Rafael Advanced Defense Systems goes from Bollywood to Paris

June 17, 2009 - 9:05 AM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Israeliness 

Just four months ago, co-blogger Nicky wrote about the abhorrent video that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems made for Aero India 2009. It’s a gem of a video and not to be missed. However, what was maliciously maligned in blogosphere was apparently fairly popular with the Indians. According to a comment on Wired’s Danger Room:

Regarding the “beyond-awful Bollywood-themed music video” …A friend of mine who works in Refael told me that the people from India Govt loved that clip, every minute of it. Nobody was offended. Refael presenters handed CD copies of the clip in a weapons show and everybody took one. I guess it served it’s cause but some other people around the world decided to get offended for India.

Thankfully Rafael listened to their clients and not to anonymous commenters in the blogosphere and have once again produced a much anticipated follow-up which made it’s premiere at the Paris Air Show. Unfortunately this one does not include a French troubadour singing sad French songs about chemical warfare, but rather a mime. Yes, a mime. A MISSILE DODGING MIME. The mime has a hard time dodging falling missiles (projected on the screen behind her), but thankfully Multi-Layered Air Defense Umbrella (in this case and actually umbrella) is used to protect herself from the projectiles. Not only does she protect her self, she openly mocks the missiles. Classic.

Israeli arms dealer goes Bollywood – uh oh

March 11, 2009 - 2:37 PM by · 11 Comments
Filed under: Blogging, Business, General, Movies 

Sometimes, just now and again, a YouTube video comes along that is so crummy, that it’s almost a masterpiece. Dubbed the worst marketing movie ever made by the blogosphere, an honor it undoubtedly deserves, this piece by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has got to be one of the most ill advised advertisements an Israeli company has ever made.

Undoubtedly, if you’re a defense company it must be hard to keep coming up with new and interesting ways to sell your products. I mean how many ways can you sell a missile?

Rafael execs decided they had to do something different, and so for last month’s Aero India 2009 show, they took their weapons, sprinkled them liberally with a seasoning of Bollywood and voila! A Bollywood-style movie featuring a man (Israel), and four dancing girls (India) in full Bollywood costumes dancing between a range of Rafael’s phallic shaped missiles.

I guess most missiles are shaped like this, but it’s not usually something you think about until you see men and women skipping suggestively between them.

The women sings: “I need to feel safe and sheltered. Security and protection. Commitment and perfection. Defense and dedication.” And the man chimes in: “I promise to defend you, fulfill your expectations. Shield you and support you. Meet my obligations.”

And the unforgettable chorus to this meaningful exchange? “Dinga dinga dee…”

Oh dear, oh dear.

The truth is Israel’s defense relationship with India is pretty darn strong these days – Israel recently became the country’s main defense supplier. And the government-owned Rafael is in a particularly good position. Just last August Rafael and Israel’s IAI signed a joint $2.5 billion deal with the Indian Ministry of Defense.

After a period of circling one another tentatively, the two countries have realized they have much in common – particularly in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack last November.

But that still leaves us with a question. Whatever possessed Rafael to make this movie? It’s a question Saurabh Joshi of the Web site StratPost asked a company representative at the Rafael stall. He was told that the video was intended to “help build familiarity between India and Israel and Rafael.”

Not everyone sees it like that. On Wired’s Danger room blog, Noah Shachtman called it “the most atrocious defense video of all time.” While on the blog DEW line, Stephen Trimble, called it a “catastrophic collision of Bollywood and the arms industry, and dared his readers to watch the video “and, if you’re able, immediately erase the awful tune from your brain.”

It’s harder than you think. Dinga dinga dee.

A new front in Lebanon?

January 8, 2009 - 1:38 PM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: coexistence, Life, Politics, War 

I must admit, when I went to buy milk this morning and saw the TV in our tiny village makolet (corner shop), tuned to the news and a picture of the Lebanon and Israeli border, I felt a deep sense of foreboding.

I think it’s what we’ve all been frightened of. That the battle in the south, will lead to a new front in the north. As we are all aware, those four or five Katuysha missiles fired at Nahariya this morning, wounding two people, could be a one-off protest, or they could be the opening salvo of a much worse conflict.

A katyusha attack on Israel.

A katyusha attack on Israel.

I’m one of those people living in the center of the country who have managed to be untouched by either the last Lebanon war, when missiles rained down on the north, or the Gaza crisis, when missiles rain down on the south. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard, however.

This morning I felt it acutely – a kind of moral and emotional exhaustion at the thought of what has been, and what is still to come – with Hizbullah, if not now (with elections in Lebanon in May), then later; and with Iran, looming.

I’m not alone. This morning Larry Rich, the director of development and PR at Emek Medical Center (EMC) in Afula, sent out one of his periodic postings. Every month or so, Rich sends out a report from his hospital, and I always read them with interest. Sometimes it’s about something he overhead, or witnessed at the hospital, often its heart-warming tales about Israeli Arabs and Jews who find that in the face of illness and sometimes death, they share an awful lot more in common than they thought.
This morning, Rich – like me – was in somber mood.

