Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Earlier today, I came across this article from the New York Times. It referred to last week's incident involving Beitar Yerushalaim soccer club fans, who raised a sign reading "Beitar will be pure forever", in protest of the decision to bring two Muslim players to the team.
This incident was frowned upon, and treated very seriously, by both the Israeli media and the public. Many articles included interviews with Beitar fans who said that the claim that all Beitar fans are extreme racists is wrong, and that this group represents a small number of the team’s fans. Those extremist fans, in case you were wondering, were banned from future Beitar games.
In my opinion, the NYT article wasn't as balanced as I expect an article in such a respected newspaper to be. A certain paragraph in particular made me feel uneasy:
“People in Israel usually try to locate Beitar Jerusalem as some kind of the more extreme fringe; this is a way to overcome the embarrassment,” said Moshe Zimmermann, a historian at Hebrew University who specializes in sports. “The fact is that the Israeli society on the whole is getting more racist, or at least more ethnocentric, and this is an expression.”
In other words, the message this article was conveying to the NYT's large scale circle of readers was that Israelis, one and all, are racists: not that it was a small group of people, and that it is not a sad phenomenon which exists everywhere. None of the above. Just an inference from a gathering of several terrible stories of race-based violence coming from the Israelis.
Racism is a terrible phenomenon worldwide, which keeps growing in spite of the process of globalization. As people of the world are growing closer, small groups of extremists are becoming even more extreme. I wish it wasn't so, but it is. Israel is no different than any other place in the world. Racism exists everywhere, and it is aimed to all ethnic groups and religions. Just a couple of days ago London's Sunday Times' published a rather anti-Semitic caricature. Last night, I encountered a Palestinian Facebook group, calling to kill all Jews. Racism should have vanished from the world long time ago, but it hasn't, and I'm afraid to say it probably never will. Extremists everywhere will continue to hate in vain, and spread that hate. But as I said, extremists are everywhere, and so is racism. It is not an Israeli phenomenon, and not a Jewish phenomenon. It is everywhere.
This NYT article was offensive to me. I felt attacked, without the ability to defend myself. That being said, I can only hope that the readers of that article would realize there is an imbalanced atmosphere there, and won't come to hate us for supposedly being such a hateful nation.
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January 28, 2013 | 11:50 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Yesterday, January 27th, the world mentioned the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day reminds us all of the horrible, systematic death of 6 million, for no reason other than their beliefs. This day reminds us all to always remember and never forget.
Read more here.
Some say American Idol is an overcooked meat, but to many Israelis, season 12 of the hit singing contest is set to be the most interesting one so far. Shira Gavrielov, daughter of singer Miki Gavrielov, had a couple of hit songs in Israel, and was on her way to the local top when she decided to go to the Big Apple and make her music there. She applied for American Idol, and her audition was aired on the season's first episode a couple of weeks ago. Shira performed like a star, and got the golden ticket to Hollywood. Now, all of Israel is behind her, crossing fingers and hoping to see her becoming the next American Idol.
Read more here.
Watch Shira's audition
A cloud of birds
If you happened to be in the Negev area in Israel last week, you probably spotted a big black cloud in a non-stop motion. This cloud was assembled by a flock of starlings, who returned in its glory to Israel, after 20 years of absence.
Read more and see pictures of the flock-cloud here.
Playboy is coming to Israel
After it was banned for publication by the Ultra-Orthodox community for decades, Playboy magazine is about to be issued in a blue and white edition. The male-oriented publication, which was originally founded by Hugh Hefner in 1953, will be released here in print and online with both Israeli and international content.
Read more here.
Anne Frank's diary adjusting to 21st century
“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank is the starting point for many teachers, inside Israel and abroad, when teaching about the Holocaust. Frank's diary, which she wrote while hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, became a must-read influential masterpiece, and a best-seller. This book became an integral component of Holocaust teaching, as it describes the most unthinkable time in history through the eyes of a young girl. Now, a new iPad and Nook app presents a tablet version of the book which includes interactive links, videos, voice-overs and historical background along with never-before released material supplied by the Switzerland-based Anne Frank Foundation.
Read more here.
In memory of Columbia
It's been 10 years now since the Space Shuttle, Columbia, did not land. It's been 10 years since that countdown we've all seen on television, expecting the first Israeli Astronaut, Ilan Ramon to return home. That countdown, which suddenly ended, without Ramon and his cast smiling and waving. 10 years since we all suddenly started to cry. In memory of the Columbia Astronauts, 14 leaders of the world's most important space agencies will arrive in Israel this month to mark the 10th anniversary of the disaster and the death of the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon.
