Sunday, July 12, 2009

Black is White, and Israel's Cellcom Commercial is Racist

"They — those on the other side, the ones we are at war with — are actually exactly like us. They don't all want to hurt us."

You'd think that message would be welcome, even if it's in an advertisement meant to sell products. Or maybe especially in an ad, since it reaches so many people and, if the ad agency's consumer research is any good, reaches more than just their TV screens.

But in some quarters, the message isn't welcome. Because the message is in... Hebrew.

I'm breaking from the usual topic of this blog because I just can't help myself. The scandal caused by the ad is so contrived, and so absurd, I just can't help myself.

First, the commercial:

And now, the scandal. Reuters reports:
A television advert for an Israeli cellphone firm showing soldiers playing soccer over the West Bank barrier has sparked cries of bad taste and prompted Arab lawmakers on Sunday to demand it be taken off air. ...

Since the ad went out last week -- as Palestinians marked the fifth anniversary of a World Court ruling that Israel's walls and fences in the West Bank were illegal -- some Israelis have taken to blogs and social networking sites to voice dismay. ...

A Hebrew-language Facebook group called "I too got nauseous watching the new Cellcom ad" had signed up 218 members. They demanded "take this racist commercial off the air immediately."
Et cetera, et cetera.

Now I understand that most Palestinians don't like the barrier, whatever their reasons may be. I also understand that most Israelis are thankful that it prevents suicide bombers from making the short walk into Israeli cities so that they can kill kids on buses and in cafes.

So? In the end, the message is that we're all human. It is the opposite of demonization. In fact, I'd contribute a fair sum toward getting ads like this to air in the West Bank, Gaza, and across the Arab world...

(transition with foggy, wavy lines and wind chimes)

Some Lebanese soldiers are patrolling the border with Israel. They're invited by some Hezbollah gunmen to join them for some Turkish coffee. Once in the bunker, the soldiers and the gunmen start loudly singing The Beatles. Somehow, from across Hezbollah two-way radio, we hear faceless Israelis join in the singing. The Lebanese soldiers are initially startled by the sound, but when the figure out what's happening, they gleefully continue the song, taking the harmony part. The voice over says: "We all like good music and good times. Buy Pepsi!

(transition with foggy, wavy lines and wind chimes)

Okay, it's a shitty commercial. Hezbollah fighters probably don't sing The Beatles. But racist? Worthy of uproar? Worthy of a news article?? Give me a break. And give me an address where I can contribute to getting my version of the commercial aired. (Or at least a better version of one with the same message.)

Because I'd be heartened if that's what kids in the Arab world are taught about the faceless enemy. It sure beats this:

1 comment:

  1. Only in retrospect did I realize that I inadvertantly stole the wavy lines dream sequence imagery from a piece penned just a couple of months ago about, inter alia, MuzzleWatch Watch:

    I guess no good deed goes unrewarded! Thanks for originating the idea, Jon.


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