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Contestant boasts about grabbing Jennifer Lopez’s buttocks on Israel's 'The Voice'

It’s one thing to have a cold relationship between Netanyahu and Obama, but I really don’t think Israel should get on J-Lo’s bad side. Unfortunately, this might happen.

Jennifer Lopez (photo: wikimedia commons)

A few weeks ago I watched the third episode of the Israeli version of “The Voice” featuring a contestant from Los Angeles, an Israeli called Michael Alhadif, whose stage name is Michael Jade.

Now, apparently Jade has been on American Idol, and even got so far as the top 40 (wow!). Personally, I don’t know how he got so far – but I digress.

In an interview segment that was shown shortly before his first audition (seen above), Jade tells the Israeli host of the show, Michael Aloni, about how his hands “fell” (Jade makes the quotation gesture) on to her buttocks while giving her a hug. Click here to see Jade boast about the incident, from minute 08:56.

A shiver went down my spine as I heard Jade brag about touching the “coveted” buttocks of another woman with whom he is not in a relationship, and yet feels he has the right to do so. “This is gonna go wild on Facebook,” I thought to myself.

But nada.

The first real reaction I saw was by Efrat Latman on the Israeli online magazine Onlife, who tore the show apart and also asked the Israeli TV franchise, Reshet, who has the rights for the Israeli version of the show, to explain what happened.

No response.

Another online magazine, Horim Bareshet, had better luck. This was the response they got from Reshet:

“Michael Jade is a contestant on The Voice who made aliyah from America. Michael described this meeting with the famous singer Jennifer Lopez, the two became friends during the shootings and during the meeting between them a common jesting was created about the famous subject “the insurance on her buttocks.” During a goodbye hug they shared, a situation occurred where his hand touched herbuttocks. It was all done in good spirit, also the way Michael told this to Michael.”

Since then, the story has been getting some more attention, and today there is a petition going around on Facebook that will be sent to the creators of The Voice:

To: Talpa Productions, and anyone connected with the creation, distribution, and broadcast of the television show The Voice, and its franchises, January 13, 2013

Subject: The Israeli franchise of your show is promoting sexual violence

On the 3rd episode of the current season of the Israeli franchise of The Voice, a contestant bragged about an incident in which he sexually assaulted Jennifer Lopez. He described how, after working together on the set of a video, during a hug goodbye, he “accidentally on purpose” grabbed Ms. Lopez’ buttocks. The host, Michael Aloni, proceeded to joke about the incident, and comments were made (jokingly) about warning Sarit Hadad, the only female judge on the show, about the possibility of “being J Lo’d”.

This incident is extremely disturbing. Sexual assault is not a joking matter. The fact that some men see Jennifer Lopez – or any other woman – as a legitimate object for them to physically grab is not a joking matter. The fact that this was all viewed as a positive thing on a prime time show with top ratings is not a joking matter, and is in fact quite frightening.

And apparently, there are many who share this view. Since the incident, a growing wave of protest has been seen on Facebook, online publications, and blogs – objecting to the general “boys club” view of women as objects, the support this attitude is getting on Israeli prime time television, the glossing over an actual description of an attack (by the attacker)… And all of this occurring on your hit show, The Voice. But Reshet, the Israeli franchisee, has either ignored our objections, or informed us that “it was all in good fun”. We don’t know how Reshet defines good fun, but we feel that if a man grabs at a woman without her consent, that is not any kind of fun, but rather an extreme violation of her body, and also a criminal act.

Meanwhile, on last night’s episode, the “fun” continued, when special guest Mosh Ben Ari referred to a young contestant as “forbidden fruit” and cited this is a reason to promote her on the show. Forbidden fruit?
A term hinting at lusting after a young contestant, while acknowledging that this is “forbidden” raises serious questions as to the general mindset of the show.

Our purposes in writing you this letter are as follows:

·       To inform you what is being done in your name

·       To ask you to take action to ensure that The Voice is a safe place for both contestants and judges

·       To make a statement that The Voice objects to sexual/gender violence, and is actively against it

·       And to take action to back the statement up

Meanwhile, we have already been inspired to act on this subject. On Friday, January 18, we will be holding a singing event in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, to raise awareness of the endemic sexual violence women are subjected to, whether on television or in the streets or even in their homes.

We, the undersigned organizers of the event, look forward to your support and cooperation in this endeavor.

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    1. Philos

      I’m waiting for the usual “what about Syria!” or “what about the Palestinians!” shouts from the left and right, as though people can’t be offended by many things simultaneously

      Reply to Comment
      • Woody

        Please review Chai B’lala Land. Episode 32 of this season featured all of the Jews boycotting singing gospel music or going to a church they are invited to. Meanwhile, the Muslim Palestinian contestant, rolling his eyes at the continued Jewish racism, maintained his intent to attend and overall humanist attitude – unlike the nasty tongued Jew contestants who represent casual racism at any opportunity.

        Reply to Comment
      • This kind of casual sexism and objectification happens so routinely that I do wonder why an article, although that’s more to do with lethargy than lack of concern. I was about fifteen when I encountered harassment like this for the first time. I was waiting to cross the street when two men walked past and one of them reached out and groped me, complete with lewd comment. I was horrified, in a did-that-really-just-happen kind of way, but the horror has evaporated over the years, to be replaced with a tired sense of same old, same old. It’s hard to find the energy to protest whenever you see it.

        Reply to Comment
        • Philos

          Hi Vicky, it saddens me greatly to read your post. As a man I cannot even begin to fathom what it must be like. I can only promise to not pretend to know what it must be like (no man can know what it’s like and any man that claims he can is a total charlatan) and endeavor not to objectify women myself.

          Reply to Comment
        • Elisabeth

          I was about that age too Vicky when I had my first ‘experience’. A man dragged me from my bicycle and put his hand under my skirt. The worst for me somehow was that he kept saying “You like it huh, you like it!”
          On the up side (if there really is one), it makes girls think deeper about issues between men and women at a younger age. I found my older brother really naive in those days. Only years later (when something happened to his girlfirend) did he experience the shock and finally understood what an impact these things have.

          Reply to Comment
          • Elisabeth, sadly my experience has been that girls are more likely to downplay these incidents or even to blame onto themselves rather than to start thinking critically about what they mean. When I was at boarding school I had roommates who used to feel flattered by catcalls and who thought I was weird for not liking it – and why not? We’re saturated with so many cultural messages about the need to be desirable, and inevitably these are absorbed. Then there is the idea that assault and harassment happen only to women who wear the wrong clothes and do stupid things like go out alone, or drink too much, or have a life that doesn’t involve locking themselves up in a chastity belt. I was infected by this way of thinking: after that first incident of groping, when the initial disgust and shock had gone away, my immediate thought was, “Are my jeans too tight?” The number of teenage girls who carry these ideas around is just depressing, as is the sheer number of grown women who can’t seem to perceive any link between behaviour like this and the rape prevalence.

            Philos, thanks. It’s always refreshing to hear from men who get it, or try to. There’s a shortage of you.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      Typical Israeli chauvinism that is best expressed by the saying “run to tell tell the chevreh (the gang)”. This happens quite often in places like the army, where horny soldiers share stories about past “conquests”. Unfortunately, in a country like Israel, army culture seeps into civilian life and blends with it quite naturally, so that nobody even gives it a second thought.

      Reply to Comment
      • Shimi

        Yes, typical Israeli sexism, very different in characteristics and magnitude from most Western societies in which guys would never dare grabbing J-Lo’s behind and brag about it…

        Reply to Comment
    3. JKNoReally


      Reply to Comment
    4. Lauren

      JLo was American Idol.

      Reply to Comment

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