Read more here.
Tu Bishvat's beauty
In honor of Tu Bishvat, photojournalist Yehoshua Halevi captured blossoming Israel, and posted the results in Jerusalem post.
Take a look at some of his most beautiful almond tree photos here.
Intucell Ltd to be purchased by Cisco
Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), the world’s largest maker of networking equipment, agreed to buy mobile network company Intucell Ltd. The very successful Israeli originated company is based in Raanana, Israel (my hometown). According to reports, Intucell will be purchased for about 475 million Dollars.
Read more here.
UK football players visit Auschwitz
A Holocaust educational video showing members of England’s football team touring Auschwitz is set to be distributed to secondary schools and colleges as part of the UK-based Holocaust Education Trust’s legacy project.
Read more here.
Chuck Norris says: vote Netanyahu!
“Shalom, this is Chuck Norris. With the elections just days away, Israel has an important decision to make, so let me tell you what Chuck would do,” As many Israeli celebrities and artists of all kinds chose to not publicly support one party or another prior to the election, "Walker, Texas Ranger" decided to express his support for his favorite nominee for Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. The video of the announcement was funded and produced by JDPR, an Israeli public relations firm. Now I wonder if it was Norris's announcement that helped Netanyahu win last week's election…
January 25, 2013 | 12:01 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Harel Skaat, an Israeli singer and songwriter, is your Israeli creation for the weekend. Skaat's voice was first heard in Kochav Nolad (a Star is Born), which is the Israeli American Idol. It was in 2004, and when he opened his mouth for the first time, in front of millions of viewers, we all knew that life would never be the same…
He eventually came in second place, but soon became number one in the Israeli music scene. His singles took over the playlists of every radio station in Israel. Songs like Ve'At ("And you"), Mashehu Mimeni ("A part of me"), and Im Hoo Yelech ("If he'll leave") became number one songs, as his album sales were skyrocketing.
Many Kochav Nolad alumni did not make it in the "real world", but Skaat did. What makes him so special, in my eyes, is his soothing, angels touched, voice. When I listen to him sing, I feel like I al floating in the air, and all the worries in the world are gone. Do you agree?
Im Hoo Yelech
Kol Hatziporim (All the Birds)
January 23, 2013 | 11:40 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Yesterday, while I was casting my vote, it suddenly hit me: no matter which new parties will rise and fall, when it comes to the global system, nothing in the next four years will change.
It wasn't easy for me to decide to whom to give my vote. It is only my second time voting for the Knesset, and it was important to me to have all the facts before I made my decision. I spoke to a lot of people, even those with a political agenda which is far away from mine. I wanted to know what the people I know and love think, and what do the various parties have, that's more believable than a pretty, altogether, written agenda. During my limited research, I had only one thing in mind- making a difference.
I know I probably didn't make any difference. I am merely one small voice, and will not tilt the results either way. But I also knew that staying at home and not voting because of that fact will be worse than voting for a party that may not live up to its expectations in making that difference. That's why yesterday, January 22nd, at 1:27 pm, I put an envelope in a blue box, and went home with a smile on my face. The thought that followed me all day was that even if Netanyahu will win again, it will probably be with a very small gap between his party (Ha'Likud Beiteinu) and the left-center block of parties, which according to recent polls, has grown. I also kept in mind that the former Labor party, Ha'Avoda, has changed leaders since the last election and the same goes for HaBait HaYehudi (the Jewish Home). There is also Yesh Atid (There is a future), a new party established by one of our most famous journalists, Yair Lapid. This party was later proven the biggest surprise of the election, when becoming the second largest party. Even more to that, I read that a few minor parties, such as the liberal party Ale' Yarok (Green Leaf), the driven for a change party, Eretz Hadasha (New Country), and the liberal-Orthodox party, Am Shalem (A complete, whole, nation), may get enough votes to seat two Knesset Members.
With that in mind, I have the feeling that last night's results would bring good news to Israel, and the next four years will bring a change, even if not a major, thorough revolution. But one thing almost slipped my mind: while the inner business here is highly affected by the various parties assembling the Knesset, our business with the world, followed by the very unbalanced foreign media, is mostly affected by the person leading the Knesset, the face of Israel- our Prime Minister.
