Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Eyal Golan is a very successful Israeli singer, and one of the biggest stars in our musical sky. Golan (42) sings Mizrahi (oriental) music, and is often referred to as "the king of Mizrahi music." He started singing at the age of 20, and was officially discovered to the Israeli playlist by the band Ethnix, whose members were searching for a Mizrahi singer for producing a music album. Since then, he has released 15 studio albums and 6 live albums, and won many titles, including "male singer of the decade" in 2010.
Tzlil Meitar (Sound of the string)
Kshe' At Ito (When you are with him)
Yafa Sheli (My beautiful women)
12.20.13 at 11:38 am | Since I live in Israel and am very passionate. . .
12.17.13 at 12:22 pm | Pro-Israeli activists waited years for the day. . .
12.17.13 at 7:30 am | BDS, the best of Hanukkah, TripAdvisor awards,. . .
12.16.13 at 11:12 am | Since winter here is rather short, and lasts a. . .
12.13.13 at 11:36 am | Since I live in Israel and am very passionate. . .
12.10.13 at 12:55 pm | What you are about to read sounds like a big. . .
12.16.13 at 11:12 am | Since winter here is rather short, and lasts a. . . (426)
12.17.13 at 12:22 pm | Pro-Israeli activists waited years for the day. . . (165)
12.17.13 at 7:30 am | BDS, the best of Hanukkah, TripAdvisor awards,. . . (54)
July 1, 2013 | 12:28 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
International company Freij Entertainment, which built the London Eye and the world's largest mobile rides in Hong Kong, New York, Paris and other cities, will build a gigantic Ferris Wheel at Tel-Aviv port, sometimes during 2014. The wheel will be 80 meters (263 feet) tall and will include 42 sealed and air-conditioned passenger capsules, which can hold up to six people each. It will also feature a VIP section, where people could dine as Israel's beautiful scenery would reflect from their window.
Read more here.
All roads lead to the Roman Empire
An ancient road leading from Jaffa to Jerusalem, was exposed during archeological excavation, conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The road, as wide as 8 meters, was built of large, flat stones, as was dated back to the Roman Period (about second to fourth centuries, CE.)
Read more here.
Chicago-Israel newest collaboration
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, visited Jerusalem last Monday, to sign a cooperation agreement between Ben-Gurion University and The University of Chicago. Both universities, which have been working together for the last 18 months, have come up with a series of proposals that would look at ways to purify water at the molecular level, making clean, fresh drinking-water more plentiful and less expensive by 2020.
Read more here.
Tel Aviv on the top
National Geographic has released its list of the top 10 beach cities in the world and has accredited Tel Aviv as number nine. In the past few years, the city marked itself as Israel's "unofficial capital," and attracted many tourists to its nightclubs, beaches and spectacular events. It was also chosen as one of the most "gay friendly" cities in the world.
Read more here.
Don't rain on her parade!
On June 22nd, I was amongst the lucky 16,000 Israelis who had the honor to see Barbra Streisand performing live. Her concert at the Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa was only her 100th concert in her entire career. She landed in Israel a week earlier to join our President's 90th birthday celebrations, and spend over a week enjoying Israel.
Read more about my Streisand experience here.
A diamond will shine in Israel
Three years ago, Rihanna first came to Israel for an unforgettable concert that wowed the fans. She probably had a great time here, because the six-time Grammy winner has plans to return here, and bring her “Diamonds” world tour to Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv on October 22.
Read more here.
"Z" for "Zion?"
In World War Z, the summer blockbuster that opened in the US last week, Brad Pitt is a UN specialist leading the people of the world to a safe place, after a massive Zombie attack. After the major cities of the world are being struck by the living dead, he turns to the one last civilization standing- Jerusalem. According to "Times of Israel," World War Z is the "greatest piece of cinematic propaganda for Israel since Otto Preminger's Exodus." However, in Turkey they somehow managed to censor any references to Israel…
Read more here.
Kings of Matkot
Summer is here, and it means only three things: beaches, beaches and beaches. The warming rays of the sun gently push more and more Israelis towards the beach, where we tan, swim, relax and play our "national beach sport"- Matkot!
Read more here.
Wibbitz you news
After two years of work and a month-long closed beta test, the new Israeli startup, Wibbitz, went public last week, with a free iPhone and iPad app that lets users automatically convert news stories into videos. How does it work? An automated voice reads out a news story on one of dozens of news sites, with the audio accompanied by still photos, videos, and infographics relating to the story.
Read more here.
