Zine Fests Anyone?

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Following my endless laments about Jerusalem’s deplorable lack of a zine community, I decided to try some last-ditch attempts in exploring the underground (in Jerusalem, this involves grabbing a shovel and actually digging) for any signs of local zine-fests.

I contacted Af Magazine, being the only indie local Jerusalem zine I know of. I contacted Jerusalem Village who organized a Young Writers’ evening at Tmol Shilshom a couple of weeks ago to see if they would be interested in organizing something zine-related. I contacted Hataklit bar and Uganda bar, who had both hosted such zine events in the past to see if they’re planning on another one in the future. I contacted the Jerusalem Open House suggesting a zine-fest as a future event for their members and the Jerusalem GLBT community. I also reached out to some Jerusalemite friends for help and support. I’m also considering reaching out to the Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center for a zine event as a fundraiser, but not sure how to go about this yet.

I so want to take part in something like that. Even if I don’t sell anything, I don’t care. I just want to experience a zine event similar to those I always hear about that take place overseas. And I want it in Jerusalem. I don’t want it in Tel Aviv or Haifa or anywhere out of town. I want to meet other Jerusalemite zinesters. I’m sure I’m not the only one. And even if I feel like I’m the only right-wing person there, so be it. Maybe I won’t be, who knows?

So I’m really trying here. But I can’t do this alone. I know that if I’m the only organizer, no one will show up. The event will fail miserably because that’s what always happens when I organize anything. I can’t even throw myself a birthday party because my friends always find excuses to not be able to make it.

But if I get people to help me out – people or organizations who have some kind of influence on the community, who know how and where to organize events, and who can easily draw a crowd – it may actually work. The only thing I need to do is get them interested (which is yet another feat I struggle with), and show up with a table full of zines, t-shirts, stickers, pins, CDs, maybe also a personally designed stationary.

So I did my part. I contacted the undergrounders who may or may not take this up as a potential idea for a future event. I hope for a positive response (though I keep my expectations low as to not be too disappointed if the result is negative on all fronts).

If any Jerusalemites are reading this and want to help me out or have any ideas, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Peace, love and undergrounders, come out of your hole.

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Slutwalk Jerusalem 2013

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So I went to Slutwalk in Jerusalem this past Friday. It was hot and sunny and awesome, and I totally forgot to bring a water bottle. That was bad because after shouting a bunch of slogans and walking around for an hour in the sweltering scorching sun, your throat turns into the Sinai desert.

But the rest was cool. There were great people, lots of male support, which was incredible, and there was even this one woman wearing modest clothes, which was even more amazing because of the diversity displayed.

The only thing that kind of bothered me (and that’s the same thing that bothers me in any feminist initiative in Israel) is how left-wing the crowd was. I understand that feminism is a left-wing movement, but in Israel, it always comes loaded with pro-Palestinian, sometimes even anti-Zionist overtones and rhetoric. I tried my best to avoid that and focused on the purely feminist aspects.

I wore my t-shirt with the slogan “Think Outside the Cocks” surrounded by a square of dicks. And my friend Deb wore one that says “I ❤ female orgasm”. Both of us got some really nice compliments about these and some people took pictures of our t-shirts.

Here are the pics:

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Note the tall guy with the heels!

Note the tall guy with the heels!

Drums

Drums

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DSC02395

 

 

A photo by Guy Butavia. In this one you can see the religious lady with the headscarf and modest attire.

A photo by Guy Butavia. In this one you can see the religious lady with the headscarf and modest attire.

Me and Deb and the shirts

Me and Deb and the shirts

Peace, love and consent

Thirty Riots. One Grrrl.

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As I am about to turn 30 (in less than three weeks), I am trying to assess what I’ve accomplished and what I strive to accomplish later on. Most of these accomplishments and prospective goals have to do with feminism and my activism in riot grrrl.

If I stop my activism now, when I grow old and my grandchildren ask me what DIY riot grrrl things I’ve done in my lifetime, I can say: “I wrote zines, I wrote letters to other riot grrrls around the world, I was in a riot grrrl band, I attended some riot grrrl gigs, I drew, painted, did some photography, sculpture, sewing, modified clothes a bit, designed logos and flyers, inked the spirit on my skin, joined grrrlVIRUS, participated in feminist rallies and protests representing the movement, and organized a charity event to benefit the Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center.”

