The creators of AHMED & SALIM series are Tom Trager and Or Paz
The new Israeli cartoon on YouTube, “Ahmed and Salim” launched in late February 2009 is intended to mock terrorists. That’s what animators Tom Trager and Or Paz claim.
Throughout the four-part series during each 3-4 minute episode (the first one viewed 400,000 times in one week), Ahmed and Salim's father tries to coerce them to kill Jews.
Although the Israel-based animators Trager and Paz state that they “do not think bad of Arabs,” and “simply dislike people in general,” it would be hard not to call the cartoon racist.
In an interview the creators said the show is not an attack on Arabs. “Ahmed and Salim are not about Arabs at all. It's mostly a metaphor for how idiotic religion is."
"Muslims are known to be extremists so we poke fun at them. We just like pissing off groups who take themselves too seriously - with Arabs though we have no problems at all.”
Depicted much worse than the prototypical “bad Arab," Ahmed and Salim's father, Yasser, is an anti-Semitic misogynist who rapes ten year olds, while trying to convince his kids to become “terrorists.”
Take one scene in an episode that shows the father reading to his kids a bedtime story – an anti-Semitic version of Little Red Riding Hood. “And what will you do Ahmed and Salim if you see a soulless Jew at your home?” the father asks.
“We’ll shoot him in the genitals and laugh!” they answer back.
When asked if Yasser the father reflected the way they viewed Arabs in Israel, Trager and Paz said, “Not at all, we have nothing against Arabs or Muslims and we certainly did not grow up being taught they were some kind of evil or anything like that.”
But, Habeeb told French TV, with Ahmed and Salim the historical context is lost. “I know enough about real life in Palestine to understand what is true and what isn’t, but most viewers won’t have that kind of background. And because the cartoons are subtitled (in English and Hebrew) they can be viewed by audiences worldwide."
Indeed, the characters speak gibberish, not Arabic, and the only discernible words actually spoken are English curses.
Meanwhile, the teens Ahmed and Salim are made more benign because they entertain the trappings of the West - watching Western TV, playing video games, and spending huge chunks of their time on Facebook.
Whether or not Trager and Paz are aware that they are contributing to hateful stereotypes misses the point.
By all indications they don't think they are, but it would be hard to imagine that the two Israelis are unaware that Ahmed and Salim builds on a rich history of "Arab" vilification in the media.
Perhaps Israeli creators, Trager and Paz, did not intend to perpetuate myths of Arabs and Muslims in Israeli society and in the West, but Ahmed and Salim does just that.
Still, the cartoon's creators said: “Through Ahmed & Salim we learned to tolerate groups even more, and so do many other people who send us fan mail about being more open-minded since this show! What do you know? These two nerds may even bring peace to this world.”
The video may be provocative, stereotypes - however the kernel of truth is apparent. It is not a castigation of Islam or Muslims per se - but a satire on terrorism. The cartoons are meant to depict the ludicrousness not only of terrorism, but also our perceptions of terrorism in the western world. Everything in the show is intended to be hyperbolic, and I think by taking to the extremes these stereotypes, it makes a valid political satire of the futility of the moral justifications behind terrorism.
BuA: One of points mentioned above : Where Ahmed & Salim's father rapes 10 year olds - has its roots elsewhere - a fact we shall not get into now for all the jewels of Medina.
However its important to look at a recent (January 2009) pronouncement of the most senior Saudi cleric : DAILY NEWS it is permissible for 10-year-old girls to marry and those who think they're too young are doing the girls an injustice.
Excuse me, did you say - doing the girls an injustice ????