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April 20, 2009

Morning Coffee: The IDF ain't half hot

Did you know that the Israeli Defense Force has a controversial musical comedy dance troupe, find out more from today's Morning Coffee.


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RE "Their song-and-dance number, set to be performed in London at a show commemorating the founding of Israel, has been described as 'retrograde and ghoulish.'"

Dan Judelson of "Jews for Justice for Palestinians" hasn't seen the performance, as far as the article indicates.

He seems to be against any participation by the IDF in a show in London.

Just to be clear, I'm not endorsing the perspective of anyone quoted in the news story.

Regardless of the content of the show, there is something weird and disturbing about the idea of members of the actual IDF doing a comedy act about the founding of Israel. Remember when Karl Rove did that MC Rove rap at the White House correspondents' dinner?

By way of context, I should add that the organizers say the number is similar to the famous nostalgic BBC WW2 comedy Ain't Half Hot, Mum.

A better analogy would be if entertainers in the US Army did a skit about the founding of America as part of a show in London.

That wouldn't bother me, and neither does this.

Regarding Karl Rove rapping, it was disturbing to see government officials and reporters yukking it up.

But if Karl Rove rapped at a Repbulican event, I wouldn't care.

You don't have to condemn the IDF dancers or their performance in order to say that the optics are very odd.

Having the U.S. military do a skit about the birth of America wouldn't have the same loaded symbolism. The Revolutionary War didn't happen within living memory and the modern U.S. military didn't participate in it.

A better analogy would be if entertainers in the US Army did a skit about the founding of America as part of a show in London.

Unless they're going to do a skit about the bombing of the King David Hotel, I think the better analogy is to our own Indian Wars.

Cass -

Who started the 1948 war?

Eric, your reasonable rhetorical question illustrates why it's weird and provocative for official IDF dancers to be doing a comic dance routine about the 1948 war. I don't think the world is ready for the IDF to be putting on light musical theater about that war.

I would be uncomfortable with the idea of U.S. military dancers performing a humorous song-and-dance number about the liberation of Kuwait. Yes, Iraq started it, but that doesn't mean we're ready for a nostalgic romp through Gulf War I choreographed by the U.S. military.

Lindsay: Genevieve and I are addicted to one of Lyube's songs, Kombat. It's good musically, but I imagine it's the theme of the Russian soldier who rapes German women.

Eric: a good rule of thumb about I/P is that if it's already been said before, you shouldn't say it again. It'll just not be interesting. I get enough repetitive talking points about the issue from neoconservatives on the Washington Post and radical leftists on Z.

I'd have to see the Israeli skit or the theoretical US-military-Gulf-War-I skit to either find it funny or unfunny.

Who started the 1948 war?

As in many of the Indian Wars, it's hard to say. The Jews thought they were defending land lawfully given them by a UN mandate. The Arab states thought they were fighting another Western colonial land-grab. The Palistinians knew they were screwed. The reason I compared it to our wars against the Indians was this: the Israelis fought for the interlocking goals of self-defense, seizure of lands and expulsion of the native population; and at the end of the day it turned out very badly for that native population.

Something is being lost in translation here (from British to American).

The IDF dance troupe is not a musical comedy dance troupe.

The only comedy referred to in the Guardian article is a British sit-com of a quarter-century ago about an army theatrical unit in Burma during WWII.

The reference to the sit-com was intended to give a frame of reference in order to make sense of the idea of an army dance troupe. It doesn't imply that the IDF dance troupe's number is a comedy routine.

We have no idea whether the dance troupe's intended performance is supposed to be funny or not. It might be; we just don't know.

Given the IDF's success during its recent foray into southern Lebanon, maybe calling the whole out fit a "musical comedy dance troupe" might be appropriate.

TB, the people who failed in Lebanon are not in power anymore. Please reread my comment to Eric - the trope that the mighty IDF is now fallen is every bit as trite as the clown show about how it's all the Arabs' fault. (Both puns intended).

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