I’m about to tell you something that may shock you. I know it shocked me. Bibi Netanyahu likes pornography. No, not that kind of pornography. Though the launch of Playboy Israel featured naughty shots of reality-show star, Nataly Dadon, Bibi showed little interest.
What turns the PM on when he’s tucked in bed with Sara and they begin whispering sweet nothings to each other?
He’s definitely a visual kind of guy. Which is why I thought Playboy would appeal to his virile male ego. But no, he’s not into that sort of visual stimulation. What Bibi salivates over is maps. What, you say? Yes, maps of Israel through the ages. He loves the curves, the sweeping contours, the undulating hills. They’re a real turn-on.
He and Sara have been heard to murmur together the names of the ancient tribes conquered by the Israelites in each other’s ear: “Amalekites, ooh gone baby gone.” Sara is said to think of Bibi’s first wife when she says savagely, “Ammon” to Bibi as they really get into it.
He’s a connoisseur of the maps of ancient Israel. Especially the ones showing the Kingdom of Israel at the height of its power. Bibi, who’s publicly likened himself to David facing down the hulking Goliath, gets really turned on by all that territory lying naked before him. He takes one look at that northern protuberance and imagines himself slaying the ancient Hittites with powerful thrusts.
So no, Bibi isn’t into the new Playboy edition launched this week in Israel. He’d rather see pictures of a sleek, beautiful Israelite kingdom dripping with myrhh and honey.
This explains a lot. It allows us to understand the psychology of rejection Israel displays when it refuses to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians. Bibi just cannot stand the blow to his id involved in seeing that beautiful body of Israel reduced to a mere shadow of its former self. It goes way beyond politics and strikes at the heart of the male ego.
OK, now that our fun is over, let’s get into some real satire. Jerusalem Post’s coverage of the magazine launch was truly, and unintentionally hilarious. I suppose Hugh Hefner may be excused, at the age of 81, for saying the nonsense he did about the melding of Israel’s image with Playboy’s. But what’s the Post’s excuse for this nonsense?
The article begins with the unfortunate reference to Ben Gurion’s wish for Israel to have the same thieves and whores of other countries so Jews may have the privilege of being just as bad as everyone else. Somehow Playboy has been likened to both thievery and prostitution in one fell swoop. Unfortunate.
The Post continues for your hasbarist pleasure:
“I’m proud to see Playboy Israel embark on its mission to play an important role in strengthening freedom of speech, freedom of choice and freedom of the press,” Playboy founder Hugh Hefner said. [The] launch party…aptly featured a blown-up Playboy cover from April 1970 featuring “the girls of Israel,” as part of its regular decor.
“I am equally pleased that so many of the core values of the magazine are also the core values of the country and the society that has so graciously invited us to be a part of its cultural landscape,” he said.
I’m curious to know how a naked Natalie Dadon is going to advance freedom of the press in Israel. If Hef ran for Knesset on a platform calling for an end to military censorship he might be more credible. If he defined freedom of speech in a broader context than earning the right to say dirty words in public, I’d be more reassured. As for “core values,” what ones does Playboy share with Israel? Pornography? Male exploitation of women? A naked obsession with conspicuous consumption. A thirst for frivolous symbols flattering the male ego? That term core values also is redolent of the Israel lobby’s “shared values,” which they invoke any time they’re nervous that Congress isn’t marching in lock-step with Israel. Let the word now go forth from Jerusalem that the Israel Lobby’s list of shared now includes slick pornography.
Let’s allow Playboy-Israel’s new CEO to espouse his own set of delusions:
“We’re reaching a point in Israeli life where we no longer see Israel as a house, but as a home; not just a refuge from the dangers of the past, but a place to build our future, and part of that means fun and fashion and debate on serious issues and all the things that Playboy stands for,” he said.
Yes, indeed. Israel a home for all, including it’s 1-million Palestinian citizens who will certainly find their share of Arab models to ogle in the pages of the sexist, racist, mysoginist magazine. If they’re lucky, they might even find Miss Eritrean Refugee. That is, if the phographer can snap her picture before she’s deported back home to certain persecution, if not death.
In case you’re wondering what Playboy has to say about my claims that it embodies mysogyny in an Israeli context–nothing could be farther from the truth. Playboy Israel’s editor is even a woman!
“At the end of the day, we’re talking about a magazine with quality content, with deep interviews and color articles,” said Jakobovitz-Keidar…“There’s a woman standing at the head of this magazine, overseeing everything that goes on. Whoever opens the magazine sees the Playboy standard.
“It’s a mentor for men, but I’m sure that there are plenty of women who will find us interesting,” she added, noting that in the US, more than 20 percent of the readership is female.
“There’s room for both the sexes.”
I’m especially impressed by those “deep interviews.” The first one will be with former Shabak chief and current Home Front minister, Avi Dichter who regales the male audience with discussions of missile-thrust, multi-warheads, and throw-weights (just kidding). I am glad Jakobovitz is impressed with the color pictures though. They decisively prove the credibility of the entire enterprise.
Not to be outdone by the delusional rhetoric of his previous statement above, Pomerantz is quoted in Times of Israel saying:
“A magazine as complex and beautiful as Playboy is the perfect fit for a country as complex and beautiful as Israel.”
Complex, yes. Beautiful? Tell me about the beauty of those skunk cannons in the West Bank and those tear gas canister ripping into peaceful Palestinian demonstrators in Bilin. Tell me about the beautiful sight of Jewish women assaulting an innocent Palestinian woman on the street for no other reason than that she isn’t Jewish. And how about those Jim Crow bus lines (separate but not equal) on the West Bank. Pure beauty.
Because Playboy’s mission is to be oh so relevant, faux-feminist, and fashionable there are plans in store for a Girls of the Wall segment. Hef is even considering buying a Torah scroll for the group to show his solidarity for the cause. There are also plans in the next issue for a Girls of the Arab Spring photo spread.
What this development signifies for me is that latter-day Israel, which has become a parody of itself, has thrown in its lot with another tired symbol of male virility which has seen its era come and go. I only hope Israel doesn’t go the way of Playboy’s print edition and Hef’s all-night TV parties and fade into gradual oblivion.
What Playboy is trying to do forty years too late is revive Uri Avnery‘s old Ha-Olam Ha-Zeh. That was a publication that truly combined the two elements of sex and serious political discourse. Playboy Israel will be a pale, diappointing imitation.
For those who’ve lost their sense of humor or never had one, send an e mail or a self-addressed stamped envelope (remember those?), and I’ll send you the Satire Chart which indicates which paragraphs in this post are satirical and which are serious.