June 28, 2013 | 12:32 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Hadag Nahash is one of the biggest bands in Israel today. They started in Jerusalem, in 1996, and with their fresh combination of Hip Hop, rock, reggae and funk, made their way into Tel-Aviv's mainstream. Nowadays, their Middle-Eastern groove is taking over the charts and the playlist, and also got the band the opportunities to share stages with bands like The Black Eyed Peas and Cypress Hill.
But don't be fooled. Under the groovy façade lays a clear social agenda. In recent years, Hadag Nahash used their popularity, as well as their music, to call for action on various topics, including equality, civil rights, and the struggle against racism and corruption. Throughout the years, Hadag Nahash members have volunteered for various social causes around Israel. They are especially known for their activity in “the one shekel festival”, which is an NGO aimed at bridging cultural gaps, that was created by band member Shaanan Streett some nine years ago.
The band released five studio albums so far, and won many awards and national recognition, such as "Band of the year" and "album of the year", as well as the honor of writing and recording the soundtrack for Adam Sandler's hit movie: Don't Mess with the Zohan.
Shir Nehama (Consolation Song)
Shirat HaSticker (The Sticker Song)- with Matisyahu
Zman Lehit'orer (Time to Wake Up)
June 27, 2013 | 12:30 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
A few months ago, I read that a group of MK's from the coalition calls for a bill to determine Israel as Jewish first, and democratic second. Now the vote is closer than ever, as newspapers in Israel are filled with opinion columns and updates, and the fear of the bill's passing is growing bigger.
Should the bill pass, Israel's official definition as "a Jewish and democratic state" would change to "a Jewish state with democratic features." This might cause some uneven rulings in the courtrooms that would prefer Jews over other religions and identities by law. Nowadays, it is very difficult as is to maintain the balance between Israel's somewhat conflicting two features, but the law states equality. If the bill would pass, there would be no doubt that here, in Israel, there are people who are superior and people who are inferior, on a religious basis.
There are people of other religions and identities living in our midst, and whether it was what our founders wanted or not, it is our reality. Israel is the home of people of many nations with many beliefs. It is a multicultural, democratic and liberal place, and no matter what our haters say, it is true. To strip some of Israel's citizens of their equal rights would not demote the "democratic" feature to second place of importance, but eliminate it completely. Leaving a window to judges without healthy judgment to rule in favor of people of a certain religion is all but democratic.
This bill probably won't pass, and our Ministers of justice and treasury stated they will oppose it, but its bad taste would still remain, simply because it symbolizes something far more profound than yet another bill, especially when being discussed in the same breathe with yesterday's US Supreme Court ruling, clearing that part of DOMA are unconstitutional.
Most Israelis are warm, open-minded people. They are liberal, free and accepting, open-minded and having one of the biggest Pride parades in the world only proves it. But as relatively advanced as we are, we still have one big barrier on the matter of complete equal right on the matter- laws that do not reflect the majority's opinion. In 2013, Israel is still being dominated by some Orthodox rules, which are fitted to the Middle Ages. We find ways to go around them (same-sex marriage abroad, or the new avant-garde reform weddings where the woman does not need to feel unequal,) but sadly accept the fact that the law is not going to change.
After reading of the celebrations in the States yesterday, I was immediately filled with hope that maybe we, the only Democracy in the area and one of the countries with the most liberal people, would be next. But then, I remembered the number of times Ministers and M.K's unsuccessfully tried to pass a law legalizing same-sex marriage. I also noticed that in today's paper, there was a very big article about the celebrations in the US, and not a word there about our future on the matter. This, combined with the proposal to make us more Jewish and less democratic, pushes institutional liberalization further away. However, there is a ray of sunshine. This Knesset went through a major change when a record number of young, new MK's were elected. Soon, I hope, we will witness further exchange there, as young, open minded, new-generation of MK's will take their seats. Then, I'm sure, our court will join yours.
June 25, 2013 | 12:43 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
This week, I came across a story that drew my attention: missiles were fired from Gaza into southern Israel. I came across this story from a Facebook status of a friend, and later noticed that it got a very minor coverage in the morning paper the following day.
When I noticed this, the first thing that came to my mind was "well, it's not a big deal," but after I let those words echo in my mind, something really bothered me: why isn't it a big deal to us anymore?! What has happened to us, that when people are being hurt from this conflict, that we see it as a part of a routine of some sort and just go on with our lives? Have we come to a completion with this hurtful conflict?
