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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Extremely Poor Taste

I posted last week about an advertisement for Machane Mitgalgel, based on a fellow blogger's description of the ad. This week, I actually saw a copy of the ad (left) for myself. And it's in far worse taste than I could have imagined. From the copy:
1. The trip begins August 2007 in Israel.
2. After a few days of orientation, we will leave on small yachts to Cyprus, where the British held detention camps for the Jews.
3. Once there, we will spend a few days reliving the experience.
4. We will then backtrack on the yachts to Israel the way the Ma'apilim did 60 years ago, experiencing first hand what it felt like coming to the Promised Land.

Where, oh where, do I even begin? Perhaps with this line:
we will leave on small yachts to Cyprus, where the British held detention camps for the Jews...Once there, we will spend a few days reliving the experience.
Which experience, exactly, will the campers be reliving? This one, from a description of the appalling conditions that these refugees had to endure in the Cyprus detention camps?
Conditions in the camps were quite harsh, especially for mothers of children and babies. The tents and barracks were overcrowded, there was no privacy and families had to share accommodations with single persons. The insufficient supply of water, particularly in the hot summer months, caused sanitary conditions to deteriorate and led to skin diseases and infections
(photo of Jewish Holocaust refugees in a Cyprus refugee camp at right).
Something tells me the only skin ailment these yachting campers will be suffering is a little sunburn.

Or perhaps the line about "backtrack[ing] on the yachts to Israel the way the Ma'apilim did 60 years ago" is what irked me about this ad copy. Just for comparison's sake, here's a description of the conditions the Ma'apilim actually faced on the boats to Israel:
Picture the scene [of those Jewish war refugees seeking entrance to the Holy Land]. This journey extends to 14 days. Fourteen days and nights in vessels which are hardly seaworthy, lying on what amounts to little more than wooden planks. These planks are layered narrowly, placed one on top of the other, so that those lying on them are absolutely unable to reach the sitting position. They are forced to lie flat, looking upwards at the next wooden plank. And here they lie for two full weeks, with little enough food or water, scarcely venturing up on deck, no medical help, and barely enough air to breathe.
"Just the way the Ma'apilim did"? Huh. And in case the differences between the two journeys aren't quite clear enough, the camp provides a picture of a rusting, hulking ship with scores of immigrants amassed, waiting to board, and helpfully contrasts it with an image of a luxury yacht, complete with backdrop of azure sky and cerulean sea. To be perfectly explicit, the images are captioned "then" and "now" (because otherwise, of course, we might not have been clear as to which boat was being advertised as the camp's conveyance of choice).

So does this ad show extremely bad taste in the way it is suggesting that a luxury yacht trip will somehow give these campers a taste of what the journey of these holocaust survivors must have been like? In my opinion, it is. If this is a luxury sightseeing tour, just say so. But don't profess to be allowing these campers to "relive" the experiences of a group of holocaust survivors, fenced into a detention camp with horrible living conditions, barred from their homeland, forced to endure far more suffering and hardship than a yachting trip can ever recapture.

Feel free to put your own take in comments.

48 Comments:

Anonymous momof2 said...

Definitely not in good taste. When I went on March of the Living, no one said I would be reliving the death marches of the holocaust victims. I agree that this is an offensive ad. Especially the picture of the gorgeous yacht.

1:31 PM  
Blogger The Town Crier said...

After last week's post, i took a screen shot of the ad from the 5t pdf and planned to write about but of course never got around to it. Good that you brought it to discussion - i think its quite peculiar how people feel the need to "sell" a program this way - thought i doubt the young people participating would have had a chance to even hear of the history otherwise.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post sick ad

1:58 PM  
Blogger MDmom said...

it's one thing to take a windjammer-like cruise to get a feel for the sailing the open seas. it's another thing entirely to couch it in "walking, or sailing rather, in the footsteps of." there is no way kids that are coming from homes that can afford to send them on this trip can even begin to fathom what it was like.

3:42 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

there is no way kids that are coming from homes that can afford to send them on this trip can even begin to fathom what it was like.

I agree. Not that being wealthy is in any way a crime - just don't sell this trip to these kids as a in any way a "reliving" of a particularly difficult time in Jewish history. It's demeaning. Call it tourism. Don't presume that these kids will be "experiencing first hand what it felt like coming to the Promised Land". They will NOT be experiencing what it felt like for these refugees, I can guarantee that much.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your point is well taken, Orthomom. Just an FYI, Reform Jews have been doing this sort of distasteful "relive history by eating ice cream in Prague" trip for 30 years:

http://www.nftyisrael.org/summer/LdorVDor.html

5:12 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Send your Shayfele to Machne Bergen Belsen

We Put the "Camp" in Concentration Camp!

