Thursday, July 05, 2007

Highly Offensive? the Sabra shaheed drug warning issued by the government

The anti-drug abuse lobby here has come up with a disturbing spot, a mock suicide bomber video in which a slack-eyed Israeli druggie about to get wasted tells his mother "Don't worry, Mom. I am going to heaven."
Most broadcasters are refusing to air it because they feel it is in such bad taste. The heavy-handed public service ad is shot with all the stylistic hallmarks of a Palestinian suicide bomber's martyr video, down to the angle of the bottle, gripped like a gun.

Such shaheedi tapes and posters, as seen here, get plastered all over Gaza and the West Bank.
For many, they are a visceral reminder of the second Al Aqsa intifada campaign, which targetted Israelis between 2000-2005. Around 430 Israeli civilians died in blasts on buses or in cafes, and 83 IDF troops died inside Israel. (Contrast this with the more than 3000 Palestinians killed by the IDF in Gaza or the West Bank during the same period, according to statistics from the Israeli NGO Bt'selem)

The anti-drug authority's advertisement ran in Maariv and Yedioth, big-circulation newspapers in Hebrew. It reads: "The hero Omer Kendel, 16 years old, mixed vodka and ecstasy and went to blow himself up at a party in Tel Aviv." Along the bottom, in a curly font that imitates Arab calligraphy, it says "Drugs and alcohol taken together is suicide," and lists a crisis phone number.
The video is even more tasteless. "My name is Omer Kendel, 16-year-old from Ra'anana," the boys says. "I bid goodbye to my parents Vered and Shmuel and my sister Karen and go to a party in Tel Aviv. There's only one way to be truly free: To get drunk, take drugs, get hammered. Don't cry, mother, I'm going to heaven."

At least seven young Israeli teenagers have died this year from a lethal hard liquor/soft drug combination and authorities want kids to heed the government warnings. Haim Messing, who directs Israel's anti-Drug Authority, said:

"None of the campaigns we've done in the past proved effective. We understand this is a difficult clip but if we save someone – we did our job. We were too subtle in the past, today's youth is not interested in stories and lectures. I don't care if they'll be angry at me."

The government's spoof campaign tries to ram home the point that combined with binge drinking, taking drugs is self-destructive. Duh. Critics say that these ads are a travesty and upset the general public, because they insult the surviving relatives of hundreds of terrorists' victims. Certainly, this is the polar opposite of the approach taken by the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is contemptuous of drug-takers (ie You disappoint me!)
Many Israelis are disappointed in this tacky campaign that is paid for by their tax shekels.

1 comment:

hornet said...

How dare the Israeli government use the Jamaican flag as a backdrop for the mock suicide drug video. Cryin' like a lion in Zion, man. This is just not cool.What happened to good vibes and Jah-rusalem.
A disgrace.