a different side of Israel

Category: Culture (page 5 of 22)

Local Israeli music, art, theater, celebs and talent. Culture in Israel, Middle East and around the world as it relates to Israel.

A Prelude to the Purim Carnival

Brazil is celebrating its renowned Rio Carnival this week. It’s a gigantic festival of dance, costumes, and music, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors from all around the world. At the same time, just across the Western border, Bolivia is also celebrating its very own Carnaval de Oruro. Two South American nations are competing for attention, but my friends, the true carnival is yet to come….

Mark your calendars: The Purim Carnival (“Had Lo Yada”) in Holon is happening in less than two weeks from now, on Tuesday, March 10, starting at twelve o’clock in the noon.

4,000 performers will take on the main streets of Holon, accompanied by large and colorful displays of animals and politicians, including US President Barack Obama, and Israeli President Shimon Peres! It is the biggest Purim celebration in Israel, and one that has become a favorite tradition. So prepare your costumes, dress up your family and friends, and go out to celebrate this Purim in the sunny streets of Holon.

Waltz with Bashir and the 18th Israeli Knesset

Regrettably, Ari Folman’s animated doco-fantasy film “Waltz with Bashir” didn’t win the Best Foreign Film at the 2009 Academy Awards presentation in Hollywood. With just a month passing after winning the Golden Globes film award, the American film industry second biggest awards extravaganza, hope had been high that Folman’s film would pull it off, especially due to its strong anti-war message. But Folman and his crew of animators, writers, artists and other team players had to sit by and see the Japanese film, Departures, win the coveted Oscar.

Waltz With Bashir

In a way, this event displays similarities to the results of the recent parliamentary election in which Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party managed to edge out over the rival Likud party, headed by Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu. Even though Kadima managed to gain more seats (actually 1 more) than Bibi’s party did, the Likiud has been given the nod by Israeli President Shimon Peres to form the next coalition government. Bibi’s right-of-center party has a lot of friends in the Knesset, including the right winged “Israel Beitenu” party, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, and the ultra-right winged “Ihud Leumi” (National Union) party headed by Benny Alon. The Likud party’s ideologies also make it easier to bring at least two religious political parties, “Shas” and “Ha-Bayit Ha-Ye’udi” (Jewish Home) into its fold as well, to guarantee enough Knesset seats to form the next government. Livni’s center movement party can only hope to pick up some of the left winged parties such as the now deflated Labor Party, headed by Ehud Barak, and others such as Meretz – a very left-winged party formerly headed by such liberals as Yossi Sarid and Dr. Yossi Beilin.

And just like the character in Waltz had to cope with life in Israel in the aftermath of the war, so does Livni and her party have to cope with the aftermath of both the 2006 Second Lebanon War (in which her party, headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was accused of committing a number of blunders) and the just completed Operation Cast Lead foray in Gaza. Netanyahu has the advantage of being able to use the security element to convince parties with similar ideologies to join up with him and control Israeli politics for the next 4 year period; or until another election is held, as has been too often the case.

Israeli politics sometimes create strange bedfellows, however, and Tzipi may decide in the end that discretion is the better part of valor and decide to join Bibi’s governing coalition. If this happens she will get her “waltz” in the end; but the question will be with whom she winds up dancing with.

Hitler’s Parking Dilemma

A satirical video clip that supposedly depicts Hitler being enraged over the parking problems in Tel Aviv is gaining wide momentum, as well as several complaints by Holocaust survivors.

The makers of the clip took a scene from the 2004 movie “Downfall” and invented new subtitles in Hebrew. In fact, there are over 20 different versions of this clip, each depicting a different satirical scenario.

Someone translated the “Hitler’s looking for parking” subtitles to English, and this is the result:

A Creative Strike

Many employees of the Israeli movie and television industry are opening a three-day strike tomorrow to object the fact that the major TV networks in Israel do not meet the minimum requirements of original Israeli productions. Money that should have been used to create Israeli drama and Israeli film, has been “illegally” diverted to other routes.