Aside from that, I constantly try to think within a riot grrrl frame of mind. Activism is not worth a thing if you’re saying or thinking things that oppose what you try to represent and fight for. That includes making a conscious decision to not laugh at sexist or homophobic jokes, avoid judging other women or girls and their choices, and in fact encouraging them and supporting them in their choices, not participating in conversations that are offensive to women, and attempting to offer rebuttals in defense of women whenever possible.

This is actually much harder to do because it involves changing yourself, changing the way you see yourself in society, and breaking out of the sexist and chauvinistic social standards and internalized inferiority as a woman in this society. These are things I still struggle with, and one of the things I wish to achieve in the near future.

I also wish to write more songs, get a couple more tattoos, try to sell all the things in the Crafts for a Cause shop, and find more riot grrrl shows in Israel. Also, I recently passed by an office supplies store, and since the New Jewish Year is right around the corner, they got a fresh new supply of agendas and diaries, I almost got lost there. I want a notebook or something and hope to start writing a diary again, instead of just a blog.

I was also considering spending more time with my grrrlfriends, but their schedules are crazier than mine. Somehow we never manage to find a time that works out for us, and the prospect of a meeting retreats to the bottom of our priorities list. Maybe at one point, something will work out, but until then, I’ll stick to the things I can do solo.

More than anything, I’m scared that as I get older, apathy will take over. So my goal for post-30 activism is creating an atmosphere of inspiration for myself, being around people, places and objects that keep me riled up and ready to strike with yet another activist project. Feminist literature inspires me, the moon inspires me, my typewriter inspires me… And if I keep with this attitude, I will discover more sources of inspiration as I get older, and apathy will not stand a chance. 

Peace, love and Moked’s designed diaries.

PS – I added a new page called Mistress Distress. Check it out and turn up the volume!

Capital Pride: Jerusalem 2012

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Yesterday was Pride in Jerusalem. It’s running 10 years in a row, which is an amazing achievement in a city like the Capital where the religious community, more specifically the Haredim, is dominant.

I’ve been to several pride marches in Jerusalem, and to one in Tel Aviv, and the experiences have been strikingly different. I’ve also been to a couple of Pride Parades in Montreal, but that’s another world altogether.

The one time I attended a pride march in Tel Aviv was a long time ago, before I even moved to Israel. In Tel Aviv, homophobia is almost nonexistent. You see gay couples and transgendered folk walking the streets of Tel Aviv the same way you see them walking the streets of the Gay Village in Montreal.

So it’s no surprise that Pride in Tel Aviv is jam-packed with people, dressed in almost nothing, parading around, blasting music, making out, all out in the open, without Haredim around to ridicule them and threaten them with prophecies of doom.

But in Jerusalem, it’s a completely different scenario. I rarely see openly gay couples or trans people walking the streets, if at all. There is only one queer bar that I know of, and it’s hidden somewhere in a dark alley behind one of the main streets of downtown. It’s only during Pride that homosexuals really come out, so to speak. And opposers abound.

The marchers are well-behaved, fully dressed, with heavy security among and around them.

The events of the previous years showed that such measures were necessary.

In 2005, a religious fanatic infiltrated the crowd of paraders and stabbed one of them.

In 2006, religious fanatics rioted in the streets a few days before the World Pride Parade was set to take place. It got to a point where the security situation was so bad that officials had the marchers hold their festivities in a closed stadium. In the gay community of Jerusalem, this event is known as the “march that didn’t march.”

In 2007, there were more threats made by the religious fanatics, bomb threats, violence, counter-protests and riots. As a result, the march had almost as many security personnel as marchers. The security officials literally stood side by side, lining the whole perimeter of the march, with their backs to the parade, looking out and blocking any people who seemed to them as dangerous counter-protesters. Since there are, in fact, some religious folk who do participate in the march (such as the Bat Kol group of religious lesbians), the security at the entrance of the perimeter vigorously searched and questioned any person sporting religious attire who wanted in.

During that parade, I’ve encountered several people who screamed at me, insulted me, asking me what does a lesbian have to be proud of… and I’m not even lesbian! The only reason I attend pride marches and pride events in Jerusalem is to show that I am proud to be a Jerusalemite and a Jew, and I am proud to live in a democratic country where all voices deserve to be heard, even if the fascist religious community refuses to listen.

