Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
This upcoming week is Hnukkah, aka: the most wonderful time of the Jewish year. The next eight days will be full fun, family-time, extremely oily food and lots and lots of holiday spirit. I know some of you see more Chistmas than Hanukkah when walking down the street, so to make your weekend more Hnukkah-like, here are my favorite versions of Hanukkah songs! Have a happy, happy holiday!!!
Hanukkah Medley from "Shirim Ktanim" (little songs)- the video tape many Israelis around my age grew up on
Candlelight/ The Baccabeats- I know you already know it by heart, so turn up the volume and start singing!
This one is not an official Hanukkah song, but it sure is awesome!
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December 6, 2012 | 11:22 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Last week's Israeli- Palestinian- U.N members events dragged all kinds of critisizm. In the past week, I was exposed to various points of view and takes on the U.N vote for the Palestinian authority's resolution and on the Israeli reaction to it, and decided it would be best to present you with more opinions, other then mine. Here are the two different ways in which Alex Zusmanovich and Ron Notkin analize the current events.
The Never Ending Story/Ron Notkin
When the Palestinian authority went to the general assembly of the United Nations, prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) set on his chair and thought: what can I do to strike back? He eventually decided to approve the project of another 3,000 units in Jerusalem and in settlements in the west bank in the most sensitive E-1 territories.
On one hand, I can say that it is Israel's right to build in the Jewish state. On the other hand, Netanyahu is acting like a winey kindergarten boy that a toy was taken from him. Why, Bibi? Why do you have to throw this fact in the face of the international community? The relationship with the President of the United States, Barak Obama, has gone downhill in the past four years, and the European Union members never had Israel's interests on the top of their agenda. Instead of patching the wounds, Netanyahu made this move.
True, the Palestinian recognition in the U.N's General Assembly is only on paper, and in order for a Palestinian state to be truly acknowledged, they have to get an approval of the Security Council. For now, Israel has the U.S can use their veto power if such a proposal rises. But in order to keep this veto relevant, Netanyahu must be very careful not to worsen his relationship with Obama, which are already quite shaky.
In the past week, we all read about the parade of Israeli ambassadors in European countries such as Great Britain, France and Germany, which were summoned for a condemnation due to the residential program in the West Bank. This is merely another step in a journey that began years ago, and will end in the loss of support from the international community.When we look at the political map in Israel, with the election coming up soon, I can safely say that Netanyahu will remain in office, with Liberman by his side, as his Minister of Foreign Affairs. Netanyahu is known as an easy to push button, and Liberman is the main finger pressing him. Taking that in mind, Netanyahu must be more aware of agreeing to ideas that might make things worse for the state of Israel and its residents.
The Israel-Palestinian conflict is going on since 1947. If anyone thinks that the solution is near, they are dead wrong. Israel will not accept the Palestinian request of withdrawal from vital territories, and the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, will not accept Israel's requests of compromise. The way I see it, both sides will go at it for hundreds of years. I have already come to the understanding that a solution will not come in my lifetime. Have you?
Notkin is an Israeli Journalist.
No Big Deal.../Alex Zusmanovich
Here, in Israel, we have a tendency to examine every topic worldwide by asking the question: "Is it good for the Jews?". Apparently the answer, considering the recent happenings at the UN General Assembly, is "no, because such one-sided political step from PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas, draws Israel in very bad lines, and gives Palestinians some legitimacy for their self-determinate demands."
But, and this all of us should remember, the acceptance of the so called Palestinian state as an observer to the UN general assembly, has a much more symbolic aspect, than a practical one. Basically, nothing has changed – the occupation is not over and a Palestinian state is yet to be established. Which effect this will have on the interaction between the two sides in the future? Only time will tell.