Well, no more. Scores of Israeli actors, producers, screenwriters and more are preparing a large happening that will take place in Rabin Square this Thursday. Come to support them. The happening will include a free screening of Waltz with Bashir, that unfortunately did not win Best Foreign Film at the Oscars last night.

When Opera meets Dance

There’s a new happening in town. It’s called the “Opera Fringe” center, and it’s located inside the Mendel Cultural Center at 1 Ha-Tkuma Street, Jaffa.

The newest show in the Opera Fringe center is called “Operation #1″ and it features 3 consecutive works or art that combine opera singing, short film, and mostly dance: “La Divina” by Shlomit Fundaminsky, “I am Salome too” by Maya Weinberg, and “Manual” by Iris Erez. The entire show lasts about an hour and costs approximately 60 NIS. You can reach the center at 03-6819289.

Operation #1

A friend of mine who had seen the show a few days ago was very impressed by this experimental project:

Shlomit provoked me with a performance that had succeeded to penetrate the deepest corners of my heart. In addition to her already unique and explosive style, her dance included dramatic gestures that capture the fragile sole of her inspirational Diva, opera singer Maria Callas.

Shlomit Fundaminsky is a renowned choreographer and dancer. Here’s a short clip that demonstrates one of of Shlomit’s previous choreography works (this doesn’t appear in Operation #1):

This is One Movie You Simply Don’t Want to Miss

Adam Resurrected is a new movie based upon the 1968 acclaimed novel by Yoram Kaniuk. The novel is titled “Adam Ben Chelev” in Hebrew, which might be loosely translated as “A Man, Son of a Dog”.

The film stars American Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe alongside Israeli Ayelet Zurer and Hanna Laslo.

The story goes back and forth between two very bleak “battle fields”: A Nazi concentration camp, and an Israeli mental asylum in the desert. Yet through all the horrors of life, Adam — a Jewish holocaust survivor, and a former star entertainer in Berlin — manages to find pockets of love, laughter, and humanity wherever he may find himself.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, since it only starts playing in Israeli theaters this Thursday, but the trailer is very moving and extremely intriguing.

Tefillin Anime

This lovely video was made by Yoav Lustig. It depicts a young boy attempting to wear the traditional Tefillin.

Bar Refaeli Conquers America

The annual release of the Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated is practically a national holiday in the States. Supermodels are defined by their appearance in the Swimsuit Issue. The entire media is abuzz with excitement and awe whenever a new Swimsuit issue comes out. And this year… our very own Bar Rafaeli has been chosen as the front cover girl!

This undated image released by Sports Illustrated/Raphael Mazzucco, shows model Bar Refaeli on the cover of the Feb. 14, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, on sale now.  (AP Photo/Sports Illustrated, Raphael Mazzucco)    **NORTH AMERICAN USE ONLY FOR THREE WEEKS, ENDING MARCH 6, 2009. NO SALES. ONE TIME USE ONLY, NO ARCHIVES** **MANDATORY CREDIT: SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, RAPHAEL MAZZUCCO**

This undated image released by Sports Illustrated/Raphael Mazzucco, shows model Bar Refaeli on the cover of the Feb. 14, 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, on sale now. (AP Photo/Sports Illustrated, Raphael Mazzucco) **NORTH AMERICAN USE ONLY FOR THREE WEEKS, ENDING MARCH 6, 2009. NO SALES. ONE TIME USE ONLY, NO ARCHIVES** **MANDATORY CREDIT: SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, RAPHAEL MAZZUCCO**

She is only 23, but Bar Refaeli is already an international sensation. She grew up in Hod HaSharon, a suburban city southeast of Tel Aviv, and has been modeling her entire life. For the past 3 years, she’s been dating the “Titanic” Leonardo DiCaprio.

Mind you, Bar already made an appearance in the 2007 Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated on the inset page. However, this year she is spread over the front cover itself. A gigantic copy of the cover page has been plastered in Times Square, New York, causing serious traffic jams.

Bar is a Hebrew adjective which means “Wild and Raw”.

