Culture, Israel

Is this Israeli Cellcom TV ad racist?

Okay, usually I’m sympathic to the outrages of the Israeli left, but I don’t necessarily get this one. This video is a commercial for Israeli telecom giant Cellcom. Since a Facebook group was started calling on Cellcom to pull the ad, it’s hit Israeli news and liberal blogs. And it’s already sparked some dark parodies. But I actually think this is rather benign. I mean, it’s not accurate to reality. But it’s got the slightest glimmer of hope in it, doesn’t it?

18 thoughts on “Is this Israeli Cellcom TV ad racist?

  1. what glimmer of hope is that? that you can steal people’s land, wall them into bantustans, & it’ll make them want to play football with you instead of blowing you up? good luck.

  2. I like the ad…as much as one can like an ad which depicts a cement barrier that SHOULDN’T be necessary.
    That aside, the thought that Palestinian young adults are passing the ball back and forth with the Israelis is an idea I like…

  3. “Racist”??! Hilarious. Has there been some multicultural hashish smoking going on…? Why not just call it “fried coconut” or “refurbished snowmobile”? They’re exactly as relevant to this ad as “racism”.
    Seriously though, to apply the word “racist” to a production like this just evacuates the word of any meaning. If this ad is “racist” then I’d say “racism” is something this world could use a lot more of.
    (Along with unlimited data and 1,000 anytime minutes per month)

  4. I’m not sure racist is the right word…but I do think it is bizarre and tasteless. The tag about “don’t we all want a little fun” or whatever…you don’t find that creepy? Like all we need to do is play a little soccer over this giant barrier we’ve erected to contain another people? It just seems so arrogant, so willingly ignorant. The wall isn’t funny, it’s dehumanizing. Which is what that commercial does too–sure the soldiers look great, yet we don’t even see the Palestinians. But hey, they got to play soccer right? So everything is just fine…

  5. It might be…mindlessly avoidant of the issues? but I wouldn’t say “racist.” If anything, I agree with you… after all the soldiers didn’t put the wall there, and the idea that perhaps they’d play ball with the folks on the other side might lead to them playing ball without the wall someday.

  6. At worst it’s sexist — notice that the women soldiers don’t get to play, they only get to laugh and cheer for the men…

  7. The central confusion in this ad comes from who exactly is kicking the ball to the soldiers. A natural assumption is that it’s a Palestinian, but the ambiguity is never resolved, because we never see the other side of the wall. It could, for example, be a settler, or another soldier, but such readings would render the tagline (“We all just want to have a little fun”) incoherent. Assuming then that the person kicking the ball to the soldiers is actually a Palestinian, the ad is trying for a sort of Christmas Truce of 1917 feeling. Unfortunately, it misses the mark in a way that only an Israeli made short could. The pathos of the 1917 truce story comes from two places:
    1. That it actually happened
    2. That it demonstrated the powerful fact that even in war, our shared humanity can overcome even the most entrenched hatreds.
    By not showing the Palestinian side and only showing us the wonderful Israeli soldiers, this ad fails to connect on the latter point and anyone familiar with the conflict knows that the first point doesn’t apply. I could go on about how cynical it is to use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to sell phones, or how problematic the tagline is, but I think those are more obvious points. In the final analysis, the ad is emblematic of the Israeli approach to peace: Well intentioned, ignorant, and totally incapable of seeing the Palestinian perspective.

  8. What kind of idiot starts a group on facebook to get publicity? You need to have an account to see anything. Do they think all Israelis have a facebook account?

  9. Since Palestinians are shot if they approach the wall too closely, one can only assume that in fact, the people on the other side of the wall are other Israeli soldiers.

  10. It’s not racist, but it turned my stomach. The Israeli army commits horrific human rights violations and carries out a brutal occupation lasting decades.
    Humanizing them is part of home front psy-ops carried out by and on behalf of the stronger and more vicious side.
    Yes, all soldiers would like to have fun after a hard day in the sun enforcing the occupation.

  11. The “israeli wall” video turned my stomach too. On the other hand the hareidi video is hilarious. I guess it just goes to show that Hareidim are just essentially more entertaining, photogenic, and utterly comical, than their clean shaven, militarized, aggressive, uniform-clad secular counter parts.

  12. home front psy-ops
    Such an advanced “psy-ops” operation would require secrecy, commitment, responsibility, loyalty… You give Jews too much credit.

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