By Fern Sidman
“From 2003 through the early months of 2015, I wrote more than 200,000 words about anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism,” says Prof. Phyllis Chesler in the introduction of her recently released book, Living History: On the Front Lines for Israel and the Jews 2003-2015 (Gefen Publishers).
This admission should come as no surprise to anyone even tangentially familiar with the voluminous amount of essays and articles that Dr. Chesler has written on the subject over the last 13 years, donning an impressive variety of hats. As an astute political analyst, researcher and investigative journalist, she has honed these skills in her quest to offer her reader a meticulous examination of a panoply of hot button geo-political issues pertaining to Israel and the Jewish people.
In this anthology-style compendium that contains the corpus of her work in non-redacted form, Chesler prodigiously confronts the seemingly eternal scourge of global anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism, the pernicious nature of radical Islam, the proliferation of visceral Jew hatred and incessant Israel bashing on university campuses, the exposure of the most egregious forms of propaganda in films and books, the truth about the nefarious agenda of multicultural relativism, and critiques the role of the Left-liberal media in creating the “perfect storm.”
Chesler throws down the gauntlet and debunks the “Big Lies” in a brutally honest manner. Crafting cogent arguments with the trademark depth and aplomb that has come to define her writing since 1972, she takes no hostages.
As she takes us on a sojourn that unravels the “slow motion holocaust” that is being perpetrated against the Jew but nary acknowledged or even discussed in “polite circles,” Chesler explains that this cognitive war against the Jewish nation is predicated on a corruption of the truth. Fueled by unsavory alliances between the denizens of the leftist/progressive camp and radical Jihadists of all stripes, anti-Zionism (which is tantamount to anti-Semitism, says Chesler) is no longer considered an odious worldview but one that smacks of a perverse sense of moral rectitude, straight out of an Orwellian-style groupthink salon.
Case in point: Chesler speaks directly to her erstwhile colleagues in the Western feminist movement who ostracized her for blowing the lid off the anti-Israel sentiment in its ranks. Shining a light on their misplaced invective against the Jewish state, Chesler writes, “Since 1972, I have been explaining to Ms. feminists that we should not hold the only Jewish state to a higher or different standard than we hold all other nations states; when we do, it is called racism, Jew-hatred, or anti-Semitism.”
While Israel continues to be the world’s “bogeyman,” its detractors are clearly multiplying at blinding speed as evidenced in Chesler’s writings. The Jew is classified by the intellectual elite as the “aggressor,” the “cruel occupier” of Palestinians and the ruthless engineer of an apartheid state through a series of sophist arguments and Goebbels-like agitprop.
Chesler writes that Western academics haves became increasingly “Stalinized and Palestinianized.” Addressing the burgeoning phenomenon of academic boycotts that emanate from world class universities, Chesler clarifies the gravitas of the situation by writing, “They have disinvited Israeli scholars, fired Israeli academics, rejected university applications from Israeli students, refused to stage exhibits by Israeli artists or sell textbooks to Israeli universities, written inflammatory and defamatory editorials in prestigious journals condemning Israel for massacres that never occurred, etc.”
Chesler’s writing exudes passion, pathos, optimism, and melancholy combined with the blunt force of realism. What is most remarkable and at times quite eerie is the degree to which prescience plays a significant role in her assessment of the abysmal failure on the war on terror. In a 2008 essay, in which she offers a critique of then presidential contender Barack Obama, she writes: “He is a United Nations-style anti-American and postmodern multi-cultural relativist, and that means Obama may refuse to call barbarism by its rightful name if that barbarism is practiced by Muslims,” this years before anyone even heard of “Jihadi John.”
Most troubling to Chesler is the rapid succession of horrifying events that may indeed presage the type of calamitous scenario that she warns of in terms of lethal Jew hatred. In 2004, she wrote: “Today, the danger to Jews is far graver and more complex than it ever was before, including the 1930s.” Lest we forget the murders of the four Jewish men in a kosher grocery store in Paris in January of 2015, the murder of a Jew in Copenhagen earlier this year and the attacks on synagogues throughout Europe.
Dr. Chesler exhorts us to lift our heads out of the sand. Denial by Western liberals of the real threat that Islamic jihadism poses to the glorious civilization they have built and the hard core fact that Israel and the Jews are in existential peril, will, says Chesler, lead us into “a Dark Age.”
This page turner is a must read for anyone who wishes to make sense of a world gone mad. With dismal news swirling around us, the keen clarity, vision, and indomitable spirit that Chesler’s imparts is a light in a dark tunnel.
Fern Sidman is a U.S.-based freelance author.
Related: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Bigotry and Bias, Delegitimize, Europe, Extremists, Feminism, History, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Nihilism, Obama, Palestinians, Political Correctness, Religious Persecution, Terrorist Groups, United States