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March 30, 1984 - Image 96

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-03-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

96

Friday, March 30, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

PORN in the Promised Land

Pornography is increasingly prevalent in Israel, leading
some charge — to a sharp increase in
violence against women.

BY DAVID M. SZONYI
Special to The Jewish News

The prevalence of pornography in
advertising, films and other aspects of
Israeli popular culture is contributing
to a sharp increase in violence against
that country's women. That charge
was made by two American Jewish
women and an Israeli leader at a re-
cent press conference sponsored by
Lilith, the Jewish women's periodical.
The press conference was held on
the occasion of a major new report on
"Porn in the Promised Land" by Judith
Bat-Ada in the Fall/Winter, 1983
issue ofLilith. Dr. Bat-Ada, director of
Israel's Institute for the Study of
Media and the Family, writes that
the pornographic themes of sadism,
pseudo-homosexuality and child por-
nography are being woven into (Is-
rael's) daily, family, women's and gen-
eral circulation media, and the street
and travel environment."
By way of example, she points to
the use of gratuitous nudity (including
topless teenage girls), sometimes as
part of sado-masochistic themes, to
advertise children's clothing, auto-
mobile parts and kitchen cabinets in-,
among other publications, the 250,000
circulation Monitin, Israel's leading
"family" magazine. "Women are slabs
of meat to Monitin's photographic eye:
cut up into manageable portions —
legs, breasts, thighs, lips," Bat-Ada
writes.
Occasionally, Israeli advertising
breaks all bounds of taste and sensitiv-
ity. At the press conference, Susan
Weidman Schneider, Lilith's editor,
displayed a six-page spread from

When it comes to
pornography, the only
statements in the Knesset
. . . have come from . . . the
small, ultra-Orthodox
Agudat Yisrael."

Monitin's December 1979 issue
entitled "a locomotive is breathing
down your neck." The advertisement,
a fantasy of terrified-looking women
in bras and panties, was replete with
Holocaust imagery, including trains, a
furnace and a fixture resembling a
shower head.
Schneider also alluded to a recent
article by psychologists Edward Don-
nerstein and Daniel Linz of the Uni-
versity of Wisconsin which sum-
marizes recent research on the connec-
tion between the depiction of sexual
violence in the mass media and actual
acts of violence against women. Writ-

q

• ar

"Monitin," a large-selling Israeli
family magazine, featured a
six-page spread entitled "a
locomotive is breathing down your
neck — a fantasy on panties and
bras."

ing in the January 1984 Psychology
Today, Donnerstein and Linz note:
"Researchers have shown . . . that ex-
posure to even a few minutes of sexu-
ally violent pornography, such as
scenes of rape and other forms of sex-
ual violence against women, can lead
to anti-social attitudes and behavior.
It can increase the viewer's acceptance
of rape myths (for example, that
women want to be raped), increase the
willingness of a man to say that he
would commit a rape, increase aggres-
sive behavior against women in a lab-
oratory setting and decrease one's sen-
sitivity to rape and the plight of the
rape victim."
This research seems confirmed by
the Israeli example. Parallel to the up-
surge in pornographic advertising and
pornographic films, including many
with violent themes, Israel has wit-
nessed a sharp increase in instances of
rape. In 1981, the last full year for
which figures are available, reported
.cases of rape rose a startling 45 per-
cent over 1980, Schneider reported. So
serious has the situation become that
in late 1983, Israel's army issued an
order prohibiting women soldiers from
hitchhiking. From time to time,
suggestions even have been raised
that there be a curfew for Israel
women. Schneider recalled Golda
Meir's comment that, if anything, the
prevalence of rape should mandate
that a curfew be extended only to Is-
raeli men.
Far more widespread are inci-
dences of (non-sexual) physical vio-
lence against Israeli women; there are
an estimated 60,000 cases of such "bat-
tering" each year. Esther Hurwitz, a
leader of Israel's Labor Party and her

