Jewish Journal


September 4, 2007

‘Mideast peace through porn’


That headline was for an eye-popping, but ideologically wanton editorial in Saturday’s LA Times.

The Vietnam War-era slogan “Make love, not war” has been taken to its logical extreme by an Israeli pornographic website, which is engaged in a sort of cultural exchange of bodily fluids with the Arab world.

According to a recent report in Daily Variety, when executives at Ratuv installed software that could track where their users were logging in, they found that the site was getting thousands of hits a week from such countries as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, even though some of these governments block the “.il” domain address on Israeli websites. So Ratuv responded by translating the entire site into Arabic, and traffic quickly skyrocketed.

What makes this more than a tale of clever entrepreneurs making a buck off Middle Eastern sexual repression is that Ratuv isn’t an ordinary porn site. It’s a clearinghouse of political parody porn, making fun of Israeli affairs such as sex scandals and often featuring Mossad agents or army soldiers getting out of uniform, thus providing a view of the Israeli military seldom seen in the Arab world. The next step, says Ratuv’s manager, is to make movies with Israelis and Arabs performing together, in order to foster more intimate relations between the two peoples.

Yeah, right. Right? Forget the fact that plenty of people find pornography to be a demeaning, degrading thing. Is the LA Times—a lightning rod for anti-Israel accusations—really saying that if a Hamas suicide bomber watches a porno featuring Jews and Arabs together (think “Assraelis in the Occupied Territories”) that he’s suddenly going to think twice about exploding in a crowded market?

It’s a quirky story, something editors love. But let’s not take this seriously.

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