Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â You couldn’t make it up. Oy gevalt!
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â For maybe our final installment of the “Israel and pop culture” series for now, let’s look at these items from a little while ago (I’ve just been too busy to post on them until now): see first NY Times, “The Lede”, Holy Landâ€™s New Lure: Bikini Babes,Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “During the conflict with Lebanon last year, Israeli tourism industry didnâ€™t disappear; it just went south, away from the fighting. Now, with a new set of life-or-death concerns emerging, the nationâ€™s tourism industry again soldiers on.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This time, with bikini babes. Hold on - Itâ€™s actually perfectly logical:
- Problem: â€œIsraelâ€™s image among men aged 18-38 is lacking,â€ an Israeli official noticed, according to Israeli Insider.
- Solution: Form an alliance with the magazine that rules that demographic, Maxim.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Soon, a deal was sealed between the rulers of the Holy Land and the â€œgirls, sex, sportsâ€ glossy. Maxim pledged to publish a piece about visiting Israel, and its photographers would shoot some of the local models for a spread in the July issue.Â …
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€œThis pornographic campaign sponsored by the Foreign and Tourism Ministries is an outrage,â€ said Colette Avital, who became the first woman to seek Israelâ€™s presidency last week. â€œI wonder if the best way to encourage tourism is by advertising sex.â€
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Another lawmaker told an Israeli newspaper that she preferred the campaign to focus on â€œwomen of substance and accomplishments.â€
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â One of the models disagrees. Tali Handel, who was an air force sergeant, believes that this particular bit of bikini modeling draws from the same spirit as the original Israeli settlers.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Insider summed up her thoughts during an interview by saying she considered it â€œan act of Zionism.â€
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Ah Zionism. NotÂ sure that the founders of Zionism would have agreed with her…Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â See also israelinsider, “Israel the Beautiful”, Government invitation to “Women of the IDF” event called ‘pornographic’,
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Female Knesset members were aroused by a provocative photo of ex-Miss Israel Gal Gadot, lying down on her back with her legs spread and up in the air, attired in the skimpiest of bikinis, appearing on a formal invitation to a club event — celbrating the “Women of the Israel Defense Forces” — being held this evening by the men’s magazine Maxim and the Israeli consulate in New York, sponsored by Israeli government ministries and the pro-Israel communications organization ISRAEL21c and the American-Israel Friendship League. …
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “Israel’s image has been tainted by sex-scandals involving high-ranking officials as it is. I wonder if the best way to encourage tourism is by advertising sex,” added Avital, who finished under Shimon Peres in the recent Presidential election before giving in to his entreaties to withdraw. …”
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â , as well as the Guardian, Girls with guns: In any western country, Maxim’s pictures of female soldiers in their smalls wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. They shouldn’t shock us in Israel either.,
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “…I think it’s a pretty low blow by the Israeli tourism board when they have to resort to such measures to promote the country’s image abroad.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â However, and this is where I differ from many of the outraged politicians and commentators who took such umbrage at the “Women of the Israeli Defense Forces” feature, it has nothing to do with Israel as being unique, and all to do with western standards as a whole. Israel does not need to be held up to any higher level of scrutiny, in my eyes, from within or without: its advertising campaigns, its sex scandals in public office, its supermodels running off with Hollywood actors are no more or less noteworthy than if they were to take place in any other western country.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â If Israel’s tourist board chooses to objectify female soldiers in order to fill more hotel rooms, then I, for one, am not in favour. But that would be as true if the story were about female sailors in the British navy given similar treatment, as it is with the IDF soldiers in Maxim.”
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â , and ISRAEL21c, Stories about Israel21c: Globe & Mail: A land flowing with babes and beaches - Israel aims to increase U.S. tourism with a PR attack in a racy men’s magazine,
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “…The idea of showcasing scantily clad Israeli girls in a U.S. men’s magazine — which made headlines here just days after the Hooters restaurant chain announced it was opening its first Israeli branch on the Tel Aviv beachfront later this year — came under immediate fire from the country’s religious right, which bombarded Israeli news websites with allegations that the government was degrading the Jewish state and promoting sex tourism.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “The fact that this campaign to increase tourism is supported by the Israeli Consulate, Israel 21c, and the American Israel Friendship League is very unsettling,” read one representative posting on the Ynet news website.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â “We have ceased to be a light unto the nations, we are now merely a mirror that reflects what is wrong with society today.” …”
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Hm. Strong words. You won’t hear any words from me on “thou shalt worship no graven images”, though.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â On that note, shall spare you any of the “Hot Israeli Girls in Bikinis: New Tourism Campaign by Israeli Government”Â video links to be found on the Internet. . .