Another question we, Israelis, ask ourselves all the time is: "how come the world leaders take their side over ours?" And if we translate this question relying on the recent happenings – "how come the Palestinians had such a decisive victory in the UN?" The answer for this one is simple: people tend to take the underdog's side. And there is no doubt that considering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Palestinians are portrayed as underdogs. The bottom line is that we shouldn't ask ourselves this question, because we cannot change the reality. We can try to explain people from abroad the complexity of this conflict (I don't know, for example, how many people know that the PLO and the Hamas are two different organizations, and that what happened in the UN has nothing to do with the IDF's recent operation in Gaza,) and show them that there's no right approach or a right answer to prevent the U.N members from automatically supporting the underdog, but there is no way we can make Israel appear as the underdog in this case.
If we will take those two things in mind, we will understand that nothing drastic has happened. A Palestinian state won't establish on paper, but only on the ground. The Palestinian state can only be established with an Israeli consent, and U.N is not the one to make the call on that matter. Until that happens, be sure that most U.N members will continue to vote for the underdog.
As for the Israeli government's plan for 3,000 new residential units in the E-1 area, give me a break! We are less than two months away from the election here in Israel. It is all a political trick Netanyahu and his men pull. The approval of the plan does not mean the houses would actually be built. Besides, I believe that what the media told us in the past couple of days, about Israeli ambassadors being condemned and the world leaders criticizing Israel, is all just a exaggeration of the actual story. The media is doing what it normally does- making a mountain out of a small bump.
Zusmanovich is a B.A student for Communication and Political Science.
December 5, 2012 | 11:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Last week, the U.N. General Assembly voted to ratify the Palestinian Authority's resolution to change its U.N. observer status from "entity" to "non-member state.” In my opinion, this decision did nothing except take the peace process backward another step. This resolution’s move toward the establishment of an independent Palestinian state came as a one-sided proposal, without Israel's consent. While standing on the General Assembly stage and telling lies about Israel, Mahmoud Abbas knew he was making some people in Israel very angry. When he was comparing Israelis to the Nazis and saying how badly Palestinians are treated (while Israel supports them with millions of dollars each year)- he knew he was playing a vicious, childish game. Mahmoud Abbas tried to hit on Israel's decision makers’ sensitive spots in order to elicit a reaction that would make Israel look bad in the eyes of the world.
I was sure that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his officials saw Mahmoud Abbas' true intentions. I knew that they would congratulate the Palestinians on-stage, and then maybe consider a mild, diplomatic response for their one-sided move off-stage, announcing that the peace process would be delayed until the Palestinian leadership is willing to have a mature discussion. But then, the Israeli government approved a plan for 3,000 new residential units in the E-1 area, between Eastern Jerusalem and Maale Adumin in the West Bank. The E-1 area is particularly sensitive, and building there sends a very clear message: "if you pull tricks on us—we’ll pull harder tricks on you." By doing this, Israel's decision-makers pulled us down to the other side's low level. We could have left the U.N. vote with a superior position if we had reacted diplomatically, with Israel's leaders asking to sit down and talk. This would have been the smart thing to do, no question. This approach would have been the most reasonable one, but for some very strange reason, Netanyahu took the approach of an eight year old.
This peace process, which many Israelis and Palestinians want, has sadly turned into a children’s game. Instead of a grown-up conversation, both sides get impatient and try to get back at each other, pulling pranks and calling names. Well excuse me, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas- in this board game, your pawns are real-life people. In your little game, there are lives at stake. I, for once, will not tolerate my representatives in the Knesset making all the wrong decisions for me. You see, it's not only the U.S. State Department and several European leaders who are mad at Israel's reaction, but half the people in Israel are mad as well. I cannot bear the thought of watching people who promise to do what's best for the people of Israel leading us to a diplomatic oblivion. The childish game Netanyahu is playing has been causing a worldwide rage, and for what?! For the satisfaction of "getting back" at his nemesis? As an Israel citizen, it hurts me to watch this harsh criticism on my country. Now, Instead of criticizing Mahmoud Abbas for addressing the U.N without talking to Israel's leaders, and reminding the world of his true intentions of conquering all of Israel, newspapers worldwide deal with Israel's childish reaction, which basically told the world we don't care much about the U.N.'s decisions.
