Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Only in Israel
July 22, 2012 4:24 AM   Subscribe

The Dealers is a new Israeli crime comedy, released here this weekend. The poster features the film's central players sitting around a table loaded with booze, weed, bongs, joints and other drug paraphernalia. For the stricter populace of Jerusalem, a modified version of the poster was prepared, one which removes all trace of... You guessed it: Women. The pot and booze? Untouched.

In recent years, with the increased orthodox presence in Jerusalem, billboards featuring women have been systematically vandalized by orthodox Jews. To placate them, billboard companies have begun excising women completely from ads displayed in Jerusalem. For instance, The Jerusalem International Film Festival, held earlier this month, had its posters defaced all around the city after choosing a woman on a bicycle as its symbol. Many in Israel's secular majority, in Jerusalem and elsewhere, have reacted indignantly. In this Haaretz (English) piece from November, a PR person is quoted as saying: "It is not surprising that the middle class and young secular people are abandoning Jerusalem. What remains of this charming city that should have been a magnificent city is injustice and dreariness and the repression of women".
Examples of this are everywhere. The poster for Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" was modified for conservative audiences. 13-year-old Kara Hayward wasn't cut out of it entirely, but someone saw fit to lengthen her skirt.
A particularly stupid instance of vandalism occurred last year, when Jerusalem vandals decided to "improve" the posters for the Adam Sandler vehicle, "Jack & Jill"; Apparently fooled, they blacked out Sandler's bewigged, lipsticked visage while leaving his male-identified face intact.
posted by Silky Slim (47 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
As someone who lives in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood I instantly knew where this was going.
posted by Splunge at 4:29 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Side note: The Dealers is now playing in theaters around Israel, hoping to put up a fight against the Hollywood juggernaut which is The Dark Knight Rises. Interestingly, Israeli actor Alon Aboutboul appears in both. He plays a nuclear physicist in TDKR, and a somewhat less savory character in The Dealers (he's top left in both versions of the poster.)
posted by Silky Slim at 4:30 AM on July 22, 2012


Depressing that they pander to these idiots instead of deliberately setting out to piss them off to the point of apoplexy. You do not defeat this kind of stupidity by indulging it.
posted by Decani at 4:37 AM on July 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


Plus, are the vandals consumers of this stuff anyway? If not, doesn't it suit the producers to piss the vandals off as much as humanly possible? Free advertising. The most hated segment of society hates our crap, therefore you'll love it!
posted by 1adam12 at 4:43 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


To state the obvious (?), orthodox Jews never go to the cinema. Their rabbis forbid it. The only exception in memory was Ushpizin (2005), directed by born-again Jew Shuli Rand; Some rabbis gave their "flocks" special permission to watch it.
posted by Silky Slim at 4:51 AM on July 22, 2012


This post would make a lot more sense if it linked to some explanation of the motivation behind this poster censoring.
posted by beagle at 4:52 AM on July 22, 2012


Secular Jews are a minority in Israel (40-45%) and dropping. Even though the ultra-Orthodox have less then 20% of the seats in the Knesset, their influence is strong and growing, in line with their birthrates and intensity of belief. You may call their beliefs "stupid" or "hated" but they are a strong force inside a democratic (at least for the Jewish population) country. Purposefully pissing them off wouldn't seem to be the best approach, as they are already an angry and contentious group. If you walk through their neighborhoods in Jerusalem on Shabbat wearing the wrong clothes (shorts, bare shoulders for women, etc.), they will throw rocks at you-- I witnessed this myself just last week! Although the rocks were small and the throws (purposfully?) weak.
posted by cell divide at 4:55 AM on July 22, 2012


beagle: This article (also linked in the main post) might give you some insight.
posted by Silky Slim at 4:56 AM on July 22, 2012


The most hated segment of society hates our crap, therefore you'll love it!

That would not be an accurate description of what is happening in Israel.
posted by Forktine at 5:03 AM on July 22, 2012



More religionists who know what is best for others.
posted by notreally at 5:04 AM on July 22, 2012


There's God, chuckin those rocks at the ladies again. Jerk
posted by biochemicle at 5:11 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


*chuckin'
posted by biochemicle at 5:12 AM on July 22, 2012


Silky Slim: I read that article, but it basically assumes I know why the attacks happen. There has to be more to this than "immodest dress".
posted by beagle at 5:13 AM on July 22, 2012


There has to be more to this than "immodest dress".

