Ahmed Tibi joins opposition to Cellcom commercial
MK Ahmed Tibi has joined the chorus of voices calling for cell phone company Cellcom to pull its latest commercial, in which Israel Defense Forces soldiers are seen playing soccer next to the West Bank separation fence. Tibi's letter joins several similar requests from Arab lawyers, while the ad itself has generated much criticism in the Israeli blogosphere. "The barrier separates families and prevents children from reaching schools and clinics," Tibi told Reuters. "Yet the advertisement presents the barrier as though it were just a garden fence in Tel Aviv." Opposition to the commercial has also spawned a Facebook group.
The ad, produced by McCann-Erickson, shows an IDF patrol traveling along the separation fence when their jeep is hit by what turns out to be a soccer ball. The soldiers kick the ball back over the wall, from where presumed Palestinians (they are not shown in the ad) kick it back again. A game ensues over the barrier. The voice-over at the end concludes: "So what is it that we all want? Just a little fun. Cellcom Media, come on in." The ad was criticized by Israeli bloggers for insensitivity to the Palestinian predicament.
Cellcom responded by saying "we do not deal in politics; we're a communications company that connects people. The message of the campaign was that when people of any religion, race or gender want to communicate, they can do it in any situation. We have received many positive responses to the ad. The campaign was not intended to hurt or cynically offend anyone, or to take any political position."