Sex zwischen Männern in Israel und Palästina anno 1970

Das Problem an Reportagen wie derjenigen, die ich vorgestern über schwule Palästinenser gepostet habe, ist fast immer die Neigung der Autoren, ihre eigenen Vorstellungen von sexueller Identität zu naturalisieren und die beobachteten Zustände homophober Repression aus ihrem zeitgeschichtlichen Zusammenhang zu reißen. Daher möchte ich im Folgenden aus einem älteren Artikel des 1990 vestorbenen israelischen Soziologen Jehoeda Sofer zitieren.

Sofer wurde 1944 als arabischer Jude in Bagdad geboren und ist in einer sephardischen Nachbarschaft in Israel aufgewachsen. Zwischen 1970 und 1974 interviewte er Hunderte von israelischen und palästinensischen Männern, die die Cruising-Szene in Jerusalem und Tel Aviv frequentierten. Die Auszüge, die er daraus veröffentlichte, sind ein einzigartiges Dokument von größtenteils verschollenen Lebensweisen aus einer Zeit kurz vor der Fundamentalisierung der besetzten Gebiete durch islamistische Tugend- und Terrorvereine wie die Hamas. Sie zeigen das enorme Ausmaß, in dem sich die Verhältnisse während der letzten Jahrzehnte verändert haben, und gewähren einen Blick auf die Homophobie der palästinensischen Gesellschaft im status nascendi. Damals, als sie noch nicht zu einem gewalttätigen ideologischen Syndrom herangewachsen war, beschränkte sie sich noch weitgehend auf die stereotype Bekundung, man sei ja schließlich nicht „like that“, auch wenn man hin und wieder (oder sogar regelmäßig) Sex mit anderen Männern habe. Der Islam spielte dabei noch überhaupt gar keine Rolle; eher die Angst vor einer sozialen Identifizierung als „Homosexueller“. Übergriffe gegen Schwule schienen völlig unbekannt gewesen zu sein; zumindest ist von ihnen in den Interviews weit und breit keine Rede. Die sexuelle Anmache lief völlig unverhohlen, und insbesondere die arabischen Männer hatten offensichtlich keinerlei Probleme, ihren Freunden über zurückliegende sexuelle Eskapaden zu berichten.

Diese Befunde machen es besonders ärgerlich, wenn das seit den 90er Jahren zu beobachtende Lynchen palästinensischer Schwuler unter dem Vorwand, sie seien israelische Kollaborateure, zum typischen Fallbeispiel erklärt wird, wie in islamischen Gesellschaften mit „Homosexualität“ umgegangen würde. Wer das behauptet, spricht klerikalfaschistischen Gruppen wie der Hamas nicht nur die Definitionshoheit über die „palästinensische Kultur“ zu, sondern fällt gleichzeitig auch jedem Versuch in den Rücken, ihrer Propagierung „traditioneller islamischer Werte“ die Maske der historischen Authentizität vom Gesicht zu reißen. Daran mag Interesse haben, wem es um die essentialistische Konstruktion eines neuen Feindbilds geht. Nur soll man sich dann wenigstens die Krokodilstränen für das Schicksal palästinensischer Schwuler sparen, die in diesem Spiel lediglich das Bebilderungsmaterial für die „haushohe Überlegenheit“ (Redaktion Bahamas) der westlichen Gesellschaft abgeben. Einer Gesellschaft übrigens, die sich das homophobe Syndrom, das am heutigen Islam beklagt wird, genau wie den mittlerweile in die ganze Welt exportierten Antisemitismus, als ihr eigenes Erfolgsmodell vorrechnen lassen muss.

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Testimonies from the Holy Land

The gay tourist to Israel will probably go to the cruising areas of the Independence Parks of Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv or may visit the two and a half gay bars and discos. There he will meet young Israelis who identify themselves as gay. But these places are only small enclaves in a basically oriental country.

About five million people live in Israel and the territories occupied in 1967. Since then many Israelis have established relations with inhabitants of the Occupied Territories, including sexual ones. About 1.2 million Palestinians live in the Occupied Territories, and about 0.7 million inside pre-67 Israel. The number of Jews hailing from Islamic countries of the Middle East and North Africa is about 1.7 million (of which 0.9 million were born in Israel). Moreover, the Balkan Jews (mainly from Bulgaria and Romania) are not really Western, definitely not in their sexual behaivor. Isrealis coming from Europe and America and their descendants (Aškenazim) make up hardly 30% of the total population. These various groups lived and largely still live in segregated cities and neighborhoods.

