Freedom In Tel Aviv

Could Stav be as free as he is,  in one of our neighbor’s friendly countries?

Twenty-year-old Stav Strashko, a Ukrainian-born Israeli male model, is making waves in a provocative ad for Japanese automaker Toyota. The provocation? Strashko’s androgynous appeal.

The ad shows what appears to be a woman in red underwear and a futuristic black overcoat sashaying toward a shiny red car. Up close, the model’s face appears perfectly feminine; but as the figure reaches the car, he turns to face the camera and it turns out he isn’t a woman at all.

“I realized that I was androgynous when I began to model,” Strashko told Candy magazine in an interview. “All the stylists put women’s clothes on me, and then it struck me that I can really look like a woman. This wasn’t the first time I toyed with this: I remember myself as a child playing with my mom’s makeup a few times when she wasn’t home … I get mistaken for a girl all the time, and I’m used to it now.”

Strashko, who favors action movies, idolizes Angelina Jolie and says he “loves girl power,” was born in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, and moved to Israel with his family when he was two-years-old. He describes living in Tel Aviv as “fabulous”; his boyfriend of six months also lives in the “24/7 city.”

At a Paris photo shoot, the up-and-coming young model told Candy magazine that he has never thought about becoming a woman.

“I feel very comfortable in my own body just the way it is,” he says. “I believe that the mind sees what it wants.”

Meanwhile in Toronto…
Muslim protester tells Gay supporter of Israel: “You should be stoned to death.”

About Gaia

My name is Gaia and I live in a gorgeous desert between sand, rocks, hills, and dunes, in southern Israel. I'm here to share stories of interest, my views and personal experiences with you all.

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  • uncle joe mccarthy

    androgenous, but they do digitize his face to look more feminine in the first part of the commercial

    i take it he is not jewish

    APARTHEID AT ITS WORST

    • Inessa

      If they came to Israel 18 years ago, his mother or even both parents are probably Jewish.

  • Shy Guy

    Gee, Dave, what’s your blog promoting in Eretz HaKodesh these days?!

    • http://www.israellycool.com/ Aussie Dave

      I don’t have a huge problem with Gaia blogging this, since the blog won’t be able to influence public opinion if it takes too narrow a focus.

      • http://israelitkan.ning.com/ Gaia

        :D

      • Shy Guy

        Really? What quantity of influence in promoting perversions does the Torah grant us, Dave? Got a number for that?

        Ktiva Vechatima Tova.

        • http://www.israellycool.com/ Aussie Dave

          I am not promoting any perversions. I live a Torah lifestyle and concentrate on derech eretz. I leave the judging to Hashem. With all due respect, I suggest you do too.

          If you don’t approve of this blog, you needn’t visit. I certainly don’t need my balls busted by you, and especially during these tough times.

          • Shy Guy

            Suit yourself. Ketiva Vechatima Tova.

    • Jim from Iowa

      And what are you trying to promote, Shy Guy? Your public embrace for your love of Israel is commendable and I can enthusiastically relate to that, but why are you so eager to display your hatred of gay people in a great forum such as IsraellyCool? I don’t get it.

      • Shy Guy

        Jim from Iowa says:
        August 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm

        And what are you trying to promote, Shy Guy?

        Judaism.

        Thanks for playing. After all, life for you is one big game where you get to make up the rules when given the chance.

        • Jim from Iowa

          We’ve traded comments on a number of subjects over a number of years now on IsraellyCool (I’m reluctant to call it an actual conversation) and yet I don’t think we really know each other all that well. I enjoy our communication in this way, but don’t think you know my approach to life in any meaningful way, Shy Guy. Now answer my question, why do you hate gay people so much?

      • Shy Axelrud

        I love mu country, I do love my city Tel A viv because people like you still do not do ll they do to others in Mea Shearim. I live my life, respect others the way they are. I suggest you find God and star doing good for others instead of trying to force them to swallow your laws and beliefs. Yes, Israel, let’s be decmocratic, and free!!

