The Cellcom commercial (update)

Posted: July 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, the US and us | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments »

The Washington Post caught up (via Reuters) with the Cellcom commercial story, and has even a quote from my previous post on its article, which also gives the first official comment from the phone company on the matter:

Asked to comment, Cellcom said its “core value is communication between people” regardless of “religion, race or gender.” It said the commercial illustrated the possibility for people of diverse opinions to engage in “mutual entertainment.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli blogosphere is boiling: here is Ami Kaufman and Dimi Reider, and in Hebrew you can read Niv Hadas (on, Zvika Roll, Meron Rapaport and finally, an unusually political debate in one of’s (a site devoted to cell phones) forums.

Don’t miss “the full version” of the commercial. UPDATE: removed the video. I’ll post it again when it remerges

Ironically, immediately after I offered as an example of some American liberal Jews’ tendency to adopt and defend right-wing politics and extremely unliberal ideas when it comes to Israel, there was a post on the site describing the commercial as “cute”.

As far as I could tell, the daily papers in Israel are yet to discover the story. UPDATE: TheMarker, Ynet, NRG. for some reason, these articles state that “Arabs are protesting against the Cellcom commercial”, as if Jews were not offended by it as well.

22 Comments on “The Cellcom commercial (update)”

  1. 1 ck said at 4:37 am on July 13th, 2009:

    Jesus. Read my comment. Also, I’m not American. I was born and live in Israel. My comment under the post stated:

    Some have taken offense because you don’t see them at all. And in daily life it’s true – we hardly ever “see” WB Palestinians. The enforced segregation, occasioned by security concerns, prevents us from interacting on a regular basis with WB Palestinians. But in this video, the interaction was initiated by the Palestinians on the other side. The Israelis at first reacted with alarm but then the Palestinians kicked the ball back, forcing the Israelis to acknowledge them. The ball flying over the fence wasn’t an accident. It was a challenge! And rather than ignore it and continue with their patrol, the soldiers decided to interact with the other side in a way far more pleasant than what they are used to. So sure the interaction happened with a wall in between them, and they never saw each other but, well, baby steps right? It showed the possibility of non-violent interaction. Yoffi toffi achla bachla!

    That hardly constitutes a defense of “right wing” politics. Sheesh.

  2. 2 noam said at 5:04 am on July 13th, 2009:


    The “some people think this way and some people think that way” attitude doesn’t mean much, and anyway, you end up saying the commercial is cute, so it sounded – and still does – to me like an approval.

    Your reading of the commercial is legitimate, though as I wrote in my previous post, I see things differently, and at least this time, I’m not alone. In short, the absence of the Palestinians is the main problem here (though not the only). It’s not just “a mistake”, since showing them would have demonstrated how fake the whole situation is, and ruin the basic idea in the commercial (as done nicely in the response video I posted above).

    I also think that your interpretation illustrates my basic point, that the so-called liberal writers on change their attitude when it comes to Israel, and adopt the mainstream Israeli view.

    I didn’t know you are an Israeli (I apologize if you are offended in any way), but my general point was about the site, which is written and read mostly by Americans and American-Israelis, no?

  3. 3 Ori said at 6:33 am on July 13th, 2009:

    Regarding Israeli media and this commercial – Cellcom is one the biggest advertisers in Israel, McCann-Erickson are the biggest ad agency in Israel. I’d be surprised if any Israeli news outlet would risk irking them.

  4. 4 Ami Kaufman said at 6:57 am on July 13th, 2009:

    CK – you say so easily “so sure, the interaction happened with a wall in between them”.
    How easy, to say “a wall”, almost like the plaster wall in my apartment, separating my bathroom from my bedroom. This is precisely the alienation from the separation wall and the Palestinian people that this commercial portrays. How sad.

    Ori – I think your point is very important.

    Noam – sorry for the multiple replies, but I feel your post is very important.

  5. 5 Alan Abbey said at 7:05 am on July 13th, 2009:

    First of all, Haaretz’s English website has had two articles on the story. One talked about some FB group opposing the ad – but I couldn’t find the group – then it had a follow-up of Ahmed Tibi criticizing it (surprise – not!).

    We have something on it as well from Shalom Hartman Institute scholar Yair Lipshitz tying in a seasonal (Book of Lamentations) connection:

  6. 6 Ruth said at 2:23 pm on July 13th, 2009:

    An ad is in many ways a creative piece of work like a movie or a video. It is open to many interpretations. I don’t see why the authors have to show the Palestinians in the video in order to conform to some kind of leftwing /progressive point of view to suit your & your group’s ideology. It is ridiculous. It is not racist, or harmful or offensive. You don’t like it, fine. Others find it cute. Don’t be so righteous! It is vey intolerant of view. People are not monsters because they see things differently from you.

