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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Baruch Dayan HaEmet.

It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that Israeli culture officially passed away 22:20 last night with the release of the following information to the press:

"Hooters to open branch in Israel

US restaurant chain Hooters, known for waitresses in low-cut blouses and short skirts, will open its first branch in Israel this summer, in the Mediterranean seaside city of Tel Aviv.

"I strongly believe that the Hooters concept is something that Israelis are looking for," Ofer Ahiraz, who bought the Hooters franchise for Israel, told Reuters on Monday. "Hooters can suit the Israeli entertainment culture."

At Hooters, scantily clad waitresses the company calls Hooters Girls serve spicy chicken wings, sandwiches, seafood and drinks.

Ahiraz said a specific location in Tel Aviv, Israel's most cosmopolitan city, had yet to be chosen, but he said it would not open restaurants near large religious populations, and they would not be kosher.

He said his plan was to open as many as five Hooters restaurants in the next few years, including one in the southern resort city of Eilat."

As many of you know, Israeli culture has been ailing for for many years and had successfully fought off such deadly foreign infections as $trabuck$, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts and Hard Rock Cafe.  But it seems that the onslaught of pathogens from abroad was just to much and Israeli culture finally succumbed.

Israeli culture will be sorely missed by family and friends. 

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Beit HaTfutzot Museum.  A candle-light vigil is planned some time after midnight at Sima's on Rechov Agrippas in Jerusalem.

Posted by David Bogner on March 20, 2007 | Permalink

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Hey, I like KFC and Dunkin Donuts.

If you want to complain, complain about McDonalds.

Yehuda

Posted by: Yehuda Berlinger | Mar 20, 2007 2:09:20 PM

I agreed with you completely on the post about the ambulance. But this time I have to disagree. I am observant, but I happen to think the beautiful thing about living here is that, for the most part, the religious can co-exist next to the ultra-secular.

Assuming they don't get carried away, and stick with their statement that they won't place a restaurant near a religious neighborhood, I say more power to them.

And is the real problem with McDonald's that they're treif, or that the food is inedible?

Posted by: dfb1968 | Mar 20, 2007 3:18:22 PM

Yehuda Berlinger... This isn't about liking or not liking something. I enjoy Burger King. I don't mind McDonald's. they are even kind of a novelty since I can enjoy kosher versions of them in many Israeli cities. But Hooters is more than just fast food. They exemplify just about everything that is (IMHO) wrong with the US; fatty, unhealthy foods (served in enormous portions), heavy-drinking frat-boy culture and the reduction of women to base descriptions of their body parts. Is that really the direction you think Israeli food/drink culture should be heading?

dfb1968... This isn't a religious/non-religious issue (although I can see how you would jump to that conclusion). It is about a young country with a fledgling cultural identity that has bravely fought off most(but not all) of the American and European fast food chains that have tried to make inroads here. Those that survived are those that made at least passing concessions to native Israeli tastes. But slowly but surely Israeli culture has become so eroded by the constant onslaught of foreign culture that it is quite literally dead. All you have to do to get confirmation of this is see how the eating habits of Israelis have changed over the past two decades and how the Israeli waistline has started to look remarkably similar to its bloated American and European cousins.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 20, 2007 3:38:56 PM

"heavy-drinking frat-boy culture and the reduction of women to base descriptions of their body parts"

and this would be different than Eilat and Tel Aviv of the last three decades how...? Heck, I can name a street or two (*ahem* based, of course, only on reputation *ahem*) where Hooter's would be a step up.

I do know what you mean, though: there's something touching about Israeli pride in their own in-country achievements (although how anybody can drink Maccabi "beer" escapes me), and it's a bit depressing to see the outside world encroaching in.

Posted by: efrex | Mar 20, 2007 3:49:37 PM

David,

I'm a long time reader but don't always comment. This time I'm obliged to chime in. There's nothing wrong with having a Hooters in TA. The chicken wings are great, the beer is cold and the atmosphere is fun. OK, so the waitresses maybe a litle more scantily clad than you might appreciate but, hey, you have a choice. You don't have to patronize the place. There are others who would welcome just this type of establishment. To say that Israeli culture died simply because a restaurant franchise that you don't care for is opening up a bit of a streach and disingenious. Lighten up and let the business run its course. You may be right in the end and it may fail or you may be wrong and it will be a hit. Either way, it's nothing personal, it's business

Posted by: Allan Rousso | Mar 20, 2007 3:58:28 PM

efrex... Yes, of course there are neighborhoods that are less than wholesome here as anywhere else in the world. But these are not seen by anyone as cultural touchstones or something to strive towards. And yes, I agree... Maccabi is not very tasty. I prefer Boddington's.

