Sunday, 9 May 2010

RubinReports: Walter Laqueur: An Intellectual for All Seasons Brings His History to Life

Walter Laqueur: An Intellectual for All Seasons Brings His History to Life

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By Barry Rubin

Almost one-third of a century ago, I first met Walter Laqueur--one of the greatest historians, thinkers on international affairs, and political analysts of this or the past century--and he remains for me a role model. He is also one of the few remaining exemplars from the golden generation of Western intellectual life with its tremendous Jewish component and dedication to Enlightenment values.

When Walter was already 87 years old, last year, he mentioned to me that he was looking for a topic for his next book. I suggested an intellectual autobiography, to share what he has learned with the contemporary generations, and now the result is available as Best of Times, Worst of Times, Memoirs of a Political Education (Brandeis, 224pp.).

I knew the book was going to be great when reading some of the draft chapters. Yet only when I sat down with the published book did I realize how truly great and important it is and why you should definitely read it. I’ll explain that in a moment but first some background.

Laqueur was born in Breslau, then in Germany and now in Poland, in 1921. When he was a boy the Nazis came to power and he lived for about six years under that regime. He escaped by becoming a student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, soon leaving to work on a kibbutz where—among other things—he quickly learned Russian and served at times as a mounted guard. He covered the 1948 Independence War as a journalist.

In the 1950s he began writing books, with his scholarly focus over the next 60 years including the USSR, German intellectual and cultural history, Zionism, the Middle East, Europe, guerrillas, the role of intelligence in Western decisionmaking, how news of the Holocaust reached the Allies, and terrorism. He practically created the field of terrorism studies. His career has stretched long enough that I own two books he wrote a half-century apart. The first was entitled Out of the Ruins of Europe, as the continent recovered from World War Two; the more recent called, The Last Days of Europe. He covered the full length of that up and down cycle.

Living in Jerusalem, London, and Washington, he created the Institute for Contemporary History, played a central role in the development of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and taught in several of the world's great universities. Indeed, Laqueur, as much as anyone, created the field of political analysis which has been my profession since the day we met.
If you think this is too effusive, remember I’m holding back because he is going to read this and tease me by saying: You exaggerated as usual.

But from the standpoint (or low point) of intellectual life in 2010 how can one possibly exaggerate what a role model Laqueur is for us today. There is the breadth of his experience and the breadth of his knowledge (it is hard to bring up a name of an author he hasn’t read or intellectual figure he hasn't known), or of his modesty.

And the mere thought that one could become a great international intellectual figure without even having a BA from a university makes one want to cry in our era of credentialed buffoons.

I once sat in on a chat between Walter and a famous Soviet expert who bragged that he spoke eight languages. Walter, who at least equals that, remarked: “Oh, you’re including Bulgarian! Well, everyone who knows Russian can understand it already so that doesn’t count.

His flexibility is also something I admire, and his constant demonstration of the interconnection of all knowledge--he's also a photography and film enthusiast--is a vital reminder in an age of narrow scholastic specialization which is predictably arid and unimaginative.

When I bought my first computer (a Lexitron behemoth consisting of a television screen mounted on a big table and one step beyond the type of thing seen in 1950s' science fiction films), he teased me that the greatest works of literature were written with a quill pen. Today, he puts most teenagers to shame given his computer literacy.

And so you should read all his books. But I want to get back to why you should read this latest book. One of the greatest deficits today is the ignorance or distortion of history (most often into an anti-democratic, anti-Western, anti-capitalist narrative), especially the last 90 years since the end of World War One. Walter has lived through this and it has left him with sound and sober judgments.

"Some of the main sources of error [in comprehending history and predicting politics include] mirror imaging ["They are people like you and me"]; the belief of academics that the main assignment of an intellectual is to be critical; the contention that conflicts can always or almost always be evaded; the idea that in the case of a conflict, truth is more often than not to be found somewhere in the middle and that one's own country is very likely to be in the wrong." (p. 17)

The romance of extremism is one of the greatest of temptations. He compares Rosa Luxemburg, the failed quasi-Communist who is celebrated today though she led a disastrous uprising that ultimately contributed to the triumph of fascism, with Eduard Bernstein, the democratic socialist who is forgotten but did so much to create the modern democratic state and improve the lives of workers. (p. 47) Why does the revolutionary failure become a heroine and the successful former a non-entity?

Laqueur explains why the concept of totalitarianism is needed to understand the Soviet Union. He shows what Nazism was actually like and how that name should not just become some insult to be hurled at anyone with whom one disagrees politically. (“One of the Nazi slogans was, “The individual is nothing, the community—everything.”)

There is one story Walter tells in the book that particularly haunts me given attitudes today. During the period before the Nazis came to power, his parents took him on a river cruise. One of the passengers jumped off the boat, swam around for a while, and climbed back. He used the boat’s Weimar Republic flag as a towel to dry himself. Some of the passengers laughed and applauded. When people no longer appreciate their democratic country and the freedom it provides they are well on their way to losing it.

