How long is the West going to be bound to doing the impossible?
President Hamid Karzai’s government is considering bringing back stoning for adultery—and imposing 100 lashes (which is a death sentence) for unmarried people who have had sexual relations.
Thus, Afghan men can marry female children, keep male children as sex-toys, maintain four wives, and visit prostitutes from dawn to dawn.
But it is a capital crime if an Afghan man dishonors another Afghan man by having relations with his female “property;” and, if he has raped the poor wife, she is also to be stoned. Worse yet, if two young Afghans meet and fall in love on their own and have sexual relations, but do not marry—they, too, will be committing a capital crime.
Just imagine what it is like to live in a world where marriages are arranged, often to first or second cousins; where a woman cannot divorce a man, no matter how violent or cruel he and his family may be.
Imagine that if a girl is maritally raped, tortured or forced into prostitution by her mother-in-law (these things happen all the time in Afghanistan).
Understand that if a bride is bold enough to run away, she will be jailed—that’s if she is lucky. Otherwise, her family of origin and her husband’s family will kill her for dishonoring them.
This reality is surreal, actually worse than Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaids’ Tale”. Such customs are indigenous, tribal, and pandemic– and have not been caused by Western colonialism, imperialism, militarism or even Zionism!
In fact, Afghans are very proud of the fact that they have never been colonized, not by Great Britain and not by Russia.
Why are America and the West funding such a country which is so clearly headed back towards the darkest days of the Taliban in the 1980s and to the even darker days of the bitter battles between warlords which massacred so many innocent civilians in the 1990s? Do Americans really believe that we can wean the Sunni Afghans from gender and religious apartheid?
Why is America funding humanitarian projects and training an Afghan Army when Hamid Karzai, presumably America’s puppet, is in reality a quintessentially wily Afghan who needs to posture against the infidel West in order to keep his conservative countrymen from assassinating him; who breaks promises as fast as he makes them and considers this clever diplomacy, Afghan-style; whose family has grown very rich allegedly as opium dealers as well as bankers and landlords.
Karzai has just now even gone against the wishes of his own Loya Jirga (mass meeting of elders) by deciding that he would not sign the agreement with America that he promised to sign.
I was once held captive in Kabul—the very country that sheltered Bin Laden as he hatched Al Qaeda and 9/11. Now, the entire civilian world is being held hostage by this style of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare i.e. a war in which soldiers are dressed as civilians and there is no “front.” A suicide bombing can happen anywhere and everywhere.
How eerie, how destined that I would know something about this particular country, the people, the customs, and could bring my hard-won knowledge to bear at this moment in history.
Author Rajiv Chandrasekaran tells a story about an Afghan farmer who observed American do-gooders at work in the 1950s. The farmer said: “The land upon which (the Americans) were standing was cursed because the infidel had touched the land.” The farmer predicted that the Valley would become “a wasteland because of the tinkering of the infidels.”
I work with Muslim and ex-Muslim feminists and dissidents and respect their enormous heroism. But I also know that they are marginalized by Western governments and represent only a small percentage of Muslims.
The fear, envy, and hatred of the infidel, especially the Jew, is pandemic and will not be easy to uproot and transform.
Please draw all the necessary parallel conclusions about Israel’s chances of transforming a heavily indoctrinated Palestinian Muslim population. I wrestle with the commandment that, as a Jew, I must bring light unto the nations—but I am also evaluating the high cost of doing so in terms of blood and treasure.
I know that if Western boots on the ground leave Afghanistan, that every humanitarian project will disappear overnight and the country will become a Living Hell. And yet: If the ideal cannot be translated into reality at this historical moment, how long are we morally bound to attempt to do that which is impossible?
© 2013 Phyllis Chesler. This article was originally posted on Israel National News. Cross-posted with permission.
Related: Afghanistan, Dictator Watch, Feminism, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Islam, Society, War Against Islamo-fascism