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.
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.
Is Obama Indifferent to African-American Women?
In 2014, in his new film, "The Last of the Unjust," Claude Lanzmann shares his 1975 interview with Viennese Rabbi, Benjamin Murmelstein, the last and only surviving "Elder of the Jews" at Theresienstadt. Both Lanzmann (and I) are impressed with Murmelstein's wit, wisdom, learning, and tough survival skills. While Murmelstein submitted documents to Prosecutor Gideon Hauser, Murmelstein does not understand why the Israeli prosecution did not allow him to testify against Eichmann—a man Murmelstein characterizes as evil and monstrous--a man whom he personally witnessed shooting and hanging Jews and ordering others to do likewise. In Murmelsteins' view, Arendt's adjective "banal" in no way applies to the man who systematically deceived, terrorized, and murdered Jews.
Although the Nazis gave him no choice—it was do their bidding or die--many have viewed Murmelstein as a collaborator and traitor. He could have escaped, but actually chose not to do so. Ultimately, Lanzmann is not persuaded that Murmelstein is a traitor, and that others really cannot judge men who are placed in such unbearable positions, but Lanzmann leaves this decision up to each and every viewer.
CHESLER AT BOOKSANDBOOKS
It was a dark and stormy night in southern Florida and yet, there we all were, the book-lovers who came to hear me speak, the live-streaming equipment, the CSPAN equipment, the lights, the cameras, and of course, the action. The questions were so respectful and interesting, and so blessedly concerned with my well-being. Please join us at the link below which is now archived at BooksandBooks together with all their other many illustrious authors.
New.livestream.com/uainmedia/Phyllis-Chesler [Video begins at 3:30]
I've been chronicling events of interest on Facebook. It has become quite a habit! For those of you who aren't Facebook users, I'm sending some of the posts from the last few weeks.
An Interesting Travel Update
My trip through Security at JFK this afternoon was slowed when one of the agents spotted me holding a copy of the Jewish Press. He found it suspicious, brought it to another agent, and they had a discussion. At that point, my bags were opened and searched. Meanwhile, a woman in niqab – a veil covering the entire face except the eyes -- walked through without incident. I saw no one ask her to lift the veil to check her actual identity against her documents.
The Danger of Negative Campaigns
Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse is calm, cool, collected—and brilliant. Please read her article in today's Wall Street Journal about how "negative campaigns" against the 1% can easily morph into yet another reign of left-wing and right-wing genocidal anti-Semitism.
Seven years ago, an allegedly feminist Canadian academic, Sunera Thobani, wrote a scathing denunciation of only three other feminist academics—all of whom happened to be Jews: Judith Butler, Zillah Eisenstein, and myself. No one but I seemed to notice this singular but predictable connection. Thobani's formulaic propaganda appeared in the journal Feminist Theory.
Prodded by left-wing but pro-Israel British academics, the editors reached out to each of us to see whether we might respond to Thobani's anti-colonialist, anti-Western, anti-White, anti-Jewish, and anti-Zionist rant that, alas, now passes for feminist discourse. Butler and Eisenstein refused; I agreed to do so.
I labored over a response; the editors demanded at least thirty politically correct corrections, I nearly pulled the piece, was prevailed upon to accept their changes and "just publish it." I did so and it is archived at my website. At the time, I assumed that no more than thirty people ever read my response. Time passed, and I almost forgot all about it.
In 1932, Rachel Katznelson-Shazar published an extraordinary anthology titled: The Plough Woman: Memoirs of the Pioneer Women of Palestine. In 1994, Elizabeth Sarah, in a wonderful anthology edited by Sybil Sheridan, and titled Hear Our Voice. Women in the British Rabbinate, published a long piece about the life of the first woman rabbi in Jewish history: Fraulein Rebbiner Regina Jonas.
Thanks to the 23rd annual New York Jewish Film Festival (January 8-23, 2014), and to the work of two filmmakers: Michal Aviad and Diana Groo, the women I have long been waiting to see are now on the screen.