Bar Refaeli - Behind the Scenes

Tzipi Livni womanhood in Israeli politics

Livni in The Uman in Tel AvivA little while ago the US showed the world that it can reinvent itself just when we thought we knew everything about them. A black man was elected to president. I still remember the Eddy Murphy comedy show Delirious where he makes fun with the notion of a black president. A president that would have to make his speeches while running to avoid getting shot… And yet, there he is. Obama is the President.

Now in Israel it seems like we are not quite there. Yes, this is a generally forward thinking society BUT (insert big but here..) there are actually political figureheads/political parties that feel that politics is no place for a woman. This is to the extent that if you were to look at the election posters in Jerusalem where all three candidates are showing, the face of Tzipi Livni has been erased.. To remind you the year is 2009!

Now this goes beyond the religious parties which like there Iranian counterparts are fanatics. This extends to the mainstream. When it comes to discussing the issues and facing a woman in the race, the gender card will ultimately be used by any of the “modern thinking” leaders as well. It will just be better disguised.

Given that we are a testosterone driven society. We are faced with 10 flavors of death in any direction, but still. Wouldn’t the job of a good prime minister be putting together the right team? Would it not be possible for a woman to run Israel?

Livni recently went for the young vote with her campaign. She did the Tel Aviv bar/club circuit trying to get the young vote. She recently has invested more in getting the undecided women vote and sounded good in front of the women’s conference in Herzelia. I heard some of the speech and she sounded comfortable and energetic. I didn’t like the way she sounded when she was in some of the other venues and in Knesset. She got a heavy, old political guy tone to her that just sounded tired and almost forced. Like someone who has to make them sound like an old experienced political horse, something she isn’t and shouldn’t be. I think sounding like a modern, smart, leading woman in this election is the way to go.

I don’t think Tzipi Livni will win this election although she seems to be moving forward in the poles. The assumption is that Bibi and the Likud will take it and then form a coalition with one of the top three mainstream parties, maybe the religious as well. I would like to see her in there though and wish her the best of luck. It would be nice…

This is Livni on the Lior Shlein show (Night Show)

Her Morning Elegance

Oren Lavie is a 33 y/o Israeli musician, director, and actor. He grew up in Ramat-Aviv, the green suburban neighborhood in north Tel-Aviv.

At the age of 16 he enacted the role of King Saul in the cult musical “David”, as part of the “Chich’s Neighbors” ensemble. (“Chich” is the nickname associated with former Tel-Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat.)

Since 2001 he’s been spending most of his time abroad, in New York and Berlin.

In 2008 his song “A Dance ‘Round the Memory Tree” has made it into the “Narnia 2″ movie soundtrack (properly titled “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”).

This is his newest video clip, called “Her Morning Elegance”.

Behind the Persian Wall

Iran is the third largest nation of bloggers in the world. Its population tops 70 million. And yet when we think of Iran, all we can see is the face of one man. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

This wonderfully done animated clip asks us to take a look behind our common preconceptions.

IRAN: A Nation Of Bloggers from ayrakus on Vimeo.

Do We Really Need These Cars?

Recent TV and other advertisements portraying a new line of luxury sport vehicles being introduced into Israel makes one wonder if people are really aware of the economic and environmental crises that both Israel and the world is going through now. Although luxury cars are nothing new to Israel, where cars like BMW and Mercedes Benz have been around for years, why would automobile importers want to try to introduce another high-line brand of car here, when the emphasis should be on downsizing to smaller, more economical and eco-friendly vehicles?

Toyota and Nissan’s top of the line Lexus and Infiniti models have been cruising around most major Western countries for years, but were not being marketed in Israel, until recently when Toyota’s Lexus line finally began to be imported into the country under its own brand name. Now Nissan, Japan’s number two or three automobile manufacturer (depending on how they finish in competition with Honda each year) is bringing in its luxury version to satisfy the vanity of those wealthy Israelis who want to be the first in their apartment block or “Cottage” neighborhood to own one.

