Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
I've wanted to tell you about my military service for a while now, but I never knew exactly what I want to say. However, since foreign media take a very negative, false approach towards the IDF, and more and more false accusations pop up every day, I feel I can't wait any longer and will tell you what the IDF is really like through my personal story.
I think I'll begin at the end: a couple of months after my release from the IDF (after a two years long service), I went to a summer camp in Georgia, US, as an Israeli delegate of the Jewish Agency. While mostly having fun and telling exciting stories about Israel to the young campers, my fellow Israelis and I had to also deal with some tough questions asked by our American co-counselors. Most of their questions involved the IDF and its actions, and were based on information they got from the media. Some stood behind what they heard and read, and accused us with some terrible accusations, involving murder and intentions of killing innocent people for kicks. Those people were mostly adamant in their beliefs. They believed they already knew everything about the IDF, even better than we, and were positive of every part-truth they heard over the news. They had no intention of hearing us out, and mainly wanted to give us a piece of their minds for all the evil we've done.
As hard as dealing with this was, the other type of questions was much harder to deal with. Those questions were asked by Israel fans who heard all those things over the news, and weren't sure how to handle it. They were torn between their support of Israel and the horror stories the news handed them on a daily basis. Their questions weren't easy to deal with, because unlike the former group, this one was eager to hear what we had to say, and waited for a straight forward, decisive answer. My replies to them started with the sentence: "what you hear on the news is not entirely incorrect, but the world is not black and white." Then, I started explaining how the IDF's purpose is strictly defending Israel and its people, and never attacking or conquering. I told them that when they read a story of a school in Gaza being attacked by the IDF, it is usually what really happened, and then I explained how our enemies do a very good job in making us look bad by hiding wanted terrorists inside schools and hospitals and by doing that, making the IDF attack those places, which later does not look god in the eyes on the media. Questions like that are very hard to answer, especially when the person asking those questions expects a somewhat different answer. Later in the day, things got much easier when I would sit with my eight-year-old campers and tell them, decisively, how heroic the IDF soldiers are. No complications and in a black and white perspective.
Things are never simple, and there is always far more than the eye can see. Nothing and nobody is perfect and people always make mistakes, but there is no question in whether the foreign media supports the IDF. I am not going to try and explain to you every single move the IDF makes, but I can say that throughout my military service, I never questioned my commander, not once, and neither did my friends, some of them in Combat units. What I do want to tell you, that is if you belong to the second group and are open to hear what I have to say, is that besides special missions and heroic battles, there is so much more in the Israeli military service.
12.2.13 at 12:33 pm | International success, music, extreme sport, a. . .
11.29.13 at 11:58 am | Since I live in Israel and am very passionate. . .
11.26.13 at 1:09 pm | Netanyahu goes meatless, the IDF goes green,. . .
11.25.13 at 1:15 pm | Welcome to the world of the New Anti-Semitism. It. . .
11.22.13 at 12:43 pm | Since I live in Israel and am very passionate. . .
11.19.13 at 11:43 am | The value of life - what does it worth to Israel. . .
11.25.13 at 1:15 pm | Welcome to the world of the New Anti-Semitism. It. . . (85)
11.29.13 at 11:58 am | Since I live in Israel and am very passionate. . . (55)
12.2.13 at 12:33 pm | International success, music, extreme sport, a. . . (23)
October 15, 2012 | 10:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
* A group of Pro-Palestinians protested during a concert in Berlin, while the Israeli singing group, the Givatron, performed. The Israeli folk group was performing at a Jewish National Fund and Israeli House fundraiser when 10 protesters disrupted the show immediately after the first song, causing a riot and crying: "Free Palestine". The protesters included Palestinians residing in Germany, Iranians, a Spanish activist and two Israelis. They hurled JNF boxes and Givatron CDs and knocked over signs. But the performers did not let the provocateurs confuse them, and continued their performance to the applause of the audience.
* Yad Vashem Chairman, Avner Shalev was appointed by the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, to be a Vice Chairman of the International Council of the Auschwitz- Birkenau State Museum. The council was founded in the year of 2000, and was tasked with advising the Polish government on the preservation of the memorial sites at former Nazi death-camps in Poland. The Council includes 21 members from Poland, the United States, Britain, France and Germany.