But the state institutions — school, TV, army — try their best to westernize the second generation, to cut the Orientals from their roots. This affects their attitude towards women and sexuality as well. Whereas Greek and Arab men may walk on the street hand in hand, kiss and hug each other in public, in Israel it’s automatically associated with homosexuality. Most Israelis who engage in sex between males do not consider themselves as homosexual. They have a great number of meeting places. Between 1970 and 1974 I interviewed hundreds of men in different places in Israel and the Occupied Territories. Here I present a selection of these interviews reflecting the way of thinking and the sexual behavior of most Israelis and Palestinians.

[…]

Yosef

In the early fifties Yosef had immigrated from Iraq. Along with his daily work as a clerk in Tel-Aviv, Yosef worked as a singer of Arabic music, mainly classical Iraqi music and interpretations of Umm Kultum’s songs. He was popular among Iraqi Jews and Palestinians. He often went to the cruising park of Ramat-Gan. Most regulars had a female name, mainly in order to hide their real name. Yosef could not hide his real identity because he was well known; posters announcing his performances carried his photograph.

Yosef told me several stories about his experiences with Palestinians and Iraqi Jews. Often young men would wait until the end of the show and offer to fuck him. Yosef took only stallions. He would never go a second time with somebody who had shown affection or fussed around instead of doing a good fuck, or whose cock wasn‘t big enough.

In Palestinian villages, where he had to stay overnight the organizers prepared a room or a whole house. In one village the organizer was a young married man, who sent his wife to her parents for the night. In such cases it happend that Yosef had to enjoy and satisfy several men, sometimes twelve or fourteen. On such nights, Yosef sang and danced, and the men clapped hands. When he felt that the atmosphere was right, he went to the room put aside. Men entered in order to fuck him, one by one. It never happened that two came at the same time. Because he was respected as a good singer, he felt he had the power to reject someone and to decide the order. Some he invited to stay and have a second go.

The whole village knew the day after who was among the visitors; they were very proud to present him as a friend. Yosef says he was ridiculed only once, by kids. When this happened, the older men told the kids to shut up.

Ramat-Gan, April 1974

[…]

Eliezer

„I saw the man sitting with three other men in a coffee shop in Acre. They watched me, and I watched back. Then I went away. After five minutes I passed by that coffee shop again. They were still stitting there. I kept walking, and I noticed that one of them, thirtyish, followed me. I walked and climbed the city wall I knew to be a quiet place. He asked if I was looking for drugs. I said no, but that I would no doubt enjoy it if he would fuck me. He said he was not into it, but if I was willing to pay him 75 Israeli pounds, he would not mind doing it. I than started laughing, saying that there are so many men, who would die to fuck me for free, and that I saw no reason, why I should pay. I walked away slowly. He then called me and said he would do it for 50 Is£. A few seconds later he came down to 25 Is£. I refused again. He fucked me. While he was fucking me two Arab boys walked along, but did as if they saw nothing. After he had achieved an orgasm, he said that I should not think that he had enjoyed it, since he is not ‚like that,‘ and demanded compensation. I gave him a package of cigarettes and went away. After visiting the old market I walked along the same coffee shop. One of his three friends followed me this time. I climbed the city wall again, went to the same place, and the man followed. He said that if I wanted to get fucked I should pay him 50 Is£, exactly as I did with his friend. I informed him that I had not paid his friend, but he insisted that his friend has shown them the 50 Is£ and the package of cigarettes. ‚If you want to fuck me, you can do so. But without any payment,‘ I said. After a few minutes of debate he agreed to fuck me for free.“

Acre, June 1970

Šmu‘el

Šmu‘el, an Aškenazi, lives in Jerusalem, frequents the Jerusalem Independence Park, attracted to working class men, especially Arabs; likes to get fucked. He tells: „Walking in the narrow alleys of Old Jerusalem I am often approached by men for sex. Although I‘m not really effeminate, there is something about my behavior which is recognizable. I have been fucked by quite a few Arabs. Since they are not ashamed to tell each other, many men know about me.

