ISRAELI WOMEN: The Reality Behind the Myth by Lesley Hazleton
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ISRAELI WOMEN: The Reality Behind the Myth

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Hazleton maintains that the liberation of Israeli women is a myth originating in pioneer halutsot ideology, that sexual equality was never a true goal of the modern state, and that sexual stereotypes are even more exaggerated today than in the recent past. Moreover, she supports her contentions with evidence assembled from quite varied sources (interviews and observations, classic poems and cheap novels, army and kibbutz records, contemporary jokes and Hebrew etymologies) and firmly establishes the legitimacy of her claims. Those images of women happily pushing plows or shouldering rifles have lasted far longer than the actualities. Nowadays most kibbutz women are assigned to service jobs, the men to agricultural production. Only 50 percent of draft-age women enter the army; once past basic training, they do token soldiering (folding parachutes, driving generals around) and never see front-line action. Hazleton argues that the existence and power of theopolitic authority assures perpetuation of a double standard by giving legal status to Jewish religious law--which she finds blatantly sexist. Women have fewer options in marriage and divorce, and a pro-fertility policy along with limited alternatives largely confines them to the home. The British-educated Hazleton, a Time-Life stringer and now an Israeli citizen, does not always conceal her contempt for the current situation. Yet she does not deny that the volatile and precarious national security issue is an overriding factor, nor does she ignore socioeconomic realities or the implications of class differences: ""as long as the feminine mystique is an aim rather than an achieved fact, feminism challenges aspiration as well as achievement,"" and will remain unappealing to Israeli women. A broad, unsparing examination, aware of the enormous obstacles to feminist priorities yet uncompromising in its commitment to them.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Simon & Schuster