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country's former Ambassador to De-
nmark, noted that violence against Is-
raeli women cuts across class and
ethnic lines, and comprises over 95
percent of reported incidences of fam-
ily violence. At Tel Aviv's Center for
Violence in the Family, she reported,
the staff interviewed 125 individuals
who were victims of violence during a
recent month; 120 were battered
women, three battered men and two
battered parents.
Hurwitz, a former Knesset
member, also observed that when she
and other women members of the
Knesset raised the issue of violence
against women, their male colleagues
generally laughed dismissively —
until "the first police officer appeared
and spoke about how violence against
women is our most common domestic
problem." Hurwitz added that when it
comes to pornography, the only state-
ments in the Knesset concerning the
subject have come neither from the
Likud nor the Labor Party, but from
Shlomo Lorentz of the small, ultra-
Orthodox Agudat Yisroel.
Blu Greenberg, author of Women
and Judaism: A View From the Tradi-
tion and How to Run a Traditional
Jewish Household, decried the view
that pornography must be permitted
on civil liberties grounds. Pornog-
raphy "doesn't deserve to be wrapped
in the mantle of civil liberties" because
it implies "the right to abuse and de-
humanize and encourage violence
against women," she stated.
A "Call for a Campaign Against
Pornography and Other Violence
Against Women in Israel" being circu-
lated by Lilith insists that "Pornog-
raphy is a repudiation of the Jewish
concept that we are all created in God's

This ad for Hashi perfume ran in
several women's magazines and
depicts a "fashionable" image of a
woman in a life-threatening
situation.

image" and argues that "the increase
of pornography in Israel denigrates all
Jews and insults Judaism."
The statement calls upon Israeli
writers, advertisers and others in-
volved in popular culture to reject all
material which "exploits, humiliates
and insults women, and incites to vio-
lence against women;" it also urges
American Jewish leaders to oppose Is-
raeli pornography as "harmful to indi-
viduals and to the fabric of Israeli
society," and "damaging to the Zionist
vision of a society rooted in Jewish
values."
The statement concludes by ask-
ing American Jews to back "those
groups in Israel which are sponsoring
women's shelters, rape crisis centers,
and investigations of violence against
women."

`Art and Ardor' by Ozick

"Art and Ardor" by
Cynthia Ozick, issued as a
hardcover book in early
1983 by Knopf, has just
been reissued by Dutton as
a paperback.
The challenging work
emphasizes that the popu-
lar novelist and short-story
writer is equally skilled as
essayist. It touches upon
noted authors and their
popularized works, and the
current social and political
problems, with Israel as the
target to be identified with.
Isaac Bashevis Singer,

Cynthia Ozick

Virginia Woolf, Saul Be-
llow, Martin Buber, Tru-
man Capote, Gershom
Scholem and Maurice
Samuel are among the most
notable whose works are de-
fined and analyzed in this
volume.
Most illuminating is
Ozick's essay "Toward a
New Yiddish," in which the
nostalgic for the tongue so
very popular is in evidence.
Many definitions of liter-
ary terms and especially
Jewish ideological concepts
in Cynthia Ozick's works
invite debate. In "Art and
Ardor" there is an espe-
cially intriguing reference
to Jewishness. This is espe-
cially worth quoting:

"Nothing thought or
written in Diaspora has
ever been able to last un-
less it has been centrally
Jewish. If it is centrally
Jewish it will last for Jews.
If it is not centrally Jewish
it will last neither for Jews
nor for the host nations.
Rashi lasts and Yehudah
Halevi lasts: one so to speak

a social thinker, the other a
poet: they last for Jews.
"Leivick will last, and
Sholem Aleichem: for Jews.
Isaac D'Israeli did not last
for Jews or for anyone;
neither did that putative
Jew of Toledo who wrote
good Spanish poetry;
neither will Norman
Mailer.
"Our cultural account in
the Diaspora, `Bialik said,
"is all debit and no credit.' "
"Even a Heine does not
right the balance. After so
long a sojourn among Ger-
mans, didn't the Jews owe
Germany at least a poet?
For a while Heine pre-
tended he was a German
poet, though his private let-
ters repeatedly said some-
thing else. But Germany
would not keep him; Hitler
struck him from the ledger
and returned Heine perma-
nently to the Jewish people.
If he lasts, he lasts for us."
Such "ardor," among the
many views and comments,
lends truth to the view that
Miss Ozick's works are chal-
lenging.
--P• S.

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