May 15, 1998
On one of the many TV programs dealing with Dana International's victory (I don't remember which) somebody (I don't remember who) expressed surprise over the fact that such a conservative society as ours could adopt such a figure to its bosom. In truth, however, it's not so surprising. It is precisely conservative societies that respond to performances of a carnivalesque nature that give release from their tensions and allow them to realize a lot of their most repressed fantasies -- an integral part of any self-respecting conservatism.
Transsexuality fulfills this function in a particularly effective and extravagant way, since it contains elements of the freak show and underlines the aspects of false appearances and disguise of the fantasies that trouble the sleep of conservatism. The embracing of Dana International is no different from the appreciation Israeli society reveals lately for drag shows, from The Daughters of Pesiah ["Bnot Pesiah", a group of four drag queens who do political satire on the weekend prime time popular talk show -- GM] to the "Polish ladies" of Zehu Ze [another popular satirical program with a spot where the actors dress up like gossipy Polish aunties -- GM], that have penetrated without any problem the frame of prime time television and fulfill a similar liberating function.
Transsexuality threatens a conservative society much less than homosexuality because is contains an element of illusion and false pretense, and the acceptance of Dana International by the establishment, accordingly, only strengthens it and does not subvert it. "We're all liberals" said Geula Even [Channel 1's anchorwoman -- GM], in what I hope was irony concerning the news item that over half the public is proud of International's victory. This false liberalism shows just how conservative we really are. International herself, with her statements concerning her traditional lifestyle and references to God, collaborates with this conservatism with an expertise that is either naive or ironic; it's hard to tell, but this is already her own private matter.
by Uri Klein, Ha'aretz??(translated by Galen Marquis)