And he also writes why the West was right and the USSR was wrong in the Cold War. Indeed, I think this analysis is very useful for today in considering states like Iran today:

“Of course the Soviet leaders were, on the whole, not prone to act recklessly. When there were great risks involved they would not take the offensive. Someone compared them to a hotel thief trying all the doors on a certain floor. When he found a door locked he would not persist but instead would pass on to the next door.”

He has taught me about the importance of boredom and incompetence in shaping history, of the ridiculousness of “experts” who prattled on about matters they didn’t really understand. He also taught me that being prolific is not a sin and that the best way to be really productive is to avoid going to meetings whenever possible.

In this present day, his career is a reminder that a scholar should be someone who does creative and insightful work rather than someone driven by a passion to be a celebrity.

You should read this book, then, for his charming style, eyewitness accounts, and most of all his sound judgment. Walter writes:

“I thought of myself as a person of the center-left, and in most ways I continue to do so….The problem is, of course, what is left?….I did not believe that Stalin was a left-winger, nor his followers, nor the various post-modernist schools, such as postcolonialism, nor the German or the Italian terrorists of the 1970s, nor North Korea, nor the Albania of Enver Hoxha or the Cambodia of Pol Pot, nor the Islamists whether following Osama bin Laden or other versions of that ideology.” (p. 70)

These are all excuses for authoritarianism or totalitarianism against human liberty and they should not be allowed—this is my sentiment—to dress themselves or be prettified as anything else.

In other words, if you read this book you will be given a quick and entertaining (in the best sense of the word) course on how we arrived where we are today (“how did we reach this impasse—proceeding from the optimism of Victor Hugo to the dire prospects of the early twentieth century”) and how to think reasonably about that recent past, a field that Laqueur practically created and which he called contemporary history.

He doesn’t give easy answers but always persuasive ones. Go and read this book and as many of his earlier works as you can, including his novels, then thank me for recommending them. You can find a list here.

RubinReports: Walter Laqueur: An Intellectual for All Seasons Brings His History to Life

Are Honor Killings Domestic Terrorism?-Chester Chronicles

Are Honor Killings Domestic Terrorism?

My second study about honor killings was posted this week at Middle East Quarterly. The first study is here. The second study is a groundbreaking examination of 230 victims on five continents.

So far, the study has been picked up widely on the web, and I’ve been interviewed in the Hindustan Times (!) and the Edmonton Sun about honor killings. I was just interviewed by the most excellent Lauren Green on the Fox News Channel’s “Strategy Room” program about “faith and terrorism.” I was encouraged to position honor killings as a form of domestic, Islamist terrorism. In reality, the same radically Islamist mindset responsible for 9/11 or the Mumbai massacre tends to keep their women in burqas, niquab, or hijab, segregated and subordinate. Such fundamentalists tend to follow radical Islamist mullahs who preach militant jihad and who do not preach against honor related violence, including honor killings.

(Left to right) Lynne Jordal Martin, Phyllis Chesler, Lauren Green

Fox News had convened a panel to discuss the relationship between “faith and terrorism.” We began by discussing the interview with Hussein Ibish, formerly the director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, now the Executive Director of the Foundation for Arab American Leadership, a non-member organization. Ibish made a series of false claims, all of which sounded reasonable, “fair,” and logical, and he did so in excellent American English. For example, he said that Muslims were persecuted by pagans when Mohammed was alive and that’s why there are some Qu’ranic verses that encourage or permit violence.


Muslims under Mohammed were busy raping, pillaging, plundering, and enslaving the so-called pagans, trying to convert them; Mohammed and his soldiers genocidally slaughtered the Jewish tribes of Arabia. So, what Ibish is really saying is that when Muslims cannot convert another faith group to Islam, that Muslims feel “persecuted” and therefore resort to violence.

Nothing’s changed.

But one more point: When Mohammed was in a weak position, he counseled “peace.” When he was in a strong position, he counseled “no mercy, full jihad ahead.”

I stressed the terrorists, home-grown and otherwise, are not motivated by poverty, unemployment, or lack of education. Remember that Bin Laden is a billionaire, the Christmas Day failed bomber Abdul Muttalab came from a wealthy family, Mohamed Ata was educated, as were Fort Hood Major Nidal Hassan and Times Square Faisal Shahaz. Mental illness does not “cause” terrorism. The Saudi Wahabi Salifist world-wide funding of mosques, madrassas, and Middle East Institutes does. Iranian funding of Hamas and Hezbollah funds and indoctrinates terrorism.

If a true and “peaceful” Islam — a pro-woman Islam — has been hijacked by maniacs then true and peaceful Muslims must stand up to them. If one’s interpretation of faith can encourage a man to drive a car bomb into Times Square, it can also give good people the faith and courage to stand up and fight the extremists in their midst.

Faith can empower people to combat radical evil in a way that nothing else can.

I got to say all this — and much more. I am not sure if there will be a link posted to this interview but I will link to it if and when it becomes available.

Meanwhile, here’s the study. Let me know what you think.

Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings

by Phyllis Chesler
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2010, pp. 3-11
(Article originally online here.)

To combat the epidemic of honor killings requires understanding what makes these murders unique. They differ from plain and psychopathic homicides, serial killings, crimes of passion, revenge killings, and domestic violence. Their motivation is different and based on codes of morality and behavior that typify some cultures, often reinforced by fundamentalist religious dictates. In 2000, the United Nations estimated that there are 5,000 honor killings every year.[1] That number might be reasonable for Pakistan alone, but worldwide the numbers are much greater. In 2002 and again in 2004, the U.N. brought a resolution to end honor killings and other honor-related crimes. In 2004, at a meeting in The Hague about the rising tide of honor killings in Europe, law enforcement officers from the U.K. announced plans to begin reopening old cases to see if certain murders were, indeed, honor murders.[2] The number of honor killings is routinely underestimated, and most estimates are little more than guesses that vary widely. Definitive or reliable worldwide estimates of honor killing incidence do not exist.

Most honor killings are not classified as such, are rarely prosecuted, or when prosecuted in the Muslim world, result in relatively light sentences.[3] When an honor killing occurs in the West, many people, including the police, still shy away from calling it an honor killing. In the West, both Islamist and feminist groups, including domestic violence activists, continue to insist that honor killings are a form of Western-style domestic violence or femicide (killing of women).[4] They are not.[5] This study documents that there are at least two types of honor killings and two victim populations. Both types differ significantly from each other, just as they differ from Western domestic femicide. One group has an average age of seventeen; the other group’s average age is thirty-six. The age difference is a statistically significant one.

Families Killing Their Young Women

The photo in the right-hand corner of the top of this page is of Morsal O, a 16-year-old German-Afghan girl, who was killed in May 2008 by her 24-year-old brother Ahmad Sobair O. He stabbed her twenty-three times in a parking lot in Hamburg, Germany, because of her alleged impure moral conduct. Murder of teenage or young adult women by their fathers or other close male relatives is characteristic of classic honor killings and is not a pattern in non-immigrant Western populations.

The study’s findings indicate that honor killings accelerated significantly in a 20-year period between 1989 and 2009.[6] This may mean that honor killings are genuinely escalating, perhaps as a function of jihadist extremism and Islamic fundamentalism, or that honor killings are being more accurately reported and prosecuted, especially in the West, but also in the East. The expansion of the Internet may account for wider reporting of these incidents.

The worldwide average age of victims for the entire population is twenty-three (Table 1). This is true for all geographical regions. Thus, wherever an honor killing is committed, it is primarily a crime against young people. Just over half of these victims were daughters and sisters; about a quarter were wives and girlfriends of the perpetrators. The remainder included mothers, aunts, nieces, cousins, uncles, or non-relatives.

Honor killings are a family collaboration. Worldwide, two-thirds of the victims were killed by their families of origin. (See Table 1). Murder by the family of origin was at its highest (72 percent) in the Muslim world and at its lowest in North America (49 percent); European families of origin were involved almost as often as those in the Muslim world, possibly because so many are first- or second-generation immigrants and, therefore, still tightly bound to their native cultures. Alternatively, this might be due to the Islamist radicalization of third or even fourth generations. Internationally, fathers played an active role in over one-third of the honor murders. Fathers were most involved in North America (52 percent) and least involved in the Muslim world; in Europe, fathers were involved in more than one-third of the murders.

Worldwide, 42 percent of these murders were carried out by multiple perpetrators, a characteristic which distinguishes them considerably from Western domestic femicide. A small number of the murders worldwide involved more than one victim. Multiple murders were at their highest in North America and at their lowest in Europe. In the Muslim world, just under a quarter of the murders involved more than one victim. Additional victims included the dead woman’s children, boyfriend, fiancé, husband, sister, brother, or parents.

Worldwide, more than half the victims were tortured; i.e., they did not die instantly but in agony. In North America, over one-third of the victims were tortured; in Europe, two-thirds were tortured; in the Muslim world, half were tortured. Torturous deaths include: being raped or gang-raped before being killed; being strangled or bludgeoned to death; being stabbed many times (10 to 40 times); being stoned or burned to death; being beheaded, or having one’s throat slashed.

Finally, worldwide, 58 percent of the victims were murdered for being “too Western” and/or for resisting or disobeying cultural and religious expectations (see Table 1). The accusation of being “too Western” was the exact language used by the perpetrator or perpetrators. Being “too Western” meant being seen as too independent, not subservient enough, refusing to wear varieties of Islamic clothing (including forms of the veil), wanting an advanced education and a career, having non-Muslim (or non-Sikh or non-Hindu) friends or boyfriends, refusing to marry one’s first cousin, wanting to choose one’s own husband, choosing a socially “inferior” or non-Muslim (or non-Sikh or non-Hindu) husband; or leaving an abusive husband. There were statistically significant regional differences for this motive. For example, in North America, 91 percent of victims were murdered for being “too Western” as compared to a smaller but still substantial number (71 percent) in Europe. In comparison, only 43 percent of victims were killed for this reason in the Muslim world.

