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KPFK's Feminist Magazine and Phyllis Chesler

by IMC Repost Monday, Jun. 14, 2004 at 2:47 PM

This email is being circulated by a group of concerned KPFK listeners.

To the listeners of KPFK:

After reading the following letter and transcript, if you agree with us that ‘Feminist Magazine’ is not consistent with the Pacifica mission and that the KPFK Local Station Board (LSB) should put the program on their agenda for review, please indicate you wish to add your name to this the letter and  e-mail: We will send the letter with all the signers to the KPFK LSB.

Legendary feminist author Phyllis Chesler will be speaking about her latest book, ‘The New Anti-Semitism'—is how the KPFK Womens Collective touted their program ‘Feminist Magazine’ that aired on Wednesday, May 26, 2004—transcript follows after this letter.

Feminist and author of several books on feminism, Chesler’s latest book is “The New Anti-Semitism: The current Crisis and What We Must Do About It.’ In her interview with ‘Feminist Magazine,’ she skewers the Islamic world, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and progressives, feminists and Jews on the left for demonizing Israel exclusively, and recommends that feminists make alliances with Republicans and Christian Zionists.

There are also other issues with the kind of ‘feminism’ Chesler represents: She has written publicly that she supports the occupation of Iraq and plans to vote for Bush in November, not to mention that she has been writing frequently for—among her fellow columnists: Ann Coulter.

The members of the ‘Feminist Magazine’ collective have a short memory. Last summer they received a barrage of complaints from listeners because of an interview, which aired on June 18, 2003, and presented and encouraged a view of Israel and Palestinians that was ignorant, racist and hateful. Subsequently, a delegation of four women attended the following meeting of the collective to object to that interview and to remind them that unless they respected and fulfilled the Pacifica Mission, they shouldn’t take their precious weekly hour of airtime—which they have possessed for decades—for granted.

At this meeting, we thought we had reached an agreement that when covering the Middle East issue on future programs, they would present rational and factual content, rather than endorsing superstition and racism. However, on Wednesday, May 26, 2004, they repeated their performance from last year, this time with the ‘legendary’ Chesler.  We know now that they gave only lip service to the agreement.

We want a feminist program on KPFK, and we support radio collectives that are run democratically.  However, the Womens Collective, which produces ‘Feminist Magazine,’ is run in an altogether undemocratic way and is unwilling to make the necessary structural changes to share decision-making. In addition,it has come to our decision that recently a half-dozen of the more progressive members left the collective en masse, taking with them any possibilities of reform and ensuring further programming such as the interviews in question.

Several of us wrote to ‘Feminist Magazine’ before and after the Chesler interview.  They never replied, and now we are taking the issue directly to the listeners.  In any case, ‘Feminist Magazine’ is at best self-indulgent and irrelevant to today’s feminism, and at worst is racist and not worthy Pacifica.

We wish to be very clear that we welcome and respect diversity in programming—as long as it is in keeping with the mission of Pacifica, which ‘Feminist Magazine’ has proven itself not to be. The following listenters hereby request the KPFK Local Station Board to put ‘Feminist Magazine’ on their agenda for review.  

Concerned KPFK Listeners:

Diana Barahona

Farah Davari

Donas John

Yael Korin

Carole LaFlamme

Karin Pally

Karen Pomer

Emma Rosenthal

To be added to the list, please type your name and send as a reply.


The Myth of the NewAnti-Semitism article can be found on the web

Above the url for a review by Brian Klug in The Nation (Feb. 2, 2004)offour books about the ‘new’ anti-semitism including Chesler’s. Thereviewertotally refutes and rejects Chesler's claims.

Chesler’s support of  Bush:



   PHYLLI~1.RTF (25347 bytes) DL Time (50666 bps):
So that we have from one point of view, feminists who today are more obsessed with the occupation of disputed lands far away in the Middle East than they are with the continued occupation of women's bodies...

...First we have to fight the big lies, and we have to make alliances–ver y creative alliances–with religious people, peoples of  faith. That means feminists now have to start talking feminism to Republicans and to Christians and to Christian Zionists.

