Anthropological Perspectives on Two Documentary Films on Women in the Middle East

in Anthropology of the Middle East
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  • 1 Zefat Academic College bental4@gmail.com
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Abstract

In this essay, I refer to two documentaries demonstrating some common features of male violence against women in the Jewish and Palestinian societies in Israel. Abeer Zaibak Haddad's film about ‘honor killing’ illustrates the profound threat on girls’ and women's physical safety. Yael Katzir's film is about Jewish women's struggle for religious rights. It is argued that being subjugated to patriarchal control, both Arab and Jewish women are denied fundamental rights. This understanding implies that, despite basic differences in socio-economic conditions and civil rights, women's oppression is present in cultures that are perceived as ‘modern’ and ‘advanced’ just like in those that are perceived as the opposite. Both films point to the failure of the state to ensure women's rights and safety and to women's compliance to men's oppression.

Contributor Notes

Esther Hertzog is a professor of Social Anthropology at Zefat Academic College in Israel. She headed the Department of Social Science (2000–2008) and founded and headed the Anthropology Studies programme (2004–2011) at Beit Berl Academic College. Her main spheres of teaching and research are bureaucracy and the welfare state; the educational system; immigration policies; and gender issues in education, politics, welfare, sport and the Holocaust. She is the author of Immigrants and Bureaucrats, Ethiopians in an Israeli Absorption Centre (1999) and Patrons of Women: Literacy Projects and Gender Development in Rural Nepal (2011). Email: bental4@gmail.com

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