During operation Pillar of Defense, many Israelis and pro-Israelis worldwide worked very hard in order to keep people abroad aware of what truly occurred, and not what the foreign media decided to show. The efforts turned out to be very productive, and I can confidently say the operation ended with Israel's hand on top when it came to public support. Now, our trusted leaders threw our hard work into the trash. They turned around the public opinion, right when they had the chance to keep Israel in a positive light, in our relationships with foreign state leaders and their people. Since this is the case, I have one message for both Netanyahu and Abbas: Hey there, we are the little people you are playing with. For our sake, please remember your role as the people in charge of our wellbeing. So stop the nonsense, and try to make things better here. Thank you.
December 3, 2012 | 11:25 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Last Thursday, the U.N General Assembly voted on the Palestinian Authority's resolution to change its U.N observer status from "entity" to "non-member state," (like the Vatican’s.) Despite Israel's attempts to get as many states as possible to oppose that resolution, the majority still chose to vote in favor of the resolution. The anger aimed towards the U.N started days before the actual vote, when it became clear that the resolution would pass. Many pro-Israel activists saw in this a betrayal, and a set-back in the peace process because this resolution called for unilateral recognition and did not come out of a negotiated agreement with Israel. Others said this vote, which is a step towards an independent Palestinian state, would be irrelevant because without Israeli recognition, there cannot ever be an independent Palestinian state. According to those people, the U.N vote was nothing but an attempt to provoke Israel.
I agree with everything that has been said in the paragraph above, but I don't think that the problem is the recognition of a Palestinian state. First of all, I am not angry with the U.N, at least not anymore. I just came to the realization that this organization has failed in presenting a non-biased, balanced, objective opinion, and with that, it has failed in fulfilling it founding purpose. For me, the U.N is yet another political organization which takes the world a step back instead of taking it a step forward. Since I now fully understand that, I just ignore it. Maybe if more people will do so, it will eventually make it go away. As for a Palestinian state- I am for it. I see no reason for them not to be independent within their own territory. A separate and independent state could definitely put an end to this long, protracted conflict since it would mean that they would live on their own without any support from Israel. Why is this a win-win situation? Since they will stop complaining about how they are being treated so badly and we will be able to save a lot of money by cutting the supply and finance chord.
When I think of the fact that they are asking for a state of their own, I can't help but think about the history of the Jewish people. In just a few days we will celebrate Hanukkah- one of the many holidays celebrating our victory over a vicious enemy that wanted not only our land but also to kill us. This has been our history for over 2000 years and 64 years ago, the hunting of Jews finally stopped. It happened several months after the U.N declared Israel an independent state. From this point on we had a home and a safe haven for Jews worldwide, where they could live without being hunted for their way of life. It didn't stop people from coveting our land but now we at least had the power to not run away and to stay put to fight for our legally owned land. When I think of our story, the first thing that comes to mind is "why can't a group of people, who want to live independently as a state, have the right to do so?" Why then should there not be a Palestinian state?
The answer to that is because it doesn't end there. In this story, no one is naïve enough to believe the Palestinians will settle for recognition as an independent state in this small territory of theirs (well, except for maybe the Palestinian citizens, who really just want peace and quiet). Mahmoud Abbas does not want to settle down in peace on a small piece of land. If that was true, there would probably be peace by now because there was no actual reason for a conflict. If that was true, the Palestinian Authority would not need to address the U.N proposing a one-sided resolution. If all they wanted was to be independent, it would have happened years ago because Israel seeks peace and this would have been a way to achieve it. Besides, it is much cheaper for Israel to stop supporting the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas had to address the U.N and propose a one-sided resolution because his definition of "peace and quiet" is the complete ownership of the land of Israel, and our return to wandering in the dessert. His speech in front of the General Assembly was aggressive, and showed no true desire for a settlement of any kind. In his speech, Mahmoud Abbas kept trying to color the conflict in black and white, by convincing the U.N delegates that Israel is the villain, and the Palestinian Authority is the victim. One way in which he did that was by comparing Israelis to the Nazis- a comparison that should never be made, and without a doubt a very hurtful saying, aimed to hurt every single Israeli and Jew.
