Chesler Chronicles

A Major Conference about Global Anti-Semitism at Yale

The Jew-haters hate and the Jews (and our non-Jewish friends) analyze and document that hatred. The Jew-haters blow Jews up and we grapple with the nature of evil. Thus, at the end of Dr. Richard Landes’s powerful presentation, he said: “They’re gonna schecht (slaughter) us. We have to do something.” I, as the moderator, then said, with a rueful smile: “And therefore, what we will do is listen to our next sobering speaker, Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, who will now further our understanding of the Jewish and Jewish Israeli role in the demonization of Israel.” Of course, I said it to break the audience’s hush, shock, sorrow—and it did, we all laughed and continued.

Yale University’s Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism hosted a major conference in which I was privileged to be a participant. “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity” was envisioned by Professor Charles Asher Small who founded the Initiative. The conference was also sponsored by the Issac and Jessie Kaplan Center for Jewish Studies and Research, University of Cape Town, in association with the Vidal Sasoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University; The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, Indiana University; and the Rabin Chair Forum, George Washington University.

My plenary panel was the only panel which focused on women and anti-Semitism. It was chaired by Jerusalem based scholar, Jennifer Roskies. My co-panelists included Thyme Siegel, whose speech was titled: “Sisterhood was powerful and Global. Where Did it Go?” and Dr. Nora Gold whose speech was titled: “Fighting Anti-Semitism in the Feminist Community.”

We had the very best time when we met the previous afternoon. Thyme, Nora, and I go back, way back, to the 1960s in feminist America. These days, Thyme, an independent researcher and Women’s Studies teacher, is holding an Israeli flag at Berkeley when her former friends stand holding a Palestinian flag; she has come a long, long way from her matriarchal, lesbian separatist days in Eugene, Oregon. Dr. Nora Gold is using her Toronto-based research to educate feminists about racism against Jews. She is often successful. I look forward to working with them and with our very gracious Chair Jennifer, soon again.

Make no mistake. Others also enjoyed what we had to say and indeed, said the most complimentary things to us afterward. This is no small feat given the greats who were in attendance. I want to thank both Jennifer Roskies and Charles Small for this amazing opportunity.

The History and Psychological Roots of Anti-Semitism Among Feminists, Their Gradual Palestinianization and Stalinization

YALE AUGUST 25, 2010

By Phyllis Chesler

Four score and ten years ago women won the right to vote in the United States. And thirty years ago, in 1980, I stood with the Israeli delegation in Copenhagen at the United Nations conference on women—the true precursor of the anti-Zionist conference in Durban in 2001. Twenty-nine years ago, right here in Connecticut, at the University at Storrs, I convened a panel at the annual convention of the National Women’s Studies Association to challenge American feminists about both their anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

I had been doing this since the early 1970s but even I could not have predicted the rapid and extreme Stalinization and Palestinianization that would take place among academics and activists in general. I could never have imagined that the western intelligentsia, the “good” people, including feminists, would make so tragic an alliance with Islamic barbarism and misogyny.

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