TEL AVIV, Israel — The launch of the first-ever Hebrew language Playboy magazine is apparently getting a ho-hum reception in the Holy Land.
When first announced, speculation was that the publication would cause controversy in the center of the world’s religions and possibly a strong backlash by religious groups because of its nude content.
But now with the third issue under its belt it appears as though the magazine is considered more of a throwback relic of days gone by, despite publisher Dan Pomerantz’s notion that it was time for Israel to have its own piece of the bunny franchise.
Pomerantz told CNN, "It's a time when Israel is really joining the family of modern nations, and Playboy is just part of modern global culture. The brand has been popular (in Israel) for a long time and a Hebrew language magazine can really reach the entire market, whereas the English language version is really a niche commodity."
And contrary to intitial concern, there’s no strong opposition to the magazine, according to Pomerantz. He said, “"So far we haven't had a negative reaction," although noting that many conservative and ultra-orthodox religious groups would "not want to interact with the brand."
It’s also clear that the porn-heavy Internet has watered down any of Playboy’s “shock” value, even in the Holy Land.
"If you want nudity, there's the internet," Sarah Tuttle-Singer, a blogger for the Times of Israel said. "I'm not seeing very much fuss (in public about the launch of the magazine). If they wanted to be interesting, they should have women wearing prayer shawls — and only prayer shawls — standing in front of the Kotel (Wailing Wall).
She added, "That might be scandalous, controversial, and at least something that we've not seen before. Unless the articles are holding their own merit, I don't see the interest."
Tuttle-Singer also noted that the Hebrew edition had only an unimpressive 5,800 Facebook "likes."
And the lukewarm reception may have Pomerantz hedging his bets about the print edition’s future success, hinting that it will be used for branding and that the web will play a larger part.
"We don't see ourselves as a magazine company," Pomerantz said. "High-quality content is what we provide. We are going to relaunch our website and give our audience a whole other avenue to reach us. What we've found is that the printed magazine gives us a certain gravitas."
He also said that his magazine might soon be wooing the Arab market with special content created just for them.
"From the statistics on our website and Facebook, we can tell that a number of our followers are Arab speakers and Palestinians within Israel and neighboring countries,” Pomerantz said.