Thursday, March 3, 2011

Israeli Pin Ups?

Sure, Israelis are a bit of a fetish, particularly amongst American Jews (just start a a Google Image Search for Israeli Soldier, and it helpfully suggests Hot Israeli soldier, and Israeli soldier girl.) Maxim magazine went so far as to dedicate a whole photo-shoot to them. Still, I was a bit surprised to get an email from Gal Bondarevski, one of the members of the Bondarevsky creative family promoting Pin Up TLV.

Pin Up TLV, according to Bondarevski, combines the 'everyday art' and mass impact medium of Pin Up art, with patriotic feelings of Israelis and Jewish worldwide. He explains that the idea is not to take things seriously, but to filter the images through a lens of irony and humor.

Looking through the gallery of images, located at, the pictures are effectively split into two groups. The first are based a (potentially unintentionally) ironic Catholic School Girl outfit, embossed with some pithy tag line like 'Kiss me, I'm making Aliyah'. The second fall into the following category:

Girls in combat uniforms, brandishing Barettas, sexualizing the Israeli military apparatus.

It is an interesting tactic. When the rest of the Jewish establishment has moved from fetishizing Israeli military power and the tough Sabra mentality, to focus more on Israel's economic and technological achievements, Pin Up TLV goes in the opposite direction.

Aside from choosing specifically to portray an aggressive military pride, with captions like, 'Don't Fuck with the Israeli Navy', something feels intentionally awry in these images.

Interestingly, neither of the two models used fits the 'stereotypical Israeli' look; olive skin, dark features, extremely long, usually curly, hair. Instead, if I was forced to place the girls as representative of a 'geographic look', I would say Russian or Slavic. The outfits more closely resemble Halloween costumes, potentially adding to the irony of the fact that the light gray brand notes '100% made in Israel'.

As American Jews looked to Israelis as representations of everything we wished we were; tough, tanned, assertive, there is something to be said for taking these images and forcing us to confront them, particularly as some of those same traits are being increasingly criticized in anti-Israel circles.

If the Maxim shoot was our proof-read love letter to Israeli women of the IDF, maybe Pin Up TLV represents more of the wild and unpolished ideas, sometimes making us proud, sometimes scaring us with their implications.

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