“Nice Jewish boy” Launches Playboy in Israel

by Brian on March 8, 2013

in In the News,Just For Fun

When I was growing up, my father always kept a stack of Playboy magazines in the living room, next to the stereo. They were there for anyone to read, and despite the public potential for teenage titillation, I’m sure that my father really did intend that we read them. But just in case there were other reasons they were hanging around, we never actually paid for them – they came as hand-me-downs from the Jacobs family down the street.

Perhaps it’s that personal history with Playboy that has led me to feel less up in arms over the launch yesterday of the first Hebrew edition of the infamous skin rag, even though I really should be outraged. Yes, there’s an in-depth interview with MK Avi Dicther and another piece on the day that Steve Jobs met Andy Warhol. But there’s also Israeli celebrity model Natalie Dadon on the cover wearing very little and Israeli dancer Marin Teremets in the centerfold. No matter how you spin it, Playboy still sells smut.

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Video launching Playboy in Israel

But Daniel Pomeranz, the entrepreneur who brought Playboy to Israel, seems like such a nice Jewish boy, a real mensch. In an op-ed lauding the launch, he trots out his Zionist street cred –marveling at the empty streets and kids on bikes on Yom Kippur in Israel, participating in social justice protests, volunteering in the IDF, and crying on Memorial Day.

He uses all this to explain in part why he is convinced Playboy will succeed (arch rival Penthouse flopped here several decades ago). “Israel is a very complicated country with tradition and modernity,” he writes in The Times of Israel, but “also with serious things and fun fashionable things and that is exactly the character of Playboy. It is a complicated and beautiful magazine for a complicated and beautiful country,” he said.

This is not the first time Israelis have been in Playboy. Ariel Sharon and Meir Kahane were both interviewed for the publication, and there was a “Girls of Israel” cover as far back as 1970. I don’t recall seeing that one; perhaps the Jacobs held it back out of their own Zionist fervor.

Here’s a link to the YouTube video on the launch, complete with fully-clothed interviews and a pep talk by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner who, despite lengthy debate on the Internet over his own rumored Jewish genealogy, is decidedly not a nice Jewish boy.

I wrote about Playboy yesterday on Israelity.

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