TEL AVIV, Israel — The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah ended last week, bringing to a close an apparently great opportunity for sexual conquest.
The Center for the Art of Seduction, a Tel Aviv business which runs courses to help men succeed with women (“Do you want to get every girl that you want?”), posted a video earlier this month in which one of its instructors advises men how to make the Jewish holiday a time of fun and frolics with the ladies.
“Ask her, ‘Have you tasted the new donuts this year?’” suggests Tal Lifshitz, posing beside a plate of the jelly donuts traditionally consumed on the holiday and a menorah with its candles burning. “‘What’s your favorite flavor of donuts?’”
This is the kind of approach which, according to the center’s website, will enable you “to have a lot of sex while you’re looking for your special one.”
It also might get you into trouble and, this being Israel, bring out the protesters.
A group of about 150 angry demonstrators descended on the center’s Tel Aviv office Thursday night, accusing the center of training men to coerce women into sex. The protesters carried signs saying, “It could happen to anyone” — “It” being rape.
The protest came after three female students at the University of Haifa filed a complaint with the police against the center and one of its graduates. The women allege rape, incitement to violence and solicitation, although none of them has been a direct victim.
The charges relate to a 4-year-old post on the center’s website by a man who claimed to have had sex with a Czech medical student against her will. On the site, the accusers say, one of the center’s organizers used an alias to commend the tactics.
That case has been making the rounds on Israeli internet forums for months, leading to the charges against the center.
The center is the Israeli outcropping of a men’s seduction subculture that has flourished on the internet since its first appearance in chat rooms during the mid-1990s. It was popularized in 2005 with the publication of Neil Strauss’ bestselling expose, “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists.”
Strauss detailed many of the techniques of the so-called “PUAs,” or pick-up artists, which are based around the idea that “supplication” — buying dinner, saying nice things — gets men nowhere with women. Rather, a man should employ a subtle put-down, for example.
A search for so-called “Lairs,” online sites for local PUAs to converse and swap information, reveals numerous locations where such groups operate from Salt Lake City to Singapore.
Officials at the Tel Aviv center maintain that their techniques are intended to promote romantic relations and to enable men who otherwise wouldn’t be able to form relationships with women to find happiness.
The donut-recommending Lifshitz, for example, describes himself on the center’s website as enjoying “incredible success with women,” though he might be described as something of a schlub, with the kind of goatee worn by men attempting to disguise the pudginess of their face.
The center opened six years ago and has run courses for 8,000 men. One of its graduates, a 35-year-old named Gal, recounted that an instructor told him the center was “going to make a revolution in Israel so that men will behave like men and women will learn to respect men.”
The center’s website, meanwhile, includes a cartoon of a woman displaying her cleavage and sucking suggestively on a strawberry. The protesters, no doubt, would argue that respect has to go both ways.