Photo by

Photo by

Nissan’s Israel representative, Carasso Auto Distributers Ltd, under their subsidiary, Pacific Auto Importers Ltd, are currently importing the Infiniti G37 and EX 37 line of “midrange” Infiniti models which also include a super revved up EX Sports SUV. Prices of these “glitz-mobiles” are sure to be through the roof when all the customs duties and purchase taxes are added on, including VAT. After all, luxury cars with engines over 2,000 CC are penalized with much higher duties than lower priced and more economical vehicles with smaller engines. For example, if a standard Infiniti G37 Saloon with a 3.7 Litre V-6 engine sells for 42,500 Euro (US 54,500) in European Union markets, then the price here in Israel will surely be in excess of N.S. 380,000, or US $95,000 at current exchange rates.

So taking all of this into account, and in light of the current economic calamity Israel is involved in, with increasing mass layoffs of workers in even prestigious high tech industries; and with the results of global warming causing a water shortage crises almost unparalleled in the history of Israel, just why do we need another super luxury car to add to the already clogged motorways of this country? Unless some of these cars are hybrids (combination gasoline and electric motor driven vehicles), and then only well-to-do people will be able to purchase them; all these new luxury models will do will be to add more exhaust emission pollution to an already over-polluted environment, especially in Israel’s major cities.

Looking back a bit nostalgically into America’s worst economic historical era, the Great Depression, some of the auto industry’s most sporty and luxurious models were produced and marketed during this ten year period when a small segment of Americans were among the privileged elite while millions of their countrymen were standing in soup kitchen lines and living in “Hooverville” shanty towns. Models such as the Duisenberg, Studebaker and Packard, Mercedes Benz Excalibur, and a host of other long gone automobile greats plied America’s motorways and stood outside the luxurious houses of popular Hollywood movie stars.

Be that as it may, it does seem that in these troubled times, we can do without another line of luxury cars being sold and driven in this country.

Alarming Trends

A survey conducted by the “Massuah Institute for the Study of the Holocaust” reveals that 35% of high-school youth believes that the Israeli society is racist.

In addition, 82% of the respondents believe that the Holocaust can happen again!

The 27th of January — this Tuesday — is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Israel, we commemorate the Holocaust Remembrance Day at the 27th of Nisan (which falls either on April or May).


The Israeli reality “Survivor 2″ is picking up the pace. Although it is lacking the hype that the first season had, it is slowly becoming Channel 10’s strongest card — and frankly, probably the only card it has in the moment.

The challenges are more extreme this season, and the social atmosphere more intense. One contestant has had to leave the game after an unfortunate injury, and according to the promos, come Wednesday we shall see another contestant prematurely leaving the game, due to inappropriate behavior.

This brings me to my other point. The long promos have been phenomenal this year. Much better than the episodes themselves. They generate interest in the characters, and that’s exactly what needs to be done, because the characters are the show.

During the war in Gaza, Channel 10 featured a musical promo that asks us “What are they doing in the meanwhile on the island?”. And in the past few days we’ve been exposed to a promo that reveals the forging relationships between the various characters.

While the castaways are doing their bit of survival on the island, Channel 10 is the one truly fighting for survival at the moment.

Hello President Obama

It starts at 18:30 Israel time. The inauguration ceremony. If you live in Israel and don’t have a TV set (or still at work), you can watch the whole event LIVE here at the Channel 10 website.

According to Ha’Aretz, the Israeli branch of the DNC (the Democratic Party) is holding a festive dinner in “Zulis” this evening. The Zulis pub is located at 5 Rivlin Street, Jerusalem. All American citizens in Israel are invited.

The American Embassy and the City of Tel Aviv are sponsoring a musical event at the “Club Hed” music club. The venue is owned by the “Hed Musical College”, located at 3 Y.L. Perets Street in South Tel Aviv. At 20:30 the Ethiopian dance troupe “Bal’Chan” will open the evening, followed by the “Hed Big Bang Orchestra” playing American Jazz. Roy Yang and friends will sing along. 100 Shekels is what it all costs, and tickets are available at 1-800-38-30-30.

Photo taken by marcn via Flickr

Photo taken by marcn via Flickr

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