Amen to that.
Originally Posted by moon
The condition of Jewish women in Israel is abject.
Where I live things aren't too good for women. It's not unlike Crystal Night all year long given the rape and battery statistics--which are a pale shadow of the truth--the incest, the pornography, the serial murders, the sheer savagery of the violence against women. But Israel is shattering. We have been building a country in which women are dog (*)(*)(*)(*), something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe.
Divorce and Battery
In Israel, there are separate religious courts that are Christian, Muslim, Druze, and Jewish. Essentially, women from each group are subject to the authority of the most ancient systems of religious misogyny.
In 1953 a law was passed bringing all Jews under the jurisdiction of the religious courts for everything having to do with "personal status." In the religious courts, women, along with children, the mentally deficient, the insane, and convicted criminals, cannot testify. A woman cannot be a witness or, needless to say, a judge. A woman cannot sign a document. This could be an obstacle to equality.
Under Jewish law, the husband is the master; the woman belongs to him, what with being one of his ribs to begin with; her duty is to have children--preferably with plenty of physical pain; well, you remember the Old Testament. You've read the Book. You've seen the movie. What you haven't done is live it. In Israel, Jewish women do.
The husband has the sole right to grant a divorce; it is an unimpeachable right. A woman has no such right and no recourse. She has to live with an adulterous husband until he throws her out (after which her prospects aren't too good); if she commits adultery, he can just get rid of her (after which her prospects are worse). She has to live with a batterer until he's done with her. If she leaves, she will be homeless, poor, stigmatized, displaced, an outcast, in internal exile in the Promised Land. If she leaves without formal permission from the religious courts, she can be judged a "rebellious wife," an actual legal category of women in Israel without, of course, any male analogue. A "rebellious wife" will lose custody of her children and any rights to financial support. There are an estimated 10,000 agunot--"chained women"--whose husbands will not grant them divorces. Some are prisoners; some are fugitives; none have basic rights of citizenship or personhood.
Marcia Freedman was in Haifa when I was. I saw only some of what she and other feminists had accomplished in Israel and against what odds. There are now five shelters in Israel. The shelter in Haifa is a big building on a city street. It looks like the other buildings. The streets are full of men. The door is locked. Once inside, you climb up several flights of steps to come upon a great iron gate inside the building, a gate you might find in a maximum-security prison for men. It is locked all the time. It is the only real defense against battering men. Once the iron gate is unlocked, you see women and children; big, clean, bare common rooms; small, immaculate rooms in which women and their children live; an office; a lounge; drawings by the children who live there--colorful, often violent; and on the top floor a school, the children Palestinian and Israeli, tiny, young, perfect, beautiful. This shelter is one of the few places in Israel where Arab and Jewish children are educated together. Their mothers live together. Behind the great iron bars, where women are voluntarily locked in to stay alive, there is a living model of Palestinian-Israeli cooperation: behind the iron bars that keep out the violent men--Jewish and Arab. Feminists have managed to get housing subsidies for women who have permission to live outside the marital home, but the process of qualifying can take as long as a year. The women who run the shelter try to relocate women fast--the space is needed for other women--
but some women stay as long as a year
. At night the women who run the shelter, by now professionals, go home; the battered women stay, the great iron gate their lone protection. I kept asking what if--what if he comes? The women can call the police; the police will come. The cop on the beat is nice. He stops by sometimes. Sometimes they give him a cup of coffee. But outside, not too long ago, a woman was beaten to death by the husband she was escaping. The women inside aren't armed; the shelter isn't armed; this in a country where the men are armed. There isn't any network of safe houses. The locations of the shelters are known. The women have to go out to find jobs and places to live. Well, women get beaten--and beaten to death--here too, don't they? But the husband doesn't get so much active help from the state--not to mention the God of the Jews. And when a Jewish woman is given a divorce, she has to physically back out of her husband's presence in the court. It is an argument for being beaten to death.
A draft of Israel's newly proposed "Fundamental Human Rights Law"--a contemporary equivalent of our Bill of Rights--exempts marriage and divorce from all human-rights guarantees.