The Women Pioneers (Halutzot) and Regina (about Fraulein Rabbiner Regina Jonas) depict valiant struggles which ended in both triumph and defeat. Secular revolutionary women left Russia and Lithuania and sought freedom and equality in Palestine – which they did not find; Jonas's incandescent "calling" to the rabbinate did eventually lead to her being ordained as the first Jewish woman rabbi in history – and because she would not leave her flock, she accompanied them to Theresienstadt and ultimately to Auschwitz.
Jewish students are standing their ground and fighting back.
It's Gaza in the Canadian Rockies on campuses.
While Canadian PM Harper, a true friend of Israel, "gets it," the politically correct students at the University of Calgary do not. They believe that Jewish students deserve to be heckled, silenced, and demonized for trying to tell the truth about Israel.
One of the founders of "Calgary United with Israel" and "Canadians for Human Rights in the Middle East", shared a letter with me that the editor of the student newspaper, The Gauntlet, refused to print in full--even though each and every claim was or could be substantiated.
I am enormously gratified that young Jewish students have begun to find their voices and can more than hold their own against the Big Lies. I have always said that the Al Aqsa Intifada escalated the war against the Jews, not only in Jerusalem, but also on campuses all across the West.
But at last, the Jewish students are standing their ground and fighting back. Here is the letter in its entirely that The Gauntlet refused to print. Kudos to "Calgary United with Israel" and to letters-writers, Michael Z. and Jake B.
We have lost the first round in the Battle of Ideas, but at least with this admission, the lines are drawn.
Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, has just announced that "anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism." May he live long and prosper.
In 2002, I wrote that "Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism," as is the age-old Muslim view of Jews which, I pointed out, has joined forces with the western intelligentsia to create a "perfect storm" of slander against Judaism and the Jewish state.
My editor challenged me very hard on whether anti-Zionism was, indeed, anti-Semitic at all. I was adamant and the analysis remained in my book, "The New Anti-Semitism," which was published half-way through 2003. But my editor disapproved and remained aloof, nervous. (Well, he lived in Berkeley and what I had written was very "politically incorrect.")
When the book came out, most of the liberal media did not review it. The few venues that did, challenged my statistics and my analysis. I was attacked on CNN--but more than held my own. Afterwards, a cameraman came from behind his camera to shake my hand.
Nevertheless, in certain Jewish circles, I was scorned as "alarmist" and "hysterical" and as "the Jewish Cassandra."
Dear Friends and Readers:
Some of you are already my Facebook "friends" but many of you are not. I've just decided to choose from among my almost daily Facebook postings and send them out to you. The advantage of becoming my Facebook "friend" is that you can post comments in response; I have not dared open my website for comments. That way lies madness. Here are some of my January, 2014 postings.
Rebel Girl Makes Good
Now, I feel as if I truly belong to the ages, not just to this age. I have always felt somewhat apart, "different." I fit in nowhere, but belong everywhere, anywhere, like the Jew that I am. When I received an entry in the Encyclopedia Judaica I was both pleased and frightened. Herzl, Dreyfus, Maimonides, were all in there, it was a sainted reference volume. Me? The rebel girl out of Brooklyn had a place there too? But now that I've received the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, together with so many other truly distinguished authors, each in his or her own category -- Hasia Diner, Moshe Halbertal, Yossi Klein Halevi, Amos Oz, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ari Shavit -- I feel daunted, very sober, I feel the weight of responsibility even more. Kavod Kaved (glory is a burden).
I am blessed, anointed, my cup runneth over...and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. This award is in the category of Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir.
I am among some other very honorable winners (Hasia Diner, Matti Friedman, Moshe Halbertal, Yossi Klein Halevi, Amoz Oz, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Avi Shavit, Michal Smart and Barbara Ashkenas) and among some very honorable finalists (Jeremy Dauber, Bonna Devora Haberman, Jonathan Kirsch, Rebecca Miller, and Alvin H. Rosenfeld).
On March 5th, at the Center for Jewish History in NYC, there will be an award ceremony which is open to the public. Please join me. I will be thanking so many people: publishing world geniuses, relatives, friends, and my philanthropic supporters who have made so much possible.
Please rejoice with me.
