Let’s take a break. No violent topics today. A recurrent topic in this website is the unbearable resemblance of the Israeli society to George Orwell’s 1984. No matter how horrific the events surrounding them are, Israelis spend most of their time in a fantasy world where cartoon characters—sometimes disguised as not very shrewd politicians—distract them from their wretched reality. The reason for this digression in the website activity is that on March 12, 2012, Israel chose its logo for the London 2012 Summer Olympics. This followed a feral battle that lasted months. For those expecting more serious topics from me, I beg you to read until the end.
Baby Bamba Summer Olympics 2012 Israel Logo
Kishkashta | Shpitzik
Srulik—Diminutive for “Israel” “Tembel” Hat
Last summer, the Olympic Committee of Israel had asked the public to choose the team mascot, out of five proposed cartoon images. In December, the public picked Shpitzik (“pointy” in a mix of German and Russian-Hebrew) the prickly pear. The German-named mascot (right in the above image) very much resembled Kishkashta (“you spoke nonsense” in Hebrew, left in the same picture) the prickly pear presenter of the program "Mah Pitom" (literally: “what suddenly!,” Hebrew idiom for “no way!”). The latter was a very popular program of Israel’s Educational Television in the 1970s. Prickly pear is so surprisingly popular there since its name in Hebrew (“tzabar”) is used to denote Israeli Jews. The prickly exterior of the plant represents the harsh speaking style of Israelis. Unexpectedly, the Educational Television sued the Olympic Committee for the theft of their idol. The Tel Aviv District Court ruled in the network’s favor. The Olympic Committee was forced to stop using Shpitzik’s image, and to pay Educational Television NIS 50,000. Humiliated, the Olympic committee took no more chances. They turned to Baby Bamba, Israel’s eternal secret weapon.
Interlude: Sex, Zion and Olympics
London 2012 Zion
This wasn’t the first time Israel made news with respect to the London 2012 Olympics. Showing a typical aspect of their culture, most Hebrew speakers find the following issue amusing rather than embarrassing. For unclear reasons, the Hebrew term and name “Tzion” (one of Jerusalem’s mounts, pronounce tzee-ohn, “ee” short, “oh” long) has been transliterated into English as “Zion.” As pronounced by English speakers, it is closer to a Hebrew word meaning “sexual intercourse” than to “Tzion.” Maybe this symbolizes the actual relations between Zionists and Anglo-Saxons. Following the lead, the Hebrew term for “Zionism” is “Tzionut” (pronounce it like “Tzion” and add “oot”), if following the same transliteration method, the result would resemble the Hebrew word for “prostitution.” Any additional comment is superfluous. Accordingly Iran has complained that the London 2010 Logo spells out a funky “Zion,” look at the picture and decide for yourself.
Following its public humiliation, the Olympic Committee turned to Osem, one of the largest food producers in Israel, asking them to sponsor the Olympic team in exchange for the team using Baby Bamba as its logo. Osem sells every month 12 million bags— more than the entire country population— of a peanut flavored snack named Bamba, which features a baby as its logo. This is probably the most beloved snack of Israeli children. Following top-secret talks, Osem agreed to pay for the honor an undisclosed sum. Compare the snack package to the right with the new logo at the top of the page. Those with a good memory and a long-term fascination with my website will jump at this point and exclaim “Obamba!”
Bamba Popular Israeli Snack
In 2009, I published President Obama Racially Attacked in the Hebrew Media. The article analyzed the on the left. It displays the package of Bamba with a few highlights:
1. The name reads now “Obamba,” a clear combination of Obama and Bamba
2. Above the company logo it reads "Special Issue for the US Elections.”
3. The Hebrew word for “snack,” (“hatif,” “h” as “ch” in “loch”) also means “that can be kidnapped.” Did the author mean that in the ideological sense? It seems so since,
4. A small text at the bottom reads “under the control of the B.D.Tz.” The last is the inner judicial court of the Haredim.
5. This specific taste variety of the snack does not exist. The difference is that in the fake picture, the peanut flavored snack is filled with nougat cream. Since the basic taste of Bamba is salty, I doubt such a product with nougat cream would be ever developed. There is no pun in the picture, unless it refers to racial issues. This opinion is strengthened by the fact that the baby’s skin color was changed from white on the original product to black in the fake one. Moreover, in the 1980s, a nougat cream filled chocolate (named Rosemarie) was released into the Israeli market. It was advertised by the black supermodel Naomi Campbell. Since then, a linkage between skin color and that product was created in the Israeli mind. President Obama is not very popular in Israel, it seems somebody was delivering a subtle message here.
Most American readers are probably chuckling at the picture and the entire issue. Worse things have been published elsewhere. To them, I want to clarify two points. First, a similar attack on the Israeli Prime Minister cannot be published in the Israeli media. It would be censored. Second, if it were published by, let’s say, Al-Jazeera, they would be blamed (and sued) for being anti-Semitic by the ADL or some other similar organization.
Overall, it seems we are witnessing a calculated, and long term media attack with the help of recurring cartoons which are considered effective; in advertising, babies are considered major attractors. Yesterday, Baby Bamba was pulled out of its international anonymity for a second time in three years; the cute baby—appealing mainly to a North-Atlantic public—would make sure the team will have positive press, especially when placed next to the “Zion” logo of the games. “Zion-baby is cute,” is the message people around the world will get. This is a Logo War complementing the War on Terror in odd directions. Israel seems to be using this in the delivery of very specific messages. In Israel, racism is relative, and snacks can be weapons.