Many Israelis have always told me that they believe Israel is the 51st state (or is it 52nd after Puerto Rico?!). I heard this story through a friend the other day and now I must relay it to you because it is the perfect example of the “commercialization” and “Americanization” of Israel.
The friend, who shall remain nameless, was walking down Ibn Gvirol around the Kikar Rabin (Rabin Square) area in Tel Aviv when she noticed a huge H&M billboard. In the sign, a woman is popping out of her turtleneck. Underneath, the Hebrew words, “Sof sof, we’re here.” Slowly, slowly, the international budget-phenom brand H&M makes its way to Israel and its fashion capital, Tel Aviv.
The billboard directly opposite it in the same area is one by Castro, one of Israel’s most popular clothing retail chains. One that hasn’t yet made a dent on the international scene…and perhaps it never will. The sign shows a woman lying in a field of flowers. You can’t see her face clearly. But underneath, the Hebrew letters read “We are the people of the city.”
Looks like Castro is quite nervous about the incoming of H&M. Looks like they are truly afraid of getting pushed out as Israel’s most popular retail brand. More so, it sounds like they are angry over the “Americanization” of Israel and want to hone in on the fact that they are truly “Israeli.”
With the inception of stores like Gap, FCUK, and H&M making their mark on this tiny Middle Eastern country and the fact that Israelis know the English language quite well, watch American and English-speaking TV and movies, often hope to leave the country, and overall, yearn to dress and act like Americans, perhaps stores like Castro are afraid that these Israelis are losing their identity. The essence that truly makes Israelis what they are today.
The culture I love and the reason I moved to this country.
Should we be afraid?