Feb 14, 2011

#BDS: Hollywood, Israel and the Pursuit of Normalcy

"While flipping through channels on television last week, I ran across an episode of Friends, the long running hit NBC sitcom (1994-2004), which grabbed my attention. In this episode from 2004, paleontologist and professor Ross Geller proudly announces to his circle of attractive young friends that he has just earned tenure at a New York university. This glorious occasion prompts the young dinosaur expert to break out a bottle of Israeli champagne in celebration. There are actually two references to Israeli champagne ('Israel's finest') in this episode, and these moments are played ostensibly for laughs. (Israel? Champagne? Whoda thunk it?)
Nevertheless, Friends made me wonder. In recent years, I’ve noticed a trend among popular television programs and motion pictures to include bizarre, seemingly random references to Israel. The references are on the surface apolitical – they do not precede a discussion of the conflicts in the Middle East, nor do they offer an overt opinion on the Palestine/Israel crisis. They’re usually brief (perhaps a single exchange), and they add nothing to the underlying story. They stand alone, frequently as the punch line to a joke. But does anyone believe that the television and motion picture industries want us to laugh at Israel? Is that really all that’s going on here? 
References to Israel in Hollywood, like references to Palestine or the Arab world, always demand close scrutiny, particularly given the entertainment industry’s shameful penchant for Arab/Muslim vilification and glorification of all things Israel, to say nothing of the fervent public devotion towards Israel shared by countless Hollywood luminaries. What this means is that in Hollywood, there’s really no such a thing as an “innocent” television or movie reference to Israel, no matter how tiny or inconsequential, for Israel is not like other nations. Even a fleeting mention of Israeli champagne, or a humorous reference to the Mossad (another television favorite), warrants further analysis."
Read more

No comments:

Post a Comment