* Nowadays, somewhere after Sukkot, is the time of the year when the weather goes crazy. In the natural order of the world, the summer is coming to an end by the end of August (give or take a week), and make room for fall and then winter. But our small Israel, has always refused to play by the rules. Each year during the months of September and Ocboter, no one really knows what to expect. In the past week we've had two storms that took us all by surprise, both followed by scalding hot sun. I believe there wasn't a single Israeli left dry when the sky opened up in the middle of the day, while everyone was wearing shorts and sandals, hanging out in the beach or the park…
* An archeological excavation conducted by the Israeli Antiquities Authority exposed prehistoric finds. The excavation, which was conducted on behalf of the National Roads Company prior the widening of Highway 79, encompassed an area of about half a mile on both sides of the road and lasted this past year. While digging, the archeologists found Prehistoric settlement remains that range in date from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (c. 10,000 years ago) to the Early Bronze Age (c. 5,000 years ago). The findings include a string of colored beads in a bowl, images of ostriches carved on a stone plaque and more, and are now presented in Ein Zippori site near the Sea of Galilee.
* A Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) aircraft landed at Ben-Gurion Airport for the first time this past Tuesday, with a commercial Ethiopian Airlines' flight from Addis Ababa. This progressed and highly developed aircraft originally intended to land in Israel on October 16th, but due to operational reasons, it made its first landing Tuesday morning. A special ceremony will be held next week. The spokesperson of Ethiopian Airlines said they chose to bring the plane to Israel as a gesture to their Israeli passengers who have faith in the company. The modern plane is built from composite materials and was built with a "green" vision, allowing for significant lower air pollution than other aircraft. /An Israeli family has recently founded an aid organization called "Israel for Africa", which purpose is to get Israeli and Jewish backpackers who travel in Africa to help around where needed. Voluntarily, of course. The Milo family, who founded this private organization, also donated the money to help it get started.
October 12, 2012 | 11:19 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Mashina is The Rolling Stones of Israel. They are considered Israel's most influential rock band, as they stand behind many of the music milestones in Israel. They have taken over the playlists in 1983, and have been making hits ever since (except of a break they took from 1995 to 2003). Their songs are all rock, moving on the scale from soft ballads to hard-rock, and I love almost every single one of their songs. The members of the band, which are considered very respectable musicians, are: Yuval Banai, Shlomi Bracha, Iggy Dayan, Avner Hodorov and Michael Benson.
I really love all of their songs, but here are my favorite two:
Ein Makom Acher (there's no other place)- Every time I listen to this song I start jumping around
Ba'Rechovot Shelanu (in our streets)
October 10, 2012 | 10:21 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
After spending eight days in Israel, as a part of the Once in a Lifetime program of the Stand With Us Fellowship organization, ten influential Instagram users from all over the world returned to their homes, carrying memories of an unforgetable trip from north to south (including a meeting with the President). In those eight days, the ten Instagramers captured every aspect of Israel, and shared their best creations with their total of three million followers. Two of the talented modern cameramen, Carli Liene (@inkedfingers), a 28 year old from Austin, Texas; and Dave Temple (@kewiki), a 36 year old from Chicago, Indiana, agreed to share some of their best work with Israelife readers. They collected what they thought captured Israel in the best way, through their eyes, for you to enjoy.
Dave, a first-timer in our beautiful Israel, sure won't forget his visit: "My time in Israel was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The history, food, architecture, and most importantly the people, make this place one of the most incredible places I've ever visited. It is a photographer's paradise and I definitely will be back! I thank Israel for being such a wonderful host and helping me to understand more about the country. The Once in a Lifetime HD group should also be commended for acting as excellent ambassadors for Israel and showing our group that Israel is full of life and love."
The full photo albums of all ten Instagramers are presented on their pages.
October 8, 2012 | 10:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
* Israeli achievement at the Computer Olympics: students from 81 countries worldwide competed in Italy on various computer-related tasks such as solving complex algorithms. The level of problems the contestants solved was higher than what grad-school computer students are facing in class. The Israeli team was ranked 19, and won a total of two silver medals and one bronze medal. The US team, if you were wondering, came in first.
* Apple's flunk turns to Waze's success: Waze is an Israel start up combining GPS system with a social network. Waze's users contribute map data, and report traffic incidents, delays, police ambushes, etc. ,which can help other users find alternative routes or directions and get to their destination as soon as possible. This Israeli program initially operated only in Israel, but slowly started to grow and expand. In perfect timing, Apple's new "Maps" feature for IPhone brought frustration upon millions of users, due to bugs and errors. This lead Apple CEO Tim Cook to recommend Apple users to use competing software such as the Waze, while the issues are being fixed. This recommendation came in just in time for Waze's founders, and gave the Israeli mapping application a huge boost.
