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Why Is There Never Any Sex on Israeli Television?



Unless those prudes at Netflix edit it all out, there is never any real skin-on-skin-action on screen. Some chaste kissing, then – cut! – some after-sex-cuddling below the sheets, that’s it, if at all. Every afternoon-sitcom in Germany has more nipples and action than the high-quality, really great Israeli shows I’ve binge-watched. Actually even more amazing to me, and that in itself is a really strange and sad realization: there is also never any sexual violence on Fauda, Hostages, etc., etc. - not even implicitly. Rape is so common on German TV, even in afternoon shows and on family channels. And it is shown so very explicitly and brutal, that I sometimes flinch, but often enough I don’t, because I am - shocking to myself - so used to it. For example all the time when watching “Hostages”, I was so completely convinced that the beautiful teenage daughter would of course be raped by Tomer Kapon or the big “Alex”-character. I was astonished (and happy, of course!), when she wasn’t – but that was a really sad, self-aware moment of realization. I wonder what it means for the image of women on TV and for a society and its media, when a female viewer like me expects a show to display a teenage being raped. In German shows often the act of rape, the resulting injuries, and the helplessness of the legal system in the face of it are the whole subject matter of the show. On Israeli TV shows, by contrast, I strongly notice that actresses are hardly ever beaten up, killed or shown naked. There is also never any violence against children. In Hostages, Itai Tiran as the child abductor even goes to an ice cream shop with the little girl, who is his hostage, then she just sleeps until she is rescued by her parents. On German TV, child rape, child pornography, child abuse are very frequent topics.

I am so used to seeing extreme violence in regular German TV that, when I first watched Fauda, I was so surprised at how soft it is! B. actually reminded me, that several people explode in the show or have bombs operated into their body, but to me it was really surprising to see how sensitive and non-gory these scenes were crafted by the director and the film editor. There isn't even blood! Is that because people have seen so much violence in their daily lives?

Another strange realization: Men cry on Israeli TV shows! When they loose a friend or when something happens to their family, the male Israeli heroes regularly cry. At first, strangely enough, that made me really incredulous and almost uncomfortable, but the more I watch, the more I appreciate it as actually very natural behavior, much more natural than some of the big German TV heroes, who never cry or show compassion, not when they child dies, their girlfriend gets revenge-raped, or they loose a friend. I find the crying gives so much more complexity to the male characters. It’s what normal, vulnerable people would do, if they loose someone. Besides, while German villains are always simply evil for no reason, in every Israeli TV show that I have seen, the villain is simply evil. There is always some kind of backstory that explains, why they do something, and that story often makes me almost feel for them, makes their actions understandable. That's really complex storytelling - or avoiding a bleak reality in a fictitious world?


Pretending to watch Netflix only to review number words in Hebrew...

I collect great beginnings. Beginnings of songs, of movies, of great articles and books.

This quote by Buzz Bissinger is the most beautiful beginning in my collection. It also captures perfectly what it feels like for me to research and write newspaper articles about Israelis and Israel. The short notes below describe the experiences behind my published texts. They are the fun, silly, absurd, baffled or sad real beginnings of those stories. They sketch what happens before or after I write the actual piece and send it off to the editor, and they are taken from my diary entries about rummaging up and down that little country and its people for no other reason but pure curiosity. 

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