One day I was talking with a shopkeeper with whom I have had sex before. There was another man in the shop, young, masculine and very sexy. I addressed him. He introduced himself as Amar. Soon it was clear that we both wanted to have sex. We went to the one-room steam bath, near the Temple Mount. Amar knew the old owner, who didn‘t have to be told the purpose of our visit. It was after 7 p.m., a time not many clients were expected, so we could feel free to do whatever we wanted. Besides, it was clear to me that the owner would not let somebody in who might take offense.

Amar fucked me three times in two hours. We hardly talked since my Arabic was weak and he did not speak Hebrew at all. In one of the breaks he said we were expected to tip. It was clear that I had to pay it and the fees. We had tea, and a chat with the owner and two other; older men that had come a few minutes earlier. I believe that the two visitors knew what I was doing there. After drinking the tea I decided to leave, and Amar left with me. For Old Jerusalem it was late, hardly anybody was around. I wanted to eat something in the only snack bar open. I asked Amar if he wanted to join me. He agreed and told me that I had to pay him 25 pounds, which I refused. But he insisted, saying that he is not ‚like that,‘ that he did not enjoy it at all, that he had to get a compensation, that he needed a whole meal because he has lost much power and blood by coming three times. I have said that we did not agree upon such a payment, but he said we did not have to because it was obvious and a matter of course. That he has been always paid for sex. When I answered that I was not convinced by that, and that he could forget about it, he became angry and threatened me. There was nobody around, and I felt a bit insecure. However I walked in the direction of the Jaffa Gate. He started being louder. I told him that he should not forget that he is an Arab, that under Israeli rule he had no case against a Jew, and that he‘d better leave me alone. I never would have dared to go to the police, but it worked. I also knew that he was deeply insulted, as he realized that the fuckee is not powerless, as he assumed. Amar kept quiet and agreed to join me at the snack bar. There were five men, who greeted Amar. While eating Amar told the other men that he had fucked me three times in order to humiliate me. The men started laughing at me. I felt very embarrassed and incomfortable. For a long time I did not dare to walk near that snack bar anymore.“

Jerusalem, April 1970

[…]

Dani

Dani, a Yemenite Jew from Petah Tiqwah, had his first sex with men at the age of fourteen; he was fucked and liked it never considering the possibility of fucking. He had many anonymous sexual encounters with men from his Yemenite neighborhood. He frequented the cruising areas of Tel-Aviv. He and his friends believed that they could enjoy sex only by playing the receptive role. When he couldn‘t avoid it, he did fuck, but did not enjoy it.

He wanted a lasting relationship with a clear division of sexual roles. At twenty-five he finally met an Aškenazi teacher at the University, with whom he lived for three years as housewife both in bed and in the kitchen. His friend didn‘t consider himself homosexual and left Dani to marry.

In order to forget, Dani went abroad and lived in Berlin for seven years. In Berlin Dani did well. He had few problems with the diffences between the cultures: Already in Israel he had put lot of energy into trying to adopt an Aškenazi Western lifestyle, thus cutting the birdge with his Yemenite oriental background.

About his experiences in Berlin he says: ‚In Israel I grew up in an environment where I really believed you had to choose between too options: fuck or get fucked. Other sexual activities like kissing, embracing, etc. occured, but were less important. These were the ideas I came with to Berlin. That was also how I lived at the beginning.

In Berlin I started frequenting the bars. For years I did not cruise in parks. That was something that reminded me too much of Israel, where beside parks and public toilets you had no choice.

I realized that the ideas about sex I had been brought up with were of no use in these bars: here everybody idendified himself as homosexual. There were no straight men out to fuck. I understood that no clear separation existed between men who fuck and men who get fucket; that these are not two separate worlds. However, I did not really change my sexual behavior and my attitude towards sex with men until I fell in love with a German guy, with whom I had relations for six months. I was so terribly in love with this man, I enjoyed every minute with him. Most of the time he fucked, but from time to time he wanted to get fucked; so I did. At first it was because I feared I would lose him if I didn‘t satisfy his sexual needs. Later I realized that I enjoyed doing it with the man I loved. To my surprise it was not difficult to get an erection when I had to fuck him. Before that I used to lose my erection just at the thought of having to fuck someone. I also learned to appreciate other sexual technics. Although I still prefer being fucked, I also appreciate and enjoy other forms of sex. Now, after seven years in Berlin, I do not believe, and cannot even understand how I ever believed, that if you fuck you may not get fucked and vice versa.