After the Red Hot Chili Peppers rocked Israel last month, we received some more great news: Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morisette will land here in December for a single performance, as a part of her "Guardian Angel" international tour. It's always great news when an international performer considers Israel in a tour, and when the performer is Alanis Morisette, the news is even greater!
* The Barcelona soccer team has recently invited former captive IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit, to attend the October 7th match against Real Madrid. This lead Hamas calling for a media boycott of the soccer club, and caused quite the shenanigans. In response, the team has invited three Palestinians to also attend the match: soccer player Mahmoud Al Sarsak, who was held in an Israeli jail for three years until being released this year following a hunger strike, along with the president of the Palestinian Football Union Jibril Rajoub and the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Spain.
* The day of the recruitment to the IDF is usually far from making anyone dance. It is long and tiring, and on top of it all-it's the day you say goodbye to your free will for two to three years. That is why everyone in the recruitment center was surprised when Ran Bronstein, on his first day as a soldier, started to dance. 24 year-old Bronstein, who made Alyiah from the States in 2007 to join the IDF, took a camera with him to the first day, and captured every moment of his process of becoming a soldier. Since he couldn't hold his excitement of finally serving his country, he started to dance in front of the camera and didn't stop until the finalization of the recruitment chain. The five minute long video clip was approved by the IDF spokesperson only recently, and Bronstein uploaded it on YouTube. It's been online for about two weeks now, and has already become a hit, showing everyone that recruitment can also be a positive, fun experience.
October 6, 2012 | 11:00 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Maya Isacowitz is an Israeli singer-songwriter, who performs in English. She released her first single, "Is it Alright" in 2011, and since, she continues to grow a mass of loyal fans, and has more and more recognition on national radio stations. In spite of her success, Isacowitz is far from being a Diva or a larger than life rock star. She stands aside of the spotlight and maintaining an image of a serious artist, while creating a hight- qualit soulful Folk-Rock-Indie music that goes straight to your heart.
Is it Alright
Rehab (a cover to Rihanna's song)
October 4, 2012 | 3:09 pm
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
When I read the paper this morning, I found something rather disturbing, which grew worse when I noticed no one else addressed the issue: a magazine called Family Circle held a cookie contest between the incumbent First Lady, Michelle Obama, and the opposing candidate's spouse, Anne Romney. Apparently, this has been going on since 1992, but I just heard about it today. This contest took place right before the first presidential debate, and got coverage almost as serious and profound. No one mentioned the burning issue of the matter, but I sure hope someone noticed. If not, we, as a society, have some serious problems. As the men of both houses discuss the very serious matters of foreign policy, financial situations and stability in the Middle East, the wives compete in baking. In other words: as the men compete for the title: Leader of the Free world, the women compete for the title: Best Frosting. Did someone build a time machine that brought us back to the 50's? As much as I would like to believe in that, I will have to settle for what this really is: sexism and humiliation in disguise.
Since I am not from the States, and our pre-election time runs quite differently, I might sound like a crazy person to some of you. After all, this has been going on for a decade now, and no feminist organization is yet to shut it down. So with my foreign point of view, let me tell you this doesn't look good. This contest points out the wife stereotype women fought for so long to make disappear. The only reason I can think of for why this is still going on is the cultural differences between us. To you, this is a routine campaign event prior the election. The wives are addressing potential electors who don't show interest in the debates, by making something much simpler than world peace. In a way, this is completely okay, and even admirable, because in Israel there are neither debates nor any particular interest in the wives of the candidates. Our pre-election culture is not nearly as developed as yours, and yet, I can't relate to some of your choices for what's proper for that time. Perhaps you find it right to put the fight for women’s equality aside for a day, for the important effort to find the next US president. Perhaps this is the day when even the most radical feminists put down the torches, because this baking contest is a way to get more people to vote.
I'm not in any place to say if this is right or wrong in your eyes, the same way I don't like it when people put themselves ahead of us, deciding for us what the best strategy with our neighbors is. I am just sharing my thoughts with you, and telling you what I, the foreign newspaper reader, saw today.
October 2, 2012 | 10:10 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
After a week of UN speeches, I had the urge to tell you about politicians from my point of view. For several days now my mind has been occupied with a rumble of thoughts and feelings, and I figured the only way I can make sense of it all is to write it down. So who are politicians? They are people we vote for, usually once every four years, to represent us. We choose many, for various roles and parts, while only one of them is chosen to sit on top. This person is the State leader, and he/she is the best and worst of them all. State leaders have the most responsibility, and thus they are under the most pressure. They can try and handle it in a smart way, but the outcome is usually one big mess, with only us to blame.