“Two hours ago four Katyusha missiles slammed into the northern Galilee, having been fired from southern Lebanon. It seems that the Iranian forces of darkness are eager to continue their relentless provocation of little Israel. Nobody knows, as these words are being written, just how far this latest act of unprovoked aggression will escalate.”

He goes on to report that EMC is now on high alert.

“An urgent meeting of our emergency preparedness staff led by CEO Dr. Orna Blondheim (still grieving from the tragic death of her nephew, Dagan Vertman, cut down in Gaza) took place as the debris in the Galilee was being cleared. Having unfortunate knowledge stemming from previous wars, EMC is preparing for the worst while hoping that sanity will prevail.
We have opened our bomb shelters and already designated a large shelter adjacent to several empty rooms that will be used (should we need it) by the children of our staff while they are working.

The rooms will be for games & activities while in the event of a missile assault, the children will be only steps away from a large bomb shelter. Our emergency medical supply stores are fully stocked and ready. Our physicians and nurses carry on with their healing, hoping that they will not be, once again, launched into harm’s way.

Adrenalin is rushing, anxiety sets in and we resign ourselves to an indefinite fate.”

A few days ago, the husband of a friend of mine volunteered for the reserves. He’s in his ’40s, and the father of four children. He was sent to the Lebanon border, where troops have been on alert since the start of the conflict with Gaza. “At least he’s miles from the fighting,” she told me then. I saw her briefly this morning. She looked worried.

Finding hope in the Gaza conflict

January 5, 2009 - 7:56 AM by · 3 Comments
Filed under: coexistence, General, Life, Politics, War 

One of the gifts of working for an organization like ISRAEL21c is that even in the midst of conflict and crisis, we get the rare privilege of seeing another side of the story.
In the last difficult week, when the images on TV and in the newspapers were so negative and heart wrenching, we still heard stories about ordinary Israeli Jews and Palestinians working together in an effort to bring reason, peace and humanity to the Middle East.
One of the most touching stories to emerge during this current terrible war was the tale of a tiny baby boy from Gaza called Jafar.

Born a few weeks ago with serious heart defects, his Palestinian doctors knew that he couldn’t survive without surgery. They phoned Dr. Akiva Tamir, an Israeli doctor they knew from the Israeli charity Save a Child’s Heart, and together the Israeli and Palestinian doctors raced to bring Jafar to Israel.
On Monday of last week, while missiles rained down on Gaza and southern Israel, Israeli doctors from Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv volunteered their time, and performed surgery on the small boy. His grandmother was there waiting for him when he was transferred to intensive care.
Jafar is still at the hospital. He is recovering well. His heart surgery was a success. He joins a growing number of Palestinian children – 1,000 so far – who owe their lives to the volunteers at the wonderful charity Save a Child’s Heart.
Sometimes, like so many people here, I worry that this battle between Israel and Hamas will never end, but it’s stories like these, of individual Israelis and Palestinians working together and thinking far beyond the conflict that give me hope that one day things will be better.

War in Gaza: Which Way Will the Dreidel Fall?

January 4, 2009 - 5:09 PM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Israeliness, Politics, War 

gaza-tankOur friend Joan called last night just as the news broke that the IDF had begun its ground operation in Gaza. Joan was panicked. She knew a number of families in our neighborhood who had boys in combat units. “Why are we doing this?” she said. “Can’t we pull them all out now?”

My first reaction was detached, though certainly not uncaring. I had been obsessively following the geo-politics of the last week’s aerial bombardment of Hamas. While inspiring in its precision and speed, it was clear a ground operation would be ultimately required for Israel to achieve its objectives. The duration and effectiveness of the operation would in large part depend on internal Israeli decisiveness, as well as how Israel responded to world pressure to submit to a cease-fire. My initial thoughts, then, were more like those of a strategic analyst than a parent.

Joan’s call, though, reminded me of the very real dangers for the Israeli troops now heading into booby trapped roads and hidden bunkers where Hamas terrorists lie in wait. I thought of my own children: 17-year-old Amir who will be drafted as early as six months from now, and 10-year old Aviv who has eight more years to go when, we all pray, there will be no need for any re-occupation of Palestinian territory.

But what choice do we have? Israel has stood by for close to a decade now while rockets have rained down on its southern cities and towns. Children in Sderot have grown up in fear, sleeping in bomb shelters, watching their homes blown up and their friends killed while Israelis around the country feel emasculated and impotent, their government unable (or unwilling) to act.

Now the rockets from Gaza have reached Beersheva and Ashdod. In another year of unabated smuggling, they could conceivably reach Tel Aviv and even the outskirts of Jerusalem. Should we just wait, maybe accept another temporary cease-fire? Our enemies certainly won’t be standing still.

There are many who say Israel cannot win this war. That the result will be just like the ill-fated 2006 war in Lebanon where Hezbollah emerged triumphant and emboldened. That Israel hasn’t truly prevailed since 1967.

That’s not entirely true. As David Horowitz wrote in The Jerusalem Post over the weekend, “Operation Defensive Shield, carried out in the spring of 2002, was a carefully planned and effectively executed attack on the Palestinians’ suicide-bomb infrastructure in the West Bank that remade our reality in the years ever since.”

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