ISRAEL: Commenters react to move to block Hitler parodies

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[Updated at 8:47 a.m.: An earlier version of this post’s headline said YouTube commenters were reacting. The comments were made on Hebrew news sites in response to reports about the blocking of the YouTube videos.]

Noah Flug will no doubt be glad to see Adolf Hitler parodies gone from YouTube. A year ago, the chairman of the Center Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, sent a letter to YouTube, demanding a clip be removed. The offense in question, actually, was an Israeli addition to the growing collection of spoof-clips based on that one scene from the 2004 film ‘Der Untergang’ (‘The Downfall’), depicting Hitler’s last days in the bunker.

The Hebrew subtitles show the Fuhrer fuming about parking in Tel Aviv, a sentiment widely shared by residents. The parking rant was one of a series of Israeli-made parodies that had Hitler blowing his stack at a whole range of standing gripes in Israel, from having to shell out for too many weddings to soldiers enjoying cushy desk jobs, Jerusalem hangouts closing too early and the infamous traffic jams leading to Israel’s only ski-site. And of course there’s one responding to the Holocaust survivors’ complaint too. Really, fumes Hitler, that was 70 years ago already. ‘I thought the Jewish people had a sense of humor, that this is how they survived for 5,000 years.’


The hundreds of thousands of Israelis (the parking one is most viewed by far) who watched the clips -- many of whom left approving comments and thumbs-up -- (there were others too) suggest that enough Israelis hanging out on YouTube did find them humorous. But for many others, funny stops at Hitler. Some might be willing to accept the parodies done by others but don’t see how Jews could contribute to them. Either way, the move to block them stems from copyright reasons and not offensive content concerns.

Dozens of readers posted comments to the reports in Israel of the move to pull the videos. Some questioned the copyright logic: ‘The people who write the captions don’t make a profit, they make parody.’ Others cited free speech: ‘It is a legitimate parody, and a pity that freedom of expression is being hurt in this way.’ Some said the clips were the reason they saw the movie and wondered how the makers would concede such free public relations.

But others yet were happy to see them go. ‘The truth is that it is not funny at all,’ a reader named Leah commented on the popular website Ynet. ‘He was a monster. Have we gone mad to turn this man’s character into a funny one?’ she asked. Commenting on the same website was ‘002': ‘It’s a disgrace that they haven’t already been removed,’ he/she said, outraged that Israelis had taken part in this gag to begin with. ‘These are irresponsible kids who chose to entertain themselves at the expense of the people who suffered the most horrific events in our history,’ wrote ‘002'.

-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem.