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Esther Hertzog

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.

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Esther Hertzog

This article elaborates on the connection between hygiene/cleanliness and the bureaucratic control of Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. It discusses the role of stigmatisation in constructing immigrants' perceived backwardness and weakness, which necessitate guidance. The analysis also demonstrates the patronisation of immigrant women through inspection of their tidiness as mothers and housewives. The case of the Ethiopian immigrants, who began arriving in Israel at the beginning of the 1980s and still immigrate, will be used to suggest that the bureaucratic regulation of immigrants, rather than racism or cultural differentials, is behind the integration process. Moreover, the similarities between the absorption practices applied towards immigrants from Ethiopia and those from Muslim countries in the 1950s will be discussed in terms of the bureaucratic patronage over immigrants in Israel.

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Esther Hertzog

The article examines the welfare policy in Israel concerning 'minors at risk', mainly the cancellation of parents' custody over their offspring and their placement in welfare institutions. I suggest that the ideological discourse plays a major role in this context and terms like 'minor's well-being' are widely used for achieving public legitimacy of the social workers' control of this field. Describing and analysing case studies which I attended and followed since the beginning of the 1990s reveal the consequences of taking away children from their families and placing them in state institutions. The analysis focuses on the organised bureaucratic violence towards children and their parents which accompanies the legally enforced procedures. It also discusses the forceful means used by the staff in the institutions towards the inmates, as part of maintaining order and discipline. I suggest that violent behaviour of officials and organisations which use the state's organised power of coercion against minors and their parents is linked to personal, organisational and political motives.

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Introduction

Visual Anthropology in the Middle East

Esther Hertzog and Yael Katzir

This issue demonstrates the potential and unique contribution of visual anthropology to deepening and expanding anthropological knowledge with historical, artistic, cultural and political perspectives. Describing and analysing historical events, daily social life and the arts, the articles offer original interpretations of human experiences and social processes that are part of the Middle East reality, in the past and present. Some authors suggest striving to establish ethnic, cultural and national identities goes hand in hand with struggles for civilian rights and socio-economic equality. Using illustrations and a feminist analysis, other authors reflect on women’s marginalisation in the arts and in the historiography of this region. The use of visual materials, highlighting similarities among divergent communities, entails an optimistic view about the potential contribution of arts to break through fundamental dividing features.