Haaaaaaave you met ultraconservative religions?
posted by kmz at 5:56 AM on July 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


That would not be an accurate description of what is happening in Israel.

I'm not going to claim access to any special knowledge here, but the Israelis I meet all reserve special venom for the ultra-orthodox. Granted, "Israelis I meet" isn't a representative group, but boy is that group angry.

And the surveys I've seen don't seem all that clear-cut. Granted, most people seem to believe they are somewhere in the middle when asked about it (e.g., even people with very extreme views tend to believe their views are quite reasonable and moderate), but when you lump secular Jews together with Jews who are only "somewhat religious" (a term I don't think the ultra orthodox would willingly apply to themselves) it comes to a quite convincing majority of the population. I've chatted with a couple of people in government service about this, and their belief is that the ultra-orthodox parties aren't powerful because of demographics, but because they vote as a reliable block as long as they're given anything they want. They're the finger on the scale.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:14 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a distinction in Israel between orthodox and ultras etc, and that needs correction in these comments:

An official survey in Israel has shown that 44 per cent of Jews in the country over the age of 20 define themselves as “secular”. Twenty-seven per cent said they were “traditional”, 12 per cent as “traditionally observant”, 9 per cent as “orthodox” and 8 per cent as ultra-orthodox covering 2002–2004.

The Central Bureau of Statistics social survey found that Jews who define themselves as secular have the greatest incidence of higher education – 32 percent. Native Israelis of European or North American origin were most secular (63% of these), compared to 33 percent among native Israelis of Asian origin, and 25 percent of native Israelis of African origin. Religiosity among the immigrants who came in the 1990s and onward is low compared to that of Israeli-born Jews.

In 2004, 81 percent of Israel’s population defined itself as Jewish; 12 percent as Muslim; 3.5 percent as Christian (both Arab and non-Arab); 1.5 percent as Druze; 1.5 percent as atheist; and another 0.5 percent as members of other religions. This shows that of those who define themselves as “secular” also ticked the “atheist” box. Presumably many of them instead ticked the ambiguous “Jewish” box.

It is the Ultras that bitch about women.
posted by Postroad at 6:30 AM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is not my religion, it is not my country. However, I find my heart beating a little faster and I'm feeling a little...what...scared, nervous? It is frightening to see evidence of women being erased.

Growing up in the sixties and experiencing the rise of women's rights first hand I've always had it in the back of my mind that we could lose it all and become second class citizens again very quickly. A generation or two and we are back to barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen without property rights or access to birth control. It really would not take too much. A bad war, a change in government, a plague. So it is truly upsetting to see my nightmare play out in Jerusalem.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:43 AM on July 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


I've chatted with a couple of people in government service about this, and their belief is that the ultra-orthodox parties aren't powerful because of demographics, but because they vote as a reliable block as long as they're given anything they want. They're the finger on the scale.

As I understand it, some of it has to do with the threshold for representation in the Knesset being very low, so any government is formed from a coalition involving some extreme parties, who, of course, then have undue influence for their size.

(I don't know enough about the history of Israel to know how they arrived at the 2% threshold. It has crept slowly upward--it used to be 1%, then 1.5%. There presumably isn't a universal magic number to pick and there probably is some other country that uses 2% to no ill effect, though Wikipedia doesn't know who it is.)
posted by hoyland at 6:43 AM on July 22, 2012


They have no problems showing cock.
posted by hal9k at 6:53 AM on July 22, 2012


There has to be more to this than "immodest dress".

Traditionally that "more" has been "controlling women." And, to be fair, controlling men by limiting and ritualizing interactions between men and women, policing gender roles, and otherwise providing lots of chances for people to feel bad about themselves so they will turn to their religious leadership for guidance.

