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In the aftermath of its armed interdiction of the Gaza flotilla, the Press Office of government of Israel linked to a satiric video showing Israelis dressed up in a sort of "blackface" as bloodthirsty knife-waving Arabs and activists.

The flotilla skit, which official Israeli government spokesmen still call "fantastic" and "what Israelis feel" by was produced "Latma TV", a group underwritten by a pro-Israel Washington DC think tank, the "Center for Security Policy". It stars, among others, the among others, the Jerusalem Post's deputy managing editor Caroline Glick, and an active-duty reserve IDF soldier, Noam Jacobson.

The Latma TV group also produced an earlier skit starring Noam Jacobson. In that skit, shown in April 2010, Jacobsen literally puts on blackface to portray President Obama. In the skit, "Obama" sings of the "hate in his heart" for the "dirty Jews", his hope that the Koran will rule the world, and his wish to see the Jews thrown into the sea and bombed by Iran.

Links to news coverage of both videos, and to another Latma TV video attacking Rahm Emanuel below.

From the United Kingdom newspaper The Guardian, on the Flotoilla satire:

The [Flotilla] clip, set to the tune of the 1985 charity single We Are the World, features Israelis dressed as Arabs and activists, waving weapons while singing: "We con the world, we con the people. We'll make them all believe the IDF (Israel Defence Force) is Jack the Ripper."

It continues: "There's no people dying, so the best that we can do is create the biggest bluff of all."

The Israeli government press office distributed the video link to foreign journalists at the weekend, but within hours emailed them an apology, saying it had been an error. Press office director Danny Seaman said the video did not reflect official state opinion, but in his personal capacity he thought it was "fantastic".

Government spokesman Mark Regev said the video reflected how Israelis felt about the incident. "I called my kids in to watch it because I thought it was funny," he said. "It is what Israelis feel. But the government has nothing to do with it."

I want to emphasize that links to this video were distributed by the Israeli government, that that government's spokesmen still think it's fantastic and something we ought to see, presumably because they think it will sway our thinking about the Gaza flotilla, and that it was produced by and reflects the thinking of the newsroom of one of Israel's most prominent daily papers.

The video, mocking and demonizing the nine Turks killed by the IDF on the flotilla, is apparently very popular in Israel. So if we want to understand official Israeli thinking, the outlook of Israel's media elite, and the position of many if not all Israelis, this video is something we ought to see.

I also want to emphasize that the Obama blackface was not promoted by the Israeli government. But it also mocks and demeans, implicitly repeating the libel that President Obama is some sort of secret Muslim, and explicitly calling our President a genocidal antisemite. It represents the feelings of the same folks who produced the flotilla video toward the president of what Israel calls its greatest ally. Toward our President, and implicitly toward the United States. It's a video that might make even teabaggers blush.

From the prominent Israeli daily newspaper The Jerusalem post, on both videos:

Noam Jacobson, a 35-year-old musician and songwriter who portrays Mavi Marmara skipper "Captain Stabbing" in the Latma video, said on Sunday that since it hit the Internet he has received a great deal of positive feedback from people, which he says has been very moving.

Jacobson, who performed in the video while on leave from IDF reserve duty near the Lebanon border, said that "the point of the video wasn’t to be provocative. In my eyes what we were saying is the mainstream of the Israeli mainstream. It’s satire and satire that doesn’t aggravate isn’t satire."

Jacobson is one of three actors employed regularly by Latma, and can be seen in previous clips portraying White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel calling himself a "Capo," and in semi-blackface ("autumn-face") as US President Barack Obama, in whose guise he sings of his hatred for "dirty Jews" and his hope that the Koran will rule the world and the Jews will drown in the sea, before calling for Iran to strike Israel with a hydrogen bomb.

Jacobson said he believes that such videos don’t cross the line between good taste and bad taste and "are obviously satire and must be taken as satire, and not word for word. People must take them with a sense of humor."

. . . .

In a posting on her Web site on Thursday, [Caroline] Glick called the video "an important Israeli contribution to the discussion of recent events" and referred to Latma [the web site that produced the video] as an initiative of the Middle East media project run by the "Center for Security Policy," a Washington, DC, think tank where she is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs.

The Obama blackface video: the actor who portrays "Captain Stabbin'" in the flotilla video puts on blackface and portrays President Obama singing about how he "truly hates" the "dirty Jews", wants the Koran to rule the world, and to see the Jews thrown into the sea.

Update: another Latma TV video, this one about Rahm Emanuel, who is portrayed as an anti-Semite who won't acknowledge his Jewish heritage. It's produced by "Latma is fully funded through generous donations from philanthropists to the Washington DC-based Center for Security Policy's Middle East media program".

Originally posted to orthogonal on Sun Jun 06, 2010 at 11:23 PM PDT.

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