Mom and Dad are cousins: Online humor provides escape for Israelis

An Israeli Facebook page makes fun of online stupidity while giving beleaguered citizens some comic relief.

People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo. (photo credit: REUTERS)
People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There is a famous ancient Hebrew saying that "Hakol Bidey Shamayim" which means "Everything is in the Hands of God". When things don't always go your way, you can get comfort from the fact that we do not understand everything, and there are things in God's plans that we humans will never comprehend. However, when someone posted his new tattoo with the verbatim translation of the phrase as "All immediate sky"… well… he became a new viral post on the very popular Israeli Facebook page "ce'she ima ve'aba bnei dodim" –  "When mom and dad are cousins".

This is one of Israel's most popular Facebook pages, and also one of its most controversial ones. The creator of the page searches numerous Facebook groups for photos and posts, and selects the most hilarious ones to put on his page. The common ground of all of these posts is that they don't display much intelligence, to say the least.
The page's "About" section reads: "This is a humorous page, and does not claim that the parents of the people who are featured on it are actually relatives, though if they happen to be - that is super cool!"
With more than 334,000 page likes and counting, we approached the page's founder Ofir, who chose not to expose his full identity, to try to understand the magic behind the page, and why we like to make fun of people as a national sport here in Israel.
Jerusalem Post: What can you tell us about yourself?
Ofir: My name is Ofir, I am 41 and I live near Tel Aviv. I grew up in Jerusalem but moved to Tel Aviv after the military. I have three amazing kids, a wonderful wife and a spoiled cat that doesn't let me sleep at night. I work for an international online gaming business in Herzliya as a head of department.
Why the secrecy?
Well, for starters, I am not the focus of this page and therefore should not be in the spotlight. I'd rather that the platform be the central focus and that people talked about the humor and not about myself or my preferences or personality. I am not a celebrity and I very much enjoy staying in the shadows. Second, there are a few people out there that dislike me in a very profound way. After all, something they wrote was posted on the page and people made fun of them. I am sure it is a very unpleasant experience, and while most of them were just offended, some of them might do something stupid we would all regret.

When did you open the page? Why did you start it?
I opened this page almost two years ago, in October 2014. The idea was to provide a platform for this kind of humor. I mean, you come across stupid people all the time and most of the time it's really annoying. But in my understanding, this [annoyance] is something you choose to feel. Rather, you can look at things from a different angle, using humor. This is something I try to do often, I think it makes your life better as a rule of thumb. Otherwise you take yourself too seriously, and if there's something I am really afraid of, it is taking myself too seriously.

Were you surprised by the success?
I never thought it would be nearly as popular as it has become. My intention was to put together something that could be the subject of jokes at the office, not a page that is so deeply involved in what is happening over here and is getting so much attention. In that respect, it surprised me a great deal.

What do you think is most special about the page?
I think that the page is super popular, but so are many other pages. What makes this page different is the fact it has managed to build a whole community of people around it, people who show interest in this kind of humor and follow this page on a daily basis. We have shared so many punchlines together so far that we now have a special language we use on the page, it's fun.

(Many times, the comments of the followers of the page are even funnier than the original posts. The sign should be translated as "Danger! Pits in the road", however the Hebrew word for pit "Borot" can also translate as "ignorance.")

What kind of reaction do you get from other users?
I get all kinds of things – great compliments from people who really like the page and feel they want to contact me on the chat and tell me personally, but also people that do not find the concept of this page amusing at all. At least once a week I also get a query from someone whose parents are cousins, saying there's nothing wrong with them and that I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself. Some also tell me I should consider changing the name of the page so it's less insulting to them. This is awesome stuff, really.

Isn't your page kind of a "shaming" page? Isn't it kind of laughing at people who make mistakes?

Not really. First of all, we hide the names and faces of all people involved. This is something we learned on the fly – people are more comfortable making fun of people whose identity they don't know. It's actually very interesting. On top of that, we really try not to pick on honest mistakes people do. It is the way people think that fascinates me, not simple typos. And if they don't bother to think at all, even better.

(Would you choose to study with these mathematics teachers?)

Is the success of the page an indicator that at the end of the day, people just like to make fun of others?
I wish it were, and I would actually be much more comfortable if it were indeed the case. I am not sure it is. I think that people in Israel actually need this break in their daily routine, to get off the roller coaster we are all on and share a quick laugh. That's all. They make fun of something because they could use the laugh, not because they are mean or want to be mean.

A proud aunt decided to show her love for her nephew in a very odd way.
Was there anything you deleted or regret posting because of complaints or feeling that you may have crossed the line?
Yes, there have been cases I became aware of information about the subject of a certain post after it had been published. Look, I am not running a court or a slaughter house, the intention here is to have a laugh, and if I receive information that things have gone out of control or that a certain individual might take it in a very bad way, I remove the post. With great power comes great responsibility, and I am aware of that.
Did you think about shaming anti-Israel, Anti-Semites around the world? Did you ever do that?
I do not consider fighting haters one of the objectives of this page. The things I post have to be funny. I want people to like them in a humorous way, [I don't want to] invoke more tension or further dispute. We have enough of that over here. I wouldn't want to compete with the government in arousing bad feelings. Anti-Semites are not something that worries me at all.
Some of your posts show that not all Israelis know English very well, and have some funny translation fails. How common is that?
I don't like making fun of people that do not know English well enough. My English is not perfect either and even if it were, it doesn't give me the right to make fun of others. The same way I don't think anyone that knows history better than I do can make fun of my knowledge in history. However, if you realize your English is poor, why would you post things in English or even tattoo phrases in English you are clearly unfamiliar with on your body? If your tattoo guy's English is as poor as yours, well, you are very likely to end up doing something really stupid. And I feel very comfortable making fun of this – not your English, but the fact that you are being a pretentious idiot. That is your choice and it comes with a price.
(Magically the phrase "accessible route" became "Beyond disabled" due to the Hebrew word "ma'avar" (route) that can be read "me'ever" which can be translated to "beyond.")

Is there any way of getting any money from the success, or is it just a hobby for you?
Not really, the terms and conditions of Facebook are very strict. I am not here for money, I have a great job. This is more for the soul, really.