How this plays out in Israel has, naturally, a lot of specific cultural, social, and historical additions that make my summary probably too brief and general, but....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:59 AM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder how many of those who do not identify themselves as "ultras" still see this as a good/acceptable action and give a silent consent (or at least in private) . It would be hard to get away with this if only 6%-7% of the citizenry agree with these actions.
posted by asra at 7:21 AM on July 22, 2012


Everybody who likes to go on and on about how first-past-the-post is such an unfair way of holding an election should think on the case of the Israeli ultra-orthodox very carefully and remember that proportional representation can get you a lot more than just some nice Minister for Youth and Sport from the Green Party.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:25 AM on July 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think Israel needs to end their subsidies to the ultra-orthodox (paying them to study religion) before there are so many that it becomes unfeasible to end the subsidies, yet also unfeasible to continue paying them. That filmmakers have to bow to this kind of pressure is not a good sign, if people in Israel want to have a secular democracy.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:27 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everybody who likes to go on and on about how first-past-the-post is such an unfair way of holding an election should think on the case of the Israeli ultra-orthodox very carefully and remember that proportional representation can get you a lot more than just some nice Minister for Youth and Sport from the Green Party.
Even if you don't agree with the outcome, you can still see one election as more fair than another. If a distasteful political group has enough backing to enter parliament, then it is a political problem the whole community has to solve. Choosing a system that deprives them of political representation so you can ignore them isn't a solution.
posted by Jehan at 7:57 AM on July 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


[Folks, don't turn this thread about something different into a complaint about US aid to Israel. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:44 AM on July 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


That filmmakers have to bow to this kind of pressure is not a good sign, if people in Israel want to have a secular democracy.

It seems like a major point of this whole story is that a large and growing portion of the people don't want their democracy to be secular.
posted by psoas at 8:45 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Although the rocks were small and the throws (purposfully?) weak.

Oh well, okay then. (?)

It is frightening to see evidence of women being erased.

Yes, to attempt to explain the obliteration of images of women as "modesty" is to stretch the definition of modesty so that it loses all meaning. The movie poster with Adam Sandler is just head-shots, so this obviously goes well beyond a disagreement about clothing.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:47 AM on July 22, 2012


> It seems like a major point of this whole story is that a large and growing portion of the people don't want their democracy to be secular.

Bingo!
posted by mosk at 9:00 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


They have no problems showing cock.

What about uncut cock?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:12 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


> It seems like a major point of this whole story is that a large and growing portion of the people don't want their democracy to be secular.


Nobody in the Middle East wants their country to be secular.

Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan all inherited the Vilayet system from the Ottomans, where each religious community has authority devolved from the central government onto the clerics. You may not like it or even grasp this notion of religion being more than an affectation you adopt once a week after breakfast, but that is how it is over there.
posted by ocschwar at 9:22 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


The most hated segment of society...

Women in clothes with insufficient surface area?
posted by sour cream at 9:51 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Israel needs to end their subsidies to the ultra-orthodox (paying them to study religion) before there are so many that it becomes unfeasible to end the subsidies, yet also unfeasible to continue paying them.

At some point a society can no longer go on treating a sizeable chunk of the population by radically different rules, especially when those rules result in a wealth transfer to that population. If those rules arise as a result of religious belief as they do here - then that particular strain of religion is simply incompatible with its host society. Unfortunately, groups motivated by religion aren't very likely to compromise...

The population that's not getting special treatment will become resentful, the special treatment population gets defensive and/or aggressive, and it turns into a zero-sum game where one population has to, in the end, bend the other to its will.

IMO these billboards are part of a growing pile of circumstantial evidence pointing to where this situation is headed.
posted by tempythethird at 10:04 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


At some point a society can no longer go on treating a sizeable chunk of the population by radically different rules, especially when those rules result in a wealth transfer to that population.

It seems like this is coming to a head with the proposal to end the Ultra-Orthodox exemption from military service too. Israel relies pretty heavily on having a strong security state and if the pool of available labor is dwindling (since the UO share of the population is rising), the rest of the nation might see this demographic development as a security threat.

Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan all inherited the Vilayet system from the Ottomans, where each religious community has authority devolved from the central government onto the clerics. You may not like it or even grasp this notion of religion being more than an affectation you adopt once a week after breakfast, but that is how it is over there.

(a) I thought we were talking about Israel? and (b) This whole discussion has been about the strength of religiosity there. No one's trying to map an external cultural situation onto it.
posted by psoas at 10:31 AM on July 22, 2012


You really can't talk about religion in Israel without talking about the millet system of the Ottoman Empire, because in effect it's still around today. That system granted official recognition and a high degree of autonomy to recognised religious communities. When there were conflicts between religious communities they were sometimes settled at a governmental level but more often the competing sects were left to duke it out. Have you heard about the fights over authority in, e.g., the Church of the Holy Sepulchre? That's a microcosm of the millet system in action.

