Sexual Abuse and Deviancy: Women Holocaust Survivors in Israeli Feature Films

Liat STEIR-LIVNY


Abstract:

Israeli feature films in the first decades of Israel were dominated by ideological considerations and focused on the importance of establishing a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. As part of this process, Holocaust survivors were reduced to a homogeneous negative entity, broken in body and in spirit that, according to the films, can be changed only in Israel. This paper analyzes the sexual stereotypes of women Holocaust survivors from the 1940s until the present. It shows how from the 1940s-1980s women Holocaust survivors were portrayed through negative sexual stereotypes: they were accused of prostitution in order to survive, and were transformed in the films from indecent Jewish women to virtuous Israeli mothers. The paper argues that even though, from the 1970s, the hold of Zionist ideology gradually began to weaken in Israeli society, the cinematic negative sexual stereotype didn’t dissolve but expended. From the 1980s women Holocaust survivors in Israeli feature films don’t undergo a change and are represented in the Israeli sphere as seductive & destructive prostitute, Lilith or deviant femme fatale.

Keywords: Holocaust survivors, Israeli cinema, women

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