‘It’s a Hasidic World’?
‘Haaretz’ writer visits schmaltzy Disney ride, is flummoxed
Haaretz writer Alex Sinclair recently took a fun family trip to Florida’s Walt Disney World—and wound up flummoxed by the representation of Israelis on the “It’s a Small World” ride. Like the dolls representing every other country—Brits get Beefeateers; the Italians gondoliers—the ride’s animatronic singing Israelis are represented with childish but not really offensive caricatures. Except that Israelis are portrayed by a Hasidic bride and groom, which, while recognizably Jewish, aren’t so much representatively Israeli. Sinclar is unamused. “While not every Briton dresses like a Beefeater, not every Italian rides a gondola, and not every Japanese wears a kimono, the activities and costumes of these dolls would probably be seen by Brits, Italians, and Japanese, as an agreeable and consensual symbol of their country,” he says, while “the Jewish dolls represent a highly specific demographic sector that is neither reflective of, nor seen as symbolically representative by, the national collective.” But Sinclair also sees the Disney Imagineers’ trouble: he can’t even think of what a proper costume would be for an Israeli doll. (He proposes, and dismisses, the idea of an IDF soldier as “depressing and pathetic.”) It all brings up an interesting point: Israel’s just too young to be quaint. Its entire history is new enough and unsettled enough to count as contemporary politics. But who knows: if Israel and Disney World are both still around in 200 years, maybe IDF soldiers will seem as quaint as Beefeaters.
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