    All sorts of people read Jewlicious. I am neither Israeli nor American but I live in an English speaking country. I am Jewish and am drawn to Jewish and Israeli sites.
    Why put down Jewlicious? They are a thoughtful bunch of people. This is not the first time you go after them. They really don’t deserve your scorn.

  7. 7 Ruth said at 2:25 pm on July 13th, 2009:

    It is vey intolerant of view

    OOPS! Spelling! Sorry I meant “very intolerant of you”

  8. 8 ck said at 2:44 pm on July 13th, 2009:

    Thanks for the kind words Ruth, though I don’t really feel aggressed. Everyone’s been pretty civil and everyone is entitled to their opinion. What’s really ironic though is that the advertising company and Cellcom knew this would be viewed as controversial by some. The controversy has served only to fuel extra viewers – like Ami mentioned in his blog post on the subject when quoting Rage Against the Machine “They say jump and ya say how high.” They counted on righteous indignation and all y’all delivered it on a silver platter. As for the separation barrier, only 13% of which is actually a wall, I’m sorry it’s there. But I’m not sorry that I can safely take a bus in Jerusalem now. The endless plaques commemorating the dead, near the Central Bus Station, on Rechov Aza, on the wall near the former site of Sbarro’s at King George and Jaffa, across the street from that, down the street where Jaffa and Shlomtzion Malka separate, by Cafe Hillel on McRefaim street, these all serve as reminders to the reason for the need for such a barrier. Now we have to work on building trust again, and that’s what I saw in this ad. Oh and also, I want a bitchin’ ringtone from Cellcom. But I’m with Orange!! Dang.

  9. 9 Ami Kaufman said at 11:27 pm on July 13th, 2009:

    CK – If you think McCann Erickson counted on righteous indignation and an uproar, I think you might be giving them too much credit. But then again, they’re a big agency, so maybe I’m being naive… :)

  10. 10 Joseph Aparicio said at 8:36 am on July 14th, 2009:

    Wow, no one here knows history. In 1914, Christmas eve, spontaneously both side stopped fighting and had dinner together. The generalsl were terrified and threatened to shoot any soldier who repeated the truce in 1915. The Cellcom ad was very anti-war. You guys are just looking to beat up on Israel and I do not care of you are Israeli or Jewish. You are still a biggeted hate monger. Shame on you.

  11. 11 noam said at 9:01 am on July 14th, 2009:

    Ruth – I agree that the ad –every ad – is open to interpretations, but some are more valid than others. I tried to explain in my previous post why I think this commercial is not only distasteful, but also represent a certain atmosphere in Israel which I find very problematic, politically.

    Disagreeing with something or someone doesn’t make me “intolerant” or “righteous”. I use this blog to express certain opinions and (sometimes) critical ideas. I don’t censor, nor question other’s rights to their own opinions.

    I don’t pick on “Jewlicious”. I think some writers on the site hold double standards when it comes to Israel, while others I sometimes just don’t agree with, plain and simple.

  12. 12 noam said at 9:11 am on July 14th, 2009:

    CK – all the terror attacks you listed don’t explain why Israel chose to build the wall/fence on Palestinian land (and sometimes deep into the WB) rather than on the Green Line, where the world – and most self-hating-Jews included – would have supported it. By building the barrier in the West Bank – thus annexing major parts of land, especially around Jerusalem and Ariel – Israel practically told the world that it has a different agenda.

    If we go back to the commercial, you justified the wall as a necessary evil. I think that the problem starts (but not ends) when you treat it as “fun”.

  13. 13 noam said at 9:14 am on July 14th, 2009:

    Joseph – regarding your WWI analogy, where are the Palestinians in the commercial? it’s not exactly your Christmas eve dinner if you only have one side at the table, no?

  14. 14 ck said at 11:03 am on July 14th, 2009:

    Right Noam. We’ll build a wall blocking access to the Kotel, Mt. of Olives, Hebrew University, French Hill etc. etc. As a sovereign nation, Israel does what it has to to protect its citizenry, not please the world. And you used the term self-hating Jews, not me. The so called wall (again, only 13% of it is a wall) went up and it can come down. It’s not a barrier to peace. You saw the ad as an affront and I saw it as a message, that both reflects the current reality but holds out the possibility of hope. That I find such corniness “cute” is a question of my taste, not my politics, but if you are hell bent on promoting a particular agenda, you’ll interpret anything to suit that agenda… and that’s ok. That’s why we have civil conversations on blogs. More importantly, I’m flattered that you read Jewlicious, even if we don’t always see eye to eye!