Less than half (42 percent) of the victims worldwide were murdered for committing an alleged “sexual impropriety”; this refers to victims who had been raped, were allegedly having extra-marital affairs, or who were viewed as “promiscuous” (even where this might not refer to actual sexual promiscuity or even sexual activity). However, in the Muslim world, 57 percent of victims were murdered for this motive as compared to 29 percent in Europe and a small number (9 percent) in North America.

What the Age Differences Mean

This study documents that there are at least two different kinds of honor killings and/or two different victim populations: one made up of female children and young women whose average age is seventeen (Table 3), the other composed of women whose average age is thirty-six (Table 5). Both kinds of honor murders differ from Western domestic femicide.

In the non-immigrant West, serious domestic violence exists which includes incest, child abuse, marital rape, marital battering, marital stalking, and marital post-battering femicide. However, there is no cultural pattern of fathers specifically targeting or murdering their teenage or young adult daughters, nor do families of origin participate in planning, perpetrating, justifying, and valorizing such murders. Clearly, these characteristics define the classic honor killing of younger women and girls.

The honor murders of older women might seem to resemble Western-style domestic femicide. The victim is an older married woman, usually a mother, who is often killed by her husband but also by multiple perpetrators (30 percent of the time). Worldwide, almost half (44 percent) of those who kill older-age victims include members of either the victim’s family of origin or members of her husband’s family of origin. (See Table 5.) This is extremely rare in a Western domestic femicide; the husband who kills his wife in the West is rarely assisted by members of his family of origin or by his in-laws.

However, in the Muslim world, older-age honor killing victims are murdered by their own families of origin nearly two-thirds of the time. This suggests that the old-world custom has changed somewhat in Europe where the victim’s family of origin participates in her murder only one-third (31 percent) of the time. Thus far, in North America, no members of the family of origin have participated in the honor killing of an older-age victim. Whether North America will eventually come to resemble Europe or even the Muslim world remains to be seen, as this will be influenced by immigration and other demographic factors. Finally, nearly half the older-age victims are subjected to a torturous death. However, the torture rate was at its highest (68 percent) in Europe for female victims of all ages. The torture rate was 35 percent and 51 percent in North America and in the Muslim world, respectively.

Worldwide, younger-age victims were killed by their families of origin 81 percent of the time. In North America, 94 percent were killed by their family of origin; this figure was 77 percent in Europe and 82 percent in the Muslim world. (See Table 3.) In North America, fathers had a hands-on role in 100 percent of the cases when the daughter was eighteen-years-old or younger (See Table 4). Worldwide, younger-age women and girls were tortured 53 percent of the time; however, in Europe, they were tortured between 72 and 83 percent of the time—significantly more than older-age women worldwide.

Western Responses to Honor Killing

Many Western feminists and advocates for victims of domestic violence have confused Western domestic violence or domestic femicide (the two are different) with the honor killings of older-age victims. Representatives of Islamist pressure groups including Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Canadian Islamic Congress, various academics (e.g., Ajay Nair, Tom Keil), activists (e.g., Rana Husseini), and religious leaders (e.g., Abdulhai Patel of the Canadian Council of Imams) have insisted that honor killings either do not exist or have nothing to do with Islam; that they are cultural, tribal, pre-Islamic customs, and that, in any event, domestic violence exists everywhere.[7] Feminists who work with the victims of domestic violence have seen so much violence against women that they are uncomfortable singling out one group of perpetrators, especially an immigrant or Muslim group. However, Western domestic femicide differs significantly from honor killing.[8]

Former National Organization for Women (NOW) president Kim Gandy compared the battered and beheaded Aasiya Hassan[9] to the battered (but still living) pop star Rihanna and further questioned whether Hassan’s murder was an honor killing:

Is a Muslim man in Buffalo more likely to kill his wife than a Catholic man in Buffalo? A Jewish man in Buffalo? I don’t know the answer to that, but I know that there is plenty of violence to go around—and that the long and sordid history of oppressing women in the name of religion surely includes Islam, but is not limited to Islam.[10]

At the time of the Hassan beheading, a coalition of domestic violence workers sent an (unpublished) letter to the Erie County district attorney’s office and to some media stating that this was not an honor killing, that honor killings had nothing to do with Islam, and that sensationalizing Muslim domestic violence was not only racist but also served to render invisible the much larger incidence of both domestic violence and domestic femicide. They have a point, but they also miss the point, namely, that apples are not oranges and that honor killings are not the same as Western domestic femicides.

One might argue that the stated murder motive of being “too Westernized” may, in a sense, overlap substantively with the stated and unstated motives involved in Western domestic femicide. In both instances, the woman is expected to live with male violence and to remain silent about it. She is not supposed to leave—or to leave with the children or any other male “property.” However, the need to keep a woman isolated, subordinate, fearful, and dependent through the use of violence does not reflect a Western cultural or religious value; rather, it reflects the individual, psychological pathology of the Western batterer-murderer. On the other hand, an honor killing reflects the culture’s values aimed at regulating female behavior—values that the family, including the victim’s family, is expected to enforce and uphold.