        • Shy Guy

          The nation of Israel “found G-d” a long time ago. You seem to be the one that’s lost.

          Your definition of good is not G-d’s. It’s yours. But that was rather obvious from your comments.

    • http://www.jewlicious.com ck

      Wow. You know, I never thought I’d enjoy being gay until I came across this post. Thanks Israellycool for opening my eyes. Thanks to your promotion of gayness I plan on giving up decades of heterosexuality and will begin parading around Jerusalem in assless chaps and a hot pink feather boa.

      Yeah. Not. Get over it Shy Guy…

      • Shy Guy

        Get over yourself, Brainlesslicious.

        • Jim from Iowa

          I think you need to feel better about yourself, Shy Guy, so here’s a beauty tip from “Silence of the Lambs”: “It puts the lotion on the skin. And then, in all likelihood, it goes out and votes Republican any way.”

        • http://israelitkan.ning.com/ Gaia

          You are crossing the line now.
          We got it! you are better Jew than all of us together.
          Get over it!

          • tom

            Now why is he better? If one decide to obey G-d’s laws, doesn’t he automatically become a better person in G-d’s eyes?
            No one needs an “OK” by people who set their own values, freedoms, etc.
            What are freedoms here are in another place crimes and illegal.

            • ziontruth

              “If one decide to obey G-d’s laws, doesn’t he automatically become a better person in G-d’s eyes?”

              Yes, but remember that pride is a grave sin in God’s eyes. “An abomination unto HaShem is anyone of high heart.”

              I know where Shy Guy’s coming from, but I think hard-hitting rebukes don’t achieve their goal today, and end up doing harm—in raising feelings of enmity between Jews—to boot. The message is appropriate, but the no-holds-barred form is better reserved for our enemies.

              For enemies of the Jewish people—a merciless war to the bitter end; for Jews who have gone astray, numerous though they may be—prayer to HaShem to bring them back into the fold.

  • http://israelitkan.ning.com/ Gaia

    Be who you are… anywhere….any time.
    This is a celebration of our FREEDOM in our land.
    I salute Stav from here.

  • zionair

    gay people have been with us from the moment time began otherwise our teachings would not from the very start have spoken about the subject, so gays are nothing new just more in view as each day passes.
    had the story only mentioned the advert and not stav’s leanings, we would all be left to draw our own conclusions as i for one have never heard of him even though, i do know that many people like stav work in model/adverts,(an area that can offer them employment where they can use their looks i imagine without any work place problems-not like a factory where you would not get a moments peace away from remarks)
    we have gay jews and i must say at first i wished to pretend we didn’t, but as time passed it’s a subject that
    became part of every-day life nearly every-where you look
    and like it or not we can not and should not set our-selves up to judge others who are not as we are or would like them to be.
    (the big joke is)Muslim protester tells Gay supporter of Israel: “You should be stoned to death.” -this comes from people who love little boy’s who kidnap and sell them for the male sex trade to other muslims who have always enjoyed the company of little boys as well as adult male sexual meetings (so their glass house is full of holes)
    so i don’t see the problem with gaia’s story,nor do i fully understand dave’s comment (I don’t have a huge problem with Gaia blogging this, since the blog won’t be able to influence public opinion if it takes too narrow a focus) do not other writers stories on this blog take a narrow focus and does this blog not only report but offer the owners opinion many times over and does this blog not influence some readers,so i am a little confused at the comment.(even though i do not think dave wishes to influence the readers) it must be as with all news a large part of the reporters desires.
    i stand to be corrected if any of my observations are not correct or if my understanding of various terms are not understood as meant.

  • ziontruth

    The debate about androgyny and homosexuality I’ll leave out, because it can sap one’s spiritual strength. (The Talmud says of Rabbi Yehudah bar Nikosa, after emerging victorious from his arguments with heretics, that he likened himself to a former bag of diamonds now filled with nothing but coals.)

