Intimacy in Israel and Palestine: ‘Love has become an act of resistance in itself’ – Le Monde

Posted By on April 11, 2024

Two panels (story of Lana, 34, in Tel Aviv) from the comic strip "Amour, Sexe et Terre Promise," by Salom Parent-Rachdi and Zac Deloupy. SALOM PARENT-RACHDI ET DELOUPY / LES ARNES BD

Journalist Salom Parent-Rachdi conducted a two-year investigation in Israel and Palestine from 2018 to 2020, with one question in mind: How do people love each other there? The result is a documentary comic strip in French, illustrated by Zac Deloupy, Amour, Sexe et Terre Promise ("Love, sex and the Promised Land"). It includes 14 stories of intimacy from these territories where the weight of religion, the violence of colonization and obsessions with identity reach right into the bedroom.

From an ultra-Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, to an Arab lesbian in Tel Aviv, to the wife of a Palestinian prisoner in Nablus on the West Bank, these encounters reveal the challenges of loving in Israel and Palestine.

After October 7 [the day of the terrorist attack carried out by Hamas in Israel] and the reprisals [by the Israeli army] in the Gaza Strip, at first I thought my subject was no longer relevant. How can we still talk about love in the face of such atrocious events? Is it still appropriate? Eventually, I think we reach levels of horror that are partly linked to the fact that there is a total dehumanization of the other, particularly when you read the reports of sexual violence committed by Hamas or when you see that Israeli soldiers take pictures with the stuffed toys and underwear of Palestinian families in their destroyed homes.

Through these stories, I hope, in my own small way, to contribute to bringing back a little humanity. It's important to show that people have personal, intimate stories.

There is a multitude of different groups that make for a rather explosive cocktail of identities: Sephardim from North Africa, Muslim and Christian Palestinians, secular Ukrainian Jews who benefit from the Law of Return [passed in 1950, it grants Israeli citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent] and the ultra-Orthodox of Polish origin. These identities are accompanied by a host of tenacious stereotypes ("Russian Jewish women are prostitutes," "I'm a traitor if I date an Israeli Jewish woman as a Palestinian") that prevent certain love stories from happening. In fact, there's nothing strange about asking someone about their origins in the first few seconds of a date. On the contrary, you need to assert your identity quickly, even on dating apps.

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Intimacy in Israel and Palestine: 'Love has become an act of resistance in itself' - Le Monde

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