Further, such cultural, ethnic, or tribal values are not often condemned by the major religious and political leaders in developing Muslim countries or in immigrant communities in the West. On the contrary, such communities maintain an enforced silence on all matters of religious, cultural, or communal “sensitivity.” Today, such leaders (and their many followers) often tempt, shame, or force Muslim girls and women into wearing a variety of body coverings including the hijab (head covering), burqa, or chadari (full-body covering) as an expression of religiosity and cultural pride or as an expression of symbolic resistance to the non-Muslim West.[11] Muslim men are allowed to dress like Westerners, and no one challenges the ubiquitous use of Western technology, including airplanes, cell phones, the Internet, or satellite television as un-Islamic. But Muslim women are expected to bear the burden of upholding these ancient and allegedly religious customs of gender apartheid.

It is clear that Muslim girls and women are murdered for honor in both the West and the East when they refuse to wear the hijab or choose to wear it improperly. In addition, they are killed for behaving in accepted Western or modern ways when they express a desire to attend college, have careers, live independent lives, have non-Muslim friends (including boyfriends with whom they may or may not be sexually involved), choose their own husbands, refuse to marry their first cousins, or want to leave an abusive husband. This “Westernization” trend also exists in Muslim countries but to a lesser extent. Allegations of unacceptable “Westernization” accounted for 44 percent of honor murders in the Muslim world as compared to 71 percent in Europe and 91 percent in North America.

Tempted by Western ideas, desiring to assimilate, and hoping to escape lives of subordination, those girls and women who exercise their option to be Western are killed—at early ages and in particularly gruesome ways. Frightening honor murders may constitute an object lesson to other Muslim girls and women about what may happen to them if they act on the temptation to do more than serve their fathers and brothers as domestic servants, marry their first cousin, and breed as many children as possible. The deaths of females already living in the West may also be intended as lessons for other female immigrants who are expected to lead subordinate and segregated lives amid the temptations and privileges of freedom. This is especially true in Europe where large Muslim ghettos have formed in the past few decades. It is particularly alarming to note that in Europe 96 percent of the honor killing perpetrators are Muslims.

The level of primal, sadistic, or barbaric savagery shown in honor killings towards a female family intimate more closely approximates some of the murders in the West perpetrated by serial killers against prostitutes or randomly selected women. It also suggests that gender separatism, the devaluation of girls and women, normalized child abuse, including arranged child marriages of both boys and girls, sexual repression, misogyny (sometimes inspired by misogynist interpretations of the Qur’an), and the demands made by an increase in the violent ideology of jihad all lead to murderous levels of aggression towards girls and women. One only has to kill a few girls and women to keep the others in line. Honor killings are, in a sense, a form of domestic terrorism, meant to ensure that Muslim women wear the Islamic veil, have Muslim babies, and mingle only with other Muslims.

Since Muslim immigration and, therefore, family networks are more restricted in North America than in Europe, honor-killing fathers may feel that the entire burden for upholding standards for female behavior falls heavily upon them and them alone. This may account for the fact that fathers are responsible 100 percent of the time for the honor murders of the youngest-age victims. In Europe and in the Muslim world, that burden may more easily be shared by sons and brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.

What Must Be Done

How can this problem be addressed? Immigration, law enforcement, and religious authorities must all be included in education, prevention, and prosecution efforts in the matter of honor killings.

In addition, shelters for battered Muslim girls and women should be established and multilingual staff appropriately trained in the facts about honor killings. For example, young Muslim girls are frequently lured back home by their mothers. When a shelter resident receives such a phone call, the staff must immediately go on high alert. The equivalent of a federal witness protection program for the intended targets of honor killings should be created; England has already established such a program.[12] Extended safe surrogate family networks must be created to replace existing family networks; the intended victims themselves, with enormous assistance, may become each other’s “sisters.”

In addition, clear government warnings must be issued to Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu immigrants and citizens: Honor killings must be prosecuted in the West, and perpetrators, accomplices, and enablers must all be prosecuted. Participating families should be publicly shamed. Criminals must be deported after they have served their sentences.

Western judicial systems and governments have recently begun to address this problem. In 2006, a Danish court convicted nine members of a clan for the honor murder of Ghazala Khan.[13] In 2009, a German court sentenced a father to life in prison for having ordered his son to murder his sister for the family honor while the 20-year-old son was sentenced to nine and a half years.[14] In another case, a British court, with the help of testimony from the victim’s mother and fiancé, convicted a father of a 10-year-old honor murder after the crime was reclassified;[15] and, for the first time, the Canadian government informed new immigrants:

Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, “honour killings,” female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws.[16]

Islamic gender apartheid is a human rights violation and cannot be justified in the name of cultural relativism, tolerance, anti-racism, diversity, or political correctness. As long as Islamist groups continue to deny, minimize, or obfuscate the problem, and government and police officials accept their inaccurate versions of reality, women will continue to be killed for honor in the West.

