a different side of Israel

End of the Israeli Macho

Machismo in Israel (Hat Tip: Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times)

A recent New York Times article, dealing with the sexual misconduct affairs of Israel President Moshe Katsav, questions whether this and other publicized sexual misconduct and harassment cases involving Israel generals and political leaders marks the end of the stereotyped “macho” image of Israeli men. Referring back to former years, when men such as Moshe Dayan were known womanizers and even international sex symbols, the more recent scandals and court cases involving Israeli male personalities may mean that the cliché of the macho image may fast becoming history in present day Israeli society.

Delving into the history of modern day Zionism, in which Jewish “Hatluzim”, or pioneers, tamed a harsh and disease ridden land while constantly fighting off hordes of Arabs no longer appears to be the character of the modern Israeli male. While the colorful Dayan was able to carry on his activities without undue controversy, and male actors such as Uri Zohar and Yehuda Barkan displayed images of Israeli playboys and beach boys in their movies, the present legal embroilments of several Israeli male personalities have resulted in this ‘trait’ becoming more of a hindrance than an attribute.

A law passed in 1998 now makes sexual advancements and harassment by men a crime, with women able to come forward to take their cases to court against employers, army superiors, and others. The case of former defense minister and transportation minister Yitzhak Mordechai, which occurred around the time this new law (based of a similar U.S. law) was passed, resulted in his leaving political life and public disgrace; as well as being divorced by his wife, Kochi, who herself may have been one of his “victims”.

With the present sex scandals of both Moshe Katsav and former justice minister Haim Ramon being not only splattered across the front pages of newspapers both in and outside of Israel, ‘The Times’ article has drawn it’s own conclusions on the future image of the Israeli male.

Sex scandals are not the only reason why this phenomena has come about, as the country has undergone substantial changes since the days of Uri Zohar and of comedy flicks such as “Lemon Popsicle”, portraying the sexual antics of three Israeli male teenagers. Fewer young men seek careers in the military and in other macho-type occupations which were popular years back. More and more men, and women, are seeking professional or technological based careers; and instead of meeting on Friday afternoons to play “cadur-regel” (football), these guys may be more inclined to be surfing the Internet. In fact, while being an Egged bus driver was an ideal career about 30 years ago, being a computer software guru is now much more popular.

For those Israelis who still long for the nostalgia of the “good old days”, however; they can probably access onto some of Uri and Yehuda’s old movies via YouTube or other film-sharing websites.


  1. That’s the corner of Radak and HaNassi – I know that intersection!

  2. Katsav probably knows that too. As for (Ha Rav) Uri
    Zohar, he’s undergone a few ‘changes’ as well!

  3. Its about time the Israeli “Machos” will adopt the civilized
    and accepted behavior of men (even if they are “powerful”personalities of some sort!) the world around
    them has changed, and they must recognize it.

  4. These cases are long over due – I only hope that Kazav will get
    what he deserves – he is a disgrace and if he had an iota
    of decency (obviously he hasn’t got) he would resign. Great article.
    Good luck to the woman in Israel, probably there is much more work
    to be done.

  5. Thanks, Mary,

    Both mentioned ‘macho’ actors, Uri Zohar and Yehuda
    Barkan have reformed. Zohar is now a Rabbi and Bakan has become
    become religious as well.

    As for Katsav, the jury is still out…..

  6. The jury may still be out, all I can say is… MAZAL TOV FOR ISRAEL!!!

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