There is a theory in International Relations that is called "Neo-Liberalism". This theory examines the global system and the relations between the various players in it, in the eyes of cooperation. It says that all players in the world have a common goal: to make life on this planet better. This shared purpose, which everyone can benefit from, is achieved, according to Neo- Liberalism, by establishing global organizations, by the agreement of players to depend on one another financially, by democracies making business agreements with one another, and more. I believe in this theory. I believe that even with the complexity that surrounds us, all nations and non-nations of the world have a common goal to make this world a better place. I believe that the best way to do so is by cooperating, and with that being said, I also believe that considerations such as security, finances, and even just ego get in the way of accomplishing this goal.
Our Prime Minister is Binyamin Netanyahu. He was elected yesterday for four more years. About two months before he was re-elected, your President, Barack Obama, was also elected for four more years. Israel and the United States are more than allies. They are friends. This friendship has been going on for decades now, but in the past four years, this friendship seemed to be going downhill. In the past year or so, it seemed as if this ally is driven by political and security motives only, and that the friendship is gone. Our Prime Minister and your President are very talented people. They are both very skilled, and are worthy of their respected positions. However, they both sometimes let their egos get in their way of performing their jobs the best way possible- with their eyes and hearts dedicated to the people's best interests.
In the past six decades, many Israeli Prime Ministers and American Presidents came and went. Some were a perfect match; some did not quite get along. I am only 22 years old, and for obvious reasons don't remember much from the first 40 years of the existence of Israel, but from what I hear when the old(er) people talk, the current match is the worst one ever. Our leaders don't get along; at least that is what the media tell us. I usually don't believe everything I read in the paper, but this issue is so consistently reported the very same way in all papers, that I have no choice but to believe it is true.
This match between Netanyahu and Obama will not grow a friendship. They don't like each other, and at times it seems as if they actually resent each other. I don't believe it will have much of an effect on the Israel-U. S alliance, because, as I said, it has a very strong security-strategic foundation (we are the only Democracy in the Middle East, and our job is basically to prevent the area from being completely destroyed). However, this lack of friendship, in my eyes, takes the Neo-Liberal world another step back. This alliance is not one of true cooperation, and it will stay this way for another four years.
Today, I woke up to a reality that is different, yet more of the same. It is a rather pessimistic, realistic prediction, but since I am an optimist by nature, I believe that true change comes in baby steps. The minor change in our Knesset WILL grow bigger with time, and our friendship with the U.S. will return to its days of glory. All it takes is a note in an envelope, and a true belief in change.
January 21, 2013 | 11:21 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
On January 22nd, Israel will vote for its new Knesset, and choose the Prime Minister to lead it. Much unlike the American system, here, we have countless parties with countless ideologies to choose from. Behind the curtain, we will cast our ballot, and choose one party only. The person leading the party which will get the most votes, will become Israel's next Prime Minister. I asked some of my friends to tell me, and you, whom they are planning to vote for, and why. Some knew the answer right away, some are still struggling. Each day, I will post a different column with a different opinion. Take in count that this is merely a taste of all the parties competing for our votes. Today, Tali Woolf will explain why she as no idea who to vote for.
I don't know where my vote will go/Tali Woolf
The election is tomorrow, and I still don't know what I'm going to put in the envelope.Never before has it happened to me. I always knew whom I'm going to vote for.
Not this year.
I know who I don't want to see as prime minister no more.
I know whose way of leading this country I disapprove.
I know whose way was ever my way.
I know who makes me feel embarrassed to say "I'm an Israeli!".
Last elections I decided to vote for someone that came from the right side of the political map for the first time. I thought that voting for Tzipi Livni will bring a change. A realistic way of looking at the different situations in Israel. A fresh start. She won the elections, but couldn't gather most of the elected Knesset members, and assemble a coalition. So she disappeared.
Now she's back. Why should I waste my vote on her again?
Since I am a left-winger, I naturally should vote for Ha'Avoda or Meretz. I did it many times before, but this time, it's not that simple for me to do so…Itzhak Rabin was my ideal leader. Where can we find someone like him today?
Does Shelly Yachimovich, who is now leading the party he used to lead, walk in his path? No, not really.
I can identify with her messages, but will she deliver what she promises?
I'm not sure.
Meretz, which used to stand for what I believe in, faded in the past years. Can't hear their voice no more.