The battle for women’s rights is central to the battle for Europe and for Western values. It is a necessary part of true democracy, along with freedom of religion, tolerance for homosexuals, and freedom of dissent. Here, then, is exactly where the greatest battle of the twenty-first century is joined.

Phyllis Chesler is emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at the Richmond College of the City University of New York and co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women’s Health Network. The author wishes to thank Jonathan Francis Carmona, graduate student at Hunter College, CUNY, for the statistical tests for this study, and Prof. Howard Lune, director of the Graduate Social Research Program at Hunter College.

Table One: Entire Population (N = 230)

REGIONWorldwideNorth AmericaEuropeMuslim World
Killed by Family of Origin1,266496672
Family Position1
– Daughter/Sister53504956
– Wife/Girlfriend23273417
– Other324332727
Paternal Participation437533931
Multiple Perpetrators42424541
Multiple Victims11730721
– “too Western”58917143
– “sexual impropriety”4292957

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.

Table Two: Women Only, All Ages (N = 214)

REGIONWorldwideNorth AmericaEuropeMuslim World
Killed by Family of Origin1,269526675
Family Position1
– Daughter/Sister56525358
– Wife/Girlfriend24283717
– Other320201025
Paternal Participation439524233
Multiple Perpetrators42454440
Multiple Victims11830721
– “too Western”58897344
– “sexual impropriety”42112756

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.

Table Three: Females 25 Years of Age and Younger (N = 129)

REGIONWorldwideNorth AmericaEuropeMuslim World
Killed by Family of Origin1,281947782
Family Position1
– Daughter/Sister74946773
– Wife/Girlfriend1402014
– Other3361313
Paternal Participation454885446
Multiple Perpetrators46754638
Multiple Victims11730820
– “too Western”57887438
– “sexual impropriety”43122662

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.

Table Four: Females 18 Years of Age and Younger (N = 68)

REGIONWorldwideNorth AmericaEuropeMuslim World
Killed by Family of Origin1,289908690
Family Position1
– Daughter/Sister821007879
– Wife/Girlfriend80136
– Other3100915
Paternal Participation4701006861
Multiple Perpetrators39803232
Multiple Victims125291630
– “too Western”55806741
– “sexual impropriety”45203359

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.

Table Five: Females 26 Years of Age and Older (N = 51)

REGIONWorldwideNorth AmericaEuropeMuslim World
Killed by Family of Origin1,24403165
Family Position1
– Daughter/Sister2401337
– Wife/Girlfriend55898726
– Other32111037
Paternal Participation480137
Multiple Perpetrators30114330
Multiple Victims192985
– “too Western”56886938
– “sexual impropriety”44123162

1 Significant according to a chi square test.
2 Family of origin includes fathers, mothers, brothers, grandfathers, uncles, and male cousins.
3 “Other” includes mothers, aunts, cousins, and no familial relation.
4 Significant according to a Pearson correlation test.


This study analyzes 172 incidents and 230 honor-killing victims. The information was obtained from the English-language media around the world with one exception. There were 100 victims murdered for honor in the West, including 33 in North America and 67 in Europe. There were 130 additional victims in the Muslim world. Most of the perpetrators were Muslims, as were their victims, and most of the victims were women.

The perpetrators and victims in this study lived in the following twenty-nine countries or territories: Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Gaza Strip, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the West Bank.

In general, statistically significant interactions were found for age, geographical region, the participation of multiple perpetrators (mainly members of the victim’s family of origin, including the victim’s father), family position, multiple victims, the use of torture, and the stated motive for the murder. Between 1989 and 2009, honor killings also escalated over time in a statistically significant way.

Worldwide, the majority of victims were women; a mere 7 percent were men. Only five men were killed by their families of origin whereas the rest of the male victims were killed by the families of the women with whom they were allegedly consorting or planning to consort with either within or outside of marriage. The murdered male victims were usually perceived as men who were unacceptable due to lower class or caste status, because the marriage had not been arranged by the woman’s family of origin, because they were not the woman’s first cousin, or because the men allegedly engaged in pre- or extramarital sex. Men were rarely killed when they were alone; 81 percent were killed when the couple in question was together.

Although Sikhs and Hindus do sometimes commit such murders, honor killings, both worldwide and in the West, are mainly Muslim-on-Muslim crimes. In this study, worldwide, 91 percent of perpetrators were Muslims. In North America, most killers (84 percent) were Muslims, with only a few Sikhs and even fewer Hindus perpetrating honor killings; in Europe, Muslims comprised an even larger majority at 96 percent while Sikhs were a tiny percentage. In Muslim countries, obviously almost all the perpetrators were Muslims. With only two exceptions, the victims were all members of the same religious group as their murderers.

In the West, 76 individuals or groups of multiple perpetrators killed one hundred people. Of these perpetrators, 37 percent came from Pakistan; 17 percent were of Iraqi origin while Turks and Afghans made up 12 and 11 percent, respectively. The remainder, just under a quarter in all, came from Albania, Algeria, Bosnia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guyana, India, Iran, Morocco, and the West Bank.

