We all know IDF soldiers march to a different tune. And now, thanks to YouTube,
we can all see just how different that can be. Earlier this month, the talk of
the town – first in Hebron and then, courtesy of the Web, throughout the global
village – were Israel’s dancing soldiers.
The six highly trained Nahal
soldiers from the Hod platoon of the 50th Battalion stepped out of line and
began shooting – shooting a destined-tobe viral video, that is. The clip, under
the title: “PALHOD 50 Rock the Casbah in Hebron,” clearly shows the troupe, I
mean troops, breaking into a choreographed dance routine, dressed to kill, or
rather kitted out in helmets and flak jackets to prevent them being killed, as
they patrolled an empty street in Hebron. Kee$ha’s “Tik Tok” provided the
The soldiers stepped on some toes and took some flak: In the
context of the Middle East conflict almost no move, let alone something
including a mix of “The Macarena,” “The Chicken Song” and “Tik Tok,”
Predictably there were those who immediately accused them of
dirty dancing. Some of the talkbacks went ballistic, going as far as
them of dancing on the blood of innocents, which just shows you that
hearts and minds is a mission impossible.
stations in countries including Britain, Belgium, Australia, New
US, India and Brazil, couldn’t resist the temptation to show the clip
least one broadcaster declared the soldiers “cute.” So we haven’t hit
While some Palestinians were quoted as complaining that the
music of the dawn patrol dancers woke them up, a Yediot Aharonot
the dance was filmed at 7 p.m., in a quiet area, and was taken in one
without music, with a commander calling out the steps according to
In Israel, incidentally, the song is better known as “Shir
” (The clothes folders’ song), from a series of skits on the
satire program, starring two apathetic salesgirls who go
when shoppers mess with the neatly stacked clothes.
soldiers were not dancing for joy, but neither do they have any regrets,
that the clip, which was meant as an internal joke marking the end of
compulsory military service, was broadcast globally before they had been
demobilized. Those who didn’t see the humor in the clip should keep in
as parting shots go, it could have been much worse.
I doubt that this is
what Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein had in mind when he
program encouraging individuals to take the initiative, but
comes to battling an image problem, the soldiers were, in their
probably more successful than much IDF-produced video material.
won’t get a chance to get too big for their boots, however.
As soon as
their end-of-service gag stopped being a secret, the soldiers knew they
have to face the music.
In the words of the IDF Spokesman’s Office, “Two
squad commanders who were involved in the video were summoned for
They took full responsibility for the act, and its severity and
were explained to them.”
However, OC Nahal Amir Abulafia obviously
realized there’s no need to make a song and dance out of everything. He
to impose an educational punishment and ordered the two to produce a
the help of the relevant IDF unit, instructing soldiers not to repeat
behavior. The dance, it seems, will not become a routine part of IDF
With most of the Hebron street dancers now out of the army, they
might have time to watch what is billed as the “Battle of the Year,
2010.” It turns out that while most of our attention has been focused on
life-and-death issues of military successes and failures, the country is
gradually becoming a major player on the international breakdance
The Seventh International Street Arts Festival, which has been
taking place this month, will culminate on July 28 in Rishon Lezion with
for a chance to represent the country at the World Breakdance
France later this year. (Info at www.breakdance.org.il and
According to Dvir Rozen, CEO of Street Art Productions and the Israel
Organization, a number of soldiers every year participate in the various
megaevents and Israel has already won several international awards in
“The Israeli participants bring a special creative mind-set to the
competitions, with their own unique flavor, and are motivated by a
of Zionism. They want to show the world that though we’re a small
here,” says Rozen.
The in-your-face-Zionism is evident in the name of one
group considered among the favorites for the Battle of the Year
Flava, whose South African-born, serving soldier Raphael (4Eyes) Nathan
profiled in the Post in March.
Rozen invites the demobilized Nahal
soldiers to get in on the act but concedes they need more practice if
going to star outside of the army.
For the performance of their military
careers, however, I salute them.