    What I find suitable to question is how any Israeli Jew could believe this line of posts—showing how Israel is free, democratic, egalitarian, pluralistic, vibrant et cetera—is of use in countering the argument that the Jewish State is situated on stolen land.

    It’s possible there’s no argument that could answer the anti-Zionists’ charge, but if you disagree, then it would be better to address that charge rather than side issues. Yes, I know the anti-Zionists bleat about “Israeli apartheid” and all that stuff, but from my experience this is nothing but an excuse; it’s Israel’s very being (a Jewish sovereign polity situated where it is) that they oppose, not this or that aspect of it.

  • Shy Axelrud

    In Iran he would have two options: undergoing a forced sex change to live a life in that country, if normal we can never know or be stoned to death. In Israel he can decide what life he wants and be a happy successful person. My only hope our religious people will never make us look like Iran.

  • spindok

    Totyota is trying to give the old stodgy Corolla an edgy hipster image with this ad. Fiat has been trying to sexy up the 500 with ads featuring Jennifer Lopez and that hot Italian supermodel but Americans are not buying it. Might work in Japan I guess.

    Even though the Israel haters keep ignoring their own hypocricy it is still worthwhile to point out how gays and religious minorities have far more rights in Israel than any other place in the mideast.

    • ziontruth

      “Even though the Israel haters keep ignoring their own hypocricy it is still worthwhile to point out how gays and religious minorities have far more rights in Israel than any other place in the mideast.”

      Why is it worthwhile if not even gains in Israel’s image are to be had in the deal? Is it not enough that it’s against Jewish values (I agree with Shy Guy’s message, I only disagree with the form), it’s done despite falling on deaf (willfully so) worldwide media ears?

      If the Jewish State is to stop being demonized in the worldwide media, then the only way is to coerce the media to cease and desist with its pro-Arab, anti-Zionist slant, for the worldwide media is by and large under the ownership of the Far Left, who are doctrinally anti-Zionist; they would not give up their dirty tricks of their own free will, but only under pressure. And if pressure is finally applied, then it can be applied to force the media outlets to trumpet the Zionist line that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish nation by right, and then there’s no need for any circuitous routes like this one of showing how Israel is so much better than the surrounding countries.

      As I said, my chief dispute with this post is not its promotion of a lifestyle that Judaism considers deviant, but the idea that that’s an effective way of improving Israel’s image worldwide. It isn’t. The Jewish State is under the propaganda Kassam rocket barrage of a hostile worldwide media, accusing it of being a state built upon ill-gotten gains (“taken” from the Phakestinian “nation”). The response needs to be in accordance with the attack.

      • Jim from Iowa

        All I can say in Dave’s and Gaia’s defense is that if I thought there were only religious Jews in Israel, I wouldn’t give Israel a second thought.

        • ziontruth

          “…if I thought there were only religious Jews in Israel, I wouldn’t give Israel a second thought.”

          Well, you made it quite plain long ago that your love of Israel is conditional. I just hope that a future religious Jewish Israel would make you apathetic (neutral) and not hostile.

          Because of Islamic copycatting, there’s no shortage of similarities between Judaism and Islam, and I have no problem acknowledging them. But there’s a difference that far too many people aren’t aware of, or keep forgetting: Even at its most fanatical, Jewish religiosity is confined to one nation and its single state, while Islamic doctrine posits the duty of forcing shariah law upon all nations all over the world. Therefore, what goes on in Israel should, if you don’t like it—and you don’t have to like it—merit apathetic neutrality rather than hostility, because it can have no impact on you as a non-Jew outside of Israel (despite Protocols-like claims to that effect).

          • Jim from Iowa

            Well, I have to agree with you on one point. When it comes to religion, I don’t find religious Jews to be pushy at all. However, when it comes to trying to sell you a new suit with two pair of pants, that’s different story.

  • Kruvit

    Not a big fan of Shy Guy’s attitude, but I do agree with him. Promoting non-Jewish/anti-Jewish values is not that best way to support Israel.