[1]Ending Violence against Women and Girls,” State of the World Population 2000 (New York: United Nations Population Fund, 2000), chap. 3.
[2] BBC News, June 22, 2004.
[3] Yotam Feldner, “‘Honor’ Murders–Why the Perps Get off Easy,” Middle East Quarterly, Dec. 2000, pp. 41-50.
[4] See, for example,, Islamic information and products site, Aug. 24, 2000; Sheila Musaji, “The Death of Aqsa Parvez Should Be an Interfaith Call to Action,” The American Muslim, Dec. 14, 2007; Mohammed Elmasry, Canadian Islamic Congress, Fox, Dec. 12, 2007; Mustafaa Carroll, Dallas branch of the Council of American-Islamic Relations,, Oct. 14, 2008.
[5] Phyllis Chesler, “Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?” Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2009, pp. 61-9.
[6] According to the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, the most widely used measure of correlation or association.
[7] See, for example,, Aug. 24, 2000; Musaji, “The Death of Aqsa Parvez Should Be an Interfaith Call to Action“; Elmasry, Fox, Dec. 12, 2007; Carroll,, Oct. 14, 2008.
[8] Chesler,” Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence?“; “A Civilized Dialogue about Islam and Honor Killing: When Feminist Heroes Disagree,” Chesler Chronicles, Mar. 2, 2009; “Jordanian Journalist Rana Husseini on ‘Murder in the Name of Honor: The True Story of One Woman’s Heroic Fight Against an Unbelievable Crime,’” Democracy Now, Oct. 21, 2009.
[9] Fox News, Feb. 16, 2009.
[10] Kim Gandy, NOW president,Below the Belt. No Woman, No Culture Immune to Violence against Women,” Feb. 20, 2009.
[11] BBC News, Oct. 5, 2006; Aisha Stacey, “Why Muslim Women Wear the Veil,”, Nov 15, 2009.
[12] James Brandon and Salam Hafez, Crimes of the Community: Honour-based Violence in the UK (London: Centre for Social Cohesion, 2008), pp. 136-40.
[13] Brussels Journal, July 2, 2006.
[14] Deutsche Welle (Bonn), Dec. 29, 2009.
[15] The Guardian (London), Dec. 17, 2009.
[16] The National Post (Don Mills, Ont.), Nov. 12, 2009.

Are Honor Killings Domestic Terrorism?-Chester Chronicles

Indirect Talks Begin with Loud Silence - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Indirect Talks Begin with Loud Silence - Politics & Gov't - Israel News - Israel National News

Retrieving the Jewish Land and Keeping it in Jewish Hands - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Retrieving the Jewish Land and Keeping it in Jewish Hands - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Charge: Obama Systematically Ignores PA Hate-Mongering - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

Charge: Obama Systematically Ignores PA Hate-Mongering - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

Israeli Arab Incitement over Temple Mount - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Israeli Arab Incitement over Temple Mount - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Jewish Astronaut Carries Jewish Heritage Proclamation to Space - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Jewish Astronaut Carries Jewish Heritage Proclamation to Space - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Egypt Bars Israeli Doctor from Int'l Conference in Cairo - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Egypt Bars Israeli Doctor from Int'l Conference in Cairo - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Britain's Rebbetzin Amelie Jakobovits, 81, Passes Away - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Britain's Rebbetzin Amelie Jakobovits, 81, Passes Away - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Overnight music video

During the summer, we read Pirkei Avoth (Ethics of the Fathers) after the afternoon service on the Sabbath. This song come from those Mishnayoth and teaches the basic lesson that all wisdom in the World is found in the Torah.

Let's go to the videotape.

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: A Jew can be politically conservative

A Jew can be politically conservative

Matt Yglesias went after Representative Eric Cantor (R-Va) for being a Jewish conservative.

Along with Jonah Goldberg, one of the main guys who gets my goat is Eric Cantor. There’s something unseemly about seeing fellow Jews turn into rightwingers.

At NRO, Kevin Williamson goes after Yglesias:

I'm no Torah scholar, it is true, so perhaps somebody could explain to me why being Jewish precludes a belief in limited government, individual rights, free enterprise, traditional morals and manners, etc.

It doesn't. And perhaps Williamson should have added "supporting Israel" to a list of conservative tenets that many 'liberal Jews' don't accept today.

But Yglesias is just confused. He thinks being Jewish means being 'Liberal.' Liberalism is not Judaism.

Israel Matzav: A Jew can be politically conservative

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinian Authority' warns 'Palestinians' against shopping at Rami Levy

'Palestinian Authority' warns 'Palestinians' against shopping at Rami Levy

Rami Levy is a discount grocery chain with 16 stores throughout Israel, two of which are located in Judea and Samaria. There's no discrimination - 'Palestinians' are free to shop at any of the stores, and in fact many of them do shop in the two stores in Geva Binyamin (in Samaria) and Mishor Adumim (in Judea). Many 'Palestinians' are also employed in those two stores.

