Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
 
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Richard Cravatts

 
Women’s Studies and the Moral Vacuity of an Academic Boycott Against Israel

Feminists Turn a Blind Eye to the Actual Oppression of Women

by Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, December 7, 2015

 

Seeming to give proof to Orwell’s observation that some ideas are so stupid they could only have been thought of by intellectuals, yet another academic association—this time the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)—has followed the lead of the American Studies Association, the American Anthropological Association, the Asian Studies Association, and several others by ignobly voting to approve another academic boycott of Israel.

 

 

With the characteristic pseudo-intellectual babble that currently dilutes the scholarly relevance of the social sciences and humanities, the NWSA’s recommendation to approve a boycott announced that, “As feminist scholars, activists, teachers, and public intellectuals we recognize the interconnectedness of systemic forms of oppression,” that “interconnectedness,” no doubt, justifying the singling out of Israeli academics for their particularly odious role in the oppression of women in the Middle East.  “In the spirit of this intersectional perspective,” these moral termagants continued, “we cannot overlook the injustice and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, perpetrated against Palestinians and other Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, within Israel and in the Golan Heights, as well as the colonial displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba.”

 

 

Apparently, this rarified “intersectional perspective” has not enabled NWSA members to notice the injustice and violence currently being meted out against Israelis, either as a result of the shower of some 12,000 Hamas rockets launched from Gaza since 2005 with the intention of murdering Jewish civilians, or as part of the ongoing “knife Intifada” which has claimed the lives of over 20 Israelis in the past few months who have been murdered by psychopathic Palestinians wielding knives, guns, rocks, and automobiles used as weapons.

 

 

But facts and history are not the concern of the morally-elevated professoriate. Based on this politically-charged, biased language, the boycotters expose that they have, with the breathtaking certainty that only the very sanctimonious and intellectually-elite can do, framed the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in such a way that they have determined precisely which side is worthy of opprobrium and which, by virtue of its perennial victimhood, is worthy of complete moral support. Revealingly, the language conjuring up “the colonial displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba” reveals the victim-centric, oppression-laden worldview of the NWSA, in which the legal creation of the Jewish state is framed as an unjust colonial enterprise during which innocent, indigenous Arabs in a factitious country called Palestine experience a “Nakba,” a catastrophe, in which they were either ethnically cleansed from their lands or remained and now live in the oppressive, apartheid, racist state of Israel.

 

 

It is clear that the moral narcissists of the NWSA are so blinded by their obsession with the perceived oppression, gender violence, and racism of Israel that the organization could make such a breathtakingly obtuse statement as the allegation that Israel is guilty of “sexual and gender-based violence, perpetrated against Palestinians and other Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, within Israel and in the Golan Heights.”

 

 

Perhaps it has escaped the notice of the NWSA experts on gender and sexuality issues that if one wanted to punish any Middle Eastern country for its subjugation and abuse of women, Israel would probably not be the first nation to come under reasonable or justifiable scrutiny for a group dedicated “to principles of human rights, justice and freedom for all, including academic freedom.” Totalitarian and despotic regimes throughout the region have created an oppressive group of social pathologies that negatively affect women, including genital mutilation, stoning of adulteresses, “honor” killings by fathers and brothers who have been shamed, cultures of gender apartheid in which women are seen as property with no emotional or physical autonomy, ubiquitous sexual assault, and a general subjugation of women, complete with regulations governing behavior, movement, speech, and even requirements that women be covered by burqa or hijab.

 

 

The society of the Palestinian territories, most appropriately, might provide some examples of relevance for feminists trying to identify misogyny and suppression of the human and civil rights women, even though the NWSA saw fit to answer “the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of economic, military and cultural entities and projects sponsored by the state of Israel,” and have not a single negative word to say about the Palestinians and the conditions of Arab women. In fact, according to Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister of Women's Affairs, Haifa Al-Agha, women in this culture are singularly “unique,” but not in the way someone with Western values might think; she was quoted in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida as observing “the Palestinian woman's uniqueness, which differentiates her from the women of the world, as [only] she receives the news of her son's martyrdom with cries of joy.”

 

 

Perhaps mothers embrace this cult of death for their children because of the oppression they experience in their own lives. Zainab Al-Ghneimi, head of the Women’s Legal Counseling Center, commented that a Palestinian man “believes he has bought the woman and paid for her, and therefore she has become his property and must obey his orders . . . [Palestinian] laws give him the right of ownership, based on the man being the guardian, and he is the one who commands and prohibits.” This gloomy situation for women was supported by a study discussed in a November 2014 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida story which reported that “53% of Palestinian women have been exposed to violence —63.3% of them once—and that 18% of non-married young women have been exposed to physical, psychological and sexual violence.”   

 

 

Nor would NWSA members have difficulty looking for the oppression of women in some of Israel’s neighboring countries, nations with dreadful records of protecting the rights, lives, and bodies of women. A 2015 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll, for example, “assessed 22 Arab states on violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy,” and raised serious concerns about the status of women in those countries—all of which seemed to slipped off the moral radar screens of the NWSA.

 

 

Egypt, which was the worst offender for providing a safe haven for women, was rampant with “sexual violence, harassment and trafficking combined with a breakdown of security, high rates of female genital mutilation and a rollback of freedoms s

 
<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • The Science, Business and Politics of Climate Change
  • Saper Agencies
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • CHW
  • Nic Curry
  • Blair Yakimoski
  • GTP
  • The Bob Silver Family
  • Safeway
  • Roseman
  • Kromar Printing
  • Shirley and Bob Freedman
  • Protexia
  • Dr. Ali Raizman
  • Danita & Michel Aziza
  • Maric Homes
  • Artista Homes
  • Southwynn Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Myers LLP
  • Imperial Soap
  • Rady JCC
  • Mobile Denture Services
  • Winnipeg Drapery
  • Dimensions Insurance
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Dr. Gary Levine
  • Fetching Style
  • Thorvaldson Care
  • Royal Le Page
  • Laufman Reprographics
  • Jim Gauthier
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Capital Grill
  • Ixtapa Travel
  • Pizzeria Gusto
  • Bridges for Peace
  • Superlite
  • Pitblado
  • The Shinewald Family
  • Frank Goldberg
  • Broadway Law
  • Saul B. Simmonds
  • Chisick Family
  • CMDAI
  • Orthodox Union
  • Chochy's
  • Kowall Chiropractic
  • Stella's
  • Grant Kurian Trucking
  • Seer Logging
  • Cliff Graydon
  • Mohinder Saran
  • Myrna Driedger
  • Steven Fletcher
  • Cindy Lamoureux
  • Elaine and Bernie Lofchick & family
  • Beyond Flowers
  • Total Lighting Sales
  • Erickson Motors Ltd.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Canadian Friends of Boys Town Jerusalem
  • Collectibles Canada
  • Nikos
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.