The War on Women in Israel

September 15, 2014 History, non-fiction 10 ★★★★★

The War on Women in IsraelTitle: The War on Women in Israel
Author: Elana Maryles Sztokman
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: This thought-provoking book is well-written and addresses issues relevant to everyone.

Although in many ways, Israel has historically been progressive in terms of women’s rights, ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists are influencing the government to curtail women’s freedoms in frightening ways. From segregated buses and streets to mobs attacking women who wish to pray in public, the results of this lobbying are terrifying. Resistance is also growing and there have been some great victories for women’s rights, but the problem is far from resolved.

I picked this book because I thought the topic was something I should be more knowledgeable about, but I was concerned it would simply be frustrating to read about infringements of women’s rights. And at times, it was frustrating and infuriating. Fortunately, the author does also include success stories and ends on an optimistic note. Even the depressing and unresolved issues were informative and interesting to read about. It also served as a call to action. The fact that a first-world country like Israel could slide so far backwards in terms of women’s rights terrifies me. Until now, I’ve been happy to keep an eye out and so my best to correct sexist comments and institutions. After reading this book, I feel that it would be worth my time to become more politically proactive about women’s rights issues. Something like what is currently happening in Israel cannot be allowed to happen here.

I came away from this book thinking far more about the issues discussed than the author’s writing style, but for the sake of a complete review, here are some thoughts on that too. The author writes clearly and the book is very well organized into chapters focusing on specific issues and causes. Occasionally the author repeats an anecdote, but this is a minor problem and perhaps better than referencing a past anecdote without reorienting the reader. I loved the interviews she included in her work and thought the book seemed very well cited. Although the topic might seem irrelevant to those of us in countries other than Israel, I think it’s a very worthwhile read for anyone. It raises awareness of possible directions our countries could be driven in by religious extremists and serves as a valuable reminder that rights we don’t fight for can easily slip away. I highly recommend this thought-provoking book to feminists, historians, and everyone else.

Have you ever read a book which inspired you to take action? I’d love to hear about it!

10 Responses to “The War on Women in Israel”

  1. Leah @ Books Speak Volumes

    This sounds like a really great read that I wouldn’t have thought to pick up on my own. But you’re right, it is important to educate ourselves about the way women are treated in other countries and to remind ourselves how important it is to fight for our rights.

    • DoingDewey

      It was so good! I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if I hadn’t read both some very good fiction set in Israel and some feminist reads lately. As is, both parts of the topic really appealed to me. I couldn’t believe how much women’s rights in Israel have regressed in the last two decades or so. It was definitely a wake-up call for me and made me want to be much more proactive about women’s rights here in the US!

  2. Jancee

    Well, definitely going to read this now. I fear I don’t know as much politically as I should. I didn’t realize women’s rights were an issue in Israel.

    • DoingDewey

      Oh, you should! Personally, I usually avoid political books because they seem to all be strongly biased toward one political party or another and I worry about how factual they’ll be, but a book that takes a feminist perspective on politics is one I can get behind. Especially in this case, when it seems very well researched and the facts alone are very moving, without the author adding any hype. I’d highly recommend it ­čÖé

    • DoingDewey

      In that case, I’d recommend giving it a try. Parts of it are infuriating – I think that was inevitable – but some progress is being made in taking back women’s rights and I think the author did a good job including and ending with positive stories. She didn’t paint an overly rosy picture, but it wasn’t a downer to read.

  3. Lindsey

    This sounds interesting. Israel is not the first country that would have come to mind regarding this issue for me, but I’m glad the author is bringing it to our attention.

    • DoingDewey

      It’s not the first country I think of when I think of women’s right issues either! I was very surprised by some of the things I learned in this book. As you said, I’m really glad the author is highlighting the problem.

  1. My Thinning Years - Review and Giveaway - Doing Dewey

    […] Like┬áThe War on Women in Israel, I expected this book to be frustrating and depressing to read. Fortunately, I was wrong once again. It was a difficult read and my heart ached for Jon as I read about his abusive childhood, but I also couldn’t set this book down. I think it helped that I knew Jon was writing this book from a better place in his life and I wanted to read as quickly as possible to get to the point where things worked out. The physical abuse also came across as less damaging then the mental abuse and the book wasn’t graphic at all. […]

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