I don't know what has become of us, that we are willing to let such stories slide. We read about yet another attack on Israel, in courtesy of a terror organization, sigh, and turn to "liking" our friend's new profile picture. Perhaps in time we've become comfortably numb. We know that dwelling on such events will get us nowhere, because we know that this conflict will never end. We sometimes refuse to admit this, but by doing it, we, the majority, simply clear the stage for the extreme minorities, and for both governments, who, for some reason, seem to prefer the continuity of this conflict.
Israel is not that old, only 65. And not too long ago, before there were Smartphones and individualism to keep us busy, people here fought with their lives for this right to live here. Now, 65 years later, Israel is still fighting for its existence, and the other side wants a state of its own. At the same time, people from all over the world are working very hard to delegitimize our home. This time, we are smarter than we were back then. We know better than to start a war. We've learned to use diplomacy, and to sit and talk. But instead of taking action, we are counting on others to talk for us, and not doing the talking ourselves. We take events such as the ones above for granted, and go on with our lives, as if there is nothing left to do to improve the reality we are living in.
We cannot look away and ignore. Not now, not ever. Our reality is tiring, I know, but this cannot be the end, because otherwise, it would soon be impossible to fix what is broken. Missiles being fired on Israeli civilians cannot be accepted as yet another day in Israel. We cannot leave this conflict to our children, because three generations dealing with it are enough.
June 24, 2013 | 12:34 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
This week, our President, Shimon Peres, celebrated his 90th birthday, followed by the 2013 Presidential Conference, named "Facing Tomorrow." More than a joyful week of celebration for our nation, this past week gave us, Israelis, a glance of a utopic fantasy.
The guest list of Peres's birthday party contained many well-known names in the global, western pop-culture - Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Barbra Streisand and Robert De-Niro, to name a few. They all came to celebrate the birthday of the "oldest leader in the world," and with them, came widespread positive international coverage of Israel.
Being in the center of the news is nothing unfamiliar to Israelis. We are used to being at the center of the foreign media attention. But this past week, Peres managed to do what many state leaders before him could only dream of- shed a positive light on Israel in the eyes of the world.Peres's birthday appeared on front pages worldwide- from the United States through Europe and even the far-east. People from all over the world posted congratulations on his Facebook page, A-listers landed here and spread words of appreciation for Israel everywhere, and world-leaders praised this man, who helped creating the state of Israel, for being a "man of peace."
For one week, there was no conflict, no criticism of "occupation," no calls for BDS, and not a worry in the world. For one week, we could feel the wrinkles of worry on our faces dissolve, as we enjoyed Barbra Streisand's voice, appreciated Bill Clinton's words of support, and knew that any minute now we can encounter Sharon Stone or Robert De Niro on the street.
For one week, we were not "that women- discriminating place" or "that one big military base" or even "the people who live by an apartheid policy." For one week, we were just citizens of Israel- a liberal democracy, a part of the western world, where normal, happy people live. For one week, we weren't what hate-washed people say we are – we were ourselves.
This past week was a vision of utopia for me. I got a glance of the life I wish to live someday. I want to live in a peaceful place, and not have the rest of the world assume they know better what I should and should not do. I want to live in a world where I don't feel the continuous frustration of reading lies about my home. I want to live in a normal place that, like most countries of the world, is being appreciated by the foreign place, alongside a legitimate criticism made by people who fully understand the reality we're living in.
For one week, I was walking on a cloud. Will it stay that way in the future? I find it hard to believe. I guess things will go back to the unfortunate normal any day now, and unless major, profound changes would happen, I believe it will remain this way. But giving our poor situation facing the outside world, the past week, even if a very short experience and even if it only changed the minds of a few, was truly a dream come true.
Shimon Peres, a short bio
Barbra Streisand honors the President with a song
Be My Friend For Peace (Noy Alooshe Remix)
June 21, 2013 | 12:21 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
The Wonders, or Plaot in Hebrew, is Avi Nesher's latest feature, and the biggest Israeli hit of the season. It is starring Ori Hizkiah, Adir Miller, Yehuda Levi, Yuval Scharf and more. The film, which incredibly enough, is based on a true story, tracks the complex relationship between a Jerusalem Graffiti artist and a mysterious modern day prophet who is imprisoned in an abandoned apartment across the Artist's window.
A Private eye is trying to set the prophet free, a shapely lawyer is trying to expose the prophet's dark secret, a sultry waitress is trying to get the prophet to tell her whether she will ever find true love and three hardened criminals are trying to use (or kill) the prophet in their quest for control over his thousands of followers.
All are trying to manipulate the artist and recruit him to their cause. Soon, he finds himself embroiled in a plot that just might get him killed, or lead him to revelation. Either way, he will never be the same when the dust will finally settle.