When we cast our votes, we usually rely on a bundle of promises, packed one on top of another, creating a utopean vision that can never happen. We, the voters, are fully aware of the non-existing reliability of those promises, but choose to believe them anyway. Why? Probably because we crave those things, and by hearing our wildest dreams being realized from the mouth of a soon-to-be important person, we act like we're under a spell. Politicians have a very sharp tongue, especially during an election year. They know exactly what to say, and we listen. We are attracted to their words like a moth to fire, and eventually vote according to their speeches, and not by relying on past actions. We are forgiving, and therefore willing to give a second chance to a mouthful of promises we want to hear so badly. After we cast our vote to the greatest promiser we lay back and wait for the magic to happen. But since our State leaders are not Walt Disney, that's not possible. As time passes by, they make sincere attempts to follow their promises and make them reality, only to discover that's not possible. Then, as we wait patiently, they try to figure a way out, and spend about a year or so coming up with reasonable excuses. At first, we get angry, as we are tired of waiting for Utopia. We promise ourselves to never fall for their traps ever again, and begin to protest against our unrealized dreams. Then, as the election date comes closer, the game changes yet again.
A part of a politician's job is to make speeches. In fact, this is their primary job and the first requirement for the part. State leaders get to make the most meaningful speeches at the top of the political world- the UN. This is the one and only neutral organization which is as far from neutral as Britney Spears is from sanity. The closer the election date is, the more vague and more grandiose their speeches become. They basically stand behind the podium and throw words like "Peace", "Will not allow", "middle east", "obligation" and "friendship" to the air, without mentioning names and without actually saying anything. Then, when their job is done, our job begins, because the interpretation is on us. The day after, newspapers are filled with the finest journalists' attempts to realize what the State leader had said. At this point, each and every one of us forms an opinion based on the newspaper we read. The politician basically sits back at his/her chair, smiling to one self. Their job is done. Ours is just beginning.
One other fact about politicians is that they have selective hearing when it comes to the world's worst enemies. A leader of a hostile country, who may put the world in danger, can say a sentence which starts with "Death to all Israelis" and ends with "Let the peace begin", and the state leaders will only hear the latter. Politicians, just like the rest of us prior to elections, can also put words and actions to a complete separation. Examples? Coming right up! When a tyrant like Assad butchers his people and then poses for a family portrait for a top magazine, smiling shyly and being quoted saying things about the peace and love, politicians will take that as a statement of peace. When Ahmadinejad makes a peace sign to the camera, while building a nuclear bomb which is officially stated for the destruction of Israel, politicians will zoom in on the peace sign without reading in between the lines (or looking at newspapers' headlines).
This leads me to the next politicians' characteristic- they are naïve. Well, they’re either that or they're really good actors. I personally believe that a politician who truly believes Ahmadinejad craves peace is in the wrong business. And since they obviously make beautiful speeches and have ravishing charisma, they are in the right business, meaning they honestly can't really believe in his peace and love screen of lies. A politician who says he believes peace in the Middle East will arrive shortly is naïve. Same goes for the unbelievable politicians who listen to Ahmadinejad stating he intends to destroy every last Israeli and then shakes hands with him, saying his nuclear weapon is for research. A politician saying any of those things is a politician who sits far away from here, and has no clue what's really going on. This is a politician who has a lack of understanding of just how important Israel is for maintaining of peace in the Middle East. There are far more than one politician of that kind. There are countless politicians who truly believe in fairytale peace without changing a thing, or simply by exchanging words with our Prime Minister (who is quite a politician himself). This will not bring peace, and these are NOT the people who should sit on top of the political-diplomatic ladder.
A true state leader, the one we really need, is a person who sticks to what he believes in, even during the election year. A true state leader is the person who is willing to make a change in this world, come what may. A person who is willing to take a risk for the sake of humanity. A true state leader will not only say all of this, but actually do, and "do" is the key word. I am a realistic person, which means I have almost lost hope in such a Messiah, but deep inside, I am still looking for the politician who will bring back our belief in that profession. The most important thing we all must remember is that both the blame and the hope is on us. We must not forgive and forget like we do once in every four years or so. We must remember and face all of the wrongs and rights, not listen to polls or promises, and fight for out Utopia.