    • http://www.israellycool.com/ Aussie Dave

      Sorry, but I don’t see this post as promoting anything but freedom and tolerance, as compared to our neighbors. Granted, it is not a Torah lifestyle, but I believe the best way to promote that is for Torah observant Jews to act like mensches, and be good ambassadors for it. Not to ram their beliefs down other people’s throats. I, myself, was raised secular, and it was those type of Torah Jews who influenced me positively to change my lifestyle.

      Most readers of this blog are not Torah observant nor Jewish, and the types of arguments and facts that appeal to them are different. This blog tries to cater to this wider audience. Having said that, each contributor has different views on a number of different subjects. As blog owner, I promote diversity of discussion.

      • Jim from Iowa

        I’ve always thought you took this approach in giving us IsraellyCool, but I never heard you express it so clearly. Thanks for all you do, Dave. I hope Shy Guy continues to participate on your site. He’s part of that diversity of views I so much enjoy here.

      • Kruvit

        That’s my point. Although not religious, I disagree with the “freedom and tolerance” thought, especially when it comes from religious Jews. Some things should not be tolerated.
        I’m all for a more embracing and gentle approach to promote unity and reach the non-religious, but with a firm moral stance. Otherwise they’re not promoting Judaism, just one of those neoage craps.

        No problem if the secular State (or the pretentious air heads from Tel Aviv) uses this kind of stuff as pro-Israel propaganda, but it bugs me if a rabbi or religious Jews do that. People who actually believe that our religion is more than an outdated belief or a silly superstition…

        “See how civilized and morally superior we are when compared to our neighbours… we tolerate [and even propagandize] values that are incompatible with our religion and everything we believe”

        I hope you don’t see this comment as a personal attack. It isn’t.

  • Inessa

    To be fair, the “friendly neighbour” countries, do not regard this as a freedom. Even in semi-democratic, “moderate” country like Pakistan, blasphemy is punishable by death. Yes, it does demonstrate tolerance, but also, the sort of tolerance that can only exist in a secular country, which none of the neighbours are.
    As for Stav, while I don’t feel any admiration for the androgyny or the “look”, and there is something disturbing about the fashion industry, in that the expectation is that female models shod have this body shape. However, I have to admire his courage to be so confident at such a young age, even in any free and secular society. It’s hard enough for most boys his age to come out, but to celebrate it, to be that comfortable in his skin, and take it as an opportunity, takes guts.
    There would be many critics just like Shy Guy, in Israel, and it can’t be easy for him. I also wonder if he had to serve in the army, or are gays still exempt?

    • http://israelitkan.ning.com/ Gaia

      Israel was one of the first countries to abolish restrictions on openly gay soldiers serving in the military. In 1993 the country adopted a law that prohibits discrimination against gay forces, nearly 20 years ahead of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the United States.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/gay-pride-israel-defense-forces-photo_n_1587666.html

      Israeli Military Liberal towards Gays

      • Inessa

        But is service compulsory for gay men? My husband was in the special forces in Ramallah and from his accounts, I don’t think someone like this would have an easy time of it: the country might have a liberal approach, many of the guys don’t.

    • God Sent

      Luckily God made us all to live and be happy and in Tel Aviv this is still possible or will those religious people change freedom into Iranian freedom?