The 'Palestinian Authority' has a problem with that. And on Thursday, 'Palestinian Authority' Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh issued a veiled threat against those 'Palestinians.'

Abu Libdeh said in an interview with the local Al-Watan TV station that the PA knew the names of individuals and families who shop in the Rami Levy stores.

He condemned the phenomenon of Palestinians buying goods at the Israeli supermarkets in the West Bank as a “big disgrace.”

Abu Libdeh said the PA was serious in implementing the decision to boycott settlement-made goods. Nevertheless, he denied that the boycott was politically motivated or had anything to do with the resumption of indirect negotiations between the PA and Israel.

The boycott was intended to “cleanse” the Palestinian market of settlement products and boost Palestinians’ confidence in their national products, he said.

Peace is at hand. Heh.

Israel Matzav: 'Palestinian Authority' warns 'Palestinians' against shopping at Rami Levy

Love of the Land: Debunking the Gaza Seige Myth

Debunking the Gaza Seige Myth

Jacob Shrybman
Huffington Post
03 May '10

This May, thousands of activists on a convoy of ships, one of which is named after the extreme left-wing American activist, Rachel Corrie, killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003, plan to sail to the coastal territory in the context of breaking the widely popularized myth of the Gaza siege.

On March 18th, just three days after a man was killed by a Gaza rocket in the Negev, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Gaza Strip and told the people of Gaza: "We stand with you." Ban called for an end to the so-called Israeli siege of the terrorist-controlled territory, saying it was causing "unacceptable suffering of human beings."

Without questioning the apparent Gaza suffering, one has to ask what siege Ban is referring to, when, in 2009 the IDF Spokesperson reported that 738,576 tons of humanitarian aid was transferred into the Strip.

The UN claims there is a siege when it has given $200 million to Gaza following a military operation that left 1,300 dead and wounded among a population of less than 1.5 million, and yet has only given $10 million to Haiti after the natural disaster there claimed the lives of an estimated 230,000. Of course, that is without noting that Haitians have not been attacking an innocent nearby civilian population for nine years.

International humanitarian aid has been flowing freely into the Strip for years, and in no way stopped after Operation Cast Lead, as 30,576 aid trucks entered the territory in 2009 while in the same period, 4,883 tons of medical equipment was also transferred to it. This past month during the week of April 11-17th 500 trucks of over 17,000 tons of humanitarian aid entered the Gaza Strip.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Debunking the Gaza Seige Myth

Love of the Land: Linkage Threat: Will Israel Pay the Price for Obama’s Nuclear Delusions?

Linkage Threat: Will Israel Pay the Price for Obama’s Nuclear Delusions?

Jonathan Tobin
07 May '10

While the world watches and waits to see what, if anything, Washington will do to stop Iran’s nuclear program, the greatest obstacle to action may not be just the president’s indifference to the existential threat to Israel or the possibility such a development would pose to regional stability. Instead, as it is rapidly becoming evident, one of the fundamental problems here may be something else: the Obama administration’s obsession with pursuing the left’s Cold War agenda against nuclear arms.

As the New York Times’s report (mentioned earlier today by Jennifer) shows, President Obama plans to revive a civilian nuclear agreement with Russia, one that had been spiked by the Bush administration after Moscow’s invasion of Georgia in 2008. When it comes to nuclear issues, the administration’s priority remains the futile pursuit of agreements that will diminish America’s nuclear edge rather than an all-out effort to stop the spread of such weapons. As was the case with last year’s decision to betray past promises to the Czech Republic and Poland on missile defense to appease Russia, Obama’s main concern seems to be conciliating America’s antagonists rather than solidarity with allies. Rather than wait to see if Russia will make good on the vague pledges it has made about supporting the United States on Iran, Obama has gone ahead and handed the Medvedev/Putin regime a major victory in exchange for nothing.

Yet as troubling as this foolish determination to please Russia’s new autocrats may be, it is merely part of a larger agenda in which the administration’s interest in nuclear issues has created a situation that, rather than isolating the rogue regime in Tehran, may serve to harm Israel. As the United Nations’s month-long nuclear nonproliferation conference that began last week has shown, Washington’s push on the issue has been derailed. The president’s much-heralded deference to international opinion and his clear interest in appeasing Russia and China have contributed to a situation where the main topic of conversation is becoming not how to stop Iran but rather how to disarm its intended victim Israel. The fact that Israel’s possession of nukes is purely defensive — after all, it is the only nation marked for extinction by many of its neighbors as well as by the Iranian regime — is more easily forgotten amid the new emphasis given to banning nukes started by Obama. This is reinforced by a statement earlier this week from the head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, who is asking for international input on an Arab-led push to have Israel join the Nonproliferation Treaty, in a move that increases pressure on Jerusalem to disclose more information about its own nuclear weapons.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Linkage Threat: Will Israel Pay the Price for Obama’s Nuclear Delusions?
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