Heroine defeated by religious extremism
Katniss Everdeen's image censored in Jerusalem
Katniss Everdeen was censored out of Jerusalem and B’nei Brak 'Hunger Games' posters; only the fiery bird image was included. Hiddush immediately alerted the media of this censorship, prompting an investigation of the matter.
Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games action scene, courtesy: Flickr
“We discovered that public posters with the image of a female are often torn down in Jerusalem...”
– Liron Suissa, VP Marketing, Nur Star Media
Q: What do Angela Merkel, Kim Kardashian, PM Netanyahu’s female Cabinet members, and Jennifer Lawrence all have in common?
A: All of these women (and many others) have had their images censored due to threatening, extremist forces in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, which seek to remove women’s visibility from the public sphere.
- January: after the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris, a photograph published in an ultra-Orthodox newspaper of world leaders marching together in solidarity was digitally altered to remove the images of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other female world leaders. [link]
- April: actress Kim Kardashian’s image in a photograph with husband Kanye West and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at a restaurant was blurred out by one ultra-Orthodox news portal, and covered entirely by a restaurant receipt in another. [link]
- June: multiple ultra-Orthodox news outlets published altered versions of the official photograph of PM Netanyahu’s new Cabinet, some of which blurred out the three female Israeli Cabinet members’ faces, and the Shas Party’s official newspaper edited them out entirely. [link & Hiddush analysis]
In each of these cases, this disturbing censorship was limited to ultra-Orthodox publications. However, a struggle over the public display of female images in Jerusalem has also been going on in recent years, for religious extremist forces are not content with only censoring private media.
Just last week, upon the opening of the recent Hunger Games movie starring actress Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, posters all across Israel featured the heroine’s image with a bow and arrow over the image of a fiery bird. . However, Katniss Everdeen was censored out of Jerusalem and B’nei Brak posters; only the bird was included.
Hiddush believes that it is impossible to estimate the damage that capitulation to extremism does to both the Jewish faith and the rule of law.
Hiddush immediately alerted the media of this censorship, prompting an investigation of the matter, which revealed the troubling truth: according to the movie’s Israeli PR firm, they are “subject to unofficial coercion that forces [them] to be more careful. [They] have had endless vandalization, and clients prefer not to take the chance.” Put simply, Jewish religious extremists cannot accept the images of any women in the public sphere, and respond with vandalism. Since Israel’s law-enforcement agencies do not address this threat, the ultimate result is consistent surrender to extremists. This, Hiddush notes, was also the reason behind the police department’s objection to allowing the Women of the Wall their monthly prayer service.
Hiddush believes that it is impossible to estimate the damage that capitulation to extremism does to both the Jewish faith and the rule of law. We strive to make clear that there is absolutely no connection between authentic, mainstream Judaism and censorship of the images of female figures. In the case of heroine Katniss Everdeen, Hiddush’s ever-vigilant watchdog efforts brought wide, international media coverage to the censorship of Jennifer Lawrence’s image in Jerusalem… a significant step in bringing such sexist religious coercion into the limelight and further sensitizing the public to the challenges of religion playing out in the public sphere.