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Israelis turn to comedy to
cope with the intifitda.
Not Good with any other offer. Expires 5/31/03.
Special to the Jewish. News
Not Good with any other offer. Expires 5/31/03.
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172 N. Old Woodward
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s Israelis lined up for gas masks and headed to
Home Depot to purchase plastic sheeting and
duct tape as protection against a possible chemical
or biological weapon attack from Iraq, comedians Shai
Goldstein and Dror Raphael, known as Shai and Dror on
their weekly television show, poked fun by impersonating
a gay couple sealing their Tel Aviv apartment.
While fake mustard gas blew in through the window,
the two men ran around their apartment dusting mustard
powder off the coffee table and taping plastic over their
artwork. "Quick! Get the vase!" yelled Shai. "Don't let it
ruin the finish!"
War with Iraq, the continuing intifada (Palestinean
uprising) and gung-ho political leaders worldwide have
always offered humorous fodder for Israeli comedians and
entertainers, who continually seek the twisted humor
inherent in the country's ongoing matzav, otherwise
known as "the situation."
Shai and Dror wipe mustard gas off their priceless art-
work; comedian Eli Yatzpan lampoons Saddam Hussein,
Ariel Sharon and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak with
equal fervor; and the local networks debate how long they
Erez Tal and Orna Banai of "Only in Israel"
have to broadcast scenes of the most recent attack before
returning to regular programming.
When Channel Two decided to return to its usual
broadcast of a weekly soccer game immediately following
a terrorist attack last March, the national broadcasting
authority fined the station.
Several weeks later, the network tried a different option,
using a split screen to show the scenes of an attack as well
as an ongoing soccer game.
The decision was debated in the nation's papers, but
Israelis didn't complain, not as long as they could watch
their weekly game.
Similarly, the black humor displayed in Only in Israeh a
one-hour Saturday Night Live-like show on Friday nights;
has created little public debate.
Last March, after 25 Israelis had been killed in terrorist
ESCAPISM on page 66
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vast majority of popular tunes.
According to Manor, that military-musical
Caspi, and has seen music fads come and go with
synergy is a major part of the current national
nostalgia trip in Israel, even if the "memories"
Manor feels the current retro trend in Israel
the songs draw on are not always entirely
has something to do with a search for roots,
both cultural and religious, at a time of a crisis.
"Any evening of community singing will
"I have always thought of community singing,
include army band numbers that paint a picture
in Israel as a substitute for going to the syna-
of a 'different' Israel. If you ask me, the Israel I
gogue," says Manor.
remember from those days was not exactly the
"There is something patently religious in the
same as the one the songs describe," Manor
assembly of people at a closed venue reading
says. "It's a bit fictional to talk about those days
from projected text slides that's like reading
as being the best of times . . But that's the charm
from a prayer book. The songs they sing also
actually include liturgical material, like Adon
However, Manor feels it is not just the con-
Olam' and `Shir Hamaalot,' and material taken
"I have always
from the Chasidic repertoire and [Rabbi
thought of community tinuing regional conflict that has spawned the
dip into the past. "I think it's a combination
singing in Israel as
Being surrounded by countries unwilling to
a substitute for going of two factors. There is definitely an attempt
to escape from the intolerable situation we are
accept the existence of a Jewish state in the
to the synagogue."
in right now.
midst of the Muslim world means that the mili-
"The other reason is the public's disenchant-
tary was — and continues to be — a constant and central
ment with the lack of inventiveness in contemporary mate-
part of people's lives.
rial. All the rap stuff is basically beat and no melody. Even
In the early days, in Israeli musical terms, this generated
the new music made in Israel is less melodic. Melody is a
countless scores with themes based on happy or sad events
basic emotional need. That's also why people are indulging
from the battlefield and celebrations of the country's newly
The retro wave is also providing food for thought, and
A look at the annual hit parade of any year between 1948
ready-made album material, for the newer members of the
and the early 1960s reveals that army bands performed the