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Sunday, February 22, 2009

The nation with the Golan

The title of today's post is the text of a well known bumper sticker which is as relevant today as it was when it was first created:

Am Im Golan 

Sadly, I suspect you won't be seeing too many of these bumper stickers on cars belonging to the rental fleet of Israel's largest rental company, Eldan. 

My suspicions were aroused when I was surfing the Jerusalem Post web site this morning and I noticed a flash ad for Eldan in their sidebar.  See if you notice anything missing from the map in this screen capture I took of the ad:


If you answered 'the entire Golan Heights'... congratulations, you move on to the bonus round!

Now before anyone starts organizing boycotts of Eldan on political grounds, let's just hold on a moment and take a close look at the map in the ad. 

It would be difficult to assume a political prejudice in excluding the Golan Heights because all of Judea and Samaria (the 'west bank') is included... without so much as a dotted line or asterisk.  No, I think this was just a case of ignorance on the part of whoever prepared the ad.

But just to make sure I called up Eldan's corporate headquarters and had the following conversation (all in Hebrew... I'm so proud!):

Receptionist:  Hello Eldan, may I help you?

Me:  Yes, I'd like to speak with whoever is handling the negotiations with the Syrians.

Receptionist:  Excuse me? [side-note: one of the first times I've heard an Israeli say this!]

Me:  I'm calling to speak to the person who is handling negotiations with the Syrian government.

Receptionist:  Can I ask what this is about?  I'm not sure how to direct your call.

Me:  Sure.  I was just on the JPost website and noticed your advertisement in the sidebar.  You seem to have decided to give away the Golan Heights... and I was just wondering what we received in return.

Receptionist:  Em (translation: Um), hold on please.

[A few minutes passed, after which a man picked up the line]

Unidentified male Eldan employee:  Yes, I understand you have a question about one of our advertisements?

Me:  Yes, have you seen the flash ad that is currently running on the JPost site?

Male Eldan employee:  Yes, I'm looking at it now.

Me:  Good, then you noticed that something is missing?

Male Eldan employee:  Em, no... I'm not sure what you're talking about.

Me:  The Golan Heights!  Your company seems to have returned it to the Syrians without telling the Israeli government.  You could have really saved Kadima the election if you'd simply told them that you'd already given it away.

Male Eldan employee:  I know you think you are being funny, but I'm looking at the ad and I see the Golan Heights.

Me:  Oh really?  Describe it for me... where is it exactly on the map?

Male Eldan employee:  It's the finger of land directly above the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

Me:  May I ask you a personal question?  How many points in Geography did you do on your Bagruyot (translation: matriculation exams)?

Male Eldan employee: What?!

Me:  And History... did you do any points in History?

Male Eldan employee:  What?!

[As tempted as I was to try to do the whole Samuel L. Jackson "Say what again... I dare you!" speech from Pulp Fiction, I was concerned that it might lose something in the translation]

Me:  OK, let me ask you this.  Have you ever been to the Golan Heights?

Male Eldan employee:  [proudly] Of course.  I've even bicycled around it.

Me:  And did your bicycle tour take you through Syria?

Male Eldan employee:  What?! 

[mental sound of gunshot followed by "Oh I'm sorry.  Did I break your concentration?"]

Me:  I ask because if you look at the map, the only way you could have ridden anything but a boat around the Kinneret is if you traveled through Syria.  You see, that 'finger of land' you talked about before is actually the upper Galilee.  The Golan is more like a hand to the east and northeast of the Kinneret.  Do you see where I'm going with this now?

Male Eldan employee (quietly holding whispered consultations with colleagues) :  Isn't the Golan Heights supposed to be over here?  No, no... that's the Upper Galilee... what about over here... what's that?  Who chose this map?

[after a few moments the male Eldan employee came fully back on the line]

Male Eldan employee:  Sir, I see what you are talking about now.  I'm not sure who designed the ad or where they got the map from, but we will take care of this right away.

Me:  Thank you.  It's bad enough when our government wants to give away the country.  But we shouldn't do it for them.  I'll look forward to seeing the Golan back in our hands.

Today is the 22nd of February.  I wonder how long it will take for the Golan to be returned to the nation.

Posted by David Bogner on February 22, 2009 | Permalink


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Wonderful, David. Kol ha-kavod.

Were you at the book fair last week? One major book chain had a large advertisement near the entrance that featured a globe. When I approached to find Israel's name on the map, I didn't find it, but found the name "Palestine" instead. (I'll post the picture soon.) When I called this to the attention of the people working there, their reaction was not very satisfying. (I suppose this was because the globe was in English -- I've encountered that attitude here before.)