The screenplay, written by Nesher and Shaanan Street – Hadag Nahash's front man – has more than its share of plot twists and turns, with a combination of film-noir, comedy, drama and mystery.
June 18, 2013 | 12:37 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
On June 17th, StandWithUs celebrated the graduation of their 1000th student ambassador (or "fellow" as they call it,) and seven years of activity in Israel. The event featured Olympic Gold Medalist, Noam Gershony, alongside other well-known International-Israeli figures, and pre-recorded congratulations from President Shimon Peres.
StandWithUs, an international non-profit organization, is dedicated to informing the population of the world about Israel, and to help fight the hate and anti-Semitism. The members of the organizations come from the U.S, Israel, UK and France. They use print materials, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel and campaigns, both face to face and online to follow their mission. StandWithUs conducts various projects and activities throughout the world, such as the Once In a Lifetime project and the Israeli Soldiers Stories program.
On my quest of searching better ways to show the world the truth about Israel, I sat to a one-on-one conversation with Michael Dickson, Israel Director for StandWithUs. He is leading an international team, pioneering innovative Israel educational initiatives, hosting delegations of politicians, diplomats, academics and other people of influence, overseeing an Israeli Fellowship of the country's future diplomats and leaders and programs for thousands of students in Israel from all over the world. He has led diplomatic, academic and journalist missions to Israel and has advocated for Israel in different forums, including at the UN “Durban II” conference, in Europe, the US and in the Far East.
Dickson (35) was born in the UK and in 2005 made Aliyah. He now lives in Ra'anana with his wife and five children, doing what he loves for a living, and couldn't be happier.
How the idea of StandWithUs came to be?
"We started in a living room, actually. There was a group of rabbis and professionals from Jewish Organizations in Los Angeles,and lay leaders from all denominations of Judaism. Democrats and Rapublicans, they gathered together in the living room of our CEO and COO, Roz and Jerry Rothstein, back in 2001. The climate there, on campus, was terrible. It was Intifada that was raging, and students and people who were pro-Israel were at a loss to explain and understand what was going on, and to educate other people.
There were all these lies being told about what was happening in Israel, even as cafés and buses were blowing up, and that group of people found that to be an intolerable situation. They wanted to do something about it. Little did they know that 12 years later they would have an international organization that's active on a hundred campuses across North America, that they would have a social media reach of two million people every week, that they'd have activity in London and Paris and around the world.
Nowadays, we have two focuses: the first is on campus, particularly, because campuses are where the future leaders get formed, and future voters, and where the anti-Israeli climate is at its greatest. The second is the community. We want to reach Jewish people and non-Jewish people, and the way that we work is twofold: responsive and strategic. We want to be strategic in our programs and train young people and educate them in a strategic way, and at the same time, we want to be able to respond quickly when there is an anti-Israel campaign. When there is Israel Apartheid Week, when they have boycott proposals, divestment proposals on campus, we want to be able to act quickly and be a quick support, responsive support to people who are facing that."
By examining the situation on campuses, especially during IAW, it seems like the anti-Israeli propaganda is taking over. Do you believe that StandWithUs balances the situation on campuses?
"I think that we do balance it. We try and work on a local way, so that we work with students that are on the ground. They know their campus, they know how fast we react, we want to support them.
In UC San Diego, for example, they brought a massive, what they called: "Apartheid Wall." It's literally a representation of the Geder Bitahon (Security Fence, also known as West Bank Barrier,) and they wrote all over it the most crazy lies about Israel. It was a very big thing, and they had people standing in front of it. We responded to that, because you can't leave a lie like that unresponded to, when there's a vacuum against filled with lies. That's why we're here, to fill it with the truth, with education and facts. So we brought to UC San Diego campus a massive six-foot display of our own. It was colorful, full with different panels. It addressed their lies, while talking about things like Hamas and the Hamas charter, and also about all the positive sides of Israel, as well: diversity, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, human rights…It was a complete counter response to their lies and it's a positive reflection of Israel as well."
So actually, your target audience is not anti-Israel advocates, but people who still have no solid opinion?
"A hundred percent. We don't presume to try and convince haters. There are people who wake up every morning and think: 'how can I mess around with Israel today?' It's what drives them, and they're acting from a very hateful agenda. We don't expect to persuade those guys, but if we can show them up for what they are, which is people who are very driven by hatred, then we've succeeded. We want to reach out the wide population, people who don't know or care much about Israel, so that it isn't that the only thing they hear about is a lie. We want them to hear positive things about Israel, and if they see some anti-Israel propaganda, we want to make sure that it's countered by the truth."
