19 May 2007

Is Shaha Riza Jewish?

A. D. Freudenheim, The Editor

In the weeks since I posted a column about former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz and his “girlfriend” Shaha Riza, I have received a lot of web traffic from people searching for information about whether Riza is Jewish.

Presumably, this is because Wolfowitz is Jewish – so people want to know whether Riza (despite being of Lebanese descent and having grown up in Saudi Arabia) is also Jewish. Perhaps they figure this would explain the relationship, or explain her views on spreading democracy in the Middle East, or help satisfy some prurient desire to know that these political bedfellows aren’t really all that strange after all. Or maybe it’s the opposite: maybe there’s an equally prurient desire to confirm that Wolfowitz, one of Bush’s leading Neocon Jews, actually is sleeping with a Muslim woman. No doubt there are people who would find this situation titillating.

I don’t see what difference it would make either way, whether Riza is Jewish or not. Her relationship with Wolfowitz is real, and while there has been much speculation about the various intellectual connections between them and their presumably simpatico views on world politics – like most relationships, I think we can safely assume that the animating components are much more human. They like each other, are attracted to each other, and so: good for them.

Nonetheless, to answer the question: no, Shaha Riza is not Jewish. At least not according to the Arab News newspaper, which in this article from March about the Riza-Wolfowitz relationship identifies her as a Muslim. Satisfied now?


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