Berlin, September 1981

Samīr

It was early in the afternoon, and only a few people were in Tel-Aviv’s Independence Park.

When I entered the tea room, Samīr followed me. Seeing my interest, he offered sex for money: five shekel for a blow job, ten for fucking. I refused.

A short while later I was talking with a friend. We called Samīr over. While chatting, again and again he offered sex for payment. Whenever someone entered the toilets, Samīr went after him, but came back if it did not work.

Samīr, 32, is an Israeli Palestinian, born and raised in Jaffa, married with three children, (a fourth son died recently). He visits the park 2-3 times a week, and does sex with men only for money, and he plays the penetrating role only. Later he admitted that he would fuck boys or young, blond and beautiful men without payment.

While talking, Samīr saw a young man. He became excited, and chased the guy for more than 20 minutes. „With such a beautiful boy I will agree to have sex without payment, if he insists or cannot pay,“ he explained.

In the past he fucked men for free, if they introduced him to women. In fact, he prefers women. When it happened that he is with a man and a woman together, the woman always goes first. With his wife he has sex two or three times a day. He has never fucked a prostitute.

At 17 he had sex for the first time: he fucked a Palestinian boy of 14, Fathi, several times. Today Fathi is married, works as a truck driver and has no sex with males. Samīr said he recently tried to approach Fathi sexually, but was refused. „For me he remains a fuckee. It doesn‘t matter that he’s married and doesn‘t do it any more,“ said Samīr. Fathi was his only Palestinian sex partner. Today he would fuck Arabs if they wanted to — not only boys but also young men. „But young Palestinian men will not let themselves be fucked. Why should they?“

„Having sex with males is not tolerated by the Arab community in Jaffa. I feel uncomfortable when I see an Arab man I know in the park. We won‘t talk to each other, although we both know the purpose of our being there. If we meet in Jaffa, we pretend not to have seen each other in the Tel Aviv park. There he never goes to the cruising park in Jaffa. He is sure that his wife would leave him if she found out about him. The fact that he satisfies her sexually wouldn‘t make a difference.“

Tel-Aviv, April 1973

Salim

Salim, 22 years old, lives in East Jerusalem, and works in a Tel-Aviv restaurant washing dishes. After work, around 2:00 o‘clock he often goes to Independence Park. There I met him. He told me that he fucks men because it is his only chance to have sex, but that, needless to say, he preferred women. However, meeting a Palestinian woman for sex before marriage is almost impossible. Jewish women, he says, do not go with Palestinians. Even female Jewish prostitutes discriminate against Arabs: they charge prices Salim cannot pay, or reject them totally. So, he looks for sexual satisfaction with the men in the parks in Tel-Aviv and West-Jerusalem. Mostly he doesn‘t ask for payment, but if the man is old or looks rich he does. He is not interested in a lasting relationship with a man, because „I am not a homosexual. I was never fucked, and I will never let anybody fuck me. As soon as I have enough money and get married, I will stop coming here. Men who let themselves get fucked are not men. They have lost their respect. Among Arabs this is a shame for the whole family. At school we had a boy, Salim, whose older brother was known as a ‚fucked one‘. Although he was a good pupil and excellent in sports, we did not consider Salim a real man. Sometimes when there was a quarrel in which Salim was involved, his opponent called him a ‚fucked one,‘ even though no one really thought he was.

In East-Jerusalem I know of another man, whose father was fucked before getting married. When the son first heard of it, he immediately cut off contact with his nearly 60-year-old father. He is now working in Kuwait. We naturally never talked about the subject in his presence, but in conversations he was sometimes referred to as ‚Ibn al manyak‘ i.e. son of the fucked one.

Tel-Aviv, May 1974

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Quelle

Jehoeda Sofer: Testimonies from the Holy Land. In: Ders. ; Arno Schmitt (Hrsg): Sexuality & Eroticism Among Males in Muslim Societies. Berlin ; Amsterdam 1991. S. 39-43.


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