May 22, 2013
They launched the 'Arab Spring' but now yearn for the good old days of a strongman
May 20, 2013
Richard A. Serrano: Is Meir Kahane's assassin now a changed man?
Genetic copies of living people from embryos no longer science fiction
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom :
The Kosher Gourmet by Cathy Pollak:
Jews Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame; Anton Yelchin co-stars in New "Trek" film; Kutcher (but not Kunis) visits Israel; Jewish TV Star Praises Jewish Rap Star
WARNING: This WALNUT CAKE WITH PRALINE FROSTING, perfect for afternoon coffee, is addicting
May 13, 2013
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: Why the giving of the document that would permanently change the world could only be done in desolation
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Sept. 26, 2008
/ 26 Elul 5768
Watching Oprah from behind the veil
She has been called the most influential woman of our time. They are among the most disempowered women on earth.
She is a self-made billionaire, with worldwide interests that range from television to publishing to education. They are forbidden to get a job without the permission of a male "guardian," and the overwhelming majority of them are unemployed.
She has a face that is recognized the world over. They cannot leave home without covering their face and obscuring their figure in a cloak.
She is famous for her message of confidence, self-improvement, and spiritual uplift. They are denied the right to make the simplest decisions, treated by law like children who cannot be trusted with authority over their own well-being.
She, of course, is Oprah Winfrey. They are the multitude of Saudi Arabian women whose devotion to her has made "The Oprah Winfrey Show" - broadcast twice daily on a Dubai-based satellite channel - the highest-rated English-language program in the kingdom.
A recent New York Times story - "Veiled Saudi Women Are Discovering an Unlikely Role Model in Oprah Winfrey" - explored the appeal of America's iconic talk-show host for the marginalized women of the Arabian peninsula.
"In a country where the sexes are rigorously separated, where topics like sex and race are rarely discussed openly and where a strict code of public morality is enforced by religious police," the Times noted, "Ms. Winfrey provides many young Saudi women with new ways of thinking about the way local taboos affect their lives . . . Some women here say Ms. Winfrey's assurances to her viewers - that no matter how restricted or even abusive their circumstances may be, they can take control in small ways and create lives of value - help them find meaning in their cramped, veiled existence."
And so they avidly analyze Oprah's clothes and hairstyles, and circulate "dog-eared copies" of her magazine, O, and write letters telling her of their dreams and disappointments. Many undoubtedly dream of doing what she did - freeing themselves from the shackling circumstances into which they were born and rising as high as their talents can take them.
But the television star never faced the obstacles that confront her Saudi fans.
That is not to minimize the daunting odds Oprah overcame. She was born to an unwed teenage housemaid in pre-civil rights Mississippi, and spent her first years in such poverty that at times she wore dresses made from potato sacks. She was sexually molested as a child, and ran away from home as a young teen. It was a squalid beginning, one that would have defeated many people not blessed with Oprah's intelligence and drive and native gifts.
But whatever else may be said of Oprah's life, it was never crippled by Wahhabism, the fundamentalist strain of Islam that dominates Saudi Arabia and immiserates Saudi women in ruthless gender apartheid. Strict sex segregation is the law of the land. Women are forbidden to drive, to vote, to freely marry or divorce, to appear in public without a husband or other male guardian, or to attend university without their father's permission. They can be jailed - or worse - for riding in a car with a man to whom they are unrelated. Their testimony in court carries less weight than a man's. They cannot even file a criminal complaint without a male guardian's permission - not even in cases of domestic abuse, when it is their "guardian" who has attacked them.
Could Oprah herself have surmounted such pervasive repression?
Some Saudi women manage to find jobs, but Wahhabist opposition is fierce. In 2006, Youssef Ibrahim reported in the New York Sun on Nabil Ramadan, the owner of a fast-food restaurant in Ranoosh who hired two women to take telephone orders. Within 24 hours, the religious police had him arrested and shut down the restaurant for "promoting lewdness." Ramadan was sentenced by a religious court to 90 lashes on his back and buttocks.
Is it any wonder that women trapped in a culture that treats them so wretchedly idolize someone like Oprah, who epitomizes so much that is absent from their lives? A nation that degrades its women degrades itself, and Oprah's message is an antidote to degradation. Why do they love her? Because all the lies of the Wahhabists cannot stifle the truth she embodies: The blessings of liberty were made for women, too.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.
Jeff Jacoby Archives
© 2006, Boston Globe
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Frank J. Gaffney
Victor Davis Hanson
A. Barton Hinkle
Judge A. Napolitano
Cokie & Steve Roberts
Debra J. Saunders
J. D. Crowe
Ask Doctor K