Former President Shimon Peres and his “What will Shimon Peres do now” video have taken over Facebook. It has continuously appeared at the top of my news feed since Monday. Full Disclosure- I have watched it ten times. Ok… more, but I have laughed every single time. And this is not the first time that Peres has been a Youtube hit. In 2012 he starred in a music video remixed to have him rapping a song called “Be my friend” to promote his Facebook page.
And he is by no means alone. For years there have been those who have found ways to look at Israeli society, with all its complexities, with a humorous twist. From the comedy trio Hagashah Hahiver’s classic stand-up skits like “Bezeq Shalom” to the latest remixing of Hamas’s war song: “T’kof, ta’ase bigu’im” (loosely translated: Go, commit attacks), Israelis have found endless ways to come up with sharp, shrewd humor.
Shimon Peres’s job search is true “Israeliness”- the typical unimpressed employment officer, the impatient driver at the gas station, and the pizza take away complainer. Then you have “Shimon,” who knows how to answer back to it all in the way only he can; as the distinguished Nobel Peace Prize winning world leader who promotes nanotechnology while working as a security guard at the entrance to a government office.
It is the same “Israeliness” that can be difficult to fully define in a few words, but is best exemplified in everyday Israeli culture. It is what allows a CEO to come to work in jeans and button shirt instead of a suit and tie, and why the Prime Minister is referred to simply as Bibi as often as he is referred to as Mr. Prime Minister. It is what allows an El Al flight attendant to give you unsolicited advice on academia, and why you invite you local hummus guy to your wedding (true stories).
It is what allows Israel’s citizen no.1 to laugh at himself.
So- Mr. President, or Shimi P if I may- let me say kol hakavod! Bravo on being the most senior person I know, in age and rank, to take over Facebook and make us laugh once again. We needed it!