Mahmoud Abbas played a tricky game. He purposely chose November 29th as the date for the U.N vote. On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly of the U.N voted for the partition of what was once supposed to be named Palestine into two states- one for the Jews and one for the Arabs. The Jews accepted this partition, while the Arabs refused it. They wanted the entire territory and were unwilling to settle. Sixty-five years later, the Palestinian leader returns to the General Assembly stage with a not-so-hidden statement- he wants an independent state at Israel's expense. This bottom line of his is not new. He has stated many times before that his wishes are to wipe Israel as we know it off the map and claim the territory for the Palestinians. Even though he sometimes appeared as a worthy partner for negotiations, his bottom line is no different than the ones Palestinian leaders before him held: "We will not settle, we will not negotiate. We want to wipe the Jewish state off the map."
I have no problem with an independent Palestinian state. In fact, I am for it. I want the Palestinians to have a place to belong to and call "home." I am sure many Israelis feel the same way for we have been in their place before. But when voting for a Palestinian state, the U.N is not really voting for peace or for the Palestinian people. True peace can only be achieved by conversation and negotiation, not by winning a vote at the U.N. The only way in which two states can truly exist side by side, quietly and peacefully, is when both sides would be willing to seriously sit down and talk and compromise. Leaders on both sides have negotiated before and therefore I believe they can negotiate again. A proposition to the U.N is not the beginning of a negotiation process and therefore, no vote, future or past will get us any closer to peace.
November 30, 2012 | 1:22 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Have you heard of Noa Tishby? If not- now is the time to memorize that name. Tishby is a household name in Israel, and also maintains an impressive acting career in the United States. In fact, I believe she is the most appreciated by Israelis than all her Israelis- in- Hollywood peers. What makes her so special is not her many roles in television (Charmed, Nip/Tuck, Las Vegas, Big Love, NCIS, CSI:Miami and more), or her roles in film (The Island, Connecting Dots, The Ghost of Girlfriends Past…) What really make her the greatest is her pro-Israel activism. Tishby is an advocate of Israel, and she is not afraid to leverage her status in Hollywood to speak for Israel in every opportunity. Tishby is a member of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and has traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby on Capitol Hill. She is also a member of The Israeli Consulate Speakers Bureau and the ILC (Israeli Leadership Council). She is also co-Founder of the digital activist group: Act for Israel. Moreover, Noa was on The Jerusalem Post list of the 50 most influential Jews in the world alongside Benjamin Netanyahu, Natalie Portman and Mark Zuckerberg.
Her activism is not something to be taken for granted. Many Israelis abroad are afraid to put their nationality on display, because of the not-so-pro-Israeli public opinion, but Tishby really puts her country first, which really makes her an Israeli pride.
