Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
* Former Israeli journalist, Shlomo Nakdimon, one of the most respected political correspondents in the history of Israel, will be given a lifetime award by the Israeli Journalists Association. Nakdimon has a major part in the history of Israel, and in the world of media. In his long career, starting in 1957, he has exposed and covered many of Israel's most famous stories. Nakdimon will receive the award in a conference in Eilat next week.
* An original initiative by the Israeli city Haifa, will soon make teachers feel like they're in Hollywood. Haifa's Mayor, Yona Yahav, and his staff, wanted to give teachers the respect they deserve for their hard and dedicated work. Next week, pictures of 80 teachers will be hung at "the boulevard of the star teachers", almost like Hollywood's Walk of Fame. The teachers who interviewed for Yediot Ahronot newspaper, said they are very excited with the initiative, and that it makes them feel even more proud doing what they do.
* Are you a computer wiz? If the answer is "yes", you might be exactly what the IDF is looking for! Exclusive units at the IDF are currently searching for "foreign" additions in Diaspora communities in the States. Representatives of those units are looking for young cyber specialists who wish to join the IDF and contribute to Israel. Nowadays, they are visiting high schools in North America and starting the screening process there. The young talented Zionists who would be tracked down as a potential addition to the IDF, will be invited to make Aliyah and start their meaningful service.
* Turns out the U.S is inspiring Israel even when it comes to elections. A new campaign that launched last week is calling Israelis to vote in the Knesset elections in January. Israeli celebrities, including news anchors, musicians, actors and journalists, were photographed wearing t-shirts with the writings: "Vote! Or somebody else will vote for you." The campaign, under the title: "This time we're all voting," was initiated by social activists Regev Contes, Shir Nosatzki and Roee Neuman, and is inspired by the U.S 2008 campaign, where stars like Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson called US citizens to come and vote for their Presidential candidate. The purpose of this campaign is to get as many people as possible to make a difference by casting their votes. In the past years, the number of voters is decreasing, as people believe their "one vote" will not make a difference, and that the "other candidate will win anyway."
* French Jewish scientist Serge Haroche, who won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics, is visiting Israel as a guest of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Last week, Haroche attended a special event at the Jaffa residence of the French Ambassador to Israel, where he was greeted by Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, Nobel laureate Prof. Ada Yonath and Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities President Prof. Ruth Arnon, as well as many more scientists from leading Israeli universities. Haroche expressed his objection to the academic boycott of Israel, and showed his great support of the Israeli scientists and academics.
* Most American voters in Israel vote for Romney. So says a survey announced last week by the iVoteIsrael organization. According to the survey, 85% of the 1572 voters participating said they voted for Romney, while 14% chose Obama. This statistic sits right with CNN's Jonathan Mann's prediction, which he presented at a conference in Tel Aviv University last week. iVoteIsrael also announced that as of last Thursday, 80,000 Americans from Israel have already submitted their ballots to their local county board of elections in any of the 49 states where we successfully registered voters from.
* Will it ever end? Antisemitism continues to strike. Last week, huge swastikas were burned into the grass at a California golf course. According to CBS13 news, the people filled with vile hate who committed this crime, reportedly used herbicide to kill the grass at the Alta Sierra Country Club golf course in the shape of a large swastika. The hate symbols reportedly cover the entire tee box at the 14th hole and are easily recognizable from the road. This incident, which reminded golf players much darker times, is not the first one there. According CBS's report, last year, a swastika was burned into the grass in the same manner only a few feet away.
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November 2, 2012 | 1:00 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Today, I would like to draw your attention to the Israeli actress who made it in Hollywood. True, she is not a big movie star or an A-lister (yet!), but for almost a decade now she appears regularly on the small screen. You've probably seen her many times, but didn't notice her Israeli identity, for she looks and sounds like your everyday American girl. But she's one of us, and she's here to make it- big time!
Alona Tal was born in Herzliya, Israel, 29 years ago. She started her acting and singing career after finishing her military service at the IDF, with a children's musical video tape. Later on, she played the lead role in the Israeli film: Lihiyot Kochav (To Be a Star). Her big break, however, was in 2003, when she got one of the lead roles in the Israeli hit comedy: Hapijamot (The PJ's). After four years on the show, Tal packed her bags and moved to try and make it in the place where all dreams come true- the United States of America. She moved to New-York, where she recorded a song with Wyclef Jean. In 2003 she auditioned for the lead role of a witty, cynical teenage girl in a new series (and later- a big hit) called Veronica Mars. Eventually, it was Kristen Bell who got the part, but the producers did not give up on the talented Tal, and gave her the reoccurring role of Meg Manning. She also played the recurring role Jo Harvelle on the second, fifth, and seventh seasons of Supernatural. Tal also guest starred in Monk, Pretty Little Liars, Lie to Me, and many more. But even while being busy abroad, Tal runs on the US- Israel line, and continues acting in local productions as well.
I recommend that you keep an eye on her now. If you did not see her on your television screen yet- don't worry. Soon she will be hard to miss.
