Israel cartoon 'Ahmed and Salim' paradies Islam, but some aren't laughing
April 26, 2009
Dion Nissenbaum, McClatchy Newspapers
JERUSALEM – Ahmed and Salim spend hours in front of their computer posting crude updates on Facebook and playing Wii. They jam with Guitar Hero and watch bad American sitcoms. They bicker and call each other names.
These stars of an incendiary new Internet cartoon series also try to bomb Israeli buses, gun down Jewish girls and incinerate crowded cafes. In the three months since their debut, their caricature of Islamic extremism has attracted a cult following in Israel.
Its creators and fans see a humorous series that resembles the TV cartoon South Park – at least visually – and mocks terrorism. Its critics see a series that uses stereotypes to dehumanize Muslims.
"What they do is strengthen old stereotypes of the Arabs and Muslims as radical and stupid and terrorists," said Yizhar Be'er, the executive director of Keshev, an Israeli media-monitoring group. "These episodes are so full of hatred that if an Arab did this about Jews, immediately the Anti-Defamation League would make big noise about it."
ADL officials in Israel said they hadn't heard of Ahmed and Salim. However, Phyllis Gerably, director of the group's Israel office, said it sounded "counterproductive."
The United Arab Emirates has banned Ahmed and Salim, and Palestinian bloggers have denounced it. YouTube removed one of the first six episodes and warned the creators that it could ban the series if new episodes are too offensive.
Created by two Israelis, 21-year-old Tom Trager and 20-year-old Or Paz, Ahmed and Salim are the petulant pawns of a rabidly anti-Semitic father who's constantly trying to send his sons off on terrorist missions that inevitably go awry.
In their three-minute debut, which has been viewed more than 600,000 times on YouTube, the boys' father complains that his sons haven't gone off on a suicide mission and killed lots of Jews.
"Why can't you two die already and make your father happy?" the father says before shooting one of his many veiled wives in a fit of rage.
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WARNING VERY STRONG LANGUAGE