The War on Women in Israel: How Religious Radicalism Is Smothering the Voice of a Nation

Elana Maryles Sztokman. Sourcebooks, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4926-0459-4
Combining a chilling warning with a rousing call to action, feminist activist Sztokman (The Men’s Section) documents the places in Israel where “a radical religious misogyny has been gradually creeping into public spaces.” With outrage and bewilderment, she chronicles how Israeli business leaders, lawmakers, politicians, and police have caved to the demands of an ultra-Orthodox minority to remove women’s faces, voices, and even their physical presence from public venues, creating “female-free zones” in the name of modesty. She exposes the “entrenched culture of sexism” in the Israeli army and legislature, and explores how the Orthodox rabbinical courts cause disproportionate harm to women in their governance of “personal status” issues (marriage, divorce, and conversion), among other concerns. Sztokman rejects the “false claim of moral equivalence” that regards a woman’s basic human rights as equal to “a man’s right to silence her.” Instead, she implores the public to set aside the “distanced reverence for religion” that tolerates such practices and enjoins support for the “powerful alliance” among Orthodox feminists, religious pluralists, and human rights activists. Cutting, candid, and lucid, Sztokman’s account of injustice makes an eloquent plea for “the assertion of a secular-democratic vision for Israeli society” and will inspire more dialogue. Agent: Fern Reiss, Publishing Game Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/14/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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