Noa Tishby talks about Israel's image in the United States
November 28, 2012 | 11:45 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Last week, we all witnessed what is called: Media War. The media war in unannounced and it doesn't end with a truce- it is an ongoing battle with social networks and websites as the battlefield. It occurs when two sides of a conflict of sort compete for the public's attention through the various media. During Operation Pillar of Defense, the Media War was very noticeable, and many of us took part in it, trying to expose Hamas' lies and supporting Israel. But it did not start last week. It is an ongoing process in which, so far, Israel is on the losing side…
I remember hearing about the Gaza war (also known as Operation Cast Lead) for the first time: It was December 2008, and I was on a vacation in London. While riding the train, observing the passengers and playing the common game of trying to guess their story, I noticed an old man reading the daily newspaper. It was folded, so I was able to read one of the articles. The title said "IDF in bombing in Gaza.” There was a dramatic photo of a Palestine woman crying, kneeling and raising her bloody hands towards a ray of light; a dead body of a child was lying beneath her. Next to the picture, there was a quote by the mayor of Sderot, a city in Israel that is constantly under the attack of missiles, which said, "I'm proud to be an Israeli." I couldn't stop thinking about what I had just read. It looked bad. It made the IDF and the Israeli people seem like despicable murderers.I couldn't believe the vicious act I had just read about. I started thinking about other people, non-Israeli people. It only made sense that their first reaction to this article would be to feel sorry for the poor woman, and to condemn the mayor of Sderot. In the next few days, this described attack was the center of public discourse
Having been born and raised in Israel, I had constantly been protected by soldiers. Throughout my childhood, I admired the IDF. After serving in the IDF I can say from firsthand experience that the army does not attack without purpose- they are the Israeli Defense Force. Unfortunately, the media oftentimes provides a skewed perspective and portrays the IDF as aggressors. While I myself was aware that there was surely much more to this attack than what the news reported, I kept in mind that the average British citizen knows only what he hears and reads. I can't begin to explain the despair we feel every time we watch the international news. It hurts to know that some people receive only partial information.
Our hands are tied when in comes to the greatest war of all: the media war. Our army may be one of the strongest, most powerful armies in the world, but we are helpless when it comes to media publication.In the age of instant messaging where whoever publishes last- doesn't count, people don't care about the circumstances. They're only looking for the results. We are always in a hurry, and need to get as much information as possible as quickly as possible. The newspapers compete for readers, and so they choose headlines that will capture our attention. Even thought the body of that article about the Gaza War was neutral and showed what lead to that attack, I'm sure most people will never know. We don't have time. We read headlines, and that's that
I'm not trying to make excuses, and I’m not saying that every decision made by the Israeli government is the right one. I'm just saying that it's natural to feel sorry for the little boy standing in front of a big tank. It's the easiest thing to do. But have you ever stopped thinking what brought that tank over there? Have you ever noticed the boy is holding a stone in his hand? Have you ever taken a moment to try and think what is not shown in the photos you see? Maybe there are hundreds of kids holding stones and standing in front of that tank. Maybe those kids threw stones at innocent people. Maybe some were killed and that tank came to stop this killing. Maybe those young kids are protecting a number one target of a terror organization. Maybe not. We'll never know.
Remember that headlines and pictures are meant to target readers’ emotions- they don’t always show the full truth. As Karl Popper once said, "Put everything to question. Things will be true only when no one can question them anymore." Since you can't see beyond the limits of what you are shown, or look into five different websites at a time, all I can recommend, and beg you to do, is this: Whenever you hear or read about something that seems to lack explanation, check yesterday's news. It may help you see things more clearly...
November 26, 2012 | 11:08 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Israeli archaeologists uncovered an ancient well in the Yizra'el Valley, in the northern Galilee region. The well dates back to the Neolithic period (about 8,500 years ago), and is believed to have been part of an ancient farming settlement. Several artifacts were found in the well, but the most unique findings were skeletal remains of a young woman and an older man. The reason why their remains were inside a well is unclear.
Guests from 100 cities in Germany visited Israel last week for a conference celebrating Israeli-German sister cities. Sister cities (i.e. Holon/Berlin, Tel-Aviv/Cologne) share a partnership of common cultural and economic ties. The conference took place in Jerusalem last Sunday and Monday, and the Israeli and German delegations who met there discussed issues of shared importance. The conference opened with a fancy gala event that was attended by Israeli president Shimon Peres and German ambassador to Israel Andreas Michaelis.
Stevie Wonder just called to say he supports the IDF. The musical legend will perform at this year’s “Friends of the Israeli Defense Force (FIDF) Gala,” an annual event benefiting Israeli soldiers. The event is scheduled to take place on December 5th at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. It will be hosted by Cheryl and Haim Saban, with more than a thousand members of L.A.’s Jewish community expected to attend. Considered to be one of FIDF's biggest and most meaningful events, the gala raises millions of dollars each year.
