is documented in the UK.
Soeren Kern has just published an article about child sex slavery in the UK. He focuses on a new report about the large-scale "grooming" of non-Muslim girls (11-16) by gangs of Muslim men into sex slavery. These men do not prey upon Muslim girls. The government, police force, and media have been "multi-culturally correct" and very reluctant to expose this phenomenon or to charge these men. The government, police force, and media have been "multi-culturally correct" and very reluctant to expose this phenomenon or to charge these men.
I am sure that many feminists would say that men all over the world buy and sell women, kidnap or trick them into prostitution. And they are right. But they are wrong to refuse to focus on Pedophilia and Sex Slavery wherever and whenever this monster rears its ugly head.
I begin to understand why people have increasingly shortened their words, going from handwritten letters to computer-driven email to a few sentences on Facebook to a limited number of characters on Twitter. It is very Talmudic--and haiku-like, very much "on the run," both easier and harder to reduce one's thoughts to a few, very carefully chosen words. Pictures also draw people in. But so do worthy causes. So far, what I posted about the upcoming execution of a young Iranian woman has attracted almost 1000 readers who, in turn, may have shared my request to sign a petition on her behalf with many others. Here are some of my recent FB postings.
Surrogacy: The Evisceration of Biological Motherhood?
I have been busily posting at Facebook and growing quite a following. The discussions are often interesting, sometimes even riveting. I fear that FB has become something of a discipline, a habit, a practice. I see that many people post "selfies" or beautiful photos of Nature and share what they ate for breakfast, what glamorous restaurant they are in at the very moment, birth and death announcements, calls for action. Me--not so much. But for what it's worth, here is some of what has been on my mind. Today, a letter of mine has appeared in the New York Times.
My home town newspaper had a front page story about an impoverished Afghan couple who had fallen in love. The would-be bride's parents threatened to honor (horror) kill her because her beloved belongs to another tribe; also, they want her to marry her cousin. And so: Our Juliet is living in a shelter for women and Romeo is roaming the streets in despair. And today my letter responding to this article is in the New York Times.
Daughter Killing in Texas
And so, twelve years after I started writing my now out-of-print book, "The New Anti-Semitism: The Coming Crisis and What To Do About It"; eleven years after I published it in 2003, I am counted as one of the experts on the subject.
My words are joined by those of Irwin Cotler, Hasia Diner, Michel Gurfinkiel, David Mamet, Cynthia Ozick, Alvin Rosenfeld, Charles Small, who are grappling with the question of "Anti-Semitism. Where Does It Come From and Why Does it Persist? What are its New Forms? Will It Ever Go Away?"
Our answers vary. Jews have always been "outsiders and enemies;" Judaism has been viewed as an "antiquated" or as a "corrupting" religion. Anti-Semitism is a way of "externalizing evil," explaining "economic patterns," provides a "convenient scapegoat," is "misdiagnosed in America," is "complex and contentious," is a "politically correct disease, "an example of "Holocaust inversion," of "state-sanctioned hatred," is due to "Radical political Islam," and remains "an omnipresent threat."
As a young bride, I once lived in a harem in Afghanistan. It was a nearly fatal adventure but I survived, escaped, and learned about gender and religious apartheid long before the Taliban. My firebrand American feminism was probably forged in purdah in the early 1960s. However, something called me Eastward and I have remained involved with the Islamic world.
Today, decades later, I work with Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents and feminists. They do not understand why Western feminists do not stand with them as they oppose normalized honor based violence, extreme state violence (think Iran, Saudi Arabia), and utter lawlessness when it comes to the torture and murder of girls and women.
Most recently, a law has been proposed in Afghanistan that will make it impossible for a woman whose family has beaten, tortured, or tried to kill her, to lodge a complaint of any kind. Such complaints are seen as endangering family unity. Orwell would understand this.
But why would intelligent and educated Western feminists remain blind to such crimes in America?
Last night, I was honored by the Museum of Motherhood and inducted into their Hall of Fame, as were Drs. Andrea O'Reilly and Barbara Katz Rothman.
All three of us have done research and activism on behalf of mothers and motherhood. The room was crowded with extraordinary women who had traveled from all over the country to attend a three day conference. They research maternal mortality rates, study mothering, practice mothering, are professors, filmmakers, artists, theorists, musicians and the energy in the room was exuberant and powerful.
I was surprised and very pleased that my son, Ariel, presented me with this award.
These are the words I offered when accepting this award:
I am thrilled to be honored for my work by the very visionary Museum of Motherhood and by its pioneering founder, Joy Rose.
In 1977, when I became pregnant—by choice, always by choice--a dear friend and leading feminist urged me to have an abortion. She said that I was "too important to the movement to spend my time being a mother." I laughed—but I hugged her too.
Now, I have been knighted. Now, my people have claimed me as one of their own. Forevermore, my book, An American Bride in Kabul, will bear a seal on its cover designating it as a winner. The evening was splendid, resplendent; the company distinguished. It was a cultured, literary, political, religious, and diverse gathering that one does not often experience.
I extend my gratitude to Ari Goldman, who was a most splendid host; Lawrence J. Krule, the President of the Jewish Book Council, Mimi S. Frank, the Chair of the National Jewish Book Awards; the blessed judges on my panel (whoever they may be); and of course, to Carolyn Starman Hessel, the Director of the Jewish Book Council.
We each had two minutes to speak. Here is what I said:
I once lived in a harem in Afghanistan--but I also nearly died there too.
How did a nice Orthodox Jewish girl from Borough Park ever get to Kabul?
Perhaps, I yearned for a mystical union between Yitzhak and Yishmael. And so, I married Yishmael.
I was Rita Hayworth, my Afghan "Prince" was the Aga Khan; I was Fanny Brice, he was Omar Sharif.
I recommend this book be put on the reading list of every American school.
--Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Author of Infidel and Nomad
This is a bold book, intimate and rich in detail… Chesler is a voice crying out for women. She will never stop
The 2011 Edition of Mothers on Trial
The 2009 Edition of