So you're looking at this and going, oh, those ultra-orthodox have too much power! The people involved in it, though, see their struggle as being a sort of definitional thing: this is their community, and this is how they define its boundaries and express its authority. From their perspective any government involvement is an unwarranted interference in a centuries-old power sharing arrangement, just as if the government were to get a maintenance crew in to fix up the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is why you will find many people who simultaneously wish the hoodlums would stop acting in their name and would protest any attempt to crack down on them. The vandals are acting badly within their community (as they perceive it); police involvement would be an attack on the community itself.

I frankly find the whole thing tiresome and I wish that Israel (and the other countries in the region) would wash away these pre-democratic relics. Unfortunately in this as with many other things, nobody cares what I think. So you have rabbis and mullahs and priests fighting for the status-quo all the time, but the vast majority of Israelis only get excited about it when it impacts them personally, which is rare. The rest of the time they actually like having men in funny hats do things like bless babies or marry people or conduct them to their afterlife. As a consequence, the politicians fighting for laicism tend to be communists and strident atheists and so forth, which does nothing to make the movement popular.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:36 AM on July 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Updates to this story: Following the online backlash from secular Israelis this morning, United King, the advertiser in question, posted a non-apology apology on its facebook page, citing circumstances outside its control. Later, though, a letter from United Kings's ad agency was posted on popular film blog Cinemascope, (Hebrew) taking responsibility for the modified posters.
Additionally, it came to light that a new Jerusalem city ordinance forbids the practice of erasing women from billboards, and all parties pledged to recall the modified posters and replace them with the originals... so that they may be defaced with white paint by extremists in the middle of the night, just like G-d intended.
Meanwhile, another popular film blog, Fish Eye, came out with a hilarious series entitled "Jerusalem Film Posters".
posted by Silky Slim at 11:50 AM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


strangely stunted trees writes "Everybody who likes to go on and on about how first-past-the-post is such an unfair way of holding an election should think on the case of the Israeli ultra-orthodox very carefully and remember that proportional representation can get you a lot more than just some nice Minister for Youth and Sport from the Green Party."

Of course it is going to be more comfortable for the majority if minorities are disenfranchised. Hard to make an argument that it is more fair though. And I'd posit that it is worse for society to have these disenfracised groups working outside official channels. Once you bring them into the system you can see what you are dealing with.
posted by Mitheral at 12:01 PM on July 22, 2012


...the vast majority of Israelis only get excited about it when it impacts them personally, which is rare.

Like getting rocks thrown at them.
posted by Splunge at 12:17 PM on July 22, 2012


It is the fundamental nature of any democracy that the least rational (or most inflexible) bloc will be one of the most over-represented or over-influential.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:44 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although the rocks were small and the throws (purposfully?) weak.

I consider that pretty darn brave of them: throwing rocks in a state where the traditional response is to send in armed troops and a tank or two, that is. Or maybe that's why they keep them purposefully weak.
posted by NailsTheCat at 12:51 PM on July 22, 2012


There presumably isn't a universal magic number to pick and there probably is some other country that uses 2% to no ill effect, though Wikipedia doesn't know who it is.

Denmark? "All parties and lists receiving more than 2% of the total vote are guaranteed parliamentary representation."
posted by iviken at 2:21 PM on July 22, 2012


Purposefully pissing them off wouldn't seem to be the best approach, as they are already an angry and contentious group. If you walk through their neighborhoods in Jerusalem on Shabbat wearing the wrong clothes (shorts, bare shoulders for women, etc.), they will throw rocks at you

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 2:27 PM on July 22, 2012


Denmark? "All parties and lists receiving more than 2% of the total vote are guaranteed parliamentary representation."

It turns out that German Wikipedia has a list. Astonishingly, in the Netherlands, the threshold for the Second Chamber is 1/150 votes.
posted by hoyland at 3:22 PM on July 22, 2012


Denmark seems to have a mixed system in which politicians are elected from constituencies, and the 2% threshold only comes into play later, to provide representation to parties that failed to get sufficient seats within constituencies.