In the course of human events, certain actions and special individuals have been known to inspire operas. Like life, most operas also end in death—but the dying go down singing—and beautifully. Women, especially, die on the operatic stage. Their names are legion: Bellini's pagan priestess Norma, Donizetti's Queens Anna Boleyn and Mary Stuart, Puccini's Mimi, Cio-Cio-San, and Tosca, Verdi's Aida, Desdemona, and Violetta, Wagner's Isolde, Wozzeck's Lulu. In the 20th and 21st century, operas have been written about real-life heroes such as Virgil Thomson's Susan B. Anthony, Douglas Moore's Carrie Nation, and Jake Heggie's Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking.
In Thumbprint, we have a new operatic heroine: Mukhtar Mai. Like so many women, world-wide, Mukhtar Mai was illiterate and could not sign her name. Hence, her "thumbprint" was her only signature.
Some are amazed and gladdened by the fact that, in early January, the New York Times has finally—finally!!—published a piece about the Palestinian incitement of Palestinians to hate Jews and to understand that they have been born to destroy to Israel, the Jewish state.
But I am very hard to please.
First, let us note that the piece, written by Jodi Rudoren, appears at the very bottom of page A4, not on page A1 where Israeli is routinely demonized.
Second, please note the title: "Israeli Officials Point to an Intensifying Campaign of 'Incitement' by Palestinians." Ah, so the presumed incitement has merely been alleged by "Israeli officials."
I wonder how many readers of the NYT believe what "Israeli officials" have to say?
Third, I must also note that 'incitement' itself is in quote marks, as if it is only an Israeli official's opinion, and not objectively true.
Fourth, the bolded pull quote says this: "A move by Israel is criticized as an effort to distract."
Anyone in a hurry, anyone who reads only the Times to learn about the Middle East will easily conclude that "Israeli officials" are manufacturing a false accusation or exaggerating what's in the Palestinian textbooks and media to hide their own nefarious moves.
Dear Readers, Dear Colleagues, Dear Friends:
First, let me thank you for your generosity in response to my annual fundraising appeal.
Second, let me share my blessings with you. An American Bride in Kabul has received two new and rather wonderful reviews in 2014. One appeared in The New English Review on 1/1/14 and the second appears today, on 1/3/14 in The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). Bride received its first pre-publication review in June, 2013 and this is seven months later and the reviews still keep on coming. Here are the links to both reviews (today's in the IPT and yesterday's in the New English Review) and to a QNA with me at New English Review as well. Thanks to my two excellent reviewers, Jerry Gordon and Abigail Esman, and thanks to Steve Emerson who publishes the IPT.
Op-Ed: The Roman Solar Year That Was
Politically, this has been a very bad year. President Obama's administration has managed to reduce America's stature in the world, abandon freedom-loving peoples everywhere, betray our own Ambassadors, (think: Christopher Stevens and his military aides in Benghazi); pressure Jewish and democratic Israel as a way of avoiding any criticism of the genocidal Muslim-on-Muslim violence and Muslim-on-Christian violence going on in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.
Obama's administration is willing to "negotiate" with (that is, appease) the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Afghan Taliban, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which has just been labeled a "terrorist" entity by the government of Egypt—not by the free world which has tolerated their proliferation and infiltration of our anti-terrorist infra-structures, media, academy, and human rights organizations.
I read 'The New York Times' from back to front, with the understanding that the news I am interested in is often found "buried" at the back.
This is the chilling phrase used by Laurel Leff in the title of her excellent book on how The New York Times "buried" the Holocaust as it was happening. But there are many ways in which Israel's good name, (and the truth on this particular subject), have been soundly, roundly, "buried" at the Times.
Here is how propaganda works: It gives pride of place to certain articles and omits or minimizes – buries – others; presents opinion pieces as if they are objective news – and then supports such "news" with opinion pieces in the very same issue; presents compelling but often misleading and wrongly captioned photos to accompany the biased news; and it does so every single day.
Sometimes this is done blatantly, more often it is a steady stream of low-level disinformation. Newspapers and websites will also inflate and sensationalize something minor and deny, omit or bury something that is quite major.
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