Latma, the Hebrew-language satirical media criticism website is ending its
weekly web-based satirical newscast, The Tribal Update, after 200 episodes. The
show’s cancellation, due to the financial burdens of production, has caused an
uproar among its many fans.
Latma was founded in 2009 by Caroline Glick,
The Jerusalem Post’s senior contributing editor. Latma, which means “slap” in
Hebrew slang, has been a pioneering voice for Israeli public diplomacy and in
advancing the public debate in Israel.
“Latma’s mission,” Glick
explained, “is to be a cool, fresh, entertaining voice for Zionism, and for the
majority of Israelis who are tired of the leftist elite that use all the power
at their disposal to put down the public’s values, attack the legitimacy of the
country, and of Israel’s national rights. We’re tired of seeing them pillory and
weaken public servants who try to advance these values and these
For four years without interruption, The Tribal Update, a
web-based television program pioneered the field of Zionist entertainment and
satire. It developed an unapologetic, Jewish voice, previously unheard in
Israeli entertainment or media, in which for the first time, leftist cultural
icons were the subject of biting, often hilarious criticism.
Update created archetypical characters, like Tawil Fadiha, the Palestinian
Minister of Uncontrollable Rage; Halil Majnoun, the Egyptian Minister of
Conspiracy Theories; John Zelokoreli, US President Barack Obama’s Adviser for
Reality Perception; and Yaniv Googleheimer, the head of the Israeli peace
movement, two suicide bombers Jamil and Awad who “do jihad,” and dozens of other
characters that will likely go down in the pantheon of Israeli
The Tribal Update was broadcast in Hebrew. Versions with English,
French, Russian and German subtitles were regularly produced. In all, it was
regularly viewed by hundreds of thousands worldwide.
The Tribal Update
first rose to national prominence just months after its initial launch when, in
Sweden’s leading newspaper Aftonbladet, published a blood libel accusing IDF
forces of killing Palestinians to sell their organs. The Tribal Update produced
a musical parody of Abba’s hit song, “Gimme, gimme, gimme (a man after
midnight),” referring to the Swedes as cultural fakes who attacked Jews while
seeking to appease radical Muslims. The song was the first time an Israeli group
used satire to assault anti-Semitic attacks on Israel. It was widely reported in
the Swedish and wider European media, all of which expressed amazement at the
Over the years, The Tribal Update produced dozens of
similar musical hits. The most prominent among them was the show’s first foray
into English- language production.
“We Con the World,” a parody of
Michael Jackson’s and Lionel Richie’s 1983 hit, “We Are the World.”
Con the World,” was produced three days after IDF naval commandos boarded the
pro-Hamas ship Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010. With the support of the Turkish
government, the al-Qaida-linked IHH group had set sail for Gaza to provide aid
and comfort to Hamas-ruled area. The commandos who boarded were attacked with
knives, metal rods and other weapons by the terrorists on the deck of the
Rather than report the facts of the incident, the European, US and
international media condemned Israel and portrayed the terror-supporters aboard
the ship as peace activists.
“We Con the World,” which depicted the
passengers as knife wielding terrorists and hippies was picked up by news
organizations worldwide within moments of its launch. It received more than 6
million views, and fundamentally changed the international discourse regarding
what happened aboard the ship. It won Latma renown throughout Israel and the
Jewish world as the most effective voice for Israeli hasbara, or public
Despite the accolades, no government ministry offered to
support Latma’s work or cooperate with the group.
In July 2010 Glick met
with Channel 2’s leadership Avi Nir and Ilan de Fries to discuss the prospect of
producing The Tribal Update for the station. Yet, according to Glick, rather
than hold a discussion, both men attacked at her for criticizing the Israeli
media, which they claimed has no leftist bias.
Later in 2010, Israel
public television Channel 1 contracted Latma to produce a halfhour pilot
program. The pilot was submitted in early 2011.
committees approved it and the production of The Tribal Update as the station’s
flagship satire program.
However, negotiations were frozen.
subsequent two years, Latma’s program was submitted and approved for broadcast
on three additional occasions.
Time after time, it received the approval
of the relevant committees at Channel 1, most recently in May 2013. However, to
date, Channel 1 has not opened contractual negotiations with Latma.
with Minister Gilad Erdan planning to close Channel 1 altogether, prospects for
launch in the foreseeable future appear remote.
“The leadership at
Channel 1 has been very positively inclined towards Latma for years,” Glick
said, “and over the past year, they led me to believe that it would just be a
matter of months until ‘The Tribal Update,’ would be launched in prime
“To prepare the show for imminent broadcast, we expanded the cast
and the production team, putting in place the staffing construct we would
require to move from a 10 minute Internet broadcast to a half hour television
show. But so far, despite the promises, we have yet to receive a
In the meantime, the cost has become prohibitive.”
has been funded entirely from contributions to the David Horowitz Freedom
Center’s Israel Security Project.
Glick directs the project.
lion’s share of Latma’s operating budget has gone towards The Tribal
With the cessation of its broadcast, Latma is to continue to
function. It is to expand its website’s written reportage, and combine smaller
scale, low budget video production with its broader operations as a written
platform. These operations are expected to be largely financed by local donors,
from funds raised through microfundraising operations on crowd-sourcing web
portals. It plans to be raise capital through web advertisements that would be
sold on the refurbished website.
Latma is to begin functioning as a
for-profit production company, using its considerable skill on a work for hire
“It all comes down to financing,” Glick observed. “My vision for
Latma is revolutionary.
I want to replace a socially marginal elite, that
does not reflect the nation’s interests or the public’s values with an elite
that does reflect them.
“I recognized that the Left’s enduring strength
in politics in Israel, despite the public’s utter rejection of its policies and
values, owes to its monopolistic control over the media and entertainment
industries. To change the face of Israeli politics in a manner that reflects the
values and interests of the majority of Israelis, it is necessary to give a
voice in the worlds of media and entertainment to the majority.”
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