The Policing of Jewish Sex

by tobybee

According to an article in The National (also available in longer form at alternet), there is a growing concerted effort in parts of Israel to stop Jewish women dating Palestinian men, and in other areas “vigilante” groups have formed to stop Palestinian men being friendly to Jewish women. As the article by Jonathan Cook explains,

“A local authority in Israel has announced that it is establishing a special team of youth counsellors and psychologists whose job it will be to identify young Jewish women who are dating Arab men and “rescue” them.

The move by the municipality of Petah Tikva, a city close to Tel Aviv, is the latest in a series of separate – and little discussed – initiatives from official bodies, rabbis, private organisations and groups of Israeli residents to try to prevent interracial dating and marriage.

In a related development, the Israeli media reported this month that residents of Pisgat Zeev, a large Jewish settlement in the midst of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, had formed a vigilante-style patrol to stop Arab men from mixing with local Jewish girls.

Hostility to intimate relationships developing across Israel’s ethnic divide is shared by many Israeli Jews, who regard such behaviour as a threat to the state’s Jewishness. One of the few polls on the subject, in 2007, found that more than half of Israeli Jews believed intermarriage should be equated with ‘national treason’.”

What’s interesting (well, maybe interesting is a bit benign a word… more totally screwed up) is that here we can see the coming together of two different concerns: firstly that of Jewish purity, which is not exclusive to Jewish communities in Israel: the idea that Jews should only marry other Jews is one which captivates Jews around the world, including in Melbourne. But mixed in here is the colonial idea of the dark-skinned, native predatory man who seduces the innocent, but misguided coloniser woman, and the accompanying very colonial fears about miscegenation. It’s a rather heartbreaking mixture, really.

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