FEMINIST MAGAZINE – KPFK         May26, 2004

Guest:  Phyllis Chesler, about her latest book ‘The New Anti-Semitism'

Hosts/interviewers: Tricia Roth and Melissa Chiprin (on the phone)

TR:  We have Dr. Phyllis Chesler, in addition to being a well-established feminist author, she is a psycho-therapist, a feminist expert witness, an activist, and a professor of psychology and women's studies.  She has lectured and organized political, legal, religious and human rights campaigns in North America, Europe, the Middle- and the Far East, and she's lived in Afghanistan and Israel.  Many of her books are considered classics. But her latest book has received a different welcome, although a very warm response from much of the Jewish community.  That book is titled ‘The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It.' Dr. Chesler, thank you for joining us tonight.

PC:  It's my great pleasure to be with you.

TR: Well, I'd like to open up, and I don't know if you can just kind of give a general wrap-up. Explain to us all the thesis of your book, basically what's the message of your book.  What is it about?

PC:  The message is that we are, things are worse now for Jews and for Israel, and for that matter for Americans, than they were in the 1930s, and that the Jew hatred is now politically correct. So that progressives, including Jews on the left, social justice activists, the people that I've spent 35 years of my life making feminist revolution with, now really believe that the Jews are worse than the Nazis and that the state of Israel really should be abolished, and they're looking at the flaws and failures close up of one Jewish nation-state, the only one on earth, and in doing that, demonizing the state, and not paying attention to Islamic Jihad, not paying attention to gender and religious apartheid under Islam, which characterizes Islam. So we have today a global level of propaganda against the Jews, and against America, and against Israel, that is visually very sophisticated, it's available around the clock mainly in Arabic–in the Islamic and Arab world.  And you can see Jews and Zionists really holding a meeting of the fake Elders of Zion, a group that doesn't exist. But you can see it on a film, and you can see a film showing Israeli soldiers perpetrating a fake massacre in Jenin, a massacre which Israel was accused of, but even the United Nations said it had not committed a massacre.

TR: Now how could [OV] it on film?

PC:  Because a film maker named Mohammed Bakri did a fictional documentary film that shows it, and people watch it and they think, well, there must be something to it. Or even if they know that it's fiction, once you've seen Mel Gibson's ‘The Passion of Christ,' which is also very visually and emotionally masterful, you think, well, maybe that's just really how it was–I saw it with my own eyes.That's the power of the image. So we have now in the world, coming from the Islamic world, we have a combination of very old-fashioned Czarist Jew hatred, Nazi-era Jew hatred—the Jews, you know, run the banks, control the media, and have killed Christ–joining forces with Soviet anti-Israel propaganda and joining forces with the pre-existing Islamic view of Jews and everyone who's not Muslim as demis, as sub-human.  So the propaganda that–and let me say something else–that, all right, let's say illiterate people who are oppressed and very impoverished and seduced into suicide terrorism, they don't know. But we have the best and the brightest on campuses in North America and all across Europe joining in the jackal chorus against the Jews. And someof them are feminists. So that we have from one point of view, feminists who today are more obsessed with the occupation of disputed lands far away in the Middle East than they are with the continued occupation of women's bodies. But more important, more sort of welcoming this cleansing Jihadic, I mean, America really deserved 9-11 from that point of view—I don't think so—and therefore viewing these misogynists, these Taliban, this Al Qaeda, as thecleansing, scourging force, so that there's a lot of romanticizing of totalitarianism from feminists who should really be the first among democrats, and who should be the first to be gravely concerned with the plight of women under Islam.   

TR:  Right, I always find it interesting because the Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a free press, but their press are characterized as propagandists, when other media outlets from the Middle East are depicted as truth-telling. And I don't understand why somebody would trust a non-free press over a free press. I mean a free press of course has a diversity of opinion–you're not going to get one story, but, um, so–

PC: Right. Right. Well, in Israel you'll find many critics of government policy, and I have no problem with criticizing a government's particular policy.  The problem is when the demonization, and the exclusive demonization of only the Jewish state, so that nobody's noting that China continues to occupy Tibet in a very cruel way, and that human slavery and massacres and genocide is being perpetrated in the Sudan, just as it was in Rwanda and Bosnia; when nobody's focusing on these grave human rights atrocities and instead are focusing on the flaws and failures of the Jewish state and only the Jewish state, then that is anti-Semitism.

TR:  Can you talk a little about the rhetoric that is being used, how it mirrors just classic anti-Semitic rhetoric, you know, that's been used for hundreds of years against Jews.

