Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at CinnamonStillwell.com.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Debunking "Post-Zionism"

In an article in Haaretz (of all places), Shlomo Avineri debunks Israel's leftist "post-Zionist" movement, calling it what it really is, anti-Zionism. As Avineri puts it:
Those who call themselves "post-Zionists" are simply anti-Zionists of the old sort. The term "post-Zionism" sounds as though it is something innovative, which came after Zionism. However, here lies a grave mistake: For the term "post-Zionism" to be meaningful, it is necessary to start out from the acceptance of Zionism as a fact and a reality and to try to go beyond it....This is not the case for those who call themselves "post-Zionists": They do not see Zionism and the State of Israel as a reality that has come to pass, but rather as something that is not legitimate from the outset and that must be eliminated down to its very foundations.
At the same time, Avineri points out, post-Zionism's adherents exhibit a blind acceptance of the Palestinian narrative, however faulty its historical foundations.

But it is Avineri's condemnation of the Israeli (and by extention, worldwide) left's abandonment of its self-proclaimed ideals of "social justice" in favor of flat-out hatred that struck a familiar chord with a former leftist like myself:
Some of those who call themselves "post-Zionists" also come from the former Communist camp. There is something pathetic in that 20 years ago they believed in a new, just world that was to emerge from Moscow or Cuba, and the only thing that is left to them of that lofty vision today is anti-Zionism. Not the brotherhood of nations, not the liberation of the proletariat, not universal social justice - all of this has collapsed in a tragic way; the only thing that remains is the hatred of Zionism.
Pathetic indeed.

Update (7/8): University of Haifa professor and prolific commentator Steven Plaut provides more background on Shlomo Avineri and his article at Zionist Conspiracy. Elsewhere, he points to a lengthy piece by fellow University of Haifa prof. Yoav Gelber on "The Disease of Post-Zionism."

The Islamists' War on Women

One of the aspects of the recently thwarted terrorist attacks in London that most commentators have studiously avoided is that the perpetrators specifically targeted women. The intended bombing of the Tiger Tiger nightclub on "ladies night" was planned to kill as many "infidel" women as possible.

Islamists despise Western women for their sexual and personal freedom. The same goes for female co-religionists who dare to reject the restrictions imposed upon them by this backward and sexist ideology. In a culture marked by honor and shame, whereby female "honor" (i.e. chastity and fidelity) must be preserved by blood and men's "shame" must be avoided by any means necessary, women are to be controlled at all costs. Even if that entails slaughtering as many of them as possible in "honor killings" and terrorist attacks.

While the fake feminists of NOW (National Organization of Women) have yet to utter a peep about this latest incident, not to mention the oppression of women in Muslim culture in general, it's left up to the Real McCoys to address the heart of the matter. To that end, Phyllis Chesler and Nancy Kobrin (both of whom I referenced in a column last year on the perils of self-censorship in the West), have co-authored an article at Frontpage Magazine titled "Jihad's Target: Women." It opens thusly:

The Islamist "Doctor's Plot" in the UK was fiendish, but one particularly horrific aspect of it has received insufficient attention: it was specifically aimed at women.

Buried deep in the New York Times article on the subject was this fact: The Tiger Tiger nightclub in London was targeted in part because last Thursday was "ladies night." (Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate, is among the few so far who focused on this fact.)

Nor is it the first time that Islamists have directly targeted women. British security expert Sajjan M. Gohel remembers a 2004 conspiracy in which "British-born bombers said they wanted to attract women at a nightclub, whom they viewed as promiscuous, in conversations monitored by the police."

When will western progressives, especially feminists, "get" that Muslim terrorists hate women --especially infidel women who are intellectually or sexually independent and whose independence taunts, tempts, and enrages them?
This is a very good question and one whose answer will likely continue to be stubborn silence. Far too many self-proclaimed feminists in the West are more wedded to political-correctness and leftist politics than they are women's rights. As I once wrote:


The oppression of women in Muslim culture and the threat it poses to women's rights all over the world is clearly the next frontier for the feminist movement. Either feminists will rise to the occasion or be rendered meaningless by their hypocrisy.
More and more, it seems that the latter outcome is the sad reality of "feminism" today.

Update: Katha Pollitt has a rather, dare I say it, bitchy article in The Nation (h/t Jeremayakovka) on the work of Phyllis Chesler (namely, her book The Death of Feminism) and Christina Hoff Sommers, whose Weekly Standard article "The Subjection of Islamic Women and the Fecklessness of American Feminism" is a must-read. Apparently, there's also an exchange of letters between Chesler and Pollitt in an issue of The Nation that's currently unavailable online.

In her article, Pollitt let's NOW and other such organization off the hook because they "concentrate on domestic issues." But, the truth is, NOW doesn't address relevant issues in the United States either. For instance, they said nothing about the Saudi cultural event at Amherst Middle School last month in which little girls and their female teachers were forced to wear veils and sit separately from the boys. At the time, I tried to submit a message at the NOW website informing them about the matter, but for some mysterious reason, it wouldn't go through. Talk about symbolic...

