That’s because Israeli film fans understand what the anti-semitic character is saying when he’s supposedly spouting Kazakh – Borat is actually speaking fluent Hebrew. The irony of a Hebrew-speaking anti-semite is not lost on the admiring Israeli audience, which has made the movie a huge hit in the country. But in Israel, Borat’s fans are clearly in on the fun.
What’s the secret of Borat’s fluent Kazakh? It’s Hebrew
Sacha Baron Cohen’s antics as Borat may have made him and his backers the target of lawsuits and screening bans, but he’s going down very well in one rather unexpected place: Israel. That’s because Israeli film fans understand what the anti-semitic character is saying when he’s supposedly spouting Kazakh – Borat is actually speaking fluent Hebrew.The 35-year-old British comic is an observant Jew whose mother was born in Israel and whose grandmother still lives in Haifa. In high school he belonged to a Zionist Jewish youth group, Habonim Dror, and upon graduation spent a year working and studying on a kibbutz, or collective farm, in northern Israel, according to the Associated Press. The irony of a Hebrew-speaking anti-semite is not lost on the admiring Israeli audience, which has made the movie a huge hit in the country. “It is extremely funny and kind of cool to realise that you are understanding something no one else does,” said Gaby Goldman, 33, of Tel Aviv. “It’s not just the Hebrew but also the way he speaks. He sounds almost Israeli, he sounds like one of us.” The film is peppered with Hebrew expressions and Israeli slang, inside jokes only Israelis could truly appreciate. In one scene, Borat sings the lyrics of a Hebrew folk song, Koom Bachur Atzel, which means “get up lazy boy”. Later, he refers to a Kazakh government scientist, “Dr Yarmulke,” who proved that a woman’s brain is the size of a squirrel’s. Even Borat’s signature catchphrase – “Wa wa wee wa,” an expression for wow – derives from a skit on a popular comedy show and is often heard in Israel. Some American Jews fear Borat’s humour will go over people’s heads and reinforce bigotry. But in Israel, Borat’s fans are clearly in on the fun. “It was sort of like a wink to the Hebrew speaker,” Oded Volovitz, 32, said. “It was a message that basically said, ‘Although the movie is very anti (Jewish), I am still with you, I am still the same Mr Cohen. I’m just trying to send a message here and I hope you guys understand it.”‘