You have to see it to believe it and even seeing it might not help. I've been sent it over the years by feminists in Israel--I had seen it--I didn't really believe it. Unlike in the United States, pornography is not an industry. You find it in mainstream magazines and advertising. It is mostly about the Holocaust. In it, Jewish women are sexualized as Holocaust victims for Jewish men to masturbate over. Well, would you believe it, even if you saw it?
Israeli women call it "Holocaust pornography." The themes are fire, gas, trains, emaciation, death.
In the fashion layout, three women in swimsuits are posed as if they are looking at and moving away from two men on motorcycles. The motorcycles, black metal, are menacingly in the foreground moving toward the women. The women, fragile and defenseless in their near nudity, are in the background. Then the women, now dressed in scanty underwear, are shown running from the men, with emphasis on thighs, breasts thrust out, hips highlighted. Their faces look frightened and frenzied. The men are physically grabbing them. Then the women, now in new bathing suits, are sprawled on the ground, apparently dead, with parts of their bodies severed from them and scattered around as trains bear down on them. Even as you see a severed arm, a severed leg, the trains coming toward them, the women are posed to accentuate the hips and place of entry into the vaginal area.
Or a man is pouring gasoline into a woman's face. Or she's posed next to a light fixture that looks like a shower head.
Or two women, ribs showing, in scanty underwear, are posed in front of a stone wall, prisonlike, with a fire extinguisher on one side of them and a blazing open oven on the other. Their body postures replicate the body postures of naked concentration camp inmates in documentary photographs.
The same magazine published all the visual violence described above. Monitin is a left-liberal slick monthly for the intelligentsia and upper class. It has high productions and aesthetic values. Israel's most distinguished writers and intellectuals publish in it. Judith Antonelli in The Jewish Advocate reported that Monitin "contains the most sexually violent images. Photos abound of women sprawled out upside-down as if they have just been attacked."
Or, in a magazine for women that is not unlike Ladies' Home Journal, there is a photograph of a woman tied to a chair with heavy rope. Her shirt is torn off her shoulders and upper chest but her arms are tied up against her so that only the fleshy part of the upper breasts is exposed. She is wearing pants--they are wet. A man, fully dressed, standing next to her, is throwing beer in her face. In the United States, such photographs of women are found in bondage magazines.
For purists, there is an Israeli pornography magazine. The issue I saw had a front-page headline that read: ORGY AT YAD VASHEM. Yad Vashem is the memorial in Jerusalem to the victims of the Holocaust. Under the headline, there was a photograph of a man sexually entangled with several women.
There is outrage on the part of women at the Holocaust pornography--a deep, ongoing shock; but little understanding. For me, too. Having seen it here, having tried to absorb it, then seeing stacks of it at the institute, I felt numb and upset
. Here I had slides; in Israel I saw the whole magazines--the context in which the photographs were published. These really were mainstream venues for violent pornography, with a preponderance of Holocaust pornography. That made it worse: more real, more incomprehensible. A week later, I spoke in Tel Aviv about pornography to an audience that was primarily feminist. One feminist suggested I had a double standard: didn't all men do this, not just Israeli men? I said no: in the United States, Jewish men are not the consumers of Holocaust pornography; black men aren't the consumers of plantation pornography.
Are Jewish women going to be destroyed again by Nazis, this time with Israeli men as their surrogates? Is the sexuality of Israeli men shaped by the Holocaust? Does it make them come?
I don't know if Israeli men are different from other men by virtue of using the Holocaust against Jewish women, for sexual excitement. I do know that the use of Holocaust sex is unbearably traumatic for Jewish women, its place in the Israeli mainstream itself a form of sadism. I also know that as long as the Holocaust pornography exists only male Jews are different from those pitiful creatures on the trains, in the camps. Jewish women are the same. How, then, does Israel save us?
Last edited by Jack Napier; Feb 13 2013 at 04:28 AM.
"I donít believe in western morality, i.e. donít kill civilians or children, donít destroy holy sites, donít fight during holiday seasons, donít bomb cemeteries, donít shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.
The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: "Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle)."