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(photo credit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_CSo1gOd48)
With a single three-minute dance video, two young Israeli women accomplished what the country's public relations officials have been after for decades - gaining an audience of 10 million adoring viewers.
With the help of YouTube, a Web site that allows people to watch and share videos for free, Lital "Tasha" Mizel and Adi "Dishka" Frimmerman have made their lip-synching interpretation of rock group The Pixies "Hey" the fourth most popular video of all time, with 9,993,604 viewers to date.
The 22-year-olds from Ramle have become Israel's most visible representatives on the 100 million viewers-a-day site. Google bought the company earlier this week for $1.65 billion.
"To say we had no idea that this would happen would be an understatement," Mizel told The Jerusalem Post. She said she was even more shocked when her Israeli nationality began to attract negative attention from viewers.
"We were hurt and deeply upset when people began to write comments about the video attacking Israel," she said. "The clip we made has nothing to do with all that. It's just not political, it's a rock song... The universal popularity of the video shows how people all over the world can understand this kind of fun."
There were no global ambitions when they shot the video in Mizel's bedroom during a sleepover more than a year ago - they made the clip as a birthday present for Frimmerman's boyfriend.
With red underwear peeping up over the hemlines of their pants and their shirts cut to fall over their shoulders, the two have inspired filmmaker Kevin Smith to shoot his own tribute video, in which the director of the 1994 film Clerks wiggles his backside and pouts for the camera in imitation of Frimmerman and Mizel.
"I guess if somebody has to represent Israel, it's not so bad that we are doing it through the language of the universally-shared interest in rock music," said Mizel.
Israel's image on YouTube has not been overwhelmingly positive. A search for videos with the subject line "Israel" revealed that nearly half of the first 20 videos to be listed were critical of the Jewish state.
Malkin's video clip showcased well known figures ranging from author Salman Rushdie to Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn who have been attacked for holding "anti-Islamic views." The video shows graphic images of the dead bodies of several people who have been killed because of their opinions.
Malkin says her clip was not pulled because of the violent images - after all, she writes on her blog, war footage from Iraq and Lebanon abounds on YouTube - but because of its political leanings.
As there is no complete record of videos that have been deleted, it is difficult to examine Malkin's allegation. The blogger has started a new group for conservatives on YouTube to popularize videos that advocate right-wing issues.
Meanwhile, a new video-sharing Web site, Metacafe.com, has emerged as a rival for YouTube's popularity with 2.7 million registered users compared to YouTube's 19.6 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. The new site, which was founded by former IAF fighter pilot Arik Czerniak, gained a following during the recent war with Hizbullah with its pro-Israel videos.
As for Mizel and Frimmerman, they are off to yet another video sharing site, sponsored by cellphone company Cellcom. The two are producing and directing a number of clips showcasing their dancing and lip-synching talents.
"I'm not sure if I am going to make some sort of career out of this, but we are really happy for now," said Mizel.
Last month, she received her first e-mail from a Lebanese fan.
"He loved the 'Hey' video," said Mizel. "He said that if both governments, Lebanese and Israeli, saw the video, they would have declare peace." The Lebanese viewer, she said, clearly gets the video.
To watch the video, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_CSo1gOd48.
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