Israel has a single constituency across the country in which voters cast a single vote for a "party list" of candidates. Politicians have no way of building up an individual following: the votes for each list determine how many people are deemed to have been elected. It's much better to be at the head of a small list than at the tail of a large one; this encourages fragmentation and the rise of small parties. As a consequence Israel tends to be governed by coalitions that make outrageous deals to secure the temporary allegiance of small parties.

This system is not conducive to good government, but small parties like it because it gives them a chance of wielding disproportionate influence; and large parties like it because it lets them control the behavior of junior politicians. I wouldn't expect it to change any time soon.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:24 PM on July 22, 2012


Denmark seems to have a mixed system in which politicians are elected from constituencies, and the 2% threshold only comes into play later, to provide representation to parties that failed to get sufficient seats within constituencies.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Danish electoral system in one handy PDF. I think Joe in Australia might be giving too much weight to the presence of constituencies in Denmark--they're not doing FPTP within a constituency, they're multi-member constituencies again allotted by PR from party lists. (Germany does FPTP in constituencies and then achieves proportionality form there, with the threshold being 5%.) It seems hitting 2% overall to get a 'compensatory seat' is much easier than winning a constituency seat and a bit easier than the other option, which is complicated.* But I don't see how that removes the incentive for the people languishing at the bottom of the party lists to split off.

Israeli politics definitely isn't a strength of mine, but I'm starting to wonder if the problem is really that a not insignificant portion of the Israeli population wants to vote for extreme parties and that it doesn't matter much if they're voting for lots of little parties or one big one, as they'd be wielding a lot of power either way.

It is worth noting that the last Danish government was beholden to a right wing party (who weren't formally in the coalition, but were able to bring down the government if they felt like it) and the current one is relying on support of what I think is the remnants of Denmark's communists. So Denmark's not exactly able to form strong governments either. (I believe they consider this is a feature, not a bug.)

*The constituencies are divided up into three electoral regions. Each region has a 'magic number' of votes/seats and you have to get the magic number of votes in two of the three regions. If you do, you get compensatory seats. (Also, 'compensatory seat' is totally my new English word for 'Überhangsmandat' because it's more descriptive than 'overhang seat'.)
posted by hoyland at 4:23 PM on July 22, 2012


Everybody who likes to go on and on about how first-past-the-post is such an unfair way of holding an election should think on the case of the Israeli ultra-orthodox very carefully and remember that proportional representation can get you a lot more than just some nice Minister for Youth and Sport from the Green Party.

On the other hand with FPTP if fervent believers get too much influence in one of the parties, you end up with Sarah Palin running for VP and Santorum persisting in the primaries for months.
posted by ersatz at 5:15 PM on July 22, 2012


The population that's not getting special treatment will become resentful, the special treatment population gets defensive and/or aggressive, and it turns into a zero-sum game where one population has to, in the end, bend the other to its will.

as in Palestinians.
posted by liza at 9:18 PM on July 22, 2012


An anecdote about Orthodox women and the world.

I was walking my dog, a dustmop as far as I can see. And I was going down the street with Max. A very stupid dog. He has an under-bite he isn't too bright. A rescue dog...

Anyway a group of Orthodox women were near the corner. They were with their young daughters. One woman asked if the dog was safe.

I said, "This dog is so safe that it sometimes surprises me that it even knows how to breath."

Twas a bad joke.

Anyway I held Max on a short leash. One of the young girls went to touch the dog. At the very last second the mother pulled the girl back.

I was very surprised.

But as she pulled her kid back, she backed into the branches of a tree that had never been trimmed.

A branch pulled off her snood (a headgear that covers her natural hair).

Suddenly we all could see her natural hair. Reddish and tied up in a bun. She freaked out!

The other mothers started to giggle like school girls. Meanwhile she put her snood back on and said. "Oh I hope nobody saw. Do you think anybody saw? Oh I'm in so much trouble."

She was mortified by the thought that a man might see her hair. Meanwhile the other ladies thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen.

While that was happening her daughter touched the dog, She said to me, "He's warm."

And what could I say?

Max is warm.
posted by Splunge at 10:08 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


« Older Two writers discusses race, class, feminism and it...  |  The Rise of the Internet (Anti... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments