For Adults Only: An Alternative Roadmap to Peace

By Jon Kalish

Published May 15, 2008, issue of May 23, 2008.
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There is one place in the Middle East where Arabs and Jews seem to be getting along quite well. It’s the Israeli Web site Parpar1.com, where amateur pornography features Arabs and Jews at each other’s throats — but only for erotic purposes.

Founded by two Tel Aviv computer professionals, the Web site has been serving up such X-rated fare as “Kosher Lesbians,” “The Rabbi’s Daughter” and “Sex Party in Jerusalem” since 2001. Parpar1 has hundreds of hours of video porn featuring amateur performers. It is a pay service that can be accessed on the Web or via mobile phone. Co-owner Avi Levy told the Forward that in addition to Israel, cell phones can get the adult content in England, Spain and Italy. Romania will soon follow. Levy says Parpar1 videos will be available on cable television in Canada eventually.

Despite an introductory video that proclaims “Make Love, Not War,” the 42-year-old computer programmer-turned-porn entrepreneur says his porn site is clearly a commercial endeavor with no political overtones.

“I’m not a politician. I’m here to make money,” Levy said.

Levy and his partner, a Web developer named Shay Malol, were convinced that the way to succeed in their new business was to offer something special in the world of porn. And they decided that the niche they would stake out would be hardcore pornography featuring homegrown Israelis, both Jews and Arabs.

“We don’t think the Arab is less than the Jew,” Levy said.

None of the “performers” in Parpar1’s sex films was born outside the Holy Land.

“Many Russians here call me, but I don’t hire them,” Levy said of the recent immigrants to Israel.

The Web site shoots videos every week, sometimes in hotel rooms or a rented villa, sometimes in natural settings such as a beach or a forest. The site advertises for performers both online and in Israeli newspapers. So far, around 70 to 80 young Israeli women have agreed to be filmed, according to Levy. And hundreds of men have been involved in the productions. Levy said that a typical shoot involves one or two women and as many as 10 men, because only two or three of the males are able to “do the job” while being videotaped. Many of the amateur sex performers are college students, but Levy insisted that “all kinds of people” participate in his hardcore videos, including married women who bring their husbands to the set.

“For them, it is an adventure to do it,” he said.

Parpar is Hebrew for “butterfly,” but over the years it has been used as a slang term to describe a swinger. When it is used as a verb, as in “to act as a butterfly,” it means “to sleep around.”

With Web sites offering pictures and videos in every imaginable sexual category and in such national groupings as British, Brazilian, Czech, Filipino, Korean and Mexican, Levy and Malol’s strategy of creating an Israeli niche is not as farfetched as it might seem. Sherri Shaulis, editor of Adult Video News Online Magazine, which monitors the Internet sex industry, had not heard of Parpar1 when contacted by the Forward, but she said she was not surprised that such a site exists.

“The [porn] industry is getting very, very niche-specific these days,” Shaulis said. “It only makes sense that as the market becomes more saturated, you’re going to have people break it down even further.”

Although Levy said there are Arab men in other places who film themselves having sex with their wives and upload the video to the Internet, he believes that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where there is a commercial porn business operating openly. It doesn’t operate totally openly, though. Customers who are billed for access to Parpar1’s X-rated Web site will see an item on their bank statement attributed to “fuel supplies.”

Jon Kalish is a Manhattan-based radio reporter and podcast producer.


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