Tom Gott’s doctored photo of an Iron Dome interception adds a touch of Tel Aviv gay pride.
Tom Gott’s doctored photo of an Iron Dome interception adds a touch of Tel Aviv gay pride.

There is nothing funny about the situation in Israel right now. But dark humor and cynical barbs help Israelis deal with the tension and anxiety surrounding Operation Protective Edge.

Moments after the first rockets were fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv, someone posted a cartoon meant to skewer the fact that the city is one of the most expensive in the world. The sign reads: “The Municipality of Tel Aviv has opened all its bomb shelters for the comfort of its residents. First hour – NIS 20; every 15 minutes extra – NIS 7.” Obviously, you don’t need to pay for safety, but this status update shared by many had an authentic ring.

This “instruction pamphlet” from Tomix Comics illustrates how humor helps defuse the stress.
This “instruction pamphlet” from Tomix Comics illustrates how humor helps defuse the stress. (click image to view full size)

A Facebook user, responding to the Big Brother reality television show’s decision to broadcast its program free of charge as a goodwill gesture to those stuck in shelters, posted this status: “Because when you’re stuck in your home and can’t go out the thing that will encourage you most is to watch people stuck in a home who can’t get out.”

Another Facebook user wrote: “Hi Hamas, My friends and I were greatly impressed by your success at launching a rocket over 110 kilometers’ distance. Well done. There’s even a good chance that you’d get accepted to the engineering school at Tel Aviv University without taking the entrance exams. Really, we were impressed. So, can you stop now?”

There’s even a Facebook group called Bomb Shelter Selfies.

Bloggers are also offering up their comic takes on what’s going on. Tel Aviv-based comedy writer Omri Marcus posted an article called ’17 things to do in 30 seconds’ on Huffington Post, in which he suggests what can be accomplished in the amount of time most Israelis have upon hearing the air raid siren and to run to a shelter. His suggestions include: Learning all the names of the moderate non-violent ministers in the Hamas government by heart, half-cooking minute rice, and taking a pregnancy test.

Stand-up comedian Benji Lovitt has a whole slew of off-kilter one-liners on his Facebook feed. His funniest joke so far is turning the name of Operation Protective Edge into a condom advertisement.

(Benji Levitt's Facebook Page)
(Benji Levitt’s Facebook Page)

While social-media users will continue to try outdoing one another with humorous and biting status updates that relate to the situation, those living under fire understand that the jokes offer a few seconds of respite but by no means diminish the real fear felt.

YouTube is also rife with videos of the situation. One of the most popular videos is one from the 2012 conflict with Gaza – Shit that Tel Avivians say during an attack – a lighthearted look at the kind of things people say during missile raids. Click on the captions button in the lower right hand corner for English sub-titles.

The Educational Channel recently posted a Sesame Street-like short clip in Hebrew showing children how to choose a safe room. That the video had to be made is unsettling.

Another video for kids that will surely cause you to break out in goose bumps is the Code Red song. It was written by a kindergarten teacher a few years ago because she wanted to help the children in her class deal with the rocket attacks against Israel. The song has since gone viral in classrooms across the country. The song is in Hebrew but has English subtitles:

Another popular video making the rounds is a short IAF clip showing the soldiers behind the Iron Dome promising to keep Israelis safe. Again, the video is in Hebrew with English subtitles:

And finally, a real-time video clip of what it feels like to have your life interrupted by a rocket. In the middle of a wedding this week in Holon, with the couple still under the chuppah, an alert siren sounds and guests are told to find shelter immediately. Please be forewarned, the video will send a chill through your body.