The pride marches of 2008, 2009 and 2010, I missed out on for reasons I can’t remember. I think it mostly had to do with my work schedule during those years.

In 2011, the march I’ve been to was the longest one I remember. We marched from Gan Haatzma’ut all the way to the garden near the Knesset where a big rally took place. I think we may have walked by a street where most of the residents were religious. It wasn’t a Haredi neighborhood though, so I suppose the marchers and the security people didn’t expect what happened then. People from the balconies threw at the marchers what seemed like water balloons filled with human waste. My friend Sarah insisted it must be urine, but it smelled like feces. Some people got soaked with it. I was lucky enough to have only some of it on the bottom hems of my pants. The acrid smell followed us throughout the rest of the day.

This year, the march went by rather peacefully. I marched with my friend Deb who has never been to pride in Jerusalem before. She also noticed that people were well-behaved and completely dressed, which is rare in other pride events she is used to.

But this is Jerusalem. I think the main purpose of the march is not to shock, provoke, or draw attention with nudity and humor, as many of the opposers seem to think. Pride in Jerusalem is an effort to show that the gay community is made up of human beings, just like any other group of people. It’s a way to raise awareness about the beauty, diversity and power of this community, and strengthen the trust and belief that democracy will prevail. It’s to show everyone that the naysayers’ efforts to shame, humiliate, terrorize, insult and threaten the GLBTQ people back into the closet are futile.

And I, for one, completely and wholly support this cause, because I live in this democratic country, too, and I don’t want to see my fellow Jews, gay or straight, silenced and pushed aside.

This year’s Pride March in Jerusalem focussed on this very point. One of the speakers was the man who was stabbed in 2005. He said that his mother told him to end his speech with this line “Never stop being proud.” But he said he wants to change this line a little and said “Stop being proud, but only once the others stop shaming you.”

Peace, love and kisses!

Welcome to Slutty Jerusalem

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Slutwalk Jerusalem.

Seriously, is there anything more unbelievable? A few months ago, when my friend Deb and I went to a JRCC fundraiser, we spoke to one of the Center’s employees about the possibility of a Slutwalk in Israel. In the blog post I wrote following the fundraiser, I raised the question of whether such a display could ever take place in Jerusalem, mostly considering what the religious community would have to say about it (or pick a fit about it). I also indicated that perhaps it would be better to have Slutwalk in Tel Aviv.

The thing is, Tel Aviv already had a Slutwalk. So did Haifa, and so did Be’er Sheva. And if a Slutwalk ought to take place anywhere in the country, it should be in the capital, because despite what some fascist religious citizens think, Israel is still a democratic country. If anything, Slutwalk would have a much bigger impact in a city where the religious community think they own women’s bodies and where stickers that state “A modest woman prevents disasters,” and “Mothers, show your daughters a modest example,” are plastered all over the place.

I found out about Slutwalk Jerusalem from my BOYFRIEND, out of all people. When I looked it up on the JRCC Facebook page, sure enough, there was the event, Friday from 11:00 to 12:30, sluts galore marching down central Jerusalem. Over a hundred had already confirmed, including one of my friends from Tel Aviv, and one from Jerusalem who RSVP’d as “maybe,” which usually means no.

I was flabbergasted that I wasn’t invited and that neither was my grrrlfriend Deb. In any case, it wasn’t a closed event, so I joined and invited Deb.

Friday morning, I woke up with a hangover and my eyes as dry as sandpaper. My boyfriend drove me to Paris Square where the march was set to start. I didn’t recognize anyone. Deb wasn’t there. I haven’t heard from her in a while. My friend from Tel Aviv would surely not show up. Why she bothered to confirm in the first place was beyond me, but I wasn’t too surprised. I haven’t seen her in ages either.

When I got there, there were more journalists and photographers than actual participants. Many of the girls were dressed rather more covered than expected, but that was irrelevant. The point of the event was to show that girls and women can wear whatever they want, whether it’s modest or not. They started giving out stickers stating “How am I dressed? Dial 1800-Not-Your-Business,” and made posters reading “A woman of valor wears whatever she wants,” “When rapists are free, we are in prison,” and “I’m a proud slut.”

I figured if I’m the only one representing grrrlVIRUS, I thought I might as well raise some awareness, not to mention a few eyebrows. So I grabbed the proud slut poster and quickly scribbled on the back “GrrrlVIRUS ❤ Sluts.”