Relive the Holocause Experience during four glorious weeks of sunshine, sports, and a half a day or learning EVERY DAY. Cholov Yisroel!

Register today for Machne Bergen Belsen for the Summer Experience of a lifetime!

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

still wonderin'
Please, please don't do that again. The ad was in bad taste, but you were offensive! You thought you were making a point but instead you made light of a very tragic period. I want to be dan l'kaf zechus so I'll just hope that you were misguided in how you expressed yourself.

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Azamat said...

I had some comments aginst this on your last post.
I'll wave the white flag for now but, just for the record:
If the ad for this camp is in poor taste, the comment above by "Still Wonderin'" is worse.
Sorry, it's just not funny.

9:00 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

Baruch Hashem there are people out there who are able to spend freely. But, I find it interesting that businesses feel it necessary to market their product to a certain set of Shomer Shabbat Jews by selling them on a "religious experience."

9:05 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"The ad was in bad taste, but you were offensive! You thought you were making a point but instead you made light of a very tragic period."

no need to be dan l'kaf z'chus. I did exactly what you think I did. After all, I could care less about the ad ... the whole camp is offensive.

Some genius opened a yachting camp for overindulged Jewish kids. Kol Hakavod.

But packaging the camp in a way that exploits and trivializes the suffering of those who endured that experience is offensive.

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i still maintain the same thing that i posted when you originally brought up this topic.
"i think a lot of you are being cynical. While this is no "march of the living",this program definitely has some good points to it. Having these kids be confronted with the actual history of ppl who fought to found the state of Isreal up close and personal can be a major inspiration for them. who cares if they'll be doing it in the lap of luxury or if they'll be roughing it? it makes no difference how they do it, but if they come out of it with a clearer understanding of an important time in our recent hisotry, more the power to them. "

an SW-- "the whole camp is offensive. Some genius opened a yachting camp for overindulged Jewish kids."
why is that offensive?

9:30 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

an SW-- "the whole camp is offensive. Some genius opened a yachting camp for overindulged Jewish kids."
why is that offensive?


Whaaa? Nevermind.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its no diff than the jews who go to florida on pesach for 20000 dollars and then say in the hagadah zecher litzias mitzraim.......lets not bash others before we see that those others r your next door neighbors or yourselves

10:41 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"lets not bash others before we see that those others r your next door neighbors or yourselves"

Whatever you say. Just don't hurt your self getting down from your soapbox.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

still wonderin.....i guess u are one of the contributors to te kosher pesach experience

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SW-
you don't see my question? you say that "Some genius opened a yachting camp for overindulged Jewish kids" and that it is offensive. can you clarify which part is offensive to you? while i wouldn't dream of sending my kids on such a trip, i am not the least bit offended by the over-indulgence. live and let live, i say.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"while i wouldn't dream of sending my kids on such a trip, i am not the least bit offended by the over-indulgence. live and let live, i say."

Well, good for you.

...and have fun on your yacht. I'm sure you'll learn a lot about the post WWII refugee experience.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, SW, you're not getting what i'm saying.

i say:
" I wouldn't dream of sending my kids on such a trip"

and you reply:
"and have fun on your yacht. "

wrong answer to the wrong question.

and you still haven't answer my orignial question:
you say that "Some genius opened a yachting camp for overindulged Jewish kids" and that it is offensive. can you clarify which part is offensive to you?

1:31 PM  
Anonymous tw said...

Young Judaea used to run a trip with a similar premise, but perhaps more historically accurate.

For a first-hand acct.-- http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vie/Khaskelis.html

2:25 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

It's offensive that you feel the need to write 7 comments defending absolute stupidity and challenging mine. Get a life. Pretty please?

3:23 PM  
Anonymous SW is offensive said...

"It's offensive that you feel the need to write 7 comments defending absolute stupidity and challenging mine. Get a life. Pretty please?"

Maybe he's "challenging yours" just for the heck of it -because its your comment. The most offensive thing about all of this is your own comment above regarding the concentration camp. You take offensive to a whole new level.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Look, you're right. I didn't mean to be so offensive. I just thought the Holocaust was some kind of hot dog condiment. I thought concentration camps were some kind of memory-building summer programs.

If I had know it was such a tragic period in Jewish history, as you so generously informed me, I wouldn't have said anything. Be assured it will never again happen.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I assume the yachts will be lice-infested, and when the kids land on the beach in Israel, they will be taken to Atlit and doused with DDT.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous the sane anon as before said...