PC:  Well, in the past for example Jews were seen as poisoning the wells of Europe, and stabbing Christian babies for their blood to make matzo or hometaschen on Purim. You can see those very same stereotypes all over the Islamic world in the press, and you will see it in cartoons all across Europe, and some of those cartoons will make it into North America. You will have very hooked-nosed, ugly-looking, clearly marked Jewish-nosed men who are devouring babies.  You'll have Arafat presented as Jesus Christ, and the Israeli tanks as Nazi SS tanks. You'll see somebody with Prime Minister Sharon's face stabbing a baby for blood, looking very happy about doing so.  It's very rabid, it's very raw, and it's all over the place and the people are getting accustomed to it being around. And if we've learned anything, it's first there's the words, there's the hate speech, there's the image, there's the pornography, if you will. And then you have trafficking, sexual slavery, and the crematoria.  If we've learned anything, and it's not just the Islamic Jihadists, the terrorists. I have to stress that what got me focused on it against my will is that the human rights organizations buy into this propaganda. The United Nations is one of the chief manufacturers of this kind of Jew-hating propaganda. The Red Cross still refuses to allow Israel to be a member nation.  And in the United Nations, Israel is grouped with Europe because the Middle East doesn't want to include Israel, you know, in its Middle East grouping. And then we have the intellectuals on our campuses. We have theglorification of the work of Edward Said, for example. And Noam Chomsky, for example. And the anti-globalization activists, including feminists who, whatever the other noble holy cause may be, they're increasingly dressing in kafias and Arab headdress, and if women did it in the streets of Mecca, they'd be stoned to death. Here we can play, we're so playful. And–

TR:  I find it interesting, you know, I've heard of groups like Queers for Palestinians–not that I'm against Palestinians, you know, I feel for them–but I also recognize if they were queers in, under Palestinian control, that they could be sentenced to death.

PC:  No. No. They'd be tortured, they would be tortured–

TR:  Right. And the reality is that gays will immigrate illegally into Israel, because even though they're there illegally, it's still safer for them than being under the Palestinian Authority.  At least they won't be killed.

PC:  Correct, that's right.

MC:  Doctor Chesler, this is Melissa Chiprin. Um, I have a question for you. I was being really curious about where feminism–where sexism and anti-Semitism, the intersections between these two. And I know there was a study in Canada where they talked to Jewish–

PC:  [UI] Gold study.

MC: Right, right, exactly. And it was very revealing. But one of the things these women continually said is that it was as though the sexism was acknowledged, but when they were called dirty Jew or Christ killers, those kind of things were discounted or not concern. It was though–

PC:  Yes. Well, I know what you're asking. The politically correct crowd view themselves as against colonialism and against racism. Therefore, if they happen to hate only one nation on Earth, the Jewish nation, by definition it doesn't mean that they're being racists. That the harm, the explicit sensitivity to harm, done to somebody who may be brown, or black, or olive, or red in skin, that feminists will take very seriously–these lip-service serious. But when you hate somebody and resent somebody and envy somebody and have grudges against somebody, and then put them in crematoria, or put them now into psychologically impossible situations because they're Jews, that's not racism.I mean, Jews have not yet been accepted into the feminist multicultural cannon.Think about it. Because Jews are not wanted there, because Jews are too pushy, and Jews have white skin–although certainly not all Jews.

MC:  And there was a huge–100,000–indigenous Jews who were in North Africa, Morocco, Iraq, and who had to flee because they were second-class citizens, because they were mistreated. And they're Jews of color, and they didn't convert.

PC:  And Israel had absorbed them. They came–the Middle–the Arab world, the Islamic world, is Judenfrei; it's completely free of Jews who had to flee. And Israel absorbed at least 800,000 or more refugees. Now a smaller number of refugees from what used to be Jordan, Syria, and Egypt–there was never any country called Palestine–they fled, but the entire Arab League–22 Arab nation-states–refused to absorb them, would not allow them to become citizens, and indeed had a long-term strategy, which meant sacrificing now what might be five generations of Palestinians to their desire to get the Jews, get democracy out of the Middle East. Instead of becoming more like Israel and giving up despotism and such–I mean the despotism in which only one ruling family has everything and everybody else lives like animals–getting rid of that, dealing with the illiteracy, dealing with clitoridectomies, and Arab honor killings, and suppression of intellectuals, the torture and death of intellectuals, the stoning to death for alleged adultery of women, etc. Instead of dealing with their real problems, instead, the rulers have focused their suffering masses, including the Palestinian masses, against the Jews. It's a scapegoating diversion tactic.