All that's left is a loud noise that the fanatic religious parties, and Netanyahu's and Liberman's followers make.
Sadly enough, I know Netanyahu will win this election, so realistically I'll probably vote Ha'Avoda to strengthen the opposition.It's not easy for me to admit, but unfortunately, I have become indifferent. I will vote, I'll never pass this right I have, but in the day after the election, there will be nothing for me to do but sigh...
Tali is a 45 year old Naturopath, currently living in Raanana.
January 20, 2013 | 11:20 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
On January 22nd, Israel will vote for its new Knesset, and choose the Prime Minister to lead it. Much unlike the American system, here, we have countless parties with countless ideologies to choose from. Behind the curtain, we will cast our ballot, and choose one party only. The person leading the party which will get the most votes, will become Israel's next Prime Minister. I asked some of my friends to tell me, and you, whom they are planning to vote for, and why. Some knew the answer right away, some are still struggling. Each day, I will post a different column with a different opinion. Take into account that this is merely a taste of all the parties competing for our votes. Today, Mattan Faber will explain his choice of voting Meretz.
My vote goes to Meretz/Mattan Faber
Something has changed in the last few years. Not so much in me, as in the Israeli society. From everything I see and hear, the Israeli society has become more extreme in its opinions, more religiously oriented, more racist, more intolerant, and more self oriented than ever. This is not the kind of society that I want to be a part of. I want to be a part of a society that sees social responsibility as the way it should run, where people understand that they are a part of something bigger that themselves, their family or their circle of friends, and that the fact that you were born Jewish, rich, or a male, does not mean that you deserve more than someone else, or that you are somehow better than someone else because of it.
I want to be part of a society that cherishes life and welfare and community more than land and profit and religion, a society that don’t care where you are from, but who you are. I want to be a part of a tolerant, accepting and supportive society, not a racist, hateful and dominating one. I want to be a part of a society that wants and works for peace with the Palestinians and Arab countries, not of a society that is war happy and bloodthirsty. I want to be a part of a society that sees democracy and the protection of minorities as a value, not as a way to control and abuse power over others. I want to live in a modern, free society, where women can sing and ride in the front the bus and wear what they want, and where the government is there to take care of the weak and those in need, and not as a tool for the rich and powerful to become more rich and powerful. I want to live in a country where people will be free to practice their religion, but also able to be free from religion and religious coercion.
For me, Meretz is a way to get there. Meretz has been working towards this kind of a society, and has been doing so for years. Meretz is the ONLY party that passes the threshold that has equal representation of men and women. Meretz has been supporting a social economical platform, and have tried to work against the corruption that has become so common in Israel and its government. Meretz is one of the few parties, and the only non-Arab party, that objected to the Cloud Pillar war in Gaza as well as others, but the same unnecessary wars, and called to keep on trying to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, for this is the only way to ensure peace and quiet for everyone in this region. For these reasons, I think that Meretz is the best choice for my vote. The only choice for my vote.
Mattan is a 29 year-old Communications and Film student, currently living in Tel-Aviv.
January 19, 2013 | 12:50 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
On January 22nd, Israel will vote for its new Knesset, and choose the Prime Minister to lead it. Much unlike the American system, here, we have countless parties with countless ideologies to choose from. Behind the curtain, we will cast our ballot, and choose one party only. The person leading the party which will get the most votes, will become Israel's next Prime Minister. I asked some of my friends to tell me, and you, whom they are planning to vote for, and why. Some knew the answer right away, some are still struggling. Each day, I will post a different column with a different opinion. Take into account that this is merely a taste of all the parties competing for our votes. Today, Aviv Tzinori will explain her choice of voting Eretz Hadasha.
My vote goes to Eretz Hadasha/ Aviv Tzinori
Ever since the big Social Justice protest, we scream out that we've had it. We've had enough with corrupt politicians, with the cutbacks, with demagoguery… We are opposing, waving our arms and legs, and announcing that this can no longer go on. But after two years of doing that, the election time of the year arrives. The best PR artists 'polish' their clients, and tongues turn into swords. Every word that's being said during this time is like a slash of the sword upon a rival's head.
Ha'Likud-Israel Beiteinu VS Habait Hayehudi. Tzipi Livni VS Shelly Yachimovich VS Yair Lapid… The current election campaign seems like one big cloud of personal interests and direct insults, with only one thing missing- The Agenda. The saying: Once upon a time, those who ran for politics were people who had something to say, an opinion of desire for a better Israel. Nowadays, it feels like everything is driven by interests and followed by questions such as: Which hand will you shake secretly? Which 'friends' need you more than you need them? Which ones do you need more?
