The clash of civilizations wears the mask of the battle of the sexes. Reading atrocity stories about the Taliban's treatment of women on the front pages, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's reminiscences of growing up a Muslim girl in the back, it's hard not to think of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan as the expeditionary force of the Women's Movement.
Given this ambiance, it's surprising to hear a well-informed speaker tell the European Parliament that Turkish women are "some of the most militant, and spearhead the effort to Islamicize Turkey today." Hmm. Why would women spearhead the resurrection of a theocratic state that, whatever it may do for men, only rolls things back to the Dark Ages for women? Why would the sophisticated women of Turkey, who can become prime ministers if they like (and have), spearhead a system that doesn't let their Saudi sisters drive a car? It sounds counterintuitive.
All the same, one doesn't dismiss an observation made by Efraim Halevy, former head of the Mossad, Israel's sage intelligence agency (call it sagency to save a syllable.) Halevy, who headed Mossad between 1998 and 2002, is a scholarly spook whose memoir, Man In The Shadows, tells fascinating tales about his region without telling any tales out of school.
Scholarly spooks, unlike spooky scholars, know what they're talking about; the question with Halevy is whether he wants to talk about what he knows. His observation doesn't sound like disinformation. If Mossad wanted to sell Europe a bill of goods about Turkey's re-Islamicization, women being in the vanguard wouldn't be it. Quite the opposite, re-Islamicization being foisted on Turkey's reluctant womenfolk by a reactionary patriarchy would lend itself to political hay-making far more readily.
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