Jewish Journal

Peace in the time of Psy: Armed Israeli soldiers party to ‘Gangnam Style’ with Palestinians

by Simone Wilson

August 29, 2013 | 3:30 pm

Israel's party ambassadors

Perhaps John Kerry could learn a thing or two from South Korean megastar Psy — because it looks like all we needed was a little party up in this peace process. 

A video (embedded below) was posted online this week of at least two armed and suited Israeli soldiers dancing to "Gangnam Style" at a crowded Palestinian nightclub. Locals look on in delight, taping the unlikely spectacle on their smartphones, hoisting the soldiers into the air and grabbing onto their hands for joint fist-pumps.

Israel's Channel 2 released a horrified report last night on the run-in. The soldiers were from the Givati Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), reported Channel 2, and decided to pop into the club while on patrol in Hebron. But they apparently weren't there to intimidate — just to go nuts to "Gangnam Style."

Never thought I'd be so glad to hear "Gangnam Style" again. The video is a refreshingly joyous and lighthearted picture of co-existence in the West Bank — a reminder that as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks falter and a war cloud looms on the Syrian horizon, Jews and Palestinians can at least be united in their urge to take a load off. (Although of course this piece of YouTube symbolism would be a little prettier if the Israelis in the video weren't suited in army green and keeping their fingers poised cautiously on their triggers.)

The IDF doesn't see things quite so peachily. An official told Haaretz that "the soldiers that were involved and participated in the party have been suspended pending an investigation," and this statement was released to the Times of Israel:

“This is an incident of utmost severity. The soldiers have been called in for questioning, and the commanders of the brigade and the battalion are investigating. The soldiers [in question] will be dealt with appropriately.”

The usual pundits are having trouble making sense of all this happiness. Channel 2 and the far-right crowd are furious that IDF soldiers would so casually mingle with the enemy (Palestinians at the club reportedly included some members of the pro-Hamas Jabari clan) and risk igniting another tiff in the territories. Meanwhile, the far-left and normally verbose +972 Magazine was left sort of speechless, and many commenters writing in Arabic on YouTube argued that this was just another way for Israel to overshadow its atrocities.

Oh, well. Haters gon' hate.

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Simone Wilson is a 26-year-old journalist from Northern California currently living in Tel Aviv, Israel. She served as editor in chief of UC San Diego’s student newspaper, the...

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