Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
•Musicians Ivri Lider and Johnny Goldstein, which are the musical duo- TYP, are well known here, in Israel, and apparently also in France. After conquering the top of the local music charts, TYP (The young Professionals) are on the right track to becoming a French smash. After a number of successful concerts there, their French producers, Universal, decided to issue a French release of their latest album “9am to 5pm, 5pm to Whenever.”
•Israeli Roswell? Last Thursday, Israeli police lines were occupied with citizens calling to report an unidentified flying object in the sky. A check made by an astronomer confirmed it was not a meteor, and the IDF reported there was no activity in the area at the time. The UFO was visible in northern Israel. Where are the Men in Black when needed?
•Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, joins the world effort to stop water shortage. Mekorot will use their expertise in finding unconventional sources for clean water.
•Right before leaving for D.C to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama, our adored president, Shimon Peres, received a petition signed by a group of artists, musicians and cultural figures, including the returning son- Gilad Shalit, requesting to use this opportunity to persuade the US President to release Jonathan Pollard, the American intelligence analyst caught for spying for Israel 25 years ago. The very special award will be presented to Peres on Wednesday.
•Deputy Prime Minister, Silvan Shalom participated in the World ORT’s quadrennial conference in DC. The conference provided a platform for the world’s Jewish educational organizations to set their programs and strategy for the next four years.The Israeli ORT operated the “Kadima Mada” (forwards science) program, which advances science and technology education in schools while integrating advanced teaching technology. The program is also active in Gaza.
•Nadav Shmueli was critically injured in a car accident in 2008, while serving in the army. Since then, he has been hospitalized, unable to respond to anything. 18 months after the accident. Shmuely was transferred to the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit in Elisha hospital in Haifa, still defined as 100% disabled. One ordinary day, his sister, who was sitting by his bed, played him a comedy sketch of the famous Israeli comedy trio- Ma Kashur. During one of the punch-lines, Shmueli suddenly smiled and winked. When hearing his story, Ma Kashur immediately agreed to meet with him. Last week, Zion, Shalom and Asi, the funniest comedians in Israel, made their way to Elisha hospital and met with Shmueli, who is still in a wheelchair, unable to speak.
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June 8, 2012 | 2:27 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
At first glance, this is a fairytale story coming true- an Israeli singer shining abroad. This story could have had a happy ending as well if it weren’t for politics raising its ugly head yet again.
A couple months back I wrote about a Facebook campaign which changed my entire perspective about the Israeli-Iranian relationship. As it turns out, that campaign presented something much deeper than photos being shared. The campaign, showing Israelis and Iranian love for each other, proved the ongoing states’ conflict to be between heads of states, and not between people. This campaign was proven right in Tuesday’s paper, where there was a rather surprising article saying that the Israeli famous singer, Rita, is a hit in Iran. Her latest album, “All My Joys,” revives old-time Persian hits. It went gold in Israel only three weeks after its release, and also turned into a big Iranian hit. To me, this breaking of political boundaries is blessed, and the more integration, the better. I only wish the Government of Iran would have agreed with me. Turns out that the originally Persian singer’s music is banned in Iran, simply because she’s an Israeli.
Apparently, this conflict had gone from security issues and newspaper headlines to private people’s lives and to the one international language, music. Apparently, people can’t enjoy music because it was viciously produced by the enemy and may contain evil brainwashing. You see, since Israel and Iran are sworn enemies, endorsing anything Israeli is considered taboo in Iran. When I listen to a really good song, I like to turn the volume on, and it doesn’t take long until I share it with my Facebook friends. The Iranian Rita fans are forbidden to feel the enjoyment of sharing their musical passion with others, because of a political conflict, which they do not desire. It’s probably my over-creative mind, but since I was familiar with the previous “love” campaign, I feel like a part of the modern Romeo and Juliet story. States are forbidden to have contact with one another because of an ongoing argument between the leaders, which no one understands.
This version of the story, however, may have a semi-happy ending. The Iranian Rita fans were quoted saying this prohibition will not make them stop enjoying her music; they will just keep the volume down. Forced hatred still sounds utterly ridiculous to me, but I came to the conclusion that we, Israelis and Iranians, are the real grownups here- sad, but true- and because of that, I think it’s best for us to let the kids, Bibi and Achmadinejad, play around, while we maintain the peace.
June 5, 2012 | 1:04 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Even though Israel intended no offense with the latest Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs campaign, many American Jews were offended by the controversial television ad. The ad, meant to attract Israeli emigrants back home, showed several unfortunate emotional outcomes to leaving Israel. For instance, one of the commercials shows a child talking to his grandparents in Israel via Skype, who are celebrating Hanukkah. They are asking him what holiday it is today, and the child replies: Chirstmas.