Posted by: Rahel | Feb 22, 2009 3:49:20 PM

Maybe it's the style that the NYC transit authority used for subway maps in the 70's gone amok ? Zehava would know the correct terminology. The scheme is generally representative but not to scale. I don't think however that the MTA misplaced entire pieces of geography as this does.

Posted by: Shmiel | Feb 22, 2009 4:15:00 PM


Esser, esser, esser. Without a doubt.

Man I love that you did that. And I'm way impressed with the way they handled it. Kol hakavod.

Posted by: sabra | Feb 22, 2009 4:16:31 PM

I'm not sure if this is funny or sad.

Posted by: Mike Miller | Feb 22, 2009 4:39:36 PM

I just saw the ad myself and the funniest bit is that after showing the bad map it says "no one knows Israel like we do".

Posted by: Rafi | Feb 22, 2009 5:08:22 PM

Hilarious! They also have a series of similar flash animations on their own website. The explanation is easy: Eldan hired some other company (YKM in this case) to create the website content or parts of an ad campaign and they sourced it out to some poor bugger in a third world country to save a few Shkalim. Back at Eldan they didn't notice because most employers use ad-blockers and those marketing drones are responsible are not the sharpest knives in the kitchen sink.

Posted by: dee dee | Feb 22, 2009 5:39:51 PM

Lucky for the hapless employee, you didn't get a chance to finish with: "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides....Blessed is he who shepherds the weak..."
Well done!

Posted by: Simon Synett | Feb 22, 2009 5:42:23 PM

To bad there was no fly on the wall to recount the furious consultations in the Eldan office.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Feb 22, 2009 5:55:55 PM

I am so impressed that you did that. You're my hero. :)

Posted by: Alissa | Feb 22, 2009 6:06:43 PM

I am so impressed that you did that. You're my hero. :)

Posted by: Alissa | Feb 22, 2009 6:07:24 PM

[As tempted as I was to try to do the whole Samuel L. Jackson "Say what again... I dare you!" speech from Pulp Fiction, I was concerned that it might lose something in the translation]

Good for you and thank you for making me laugh really hard.

Posted by: Alice | Feb 22, 2009 6:15:12 PM

Great story! Props for correcting them, and I love the convo between you and the Eldan employee, hilarious :)

But I think you meant to say the Golan is to the east / northeast of Kinneret, not northwest?

Posted by: Chantal | Feb 22, 2009 6:19:56 PM


Remember the problems I had in finding a rental car company that would let me take their car across the Green Line? Eldan was one of them.

Posted by: Karl Newman | Feb 22, 2009 7:31:28 PM

What a hoot. Worthy of a stand up comic routine.

Posted by: Noa | Feb 22, 2009 7:54:01 PM

Good fun. Great story.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Feb 22, 2009 8:41:46 PM

Maybe you could make a phone call or two to the prime minister?

Posted by: Baila | Feb 22, 2009 10:50:42 PM

Nice one.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Feb 23, 2009 5:37:39 AM

I'm reminded of the scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, wherein the principal gives grief to a "parent," thinking it is Ferris impersonating a parent, and then Ferris calls on another line, and the principal and his secretary start going nuts trying to make up for their mistake. (Of course, the "parent" is actually Ferris' friend Cameron, but the principal doesn't know that.)

Posted by: Sarah B. | Feb 23, 2009 2:48:50 PM

Between having the gumption to do this altogether, and having done it all in Hebrew, I think that this anecdote earns a prime spot on your Israeli absorption timeline. Awesome story!

Posted by: RaggedyMom | Feb 24, 2009 3:07:27 AM

I had such a nice time a few months ago, driving around the Golan, in my shiny Eldan rental car...beautiful place, the Golan, and I'm glad you caught this; hopefully, it does get fixed soon, Great Job!

Posted by: Maurice | Feb 24, 2009 6:25:39 AM

"Sure. I was just on the JPost website and noticed your advertisement in the sidebar. You seem to have decided to give away the Golan Heights... and I was just wondering what we received in return."

ROFLOL. I sooooooooo wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that conversation though if I laughed any more than I did just reading this I might never walk again. I am simply wiping away tears of mirth!

Posted by: Yaeli | Feb 26, 2009 6:45:46 PM

(Just coming from your link in the Muqata comments)

Awesome - I wish I could hear a recording of that!

Posted by: shmilda | Aug 8, 2013 5:58:11 PM

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