Who Among Us Doesn’t Love Israeli Porn?

Categories: Politics


It turns out that some of the heaviest consumers of Israeli Web porn are from Arab nations. Is this a sign of impending peace and love -- or just that horny guys enjoy porn?

By Joe Eskenazi

People of the world, join hands/
Start a love train, love train/
…All of your brothers over in Africa/
Tell all the folks in Egypt and Israel, too/
Please don’t miss this train at the station/
‘Cause if you miss it I feel sorry, sorry for you…

When the O’Jays sang the above lyrics, they may well have envisioned Arabs and Israelis laying down their Kalashnakovs and Uzis side-by-side and never again arguing over anything more meaningful than who makes better falafel.

Sure, it’s far-fetched -- falafel is a serious issue in the Middle East. But, depending upon your definition of the term “love train,” Arabs and Israelis may just have found just the thing to take their minds off of mutual slaughter – hardcore pornography.

A number of mainstream periodicals have recently run reports that many Israeli porn sites are tracing up to 10 percent of their hits to Arab nations such Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. Some Israeli sites have gone so far as to translate their text into Arabic.

One Web site to do just that is Ratuv.co.il (and some American papers have failed to comment on the giggle-inducing fact that “Ratuv,” in Hebrew, translates as “Wet."). The site’s content is heavy on films involving female soldiers, Mossad agents and policewomen -- the Israeli equivalent of American porn films featuring the exploits of randy pizza delivery boys.

According to Ratuv manager Nir Shahar, the most popular film among Web surfers in Arab nations is “Code Name: Deep Investigation,” which is summarized as a “parody” of the case of Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, but “with agents investigating the affair using erotic means.”

It’s uncertain if Ted McIlvenna has “Code Name: Deep Investigation” in his collection, but it wouldn’t be a surprise. McIlvenna, the president of San Francisco’s Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, claims his institution houses “the world’s largest collection of sexual materials,” bigger still than the British Museum’s porn library – “or the Vatican’s.”

McIlvenna is hardly surprised by Arab Web surfers logging onto Israeli porn sites, nor does he see it as boding for a better tomorrow in any way.

“Don’t make something of it that it isn’t. Pure and simple, [those sites] are providing a service to answer sexual needs,” he said.

"Check out the guns on that Mossad agent!" Photo | AP

McIlvenna said he’s seen British planes stocked with “sex films” taking off en route to the Middle East where pornography, while often highly illegal, “is always available to people who have money.”

Now, you don’t even need all that much money. You just need a Web connection and a little privacy (or a lot: the average amount of time a Saudi user spends on the Israeli porn site SexV is more than 17 minutes).

When asked why Arab porn hunters didn’t head to British or American Web sites, McIlvenna all but sighed.

“Come on! British sites are dull as sin. Try them and see. And American sites, if they can get to them, they’ll go to them. But, still, the Israelis have done a better job of merchandising.”

And that sounds like a more realistic summation of the situation than the L.A. Times editorial “Mideast Peace Through Porn.” Perhaps in the end, this is best summed up as simply an ingenious move by Israeli porn purveyors and nothing more.

Because, when it comes to porn (and in more ways than the makers of “Field of Dreams” could have imagined) if you build it, they will come.

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