Four Israeli life scientists were among the 22 selected by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) to be part of its prestigious Young Investigator Programme. The program identifies some of the most promising young researchers in Europe. In addition to the high recognition, Israelis Ron Milo, Jacob Hanna, Itai Yanai and Raz Zarivach will each receive a €45,000 grant. The three-year program provides academic, practical and financial support during the early years of the researchers’ independent careers.
And the Oscar goes to…A group of students from Nofey Golan High School in Katzrin won first place at the International Student Film Festival in Hollywood, California. The film Einey Shaked (“Behind Her Eyes”) won Best Foreign Drama, beating 200 other films made by teenagers from all around the world. The 17-minute film tells the story of a close relationship between two young girls, put to test after a sexual assault. The movie critiques how authorities deal with cases of rape and sexual assault, where the victim is often the one placed into question instead of the perpetrator. Two of the student filmmakers lived out their dream: walking on the red carpet in Hollywood.
Hockey is back! After being absent for 16 years, hockey will make its comeback at this year’s Maccabiah Games. Also known as the “International Jewish Olympics,” the competition will feature hockey for the first, and only, time since 1997. The games are scheduled to take place during July 2013 in Metula, Israel, and they will feature teams from all over the world competing in a variety of sports. Four countries will be represented by hockey teams: Israel, the United States, Canada, and France. Mike Keenan will be coaching Canada. Keenan had previously led the NY Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup championship, and led both the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals.
Many years ago, a wise person (may have) said, “Don't get involved in politics you understand nothing about." Well, I guess Kim Kardashian missed that statement. Last week, the reality star’s Twitter account turned into one big political mess… During the IDF Operation Pillar of Defense, Kardashian posted from her Twitter account: “Praying for everyone in Israel." This tweet caused controversy, and people unsupportive of Israel gave her a piece of their minds. The reality star quickly deleted the post, replacing it with: “Praying for everyone in Palestine and across the world.” This tweet (you guessed it!) was less-than-popular with Israel supporters. This second post was also promptly deleted, and was followed by a longer statement by Kardashian in her web site’s online blog: "I want to own up to and explain that earlier today I sent out two tweets about saying prayers for the people in Palestine and Israel and after hearing from my followers, I decided to take down the tweets because I realized that some people were offended and hurt by what I said, and for that I apologize. I should have pointed out my intentions behind these tweets when I posted them. The fact is that regardless of religion and political beliefs, there are countless innocent people involved who didnt [sic] choose this, and I pray for all of them and also for a resolution. I also pray for all the other people around the world who are caught in similar crossfires." Oopsy daisy…
A Polish film, based on one of the most controversial episodes of WWII, was released in Poland last Friday. Poklosie ("Aftermath") was directed by Wladyslaw Pasikowski and features a cast of famous Polish actors. It tells the story of the 1942 Jedwabne massacre of Jews by their Polish neighbors, a nightmare event in which hundreds of Jews were burned alive in a barn. The film was inspired by the book Neighbors, written by Polish-American historian Jan Tomasz Gross, which sent shockwaves across Poland after its publication in 2000. The date of the massacre has entered Poland’s remembrance calendar.
And I know it's been several days now, but one last time, I want to say: THANK YOU!
November 23, 2012 | 1:30 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Monica Sex is one of my favorite Rock Bands. Their music is generally characterized by its alternative rock sound and catchy lyrics. For 20 years now, the band takes a great part in Israeli culture, and is considered an Israeli music icon. Their songs have lyrics that I believe anyone could relate to. This, together with a top of the notch all-the-way rock melodies, makes their music immortal. While their music is mostly aimed for a younger audience, their 20 years of experience and the fact they are still relevant now as they were then, unite parents and their teenage children. So far, I've been to more than a few of their concerts, and the fun I am having is indescribable. Enjoy and Rock On.
Maka Afora (Grey Punch)- This is a song that 99% of Israelis know by heart
Al Haritzpah (On the Floor)- live
Mangina (Melody)- one of their beautiful ballads and the best video clip!