What do you think the public abroad thinks of Israel?
"Look, we have an issue that the people see Israel through the prism of the media. The media, as you know, tells a very subjective story, which is a story of war, and it doesn't like to talk about the good news. That is a fact, and we'll continue with that probably forever. However, I don't think that people are necessarily predisposed to hate Israel. I don't think that's the case. I think the vast majority of people don't know about Israel and don't necessarily care about Israel, so we can reach those people through positive campaigns.
We've brought prominent bloggers to Israel, we're working with the entourage of the Under 21 Football Teams in Europe, we brought prominent journalists to Israel, we brought International Law students for a conference, we brought top Medical Students for a conference on Humanitarian Medicine. These are people who are connecting with Israel not through the news, not because they care particularly about Israel, but through their own interests. We find those connection points and we build these relationships and we hook them up with Israelis with whom they can build a personal relationship, and that's public diplomacy.
In this day and age, people don't trust governments of any kind. People don’t trust official lines coming from official spokespeople, but they do believe in people and they do respond to people, particularly through social media. We leverage all of that to really change people's perceptions about Israel and build long-lasting relationships with Israelis, which is the most important thing that we can be doing."
Do you think that the stage given to people in social networks helps to improve Israel's image, or only make things worse for us?
"Both. Mark Twain once said that a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. The internet amplifies lies, there's no doubt about that. Anyone has a platform, and if they want to say something bad about Israel, they can find an audience. So what we do is leverage social media to highlight how extreme these people are, and really showcase the best face of Israel.
We're reaching out up to two million people a week on social media. We started pioneering it a long time ago, and at times of crisis, such as during both recent operations against Hamas in Gaza, we set up situation rooms and we got people to work on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and put out memes. All of these things are extremely effective. So the way our social media work is the same way that we work in general, which is that we respond to the lies that we think should be responded to - because when people don't have an audience, we don't need to amplify the message – but at the same time, in a normal time, we're also putting up positive stories about Israel, things that people can relate to from a point of view of human interest."
How do you respond to people attacking you on social networks and in person, trying to counter your statement?
"We deal with truth and with facts, and everyone has their own opinions, but we deal with historical facts, and with truth, and the truth is we don't worry to have a debate. We're happy to have a debate, because it ends up exposing the other side, not us.
People do attack us. They attack anything Zionist and anything to do with Israel. One of the things that we try and expose about BDS movements is that it's not about boycotting Israel until they do X Y Z, it's about boycotting Israel until they don't exist anymore. So where they're coming from is a pure anti-Israel agenda. It's not that they want to bully us to make peace; they want to bully us until we don't exist. Some peple understand that, that is why there are Israeli companies, like Sodastream, who are heavily targeted by boycotters buy still manage to succeed and even work with us and support our target. We're pro- peace. We're pro-Palestinian as well as pro-Israeli. We'd be mad not to. We want peaceful relations between Israel and its neighbors. We also want all Israelis to live in security. They shouldn't have to worry about their own personal safety. The people in the boycott movements do not feel the same way. Therefore, we're the moderates, they're the extremists."
Michael's top 10 tips for pro-Israeli Social Networks activities
1. You don’t need to engage with the Israel-haters. Do challenge lies online but remember that your key audience are the ‘undecided’ and ‘unconnected’ people who are watching.
2. Be civil, don’t be polemic, state facts and truth in the way that people can empathize with.
3. Not everyone may be focused on Israel as you are – connect to people based on their likes, hobbies and interests and link them to Israel.
4. The key word: empathy. Try and get people to put themselves in the place of Israelis, to understand the challenges they face and the lives they lead.
5. Stress Israel’s centrality to Jews: Israel is the only Jewish nation state, 65 years young and 3,000 years old. Israel, and no country, is perfect but we need not apologize for wanting Israel to leave in freedom and peace and for trying to make sure no harm comes to their citizens.
6. Some people like countries. All people like people. So add an ‘i’ on the end of Israel and talk online about Israelis – the people.
7. Hastags (#) are a great way to get your post noticed by people who will be interested.
8. Images share best. Stunning images of Israel’s landscape, your vacation photos or attractive images of things going on in Israel will appeal to many.
9. When the chips are down, Israel needs you most. Social media often has more credibility than mainstream media so use it to tell Israel’s story, your way.
10. There is always something you can do, petitions, polls and posts. This generation has more personal influence than any that has preceeded it. Use it – Israel needs you.. online!