This is a guest post by Dani
“Aw, bless,” some viewers might have thought on first seeing the new Israeli Cellcom ad, which features the beyond-impossible scenario of Israeli soldiers playing an enthusiastic game of football with unseen Palestinians over the security barrier.
The ad agency responsible must have thought they were channelling All Quiet on the Western Front (although we all know how that ended: the WWI soldiers went straight back to machine-gunning each other after their brief Christmas Day armistice).
What could be wrong with this just-too-cute ad, soldiers and Palestinians brought together by the magic of football, a towering concrete barrier no obstacle to the joys of a kickabout because, as the syrupy voiceover concludes: “we all just want to have a little fun”.
What could be wrong, indeed. Except the security barrier is not just some kind of slightly exaggerated volleyball net. It may have helped end the suicide bombings of the second intifada, but at the heavy cost of cutting Jerusalem’s beating heart out of the West Bank, depriving farmers of their land and creating yet more destructive facts on the ground.
One could get into a murky analysis about what this advert says about the Israeli view of the unseen ‘other’, with the vast majority now living a life completely separate from the Palestinans and pleasantly isolated from the realities of the occupation..
But that’s to ignore another and more shallow aspect. As an Israeli friend pointed out to me, it could be argued that Cellcom have simply tapped into a long tradition of shamelessly crass Israeli ads.
A few years ago, one notorious TV spot for a brand of chocolate milk showed the back view of a woman, in front of a fridge, shaking a bottle wildly – but from an angle which looked as if she was masturbating furiously. Nice. Media outcry and extra publicity seamlessly followed.
And that’s not to mention one of most iconic long-running Israeli adverts ever, for an orange drink known as ‘Tapuzina’, based around a brutally unsophisticated gimmick, which each summer features a red-headed, large-breasted model who always gets soaked with water, while –oops!- wearing a white t-shirt. This year’s offering features her in a city scene, with New York-style policemen, one of whom gallantly gives her his own top, thus revealing his own naked, glistening pecs.
All rather tasteless, all rather crass. And it seems Cellcom have just replaced sexism with another prejudice, garnering yet more publicity out of the inevitable furore. How incredibly cynical to depict a world where the wall slicing though Palestinian land is nothing but an inconvenient, anonymous barrier, a problem circumvented by a nifty drop kick. But then, after all, why can’t we all just get along? We just want to have a little fun.