As Simone on Pretty Little Liars
As Alona on Hapijamot
November 1, 2012 | 10:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
On Monday, a very special event took place at my campus in Tel Aviv University. CNN's anchor and correspondent, Jonathan Mann, came for a visit, in order to host a conference on the topic: "The U.S elections: why does it matter to us?" The event was covered by press worldwide, and only a bit more than a hundred people were allowed into the small hall. Ever since I heard of this conference, I knew I couldn't miss it for the world, and I feel very lucky to be one of the few who experienced it live.
The hall was decorated in red and blue, and pins saying "Democrat" or "Republican" with matching candidates' photos were handed to us as we entered. As we waited for the conference to start, two television screens presented short clips from various US electionsele news coverage. Whispers took over the silence, as many Israeli-American voters argued with their peers over who should win. As CNN's correspondent in Israel, Sara Sinder, presented Mann, the whispers stopped at once, and everybody clapped their hands with a great show of respect. After all, it's not every day we earn such an honor.
CNN and other foreign news channels are broadcast here in Israel, but they are not commonly viewed. Before Monday's event, the only idea I had about Mann was from reading his resume'. However, even while not knowing of him, there was something about him that made me feel honored to hear him speak live. Other than Mann, who hosted the conference, four respected figures from the Israeli world of politics, higher education and journalism took the parts of the panelists: Professor Yossi Shain, who other than being an educator at Tel Aviv Uni. Is also a Political science expert; Dov Weissglass, who is a practicing attorney, was responsible for the Prime Minister's contact with the White House, State Department, and other branches of the US administrations; Dr. Yossi Beilin, a statesman, a minister in the governments of Israel and a former journalist; and Dana Weiss, one of Israel's top journalists.
For an hour and a half, all four panelists had to deal with the not-so-simple mission to answer Mann's questions regarding Israel, the US and the mutual impact both countries have on one another. Mann opened the conference with the wondering of why American Jews currently living in Israel, tend to vote for a republican candidate, while American Jews living in the States tend to vote for a democrat candidate. He then mentioned the fact that during the presidential debates, so far, Israel was mentioned 30 times. The only country mentioned more times, he said, was Iran, and even that was in relation to Israel. He talked about how the US presidential candidates actually go head to head on who is a better friend and protector to Israel. Later, he asked the panel members why they believe Israelis care so much about the US elections. Weiss said that in her opinion, many Israelis want to know if Netanyahu has made the right choice by publicly supporting Romney. Beilin replied that Israelis are not just observers, and that even though we are not allowed to participate in the elections, we should. "We are going to be an impact for the results," he said. Weisglass looked at it from a different angle, and said that our dependence on the US is almost total, and that the identity of the future US president is more important to us than the identity of our own Prime Minister. Than he said that "for us, it is a vital matter who will be the next President of the United States."
Many important issues were brought to the table, along with some interesting questions from the audience. One of the topics Mann brought up was perhaps the most important one when it comes to the US- Israel relations: Will the elected President stop the Iranian threat? Weisglass said that when it comes to Iran, the sanctions are very moderate, "If the US would make all commercial interactions with Iran illegal, it would really collapse it. No under the table, over the table, under the chair." Weiss mentioned Netanyahu's saying that Obama hadn't shown true passion of stopping Iran. While addressing this statement of our Prime Minister, she said that the question that needs to be asked is weather Netanyahu is exaggerating, or Obama is really not committed to stopping Iran: "Everybody's saying all the rights words, the armies are ready to go, the sanctions are ready as well. All that's missing is the leader's passion, whoever it might be." Beilin said that the problem with Romney is the "Unknown."
When Mann asked the panelists to compare the US presidential campaigns to the Israeli election campaign, they pretty much agreed that while the Israeli campaign is not nearing the level of respect and intellectuality of the US one, our campaigns have much more action in them. Beilin said that the US campaign is way too long, and pulls away the attention of the current President from performing his role as President. He also criticized the role of the spouses in the campaign: "why would I, as a potential voter, care what the candidate's spouse has to say about him? Why would anyone vote for someone because of his wife?" Weiss addressed the US presidential debates, which are not held here. She said that it is amazing to see how the two candidates, one who is President and one who is an aspiring one, are standing in front of one another, and show absolute respect to one another. She added that as she watches the debates she couldn't believe how they both have the understanding and acceptance of the fact they both get the same amount of attention: "they patiently wait for the other to finish what he has to say, and do not interrupt each other. They both take the time to meet with the voters, and not only give interviews when it is most convenient for them. They actually care about the voters there, in the US." Weisglass then mentioned just how big the difference is: "the Americans can say a debate was full of action, while it is not even nearing our interactions between the candidates. Here they interrupt each other almost all the time, and it sometimes seem like they are about to go at it and fight each other."
Before the conference came to an end, one of the audience members asked how the panelists think the Israeli- Palestinian issue can be solved. Everyone laughed a little bit, saying this answer will take all day, but then shortly replied that the only way to achieve peace is for both sides to not only want peace, or say they do, but to act on it as well.
This was a very fruitful evening for all audience members, and I am sure also for Mann and the Panelists. I have learned many new things thanks to some fresh insights I had yet to hear. But the most important message from the conference, to me at least, is that Israel is as important to the US as the US is important to Israel (And this one goes to all Israel's haters out there, who believe Israel is nothing but a blood sucking leech for the US). You can watch a short clip from the conference here.