  • zionair

    to jim from iowa.
    two observations.
    (1)(The Talmud says of Rabbi Yehudah bar Nikosa, after emerging victorious from his arguments with heretics, that he likened himself to a former bag of diamonds now filled with nothing but coals.)-(ziontruth)
    (zionair)(true some topics make you feel that way)and as i have stated i accept that there are,and will continue to be gay people,as there always have been.
    (but i am fed up of having to continue to feel i have to say daily its ok,fed up of it being pushed into my face as though it is some-thing special and deserves special rights,it does not.
    why can’t gay people accept that we know they, are there and leave it at that.
    why do so many gay people change their voices to sound so much like women?during the day the bank worker sounds like a man at night you would not know him by his voice if you heard it,so gays wish to be treated as normal why not be so?(in so much as what normal means to each person)but in gays words we want to be treated as normal
    well with squeeky voices when it suits you.
    (2)-and this has angered me ( if I thought there were only religious Jews in Israel, I wouldn’t give Israel a second thought)-jim from iowa (so you are just using us as long as it suits you or as long as you get a good response from us.
    you may like jews other-wise why be here but you only like us while the coin drops in your favour-correct.
    dave made the choice to become more ortherdox,i was brought up to strict rules,laws and learning,and made the choice to live my life in my way,but because i have become more understanding,and a little more relaxed, over the years it does not mean that i will stand by and watch without comment or deed every-thing i love and hold to my heart to be eroded out of any recognition.
    i feel your comment to us and all jews is an insult,and instead of an answer to (ziontruth)(Well, you made it quite plain long ago that your love of Israel is conditional)
    you offer a joke(However, when it comes to trying to sell you a new suit with two pair of pants, that’s different story)do you reary think we are so stupid as to be joked at instead of being given a straight honest answer.

    • Jim from Iowa

      If there were only religious Jews living in Israel, what do you think that would mean? I think it would mean that Israel had become a very different place than it is today. A theocracy not a democracy. A Torah-based system of laws much more like Saudia Arabia than our system here in America. Israel would have become a place where people who are a little different could never be accepted by that kind of society. But my bet is that it’s never going to happen.

      I’ve often wondered myself as a gay man why there are some gay men who do have an affected, stereotypical “gay” speech pattern. I don’t think it’s genetic, or particularly authentic, but a hold over of what gay people think of how the straight world expects them to act. Just a theory.

      • zionair

        you have answered my question with a question,i asked(i feel your comment to us and all jews is an insult,and instead of an answer to (ziontruth)(Well, you made it quite plain long ago that your love of Israel is conditional)
        you offer a joke(However, when it comes to trying to sell you a new suit with two pair of pants, that’s different story)do you reary think we are so stupid as to be joked at instead of being given a straight honest answer.
        (your last comment) but a hold over of what gay people think of how the straight world expects them to act. Just a theory.
        (zionair) i do not, and i doubt many people would expect gay’s to project them-selves in a particular way, because its what a straight person expects,(gays have projected them-selves in a way that has turned a lot against them through the way in which they ram their sexual choices down others throats)
        i think a huge amount of gays could not care less about our thoughts,or any one else and hold fingers up to us,yet we have to think of their feelings.
        gay lib has done the gay people more harm than good the man/woman who just wishes to live their life has been dragged under the spot lamp with the rest, a place that a lot do not wish to be.
        tel aviv is a good example of the mixed life and madness of todays living,thank heaven we do not live in that area we love our quiet and the beauty,around us,and have enough of the madness of every day working life without subjecting our-selves to it 24hrs a day.
        i am an israeli born jew.
        born into a country with problems from the moment my eyes opened,the centre of all religions/faiths
        a land given to all jewish people by, (g-d)our deeds to the land written in stone, we have a duty to protect her from all who would take advantage.
        yet we do our best trying to please all only for it to go against us a lot of the time.
        (it might be a thought for you to second think your comment)-A Torah-based system of laws much more like Saudia Arabia than our system here in America. Israel would have become a place where people who are a little different could never be accepted by that kind of society.
        (now how about an answer) to me previous comment to you without it being a question in reply.

        • Jim from Iowa

          I apologize. I have no desire to insult or offend you in any way. I don’t speak for all gays, so I couldn’t possibly know why they do what they do. It’s been a long day for me working with Indian technical people who are difficult to understand and my head is throbbin. You’re not coming in too clear either, but I don’t think it’s a language problem. We just see things very differently. If I knew exactly what you wanted to know I would honestly try to give you a simple and direct answer. But I don’t. And my head hurts. I’m going to Vegas for a week. We can talk when I get back. Best wishes.

          • zionair

            enjoy your trip.

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