While meant for Israeli emigrants, the campaign ads managed to insult many of the American Jewish communities, who saw it as implying that living abroad means being unable to maintain a proper Jewish life. It was certainly no one’s intention, but it happened. As I mentioned before, the best way to improve Israel’s image is to cooperate with diaspora Jewish communities, and not go against them or make accusations of betrayal of Israel. It has been proven, even if not statistically, that American-Jewish communities are very supportive of Israel, both financially and morally. There is no question on that matter, and the recent change of attitude made by the Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs shows they agree.
There has been some serious criticism towards the MPDDA. Many Israelis were disappointed by the lack of ability to improve Israel’s image as seen by the world. When I saw their previous campaign, I actually believed they were even making things worse. After all, going against people would have led us nowhere. The MPDDA recent campaign shows they have taken the criticism to heart, and made a 180 degree turnaround. Instead of making former Israelis feel bad by playing the guilt card, they chose the unity card. This is the first time the MPDDA changed its approach, and really for the better. For the first time, the MPDDA shows diaspora communities the appreciation Israel has for every person who supports Israel and that loving Israel doesn’t necessarily mean moving there.
This campaign, once again, is meant mostly for former Israelis who moved abroad, but also for all American Jews. This time, instead of pushing former Israelis away, the ads try to deepen their connection to Israel from a distance. The commercial campaign is a part of a bigger project, called “Connecting.” According to the MPDDA, three stations have been set up at the two most American Jewish cities: New York and L.A. In these stations, there will be plenty of activities (experimental, cultural and educational) for children, teens and adults. The activity at the centers will be accompanied by a website. The three stations are the preview, and in case of a success, more will open. Another part of the Connecting project is the opening of Jewish schools and kindergartens, special events during Israeli holidays, and many afternoon activities such as cooking, make-up, yoga, Krav-Maga, coaching, preparation for Bar-Bat mitzvahs and weddings, and more.
One of the old ad campaigns. “They will always stay Israelis. Their children will not”:
June 4, 2012 | 11:11 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
It’s a small world after all, and Globalization makes it even smaller. In the last few decades, thanks to technology mostly, the many civilizations of the world are gradually turning into one, as the citizens of the world share more and more interests. Those shared interests are somewhat “western” interests, such as capitalism and individualism. There is also shared mainstream music, movies, dress codes and more. Most of those western interests are driven by the country which became the center of the world, and is unofficially the world’s largest empire, the United States of America. If you don’t believe me, check the Magic Kingdom’s “it’s a small world” and see for yourself…If you need a less solid proof, read the research and scientific articles pointing in that direction.
As a worldwide trend setter, the American opinion is worth the most. When you vote in favor of something, it will soon spread all over the world- from east to west. Just to meet the eye, there are more than 33,000 McDonalds outlets worldwide, only 18,590 of them are in the U.S. But your opinion doesn’t only set cultural trends; it sets economic and political trends as well. In fact, I believe that American opinion can make a country sink or rise, just like that. It doesn’t happen overnight, of course, and also doesn’t rely on a small group within the American population. But sometimes an event takes place in an American city that can change the opinion that some people have on a certain thing, place or a person.
That is why I believe the annual Celebrate Israel Parade is worth more than in seems. Seeing pictures of Israeli flags which are NOT burning at an event which takes place somewhere else is something of an excitement for me. Not to mention thousands of Israeli flags. In New-York. I’ve never heard of the Celebrate Israel Parade up until Sunday, but this is the 48th time people march for everything that’s good about Israel. It may sound weird, but I don’t see this parade as a political statement. I don’t believe the marchers were expressing a solid opinion about the situation with Iran or the Israeli-Palestinian relations. I believe this was a celebration for Israeli culture and for the place on earth called Israel, where there is beautiful scenery, relaxing beaches and warm people. We are involved in many of the world problems, and many disagree with our policies, including Obama, sometimes. In this case, however, I believe that the public’s opinion may have a greater impact on the citizens of the world than the opinion of world leaders’. I see the age of Globalization as an opportunity for the public opinion to move mountains, and to make a difference, much more than any state cabinet.
I know the world-wide opinion towards Israel is not the most positive one, and this parade will not cause a 180 degree turnaround, but even if it got people to be a little bit more open minded, it has done its part. This parade is more important than any agreement to attack in Iran, or delegitimize the Palestinian state. This is a show of appreciation from people to people, and when it comes from the Word’s trend setter, it is worth much more.