"It's offensive that you feel the need to write 7 comments defending absolute stupidity and challenging mine. Get a life. Pretty please?"

firsly, it was 3 comments.
secondly, yes i felt the issue warrented 3 comments from me defending what i don't believe is "absolute stupidity". why is that offensive to you?
thridly, if you notice, i never challenged your "stupidity" nor do i think your position is "stupid". misguided and pettey, yes, but stupid? no.

and lastly, you STILL never answered my original question:
you say that "Some genius opened a yachting camp for overindulged Jewish kids" and that it is offensive. can you clarify which part is offensive to you?

5:19 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

""Some genius opened a yachting camp for overindulged Jewish kids""

Funny how you get all worked up over a question that you raised only because you didn't read what i had to say carefuly enough.

First, i wrote:

"Some genius opened a yachting camp for overindulged Jewish kids. Kol Hakavod.

Then I wrote:

"But packaging the camp in a way that exploits and trivializes the suffering of those who endured that experience is offensive."

So you see, my stupendously sanctimonious friend, your question makes no sense and has never made sense, which is why I never answered you. OK?

And I count 7 comments. All the comments arguing with me are from you, Mr. USDA Kosher Inspector.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SW-
"Mr. USDA Kosher Inspector. "
huh?

aneeeeewways,
i agree that it is in slightly poor taste, especially the ad, HOWEVER, i still think that if this is the little snippit of jewish history that these kids are having tossed in their direction, then fine. when i toured israel for the first time at 17, it was with a tour that was well known for its comforts. let me tell you, being in the lap of luxury did not in any way diminish the awe at seeing what the maapelim did in places like gush etzion, etc.... in fact what i t did do was allow us all to take pause at what we so easily take for granted.
so like i said before, can we live and let live a little?

yours truely,
your stupendously sanctimonious friend

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

I was fully prepared to be disgusted by this ad, but after reading it carefully, I have a different theory: I believe this is first and foremost an example of bad, over-simplified writing.

For example, the writer seems to use "re-live" as a synonym for "learn about" or "gain insight". The sentence structure is awkward in several spots and doesn't utilize the kind of parallel structure that generally characterizes a professionally-written ad. The vocabulary is a bit strange, too. I know virtually nothing about sailing, but I've never seen the expression "small yacht" used. I suspect there's a more accurate description of the kind of vessel they intend to sail.

$3600 plus airfare for a summer "experience" is plenty obscene as far as I'm concerned, but no more so than many of the "must-haves" in frum circles.

The ad just seems like a "nebach case", as my kids would say -- the product of someone who really *should* have paid for a professional's touch.

11:17 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


The ad just seems like a "nebach case", as my kids would say -- the product of someone who really *should* have paid for a professional's touch.


Lol. Interesting theory, and definitely seems a plausible one,

11:18 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

fox, i think you're being far too charitable.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Ariella said...

Sephardi Lady hit on exactly my point of objection in the original post "Yachting to the Promised Land" at :http://kallahmagazine.com/WordPress/?p=309

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever actually sailed on a "yacht?" I mean the sail-powered kind pictured in the ad, not the big luxury things shown in the James Bond movies.

Yeah, it's true that sailboats are something that rich WASPs do, but, as a boat owner I know once told me while we were sailing Chesapeake bay, "It's the most expensive way in the world to travel third class." Quarters are cramed, any electric devices have to be battery powered, so their use is rationed, it's a bit dangerous (they call that spar the "boom" for a reason.) A sailing cruise is by no means a luxury cruise.

That said, the concept is a bit tacky. Surely the organizer could charter a older ferry and pack it as close as possible to legal capacity. It might be be 100% authentic, but it might give people a bit of the flavor of the experience.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So here I am adding my comment. I am the one with the bad taste, as it is my ad in the paper. I probably should have spent the money or the time to get the ad more polished; however, I find most of the comments to be cynical if not hypocritical.
A few people picked up the idea, of having fun, but also learning at the same time. There is nothing wrong with having a good time, and if the kids can learn about one of the dark periods in Jewish History, why not??? To give someone a taste, does not mean you have to put them in the exact same situation.
The price is extremely low, when you actually check and see what a yachting course costs in the US, add the 10 day trip after that in Israel, and then compare to any other program being offered in Israel. So to all those who like to sit back and kvetch, go ahead, but your kid, could be missing out on a once in a lifetime experience. BTW, the March of life, started in a similar way, and now is a must for all high school kids in Israel.

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