Sisterhood Blog

Playboy Israel Is Coming

By Lilit Marcus

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Watch out, Israel, Playboy bunnies are heading your way.

Make sure you know how to pronounce shfanfanat. It means “Bunny,” and there are about to be a whole lot more bunnies in Israel. That’s right: Playboy is coming to the Holy Land.

The famed U.S. lad mag, founded by Hugh Hefner in 1953, will be making its Middle East debut later this year. The project was the brainchild of Daniel Pomerantz, an American attorney who stuffed copies of the magazine in his suitcase when he made aliyah last year. He partnered with some businessmen from back home, and they spent time hunkered down with Hefner’s staff to get a sense of the magazine’s history.

An Israeli expansion makes plenty of sense for Playboy, which has been struggling financially for the last few years. Though the brand is still valuable, thanks to licensing deals that make everything from Playboy condoms to bunny-print clothing and beauty products, the magazine has followed industry trends and lost money hand over fist. The company reportedly earned more money from a reality show, “The Girls Next Door,” about Hef’s three then-girlfriends, than it did from traditional advertising sales. The brand clearly needs to support its flailing magazine division, and launching new international editions is one way to do that.

How will Israel react to Playboy? If the short-lived attempt at bringing Penthouse to Israel (it lasted from 1989 to1993) is any indication, porn will be a hard sell. It’s basically a given that the country’s ultra-Orthodox population, which wouldn’t even show photographs of Tzipi Livni when she was running for Prime Minister, will protest the new magazine.

But it may not just be the Haredi community that has a problem with Playboy En Ivrit. Many feminists are anti-pornography, arguing that it objectifies and humiliates women. Gail Dines, a Britain-born feminist scholar who lived for many years in Israel, is one of the world’s most outspoken critics of pornography. In a 2010 interview in support of her book Pornland, Dines specifically addressed Playboy and why she felt it was so insidious: “The advertising in Playboy was about telling men that if you consume at this level, then you will get the real prize, which is the women in the magazine, or women who look like women in the magazine. So what [Hefner] did — he didn’t just commodify sexuality, he sexualized commodities, which is his brilliance.

In addition to Dines, the late Jewish feminist Andrea Dworkin was considered one of the world’s most rabid anti-porn activists. She was known for going into stores, ripping up copies of magazines like Playboy, and claiming that the act was protected under free speech. As for whether we’ll see Israeli women going into grocery stores and ripping up copies of Playboy is yet to be seen, but I think it’s safe to say that Daniel Pomerantz has an uphill battle ahead of him.

As for me? I’m a pretty ardent feminist, but I also don’t think it’s fair to judge something before we’ve seen it. Pomerantz told Ha’aretz that he’s planning to include long-form journalism and fiction alongside the centerfolds in Playboy Israel, and I’m excited about the possibility of writing on par with the level of American Playboy’s golden era. Despite the old classic “I just read the articles” joke, Playboy has been known for running great work from acclaimed authors like Margaret Atwood, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Norman Mailer, and for paying them pretty reasonable rates as well. If Playboy Israel continues this trend, I would definitely read it just for the articles. My suggestion? See if Etgar Keret is interested.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: pornography, playboy israel, playboy, jewish women, hugh hefner, sisterhood

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.