  15. 15 Lisa Goldman said at 12:29 pm on July 14th, 2009:

    CK, if you’re going to predicate your argument on the premise that the wall is necessary for security, I have to point out – with all due affection – that there is ample evidence to suggest it’s a false premise.

    Jerry H. has a post HREF=” about the matter on his blog today. It’s solid, which is why I link to it – despite his unfortunate friendship with the dreaded RS.

  16. 16 ck said at 2:27 pm on July 14th, 2009:

    Of course there are other factors involved in the decreased number of terrorist acts in Israel, dearest Lisa. More effective intelligence, less volunteers, the Palestinian civil war etc. But once that wall is completed, we won’t have to worry about a 3rd Intifada. We won’t have to rely on a failure to recruit suicide bombers for our safety. They simply will not be able to get through, period. Because they theoretically can get through now does not mean that the wall is a dumb idea and will not be able to secure our safety. Of course I think I prefer comprehensive and long lasting peace, but till then, better safe than sorry.

  17. 17 Lisa Goldman said at 10:03 pm on July 14th, 2009:

    But CK, according to the article the wall will *never* be completed. The security guys (Shin Bet, et al) say it’s not necessary.

  18. 18 R. Martin said at 10:24 pm on July 15th, 2009:

    Gawd — This is over sensativity.
    The ad has no political agenda and anyone that is looking for one is doing disservice to

    The wall is a fact of life. The separation is fact. What we see are people trying to make the best of it.

    What seems to bother the liberals is no the ad but the fact that the ad depicts the reality

  19. 19 ck said at 12:44 am on July 16th, 2009:

    Lisaleh wrote “according to the article the wall will *never* be completed. The security guys (Shin Bet, et al) say it’s not necessary.”

    Think about that Lisa. Does it make sense? Hundreds of Palestinians illegally cross into Israel to work. There are no suicide bombings because of superior intelligence and a lack of will by the Palestinian people. What do you do if and when that changes? These Shin Bet guys have a crystal ball? They know for a fact that suicide bombers, saboteurs or any other security risks will never, ever happen again? I don’t own a crystal ball. I prefer to have a fence until such time as it can be reasonably determined that it is unnecessary – like after a peace treaty and peaceful coexistence for a number of years.

  20. 20 noam said at 1:12 am on July 16th, 2009:


    I don’t know if that’s what Lisa meant, but as we all know, all the problems with the wall started when Israel decided to build it deep into the West Bank. The wall could have been completed by now, and with a considerable cheaper cost, had it been built on the Green Line. But this way it wouldn’t have satisfied Israel’s territorial aspirations.

    You write: “As a sovereign nation, Israel does what it has to protect its citizenry, not please the world”. But top IDF officials claimed on numerous occasions that the path the wall (or fence – it doesn’t really matter) was build on has nothing to do with security and a lot to do with political and territorial motives. Even the problems in Jerusalem could have been solved without cutting through neighborhoods and streets. And “the missing part” in the wall in E1 is, as you probably know – a result of Israel’s wishes to annex land north-east to the city, thus creating the corridor to Maale Edomim and cutting what should be the Palestinian state into two.

    In the case of the wall/fence, like in the whole case of the occupation, if security (“protecting its citizens”) was the only reason for Israel’s actions, things would have looked very different. Your arguments are similar to the claim the settlements were built out of security considerations – an idea nobody takes seriously anymore.

  21. 21 ck said at 2:54 pm on July 16th, 2009:

    I would modify the term “territorial aspirations” and add “legitimate security concerns” as well. E1 doesn’t exactly cut a future Palestinian State in two (look at a map) and I cannot ever imagine the circumstances that would lead to a successful evacuation of Maale Adumim. Not in the near future anyway. But anything is possible I suppose. I mean we evacuated Yamit and Ofira right?

    I remember my Mom telling me how when her family first came to Israel from Morocco they were settled in otherwise sparsely populated border towns because this made it more difficult for Fedayeen to infiltrate. And it’s harder to cross unseen through a somewhat populated area than it is to cross through an unpopulated area.

    Just sayin…

  22. 22 Hippie Witch Doctor said at 4:55 am on July 19th, 2009:

    The Truth Well Told?