Saturday, June 27, 2009


Circus Israel unveiled a theatrical experience designed to counteract the effect of Caryl Churchill’s controversial play, “Seven Jewish Children.” “Ama Behibak Mishmar Hagvul” (“I Love the Border Police”) combines drama, action, music and our vaunted Jewish sense of humor in a forceful response to Churchill’s distortion of the Israeli Jewish ethos. “This shows the world we are not the callous monsters of some minor playwright’s fantasies,” said Israel’s unctuous President, Shimon Peres. “We are a people of compassion, within the limits of our territorial ambitions.”

In “I Love the Border Police,” members of the BP’s critically acclaimed Entertainment Unit create a comic whirlwind that, for all its belly-laughs, vividly conveys Israel’s enduring idealism. The performance opens and closes with a madcap tour de force featuring a detained Arab slapping his own face. As he repeatedly recites the show’s Hebrew title, a chorus of effervescent police officers urges him to “Say it!” And say it he does, slyly adding “wahad hummus wahad ful,” to set up a piquant rhyme with “Ama behibak Mishmar Hagvul.” “What better connects us to the Arabs than our shared love of hummus?” asked BP Spokesperson Moshe Pintzi.

Although “I Love the Border Police” is undeniably a link in the same entertainment chain as Yiddish theatre and Vaudeville, it was directly motivated by “Churchill’s blatanly anti-semitic work,” declared Pintzi. “I was outraged by ‘Seven Jewish Children.’ Look what she writes. The Jewish parent is happy the bloody child is Arab, not Jewish. No Jew thinks this way! It’s a blood libel that must be answered!”

The BP High Command quickly turned to C Company, its crack thespian unit, based in Jerusalem. C Company was already workshopping “A Little Poison,” a vibrant homage to diversity in the Old City. “Poison’s central theme – “Let every Arab mother know that the fate of her children is in the hands of C Company in the Old City” – carried just the hopeful message of inter-connectedness that Israeli officians could use to negate the cynicism of “Seven Jewish Children.” “`Poison’ was all about being aware of each other,” explained Yuval, a young border policeman guiding a group of Palestinians through an upbeat rendition of “Ful hummus ful, I love Mishmar Hagvul” in their underwear.

The High Command coaxed Major General David Zur from retirement to expand “Poison” into the full-length production that became “I Love the Border Police.” “We already had a treasure trove of material to start with,” said Zur, referring to archival cellphone footage of skits and blackouts developed by BP veterans. Zur was particularly inspired by the wealth of imagery involving blindfolded Arabs. “It spoke to the Arab’s inability to see our real intentions. They’ve been blindfolded, if you will, by people like Churchill that refuse to see Jews as full human beings.”

Zur began weaving together existing material, such as checkpoint identification rituals (“where we’re trying to know them as neighbors”), with the fresh ideas that spontaneously emerge from the BP’s daily activities. “We get pretty bored sometimes,” said a young policewoman, “so we’re always looking for new ways to get Arabs involved in the entertainment.”

For additional creative input, Gen. Zur consulted with IDF Col. Itai Virob, who recently testified to an Israeli court that “a slap, sometimes a punch to the scruff of the neck or the chest, sometimes a knee jab or strangulation to calm somebody down is reasonable.” Col. Virob readily agreed to lend support to the Border Police project. “I’m all about calming people down. Man, I’ll get you so calm we can pick you up with a sponge,” said Virob. “Itai’s suggestions only deepened our exploration of contemporary Israeli thought,” Zur commented. “He’s very theatrical. You can’t help but like him.”

Indeed, the Israeli public loves “Border Police.” "Some of those Arabs can really carry a tune,” said Avi, a freelance DJ from Bat Yam. “It’s like `A Star is Born,’ with stress positions.” For Rabbi Yitzchak Pindrus of Beit Shemesh, the show is “absolute proof of how soft we’ve become. In what Arab country is a Jew sent on his way with just a song and a little slap?” “`I Love the Border Police’ is about love,” said Rachel, a student visiting Israel from Los Angeles with the Taglit-Birthright program. “My boyfriend should sing it to me. I mean, with `Rachel,’ not `the Border Police.’ And fuck you to Obama.”

“I Love the Border Police” is drawing rave reviews from Arab theatre-goers as well. “If you go with the flow, everybody has a good time,” said Marwan, a Bethlehem shopkeeper. “Now I don’t take it so personally when the Jews humiliate me. It’s just Israel being Israel.” Khaled, a Hamas activist, agrees. “I see ‘Border Police’ as thoroughly genuine. It’s all there on the stage.” For Zahira, a handcuffed Jerusalem resident, “I Love the Border Police” is simply “the feel-good hit of the summer.”

A particularly scholarly perspective comes from the Israeli writer and rectal thermometer, A.B. Yehoshua. “Listen, without defined borders, the Border Police must operate in a context of ambiguity. This produces contradictions, which themselves cannot be scrutinized in isolation. But `Seven Jewish Children' is very dangerous to the Jews. It says we act harshly because of the trauma we ourselves suffered. Must we then view the Palestinians in the context of the trauma we give them? I think one can over-indulge the notion of trauma as applied to the other. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about?”

Talk of international awards is already in the air for “I Love the Border Police.” Said President Peres, “a Pulitzer is not out of the question. When you shine a positive light on Israel, you should get the Prize. I did.”

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]