TR: You know, I see, you know, I see that the really mistreatment by Arab brethren against the Palestinians, that they've been manipulated and utilized and kept in this perpetual refugee status–

PC: Correct.

TR: –and–and–the focus I see on the activism, unfortunately, is really not for the betterment of these people because if it were, they would be looking at what is Arafat, how is he diverting the money that was supposed to go to their–


PC: The United States has spent more money, has sent more money to support the Palestinians in the refugee camps than all 22 Arab nation-states have sent to help the Palestinians.

TR: Right, and don't some Palestinians still live, like, in refugee camps within Arab lands, and they're denied citizenship, and–

PC: Yes. They're denied citizenship in every Arab country. I think they may be an exception in Jordan. I mean, they really were Jordanians, and/or Egyptians, or Syrians. That's who they were until a new national consciousness–one born of hatred of the West, hatred of democracy, and hatred of the Jews–these refugees are not Egyptians, they're not Syrians, they're not Jordanians. Theyare–although they speak the same languages and the same dialects, they're Palestinians. OK. This–the twentieth century, and the nineteenth century saw many nation-states come into being and the Palestinians could long ago have had their own nation-state; they refused it four times. The latest time–I mean, think of it: let's say that the Israelis didn't offer 100%. Let's say they offered only 90%. And, or, I mean, the percentages are really more 96%, 97%, but let's say it was only 90%. If Arafat was a statesman who cared about his people, who didn't want Hamas to turn his youth, his children into suicides, into human weapons, really, into genocidal bombers, using themselves as a weapon, he would say, You know, OK, let's start with this deal, I accept this deal. The Camp David, the Oslo Accords–I accept the deal, and then the next day we'll start doing trade, and we'll have water in common, and we'll have whatever, and then I'll hock you to death to get the next bit of land, to get a better deal, to get more. Because the Israelis wanted peace. And they were ready and willing totrade land for it.

TR:  Right. It seems like you don't walk out on–if you really want to achieve an end, you don't walk out on negotiations. You say, I need to negotiate further.

PC:   But what did we see, since we're clearly agreeing with each other about some–the larger picture, and the history of that larger picture. What can we say when young people on campuses in North America, at Berkeley in particular, right, since you're coming to me from California, would be jeering and mocking and booing and physically menacing us if they heard what we'resaying.  They wouldn't have a respectful discussion about a difference ofopinion. I mean, believe me, I'm a very good person to defend the state of Israel because I'm on record suing the state of Israel on behalf of Jewish women's religious rights in the case of the Women of the Wall.

TR:  Right. And it's not that you don't find Israel without fault by any means–

PC: Absolutely not. But I'd rather live there than in Saudi Arabia.

TR:  Right. I think we all agree Israel has faults, Israel does do some very terrible things, but I think what you're saying is that it's disproportionately being held up to these incredibly high standards. Information is being distorted. The truth is being manipulated. And, you know, I just find so many people have these very untruthful informa–you know, they just don't have facts.

MC:  Most of the writing on the–by leftist journalists and leftist authors here in the U.S., a lot of it is not based on empirical research. It's based onwhat they have read; it's second-hand. But yet it's told as fact, and it's that–going along with what you're saying, it's the propaganda is now by our left intellectuals and progressives being put down.

PC:  Yeah, well, the propaganda has been well-funded for more than 56 years by Saudi money, by Iranian money, by a lot of Arab oil wealth money, so that now you have institutes of Middle Eastern studies that are anti-Zionist and pro-PLO, as if that will solve the Earth's every problem and abolish all suffering if only the Jews would leave the place; that all suffering–[OV]

MC:  –left progressives repeat these words as well.

PC:  Um, say that again?

MC:  I said and the left progressives repeat these words as well.They aren't doing their own empirical research; they are just taking the information they read and putting it as this is the facts.