Allan Rousso... While I'm always happy to see people de-lurk and offer a comment, I have to point a few points where we part ways: 1) This was meant (at least partially) as ironic. Sorry that wasn't clear; 2) I have no doubt that many "others who would welcome just this type of establishment." Does that mean a string of Hooters franchises around the country won't further erode what remains of Israel's tattered culture? No. We often embrace things that are not good for us. Cultures are no different; and 3) I don't quite understand your suggestion that someone who expresses concern over the erosion of Israeli culture simply 'lighten up' and see what happens. That doesn't sound like a very wise course of action for individuals or cultures. Oh, and while we're at it... when you say that "it's nothing personal, it's business." That sounds eerily like what one hears just before a different kind of 'hit'.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 20, 2007 4:20:33 PM

I guess that's the price of globalization... or is it?? The only reason those businesses are opening up in Israel (and elsewhere) is because their owners have reason to believe they'll be welcomed and the businesses will become successful. That welcoming says much more about Israeli/any other culture than the opening itself does. There's nothing stopping Israel from developing its own rival business and own culture that would be more appealing than American... the question is, why isn't that happening?

Posted by: Irina | Mar 20, 2007 4:53:13 PM

I have a feeling this hooters will fail just like alot of the other merican" resturaunts that have oened in the past, and then gone out of business

Posted by: Ed Abramovitz | Mar 20, 2007 5:22:38 PM

Well David, we agree to disagree. Israeli culture has a lot to be proud of. Look around you. The Bima, a thriving music scene a film industry that creates thought provoking introspective movies, what's so culturally eroded about that? Israeli culture, like every other culture, is adaptable. It is influenced by and adopts the parts of the Western and Eastern cultures it identifies with. It also influences other cultures. Unfortunately, the days of dancing the Hora in the streets are long since gone. Israel is an integral part of the global community and as such is influenced by and influences others. Israeli culture is far from eroded. Morality, now that's a different story.

Posted by: Allan Rousso | Mar 20, 2007 5:23:36 PM

I saw the story about the opening of Hooterim and pretty much figured it as a non issue.

But that was because in my mind the change that you are upset about happened years ago.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 20, 2007 5:35:33 PM

(waitresses in low-cut blouses and short skirts)

Na, they are in tee-shirts and shorts. And not all the severs are women. I have seen guys also. To tell the truth a lot of the women customers have less on than the waitresses. I had the same thoughts as you about this restaurant before I went to one. They have the best wings ever. You should try it just once and then blog on it. Yup its a challenge.

Posted by: Ak Craig | Mar 20, 2007 6:36:03 PM

Hmmmm ... hopefully it won't keep abreast of Israeli tastes and fade soon into a distant mammary.
(Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Posted by: Yaron | Mar 20, 2007 6:41:37 PM

my heartfelt sympathies.
(tee hee)

Posted by: weese | Mar 20, 2007 7:07:45 PM

Deepest sympathies and apologies. :-\

Israeli culture will be missed indeed.

Posted by: Mercurial Scribe | Mar 20, 2007 9:39:27 PM

I am mostly impressed with the fact that you are a customer of Sima's. It is a great place isn't it?

Posted by: savta yaffa | Mar 20, 2007 10:15:13 PM

Ugh. As an American I feel the need to apologize. Somehow America seems to be one of the few cultures that exports the most base aspects of our culture in large quantities while simultaneous bumbling the exportation of the best parts of America.

Posted by: Fern R | Mar 20, 2007 11:04:13 PM

:ook at it this way - perhaps it will help with Israeli tourism and perhaps promote Aliyah. Afterall, think about all those horny teenage North American boys on their summer tours and high school programs.

Woo hoo, no drinking age and the hooter girls.

Posted by: jaime | Mar 20, 2007 11:10:10 PM

Hi Dave AKA Trep,

I'm not sure what to think about this...

On one hand, you make a great point that Hooters is a very base organization that appeals to men's lesser aspects...

On the other hand, Israel as plenty of other crude and craven businesses, which come and go dpending on how the society supports such businesses... that's why the joke about a fellow named Ben Zonar remains funny...

It's certainly easy to NOT spend money at the place...

There's a Russian saying that in every joke, there remains a kernel of truth.

Perhaps, it's far better to have a Hooters than yet another Gush Shalom organization?

Personally speaking, I have only eaten at a Hooters once and I strobgly disliked the food (too greasy and had a drekkish tatse). No amount of pretty curves in the world can change the poor taste of the food.

And I don't see Israeli batchelors swarming to Hooters for an eyeful when they can see much more on a Tel Aviv beach.

Just my nickle, friend...

As a side note, Dave AKA Isreally Cool also mentioned this moment of much gravitas (or at least gravity):

http://www.israellycool.com/blog/_archives/2007/3/19/2818742.html

Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | Mar 20, 2007 11:54:13 PM

I think it should be shomer shabbat and have BaDa"tz Hashgacha (on the wings) and stay open just long enough for everyone to try it at least once then go back to the grill joints on Agrippas.

Posted by: Shmiel | Mar 21, 2007 1:53:51 AM

hmm... :(

Posted by: tnspr569 | Mar 21, 2007 2:11:30 AM

On principle, I'd like to disagree with you more often, but here I must agree again.

On business in Florida, many moons ago, co-workers drug me into a Hooters. It felt creepy and weird. If going to a strip club is your thing, go. Everything there is up front. You are there to see naked women. There is no hypocrisy, no ridiculous camouflage for your intentions. Hooters is just a sad place where sad men go to get "good food". Just like they read Playboy for the articles.

