Last week, Israel's 'Women of the Wall' feminist leader made worldwide & social media headlines for her arrest, sparking an indignant outcry comparing her to a virtual Joan of Arc fighting for religious freedom for Jewish women, in, of all places, the Jewish state of Israel. Yet despite front pages in the US media, in Israel the event barely registered. Women's religious freedom in Israel is at great risk--but the ones who seem to care the most are American Jews, because the threat is about their own Jewish identities. "The (Religious) War on the Women of Israel" covers gender segregation on Israeli buses; the 'rules' on modest clothing; depictions of women's faces in newspapers and ads; the (literal) silencing of women's voices in the army; the rabbinic courts' control over sexual issues; public policy on reproduction and fertility; 'chained' women who are stuck in unwanted marriages; women barred from institutions and conferences; and thoughts about change and a different vision of religious culture in Israeli society.
The audience for this book includes those interested in mid east affairs, religious politics, Jewish identify, and women's issues. This is an intertwining of several reader populations, all growing, following the rise of women in American politics (Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin), interest in gender issues in the mid east (especially given the connection between Taliban culture and violence against women; and the intriguing roles that women are currently playing in the Arab Spring, both as leaders and as victims of sexual violence); the intersection of religion, gender, & politics in the mid east; and the role of Israel in American Jewish identity (seen particularly strongly in this year's presidential election discussions.)
A cutting-edge contemporary look at the powerful struggles of women against religious political intrusion in Israel. While there have been many best-selling books that look at these struggles in Islamic Arab countries, the only books on the subject about Israel have been academic books aimed at a very limited audience (eg, Herzog's Gendering Politics, Abdo's Women in Israel.) This book is unique in that it is journalistic and contemporary, rather than academic and dry, and is meant to be read by both broad audiences and policy makers.
The story is hot, has not yet been told, and is of great interest to the US audience.