The feeling of despair from the more senior, 'old timers' politician is probably collective. This feeling, that no matter what we will do, it will all stay the same as the same old politicians, who've been in the Knesset for decades now, will remain there. This feeling of despair leads each one of us to a different place: some choose not to vote, some get scared and follow extremists, some let the current Knesset convince them that change is bad. They tell us that change will be suicidal for Israel. Why are they trying to scare us like that? Why they are trying to prevent us from changing the system? What are they not telling us? Is change even possible?
Eldad Yaniv says it is. Yaniv is the chairperson of "Eretz Hadasha" (New Land) party. I don't know him personally. I heard of him only several times before. He was Netanyahu's assistant, and later Barak's assistant. He has a lot to say. He comes from the inside, he knows the system. He activated the system, and he can also break it.
Yaniv knows what are the critical junctions that must be passed in order for us to become a better Israel. He wants to turn the politics, which we all see as rotten, to something different and new. I am not scared anymore. I stopped believing Netanyahu. I know things can be better. I believe in the power of 'new blood', clean and interests-free, as opposed to the Dinosaurs in the Knesset.
Eretz Hadasha promise to fight the lack of willingness and lack of ability that surround the halls of the Knesset building. According to the polls, Eretz Hadasha has a shot at entering two new Knesset members, and this is a great first step, and already a success. They give me hope for a brighter future.
Aviv is a 24 year-old Communications and Sociology student, currently living in Givat Shmuel.
January 18, 2013 | 11:37 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
On January 22nd, Israel will vote for its new Knesset, and choose the Prime Minister to lead it. Much unlike the American system, here, we have countless parties with countless ideologies to choose from. Behind the curtain, we will cast our ballot, and choose one party only. The person leading the party which will get the most votes, will become Israel's next Prime Minister. I asked some of my friends to tell me, and you, whom they are planning to vote for, and why. Some knew the answer right away, some are still struggling. Each day, I will post a different column with a different opinion. Take in count that this is merely a taste of all the parties competing for our votes. Today, Alex Zusmanovich will explain his choice of voting Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi.
My vote will probably go to Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi/ Alex Zusmanovich
I don't know how you choose for whom to give your vote in your elections, but here in Israel, due to an almost complete absence of real leaders and politicians that we entirely believe in, some of us, myself included, choose for whom to cast our vote for, using the method of elimination.
So after this basic assumption about the Israeli elections, we can move on and choose from a very large variety of political parties. If you are a right winger like me, you have three parties to choose from – 'HaLikud Beytenu', the ruling party headed by the prime minister Netanyahu, 'HaBayit HaYehudi' (the Jewish Home) party headed by the newcomer Naftali Bennett and 'Otzma LeIsrael' (Power for Israel), a far-right radical nationalist party. If we put away the last option, mainly because it far too radical, not to say fascist, we have only two options left. On January 22 , I will cast Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi ballot paper in the ballot box because of two main reasons:
Firstly, because I don't want to vote for the Likud. I see it as an archaic, mostly corrupt party that promotes its worst candidates to the Knesset.
Secondly, because I believe that Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi, once a sectorial settler's party, has changed, and now uses a more extensive rhetoric that fits even for a secular guy from Tel Aviv like me. And here lies the main problem with this choice. The main criticism directed towards Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi refers to it as a radical, Messianic, ultra-religious party that hides its real intentions under slogans that work for everyone.
Of course that there's a little truth in it, but same as the criticism that refers to the Labor party as communists that want to enslave us all or to Meretz party as a fifth column that will eventually destroy Israel from the inside, it's exaggerated. As I see it, it's only a pre-elections discourse that is used for receiving more votes over a party that is viewed as your enemy. After the elections, many parties that were sworn enemies before, sit together in the coalition.
To sum up, I'm not one hundred percent confident in my vote. Ha'Bait Ha'Yehudi is too religious for the ideal party that I see in my mind, but I still see it as the best choice considering my ideological and political views. And as I said in the beginning – almost nobody here is fully sure with his or her choice, we're just eliminating them, and vote for the least bad.
Alex is a 26 year- old Communications and Political Science student, currently living in Tel-Aviv.