It was neat to see the billboards are off of Ilan Pivko’s tower, in Tel Aviv today. The Ayalon Highway is pretty much free from all of the billboard clutter. In light of Ilana’s post yesterday, we thought we’d post this little ditty that we wrote for Heeb Magazine this summer, before they canned their Israel issue (or maybe they were just being polite).
It’s about billboards, it’s about Israel, and it’s about advertising junk seeping into your subconscious.
There is at least one issue in Israel where the extreme left and the far right are in agreement: that the advertising billboards in and around Tel Aviv are repulsive and are infiltrating our consciousness.
A black hat rabbi we know removes his thick glasses while his wife guides him through the streets of Tel Aviv to avoid seeing billboards, like “Have A Nice Ass.”
A green activist we know feels the same: Avi Levi, the head of Green Action – an environmental and social awareness group – has taken his grievances against highway signs posted in three municipalities in the Tel Aviv area and won in court.
Says Avi, “The have a nice ass sign? Yes I know it. It is absolutely disgusting. This is selling the consciousness of people. What do they get? Do the advertisers really want the wall space? No. They are paying for your mind. My mind. For our consciousness.”
Writes Adam Jessel, a therapist from the Modi’in area: “To someone who’s striving for spirituality/sensitivity, these billboards are a very real spiritual danger. Through isolating themselves from the popular media images…the Orthodox community hope to retain a certain sensitivity they feel is lacking. And to a large extent they have succeeded.
“So it’s very difficult for them when they see these increasingly suggestive, increasingly immodest billboards. They are trying to preserve a sensitivity they hold precious, something that they consider essential for spirituality, and they see this as a very real threat. To someone who’s striving for spirituality/sensitivity, these billboards are a very real spiritual danger.”
Adam explains how his late wife once interviewed, for a book, a woman activist who began to appreciate the very observant Jews of Jerusalem. Eventually she became religious, in part, because she found in the religious people a shared opposition to sexist advertising on bus shelters.
Says Adam, “This woman used to go out at night, dressed in black, with other feminist-minded women, to deface or destroy such ads. Then she came [to Israel] and found that Orthodox men were allegedly doing the same thing.”
We love that activist spirit, but we do not condone vandalism.