PC:  But this also now includes feminists on the left [OV] feminists on the left, and this is utterly, utterly heartbreaking. And let me say a few things about the psychology of left denial of reality. I mean, first, people on the left don't seem to understand that 911 was only the first calling card, and that 911's have been happening in Israel. In fact, I put together some statistics which are really alarming. I think we have already begun to have a new parallel to a holocaust, and it's happening in Israel, it's not happening in America. And the number of civilians who've been murdered and disabled, were we to translate it demographically into American terms, we would by now, during this latest intifada, have about 44,000 Americans dead, killed, by terrorists,and 288,000 Americans wounded, often disabled for life, by terrorists. And during this time, the world media and progressives of all kind, public intellectuals, academics, were only blaming Israel, not seeing the color of Jewish blood. Being perhaps happy that Jewish blood was flowing, and blaming Israel for trying to defend herself. Calling the security wall the apartheid wall. Not understanding that were this to happen to us in our beds and our pizza parlors and our cafes, we would be fully engaged in a war of self-defense. That is a war that the left wing and progressives and feminists don't want Israel to be allowed to wage. Now I think one of the things that ideologues believe is that we can perfect human nature. I no longer believe that's possible. And a refusal to consider that life does have a tragic dimension and not everything can be socially engineered into perfection or perfect happiness. And there's a belief in feminists here, you know, because we did take oppression and the harm it does very seriously and we did identify victim status, once there's a victim way of thinking, it's–the PLO was the victim. So that means Bin Laden is a victim, Arafat is the victim–it's completely irrational and Israel is the victimizer. That way of thinking, it's very hard to pry it loose from the floor of the cults. Because it's very cult-like thinking. There's also a belief that if somebody is blowing you up or shooting at you, that he must have a reason.It can't be coming from no place, so, let's just try to understand him–it's like, let's understand the batterer.That the batterer must have a reason, ‘cause he's unhappy, he had a bad childhood, and then if we can understand it, we'll be able to fix the problem. And I think that in America especially there's a refusal to acknowledge that the left was wrong about Stalin, and wrong about the hundreds of millions of Russians who died on the altar for the ideal of this perfect Marxist state. So these latter-day–I'd say, people who failed to say, well, our ideals have caused great bloodshed in the world, and let us be humble.

MC:  But even in the left there's a long history of anti-Semitism which they do not acknowledge. Leon Trotsky had quipped that the members of the Labor Bund were just Zionists who were afraid to travel. I mean there is a long history of anti-Semitism in the left.

[Transcribers Note: Trotsky and Zinoviev were Yehudim.]

TR:  And we still see that; there were apologists for the Malaysian Prime Minister speaking to an Islam crowd who got up and cheered him, gave him a standing ovation, and he said vile, awful things about Jews, and the left makes excuses for that for some reason.

PC:  Well every Arab nation-state stood up and cheered, every Muslim nation-state. The largest set, by the way, is in Indonesia. It's not even based in the Arab Middle East.

TR:  Right. Phyllis, I'm really sorry, but we're running out of time. I just wanted to ask you if could answer like 30 seconds, maybe. How do you see, what can we do to counter this, and do you see any kind of resolve to the Arab-Israeli conflict?

PC:  Yes. First we have to fight the big lies, and we have to make alliances–very creative alliances–with religious people, peoples of faith. That means feminists now have to start talking feminism to Republicans and to Christians and to Christian Zionists. And I think this is happening. I think that this is important to work on. I think that Jews need to open their hearts and their ears and they need to listen to each other, because Jews no longer–Jews right now are in a place where they'll only talk to someone who already agrees with them. They're not going to be listening respectfully or lovingly to somebody who they totally disagree with. And I think that we need to have a different kind of dialogue because our survival is on the line.

TR:  OK. Phyllis, we have to go. I appreciate your words and I encourage everybody to see things a little more gray and less black and white and simplistic, but we are at the end of our hour, I wanted to thank our listeners for listening to Feminist Magazine on KPFK 90.7 FM, Los Angeles.


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Great Post ! Thankyou! Monday, Jun. 14, 2004 at 7:19 PM
seems like KPFK is the trojan horse more rational Tuesday, Jun. 15, 2004 at 8:31 AM
Tricia Roth's Resignation Statement Tricia Roth, KPFK Feminist Magazine Tuesday, Jun. 15, 2004 at 11:00 PM
Whose liberation? layla Thursday, Jun. 17, 2004 at 12:47 PM
Feminist Magazine Jessica Hoffmann Thursday, Jun. 17, 2004 at 2:53 PM
Stupid feminists Barney Thursday, Jun. 17, 2004 at 3:19 PM
Feminazis at it again? smackdown the most spoiled women on earth Thursday, Jun. 17, 2004 at 5:57 PM

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