Patriarchy, Religious Radicalization and Social Media in Israel: The Case of Yad Le’Achim

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Sylvie BIJAOUI, College of Management Academic Studies, Israel
Religious radicalization is generally perceived as the belief that people should refer to unchangeable rules established in the past; that these rules allow for only one interpretation, and that religious rules should prevail over modern - secular ones. Moreover, it is also agreed that these components foster engagement in direct action- violent or nonviolent.

In the last decade, as many research works have shown, social media has become a major platform for the dissemination of religious radicalization, via recruitment of adherents, communication with supporters and fundraising.

Few studies, however, have recognized the patriarchal underpinnings of this process i.e. the romantization of the patriarchal family and its gendered hierarchies. Actually “The Family”, with its rigid gendered spheres and clearly marked boundaries between “us” and “them” appears as a central theme in radical religious discourses, the answer to “corrupt modernity”.

In this paper, I illustrate this approach by analyzing the textual and visual posts appearing in the randomly chosen months of July-August 2017 on the Facebook of Yad Le’achim . An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish (Haredi) organization, Yad Le’achim focuses now mainly on preventing intermarriage between Jewish women and Muslim men.

Six interrelated themes promote Yad Lea’chim’s ideology: the presentation of Haredi Judaism as the single authentic Judaism; the fight against intermarriage - “the silent Holocaust”; the rescue of “failed Jewish women” who marry Arabs; the fight against the(demonized) Arab man; the ”poor children” of intermarriage; the “ good people” of the Haredi community.

My analysis refers to the transformation of “the family” and to the growing numbers of mixed families in post-industrial societies, including Israel, and to the way this evolution is constructed on social media to radicalize people for social change.

My conclusion relates to the need to integrate these issues on the family research agenda.