The Arsification of Israel

Don’t worry, I won’t be telling any Ars jokes, or show you that clip about how to identify an Ars in the wild and all that crap. (oh well, here it is…. come on, it’s funny!)

d7a2d7a8d7a1-2First of all, I certainly hope all of you know what an Ars is…. But for those who don’t (probably residing over the pond), I found this hilarious definition in Wikipedia:

 “Ars (Arabic: عرص‎, Hebrew: ערס‎), or Arsim (plural) is a mildly tongue-in-cheek, derogatory/self-deprecating Hebrew slang term describing the Israeli stereotype of a person of bad manners, flashy jewelry, and overall rudeness, associated with “low class” Sephardi or Mizrahi Jews, usually of Moroccan background. A female Ars is usually Arsit, also known as a Freha (פרחה), or sometimes Fakatsa (פקצה), today an abbreviation including the word Freha as well. The Tel Aviv District’s lower-income cities of Bat Yam and Holon are often associated with Arsim.[1] Arsim are the butt of many jokes by Israeli stand-up comedians, such as Naor Zion, Shalom Asayag, Yaakov Cohen and others who themselves hail from small towns with significant Ars influence.

In the Arabic language ars denotes a “young shepherd,” but in Cairo and other Arab cities is generally used to denote a pimp. A long form used sometimes is arsawwat.[1]


Some stereotypical Ars characteristics are: pants worn very low (tayba), bling jewellery, an absence of respect for women, poor Hebrew language usage, excessive use of slang (see chav for a close analogy), and employment of Hebrew phrases such as “lama mi met?” (“why, who died?”) whenever criticized for rude behavior (especially on the road). It is also associated with spitting on the road, smoking, and computer illiteracy or a very occasional computer usage. It is considered by some to denote violence.

Arsim in Israel usually listen to Hiphop music or Mizrahi music (eastern music or Arabic music). In the US, Arsim tend to listen to a late-1990s variety of Tel Aviv Techno, with some of them even becoming promoters and DJs of this type of music in NYC and other large American cities”.

On the whole, not a bad definition. But on one point I beg to differ.

You see, the problem is that Arsim can no longer be associated with ethnic background alone, or even geographical location. In my opinion, Arsism (the ideology of the Ars) is in fact a sort of cultural cancer, silently spreading its tentacles around all of Israeli society. Arsim are no longer only Sephardi, or only from Bat Yam. They’re everywhere. They’re Ashkenazi, they’re Sephardi, they’re Arab. They even live in Tel Aviv. In north Tel Aviv! I mean, like, hello???….. WTF???

They are among us. They’re your neighbours. Heck, one of them could even be reading this post, disguising himself to be cultured and computer savvy, when all he really wants to do is go to a pseudo-greek tavern and listen to Shlomi Saranga belt out a “Yasoo!”, or sit in the bleachers in Teddy stadium, and yell racial slurs against Arabs as sunflower seed shells stick to the edges of his mouth.

Arsism is a frame of mind. It no longer has anything to do with your background. In fact, most people prefer to act like an Ars in Israel, because if they don’t, they’re considered weak. And not just any kind of weak. No… we’re talking about Ashkenazi weak, better known as ‘laflaf’. It’s the worst kind of weakness there is. Cuz if you’re a laflaf, you’re not a man. You’re not a hombre. And the thing is, you don’t have to be Ashkenazi to be a laflaf. Because it’s not about how dark your skin is anymore. It all boils down to how you act. And to be frank, most people in Israel act exactly like the Arsim in the Wikipedia definition. They act like that on the road, in the supermarket, in the cinema, at the cafe. And they’re a majority.

There aren’t many of us left. The sane. The polite. The patient.

Nope. We’re a dying breed…

It’s almost as if after 60 years in the region, Israelis have lost those delicate European attributes, and have taken on the more prickly characteristics needed to live in the Mideast. You could call it assimilation, in a way. Maybe, 60 years from now, we and our neighbours will all be Arsim, thus eliminating the need for war. Wait a minute…. No!!! Are you thinking what I’m thinking???

Could Arsism actually be the road to peace???


5 Responses to “The Arsification of Israel”

  1. 1 LB
    April 21, 2009 at 07:12

    “Israelis have lost those delicate European attributes, and have taken on the more prickly characteristics needed to live in the Mideast.”

    I’m not really against that. People change – that’s fine. There are many, many great Israelis who never had any of those European attributes… because they were never European to begin with. That is not th

    In any case, Arsim are not that, and that is not the problem. The problem with the arsification of society is that arsim take all of the bad and none of the good from regional neighborhood (if that’s even their inspiration). The represent a striving for mediocrity and acceptance of stupidity – all the while thinking they are better than everyone else, when in fact… well, we all know what the facts are.

  2. 3 Sarah
    May 26, 2009 at 21:30

    I can’t comment on how common this kind of behaviour is in Israel but I wouldn’t say it really characterises the behaviour of most people in the Middle East. I’ve lived in a few Arab countries and it seems to be regarded as a lower class thing, certainly Arabs are more patient and less pushy on the whole than Israelis, and manners/protocol are a feature of Arab societies. I think the identification of ars behaviour with ‘levantiniut’ and representative of the Middle East has more to do with orientalist stereotypes than reality.

    • 4 shmookty
      May 26, 2009 at 21:41

      Sarah, no need to take my words so seriously. I wouldn’t dare say that Arabs are arsim (I get the feeling you thought that’s what I meant) and I certainly hope you don’t believe in stereotypes that all Israelis are pushy and not patient, as you wrote. As a whole – stereotypes suck, no matter which direction they’re used.

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