Give me a break. C'mon American South. Would you please give us something to justify your ridiculous and hypocritical culture?

Posted by: christopher | Mar 21, 2007 8:36:39 AM

"There's nothing wrong with having a Hooters in TA."

So says Allan Rousso, inviting the wry comment:

"and there's nothing wrong with having some TA in Hooters?"

Sorry. My condolences to the bereaved.

Posted by: Wrymouth | Mar 21, 2007 8:49:00 AM

ioi. one more hooters built in tel aviv means one less built in boise, ID, thankyouverymuch. i guess they figure that if they can open israel, they can eventually get into saudi arabia--what a market they'd have there. just give it time!

Posted by: bagelunderthecouch | Mar 21, 2007 8:54:23 AM

David,

I cannot feel your pain. Is Israeli culture can be killed by something as irrelevant as this, it was not much worth to begin with.

Nobody is dragged by force to Hooters and I am not sure it will ever have a real impact on Israel.

Posted by: Ruh | Mar 21, 2007 12:49:02 PM

It seems to me that a lot of these American chains end up in other countries to appease the Americans that are visiting. When I was in China adopting my daughter, I took every opportunity to sample all of the local cuisines while I watched several of the other adoptive families eating McDonalds and Pizza Hut. I'm sure many Americans will do the same thing with Hooters in Israel. But I say, why choose to eat at Hooters in Israel with all the awesome Israeli food around?

Posted by: orieyenta | Mar 21, 2007 3:48:39 PM

While I agree with orieyenta about eating the local cuisines, sometimes we need a break as well. When I was visiting Israel 2 years ago, my wife's family kept bringing me to various Israeli restaurants with falafel, swarma, and other local foods. After about a week, I was relieved to see a Burger King on Ben Yehuda Street.

And for kicks, just before we flew out of the country, I had to get a kosher Big Mac at the McD's in the airport. What was interesting was they had an Israeli version, with the patties and everything in a pita. I prefer buns though.

Posted by: JDMDad | Mar 21, 2007 6:57:27 PM

I don't see what this Hooters place has to offer (as far as the waitresses are concerned) that you don't get for free just walking around Tel Aviv in the summertime.

The food better be really good if they want it to succeed.

Posted by: Imshin | Mar 21, 2007 11:09:42 PM

I still don't know what about their clothing is going to make them stand out in Tel Aviv.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Mar 22, 2007 1:51:14 AM

My heartfelt condolences.

A couple of years ago I went into a Hooters in Pasadena with a gay friend of mine. Naturally the waitress, being a properly trained Hooters Girl, was especially solicitous towards my friend, such as touching his shoulder when she asked how everything was.

My friend was completely oblivious, saying, "She's nice." I had to sit him down and explain the Philosophy of Hooters Training.

I found it more humorous than anything. I'd be more concerned about the food than the waitresses (for whom low-cut tops and short skirts would be a step up from their current tank-top and teeny shorts uniform). I can say that the food (or at least the grilled cheese sandwiches) are not good and are way too greasy.

Posted by: Carol Elaine | Mar 22, 2007 9:23:25 PM

My last time at Hooters (a few months before I went kosher, had a gift certificate to burn), I was reading a book about Ottawa, since I was just about to go up there to visit some family. After taking my order to the kitchen, my two waitresses (one was a trainee) came back to talk with me (even though I was obviously engrossed in my reading). Guess it's part of the philosophy, like Carol Elaine mentioned.

I had to try very hard to keep a straight face when one of the waitresses asked me which state Ottawa was in. I was tempted to say Nevada, but explained that it was in Canada. After a few more half hearted attempts at conversations, they finally left me to my book.

Posted by: JDMDad | Mar 22, 2007 9:40:09 PM

well said!!!

Posted by: Ima | Mar 23, 2007 7:31:23 AM

A little perspective: When I was studying in Israel about 20 years ago, an Israeli friend of mine was telling me about his favorite TV show - something called Eshet Chayil. I pictured a chaste Yerushalmit, complete with snood and sensible shoes, battling the bad guys. I soon found out that Eshet Chayil was none other than...Wonder Woman. (?!!) My point: Any culture that can refer, with a straight face, to Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman as "Eshet Chayil" (remember her outfit? I do) is only a few steps from Hooterville anyway. I'm only surprised it took this long.

Posted by: psachya | Mar 23, 2007 5:28:20 PM

The founding fathers of Israel once said that Israel will not be a country until it has hookers and criminals like any other country.

There is no point to Israel if it will only be filled with rabbis and scholars.

I see this as another advance in the becoming of a true nation for Israel. Israel must have the good and the bad, the sacred and the profane if it is to survive and prosper (aside from the Palestinian threat).

The time to mourn for Israel is if no one wanted to come here anymore, not Hooters, not McDonald's, no one.

But the Beauty of Israel is that even our enemies want to live here.

Posted by: bernie | Mar 26, 2007 9:21:12 AM

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