Update (7/7): As mentioned above, Phyllis Chesler sent a letter to the editor to The Nation in response to Katha Pollitt's article. It was printed in an earlier issue, but is no longer available at the website. However, Ms. Chesler has given me permission to repost the letter below. Her words speak for themselves:

Contrary to Katha Pollitt's article, my recent books The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism (2005) have not "tanked." On the contrary, they have opened important doors for me to the worlds of heroic ex-Muslim and Muslim dissidents and anti-jihadist intellectuals, some of whom are conservatives and many of whom are feminists. Yes, Virginia, there is a wide world out there beyond the narrow confines of the Left. Just because a book is not reviewed in The Nation magazine or in similar media does not mean that the book does not exist, and has not attracted a serious and influential audience. How can a book "tank" and yet, in Pollitt's words, "its argument… take on a life of its own?"

Contrary to Pollitt's dismissal of any experience that occurred "nearly fifty years ago," contemporary Tunisian intellectual al-Atif al-Akhdar writes: "Why have the people of the world managed to mourn their pasts and move on, while we (Arabs and Muslims) have... our bereavement over a past that does not pass? Why do other people love life, while we love death and violence, slaughter and suicide, and call it heroism and martyrdom?" al-Akhdar describes Islamic cultural dynamics which do not seem to change. The dynamics which I encountered in Afghanistan long ago still remain and have actually worsened in many Muslim countries. I call it Islamic gender and religious Apartheid. Feminists should be--but are not--calling for boycotts of those countries where this is practiced.

Pollitt does not come in for 'unhinged abuse" in The Death of Feminism. Lawyers carefully vetted the pages which accurately document her bullying and intolerance on a feminist listserv group to which we both belonged. I was not her only target but she challenged me viciously and non-stop on issues ranging from my book Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (published by Nation Books!); my analysis of RAWA as a marginal group whose political influence would have no future other than as dancing dogs among the American Left. My views on anti-Semitism, Israel, and religion came in for particularly scathing attacks. Finally, when I began to publish in Frontpage Magazine and published a column in which I said I was merely thinking about voting Republican for the first time in my life, Pollitt led a totalitarian-like and successful purge of my presence on the listserv group.

Unlike Pollitt, I take very little credit for my work on behalf of freedom in the Islamic world. The task is so huge. Pollitt, however, claims immediate credit for small and symbolic feminist gestures. I suggest that it is too soon to congratulate ourselves for tasks we have yet to accomplish.

Phyllis Chesler
Manhattan

Update (7/8): I just received a copy of Katha Pollitt's response to Ms. Chesler's letter and in the interest of fairness, it too is reprinted below:
POLLITT REPLIES

If Phyllis Chesler is happy that according to Bookscan The Death of Feminism sold around 1,000 copies in hardcover and 300 in paperback, who am I to dissuade her? Her book has had influence not because it is accurate or well thought out or well written—in fact it is execrable and full of spelling mistakes—but because a self-described feminist who attacks the women’s movement is a godsend to right-wingers like David Horowitz and the editors of The Weekly Standard, who have no interest in women’s rights except as an excuse to invade more countries.

Lawyers vetting her book is a joke—all that means is that I wouldn’t sue, not that she wrote the truth. But for the five people in the world who care, the most vehement discussion involving Chesler on the History in Action list was provoked by her heavy use of unverifiable personal anecdotes in Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. The journalists on the list had trouble with that, and she took umbrage (although if memory serves, Chesler herself had raised the issue). Chesler was never “purged” from the list, which included many of her longtime friends. When it became obvious that she was planning to use material from the list in The Death of Feminism, people, including me, understandably felt betrayed. Chesler left of her own accord.

As for Chesler’s imputations that I boast of small good deeds, I agree that the deeds are small. Still, it is hard to defend yourself against charges of selfish indifference to injustice and atrocity, except by presenting the evidence that the charges are false.

Katha Pollitt
New York City

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Al-Qaeda's Message to the Anti-War Crowd

Once again, Al-Qaeda number two Ayman Zawahiri, in his latest internet video production (yes, the terrorists actually have their own propaganda arm, unlike us) has a message that the defeatist anti-war crowd would do well to heed:
He also offers a message of confidence to the jihadi fighters in prison saying that victory in Iraq and Afghanistan will come soon.

"You must be patient and steadfast," he says. "Rejoice, for victory is near, with Allah's permission, and the herds of crusaders have begun to split up and their sole concern has become searching for a way out."
Don't expect to hear much about this in the mainstream media, which seems intent on ignoring the fact that Western waffling is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. But rest assured, the terrorists are paying close attention to our internal power struggles and hope for a Vietnam Pt. II (among "friends" and foes alike) lingers on.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Wonders of Socialized Medicine

Here's a heartwarming story about national health care in Australia that Michael Moore must have missed:

Woman Faces 3-Year Surgery Wait

Ah, the wonders of socialized medicine...