We started marching, with the journalists a few steps ahead of us walking backwards. The organizers shouted slogans into the loudspeakers, and the crowd chanted along. I started forgetting about my bloodshot sandpapery eyes as my throat was being butchered when I joined in the chanting.

Even though I wasn’t dressed “slutty” per se, I felt so liberated and so inspired by all the beautiful empowering women around me. I was also quite impressed by the male turnout, and even more impressed that they marched along with us, and not there to check out our asses.

I also took the opportunity of this feminist event to give out some flyers about the Crafts for a Cause Etsy shop and talk to some girls about grrrlVIRUS among other things.

After the march was over, I was hot, tired and my throat was on fire. I was introduced to the main organizer of the event, Or Levi, and we ended up going to a coffee shop for lunch. Due to the heat and all the excitement, I wasn’t up for any elaborate meal, so I got an apple pie with a side of ice cream and cold orange juice. We talked a lot about the walk and how it turned out much better than either one of us expected. The religious community was on their best behavior, the male turnout was a pleasant surprise for both of us, and not half an hour after the march was over, articles started popping out all over the internet. We made our statement loud and clear. 

Or is an awesome grrrl. Deb ought to meet her and maybe we could get together and make some cool grrrlVIRUS flyers like we did last year.

Since Slutwalk Jerusalem, I gained a much bigger appreciation for short skirts and female sexuality. If I wasn’t in absolute awe of women before, I totally am now without a doubt.

Peace, love and “My short dress does not mean yes.”

A Punk in a Business Suit

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Last night, I went to a metal night at Blaze Bar in downtown Jerusalem. I enjoy the underground scene, the friendly badass atmosphere and of course, the music. But another thing I enjoy is looking at the crowd. You don’t see many metalheads or punks roaming the streets of Jerusalem on any given day. But on a metal night, they all seem to flock to one common place of congregation and rock out to some hardcore metal.

Looking at all the awesome punks with the funky hairdos, ragged clothes, tattooed up and down, I felt a tattoo-urge so intense it made my skin itch. I’ve had that same feeling in Belgium at the Graspop Metal Festival, except that back then, it was on a larger scale, and it lasted for a full three days, and not just a couple of hours.

It also made me wonder if all these people are as anti-establishment as their appearance implies they are. While some people adopt a style to match their identity or to show their identification with a particular group, others may adopt that same style because it’s “cool.” That’s how you get a capitalist consumerist sheep wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt, or a hate monger with a blue mohawk. That’s how you get social groups like Nazi punks. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a more hypocritical group of people than Nazi punks.

I’m not saying that if you have a little dolphin tattoo on the back of your shoulder, you are automatically a punk. But if you bear the symbols without believing in them, you are just another empty gimmick, devoid of any real significance.

Being a punk generally implies that you believe in the ideal of communism, fight for equal rights for all minorities, regardless of their social status, gender, sexuality, race and religion; oppose the patriarchical social order that perpetrates capitalism and treats women as second-class citizens; write manifestos, publish indie zines, or make music that rarely abides by the musical rules of greedy record companies. If you happen to sport a mohawk and some tattoos, that does not automatically make you an anti-establishment punk.

A punk rock band from Quebec called Vulgaires Machins state in one of their songs “on s’en va nulle part si la substance se résume au symbole,” meaning “We’re getting nowhere if substance is summed up in symbols.” If you’re wearing a grrrlVIRUS patch and you’re a chauvinist asshole, you’ve just defied the purpose of an entire movement and set back whatever accomplishments it managed to achieve, because people will look at you and say “Oh, so grrrlVIRUS is a chauvinist movement. Now I get it!” 

People who don’t know me may think that my tattoos and my piercings are just another fashion gimmick. It isn’t. It’s a true and honest representation of my feminist beliefs. I live and breathe the feminist ideals and I fight for them. Whether it’s through my zines, my blogs, my various writing projects, my art, my music, my active participation in demonstrations and events for the benefit of feminist groups, women’s shelters, rape crisis centers, and my efforts in spreading grrrlVIRUS awareness – my punk lifestyle and appearance is just icing on the anti-establishment cake. And this style is therefore not devoid of any substance or significance.

I wish all punks I meet live by the same beliefs and are active in the struggle for social change, however minor.

Peace, love and être un comme.