In a rare jab at visiting Diaspora Jews, Israel’s premier satirical television show, Eretz Nehederet (A Wonderful Country), took on Taglit-Birthright Israel during its Monday night season premier.
The program, known for mocking famous political leaders and providing Israelis with topical parodies of the weekly news, included a clip that mocked Birthright, a program that sponsors free 10-day trips for Jews from across the world to tour Israel.
The clip, which follows a Birthright group as they travel by bus through Israel, plays largely on stereotypes of American Jews. It takes a swipe at JAPs (Jewish American Princesses), while caricaturizing overgrown frat boys who get far too excited about anything and everything, Israeli tour guides whose spiel has as much to with instilling guilt as it does explaining Israeli history, and South American Jews whose only interest, as portrayed in the sketch, is debauchery.
Furthermore, the clip is rife with references to everyday Israeli life, playing on the Israeli perception of American Jews as borderline fanatic Israel lovers who cannot seem to get enough of the country’s sites, cuisine, and historical resonance.
In one of the clip’s highlights, the tour guide takes the group on a quick emotional rollercoaster ride. While in transit, he announces a potential trip the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, to which the group cheers unexpectedly. The tour guide manages to calm the participants using a cynical and melancholy explanation of the museum’s significance to worldwide Jewry:
Tour guide: “The Yad Vashem Museum is based on the Holocaust [plays somber music]. We will give you time to be sad, and at the same time you should all send text messages to your parents, urging them to continue donating money to the State of Israel...”
Participants: [Collective bleak nod]
Tour guide: “…so that there won’t be second Holocaust, since the sequel is always worse than the original. “
After the participants enthusiastically agree to badger their parents for funds, the guide proceeds to send around a Jewish National Fund tzedakah box complete with a credit card machine attached to it, urging the participants to donate generously.
Doron Karni, VP of International Marketing for Taglit-Birthright Israel said Taglit was "very pleased" to see that Eretz Nehederet, "the most prominent comedy television show in Israel, has put Taglit-Birthright Israel on the agenda as one of the most important programs in the Jewish world.” According to Karni, the parody is a testament to the way in which Taglit-Birthright Israel “has become so entwined in Israeli culture.”
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