Yesterday I walked down the street and noticed someone walking a few meters before me. I could only see his back. But there was something about him — perhaps his walk, or his haircut — that intuitively made me think he’s Japanese. So I hastened my steps and walked passed him, turning my head to take a quick glimpse of the man… and yes, he was indeed Japanese.
This event made me think about my travels abroad. It’s a common joke among Israelis that we can easily spot each other overseas, even before the other opened his mouth. I assume it’s true for other cultures as well, and it makes me wonder “How this phenomenon works”. And it is just an illusion?
I wrote two weeks ago about Chinese stereotypes of Jews and raised the question whether it can be considered anti-semitism. Now I once again stir up the issue, from a different perspective. I don’t focus on Jews this time, but rather on the Israeli mainstream culture. Personally I do believe that a culture has the social power to greatly modify a person’s behavior and mentality, starting with the way people think and the associations they’re most likely to conjure, and up to the way they move their body and their patterns of personal grooming.
I want to emphasize that I’m alluding to the power of cultural socialization, and not to inborn motifs of race. I do not believe there are any innate differences between a Japanese baby and an Israeli baby. I do believe they grow up to conceive the world differently. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that language plays a pivotal role in this issue. There is also a debatable notion in linguistics, titled the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, which states pretty much what I had just said at the end of the previous paragraph.
Can we assume from this that cultural stereotypes (as opposed to racial stereotypes) have some basis? Are German people truly pedantic? French folks really impatient? And Israelis genuinely…
…What? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
An Israeli Billboard company demands to take out the sex from the “Sex and the City” posters displayed in Jerusalem and Petah Tikva.
The new and highly anticipated film is now being promoted throughout the country to the delight of many of its fans that have waited for this moment impatiently. But the billboard company Maximedia is fighting the ad campaign of this popular movie under the premise that the citizens of these two predominantly religious cities are not interested in the word “sex” printed all over their town.
You really don’t know whether to get angry or just laugh at the ridiculousness of this whole thing. Once again we are confronted with the absurd reality where the interests of the secular population in mixed cities are not taken into account.
“We have treaties of commerce with the municipalities which grant us the right to install signs and advertise within them, and there are certain understandings as to the substance advertised”, said Meir Shamir from Maximedia. According to Shamir, the officials in the municipalities of Jerusalem and Petah Tikva have requested not to put up the word “sex” simply because it bothers them.
“We asked Forum Films to leave out the word and place three dots instead, so it’s not exactly as they have been telling the press,” said Shamir. “If we don’t leave out the word it’s likely that the past will repeat itself and our signs will be defaced. It certainly bothers a certain population.”
The removal of the word sex from the title “Sex and the City” is absurd! It is also a blatant expression of censorship in what is supposed to be progressive and modern society. Well, let’s just rename the film with something less provocative, like “The Encouragement of Natural Reproduction and The City”.
So for the time being the two cities remain sexless, and frankly they’re better off. After all, what logical arguments can possibly appeal to those who think they can stay protected from the obscenities of this world by never leaving town or watching television?
As written in the previous post, we’ve seen Bush make a speech at the Knesset this week, and even opening it in Hebrew. Well, I would suggest Mr. Bush to take the next step, and join a Hebrew class — it would do good to his intelligence.
Many Zionist immigrants (Olim Ha’dashim) complain that Hebrew is a tough language to master. One of the reasons for this difficulty is the way Hebrew is written and read. Vowel signaling is mostly optional in Hebrew, and it is normally used only by children learning to read.
Suppose you see the word “presume” like this: “prsum” — Could you make out what’s hiding behind these consonants?! Well, that is, more or less, how most people read Hebrew, as omission of most of the vowel letters is conventional. Again, since it is posing a significant barrier in the acquisition of reading abilities, children in primary school usually use a special punctuation subscript called “Ni’kud”, but as they grow up, they don’t need it anymore.
The point I’m trying to make is that reading and writing Hebrew properly requires more activation of the brain’s cognitive faculties than is the case with writing and reading English (or French, for that matter). What cognitive faculties am I talking about? Well, first of all, there is the increased amount of memory needed to store the different options of punctuating the same transcript. The same set of letters is used differently, and is pronounced differently, in alternate contexts. And this brings me to the second capacity which the Hebrew transcript develops: a stronger inclination to mental association. As just mentioned, the pronunciation of a word differs according to its meaning, and the meaning is dependent on the overall context of the word.
Going back to the “prsum” example. One can choose to pronounce it like “preesuma” or like “prosumeh” or like “presume”. Since among these three options, only “presume” is a real word, the choice is simple. But in Hebrew we have many cases where several of the possible pronunciations are valid options. Thus, quick analyzing of sentence structure is the associative capacity every Hebrew writer is expected to acquire by the end of primary school.
In addition, nouns in Hebrew are all gender specific, just like in French. This feature isn’t unique to Hebrew, however in comparison with the previous feature I mentioned, this one is present in both spoken and written Hebrew, so even young children just learning to speak have to confront this hurdle. Again, this feature of the Hebrew language requires the increased use of memory and of associative analysis, since each gender necessitates the use of alternate words with distinctive punctuation.
A good example for this would be the use of “his” and “her” in English. We can say “his score” for Danny and “her score” for Rachel, but we use “its score” for the Basketball team. However, in Hebrew, a basketball team is a female noun, and it is virtually impossible to refer to it as a genderless word.
In sum, learning to master the Hebrew language is good for your brain, since it forces you to allocate more “cognitive power” in order to process this ancient and complex language.
Up until 2002, there was only one commercial broadcasting television channel licensed to operate in Israel. There were already many niche channels transmitting via the cable networks (which have meanwhile merged into the “HOT” network) or the satellite network “YES”, but up until that point, Channel 2 was the dominating force of commercial TV in Israel, and considered to be the mainstream option for the average Israeli TV-goer.
In 2002 businessman Yossi Meiman made the bold move and initiated the creation of Israel 10 (known simply as Channel 10 in Israel), infusing huge amounts of cash into this media adventure. At the beginning, it seemed that he threw away his money in vain, having to face many bureaucratic obstacles and initial low rating levels. Despite shameless purchasing of Channel 2’s main news anchors, Ya’akov Eilon and Miki Haimovitz, Israel 10’s future remained uncertain for the first 3 years or so. All changed when new investors jumped onto the wagon, and when Israel 10 had decided to claim its share of the lucrative pie known as Reality TV…
Yesterday 36% of Israel’s TV screens were tuned “10” — mine including — on the occasion of a “good-trash” celebration, known as the Survivor 10 Live Finale, taking place in a major basketball arena, no less. After 16 successful seasons in which the reality show Survivor has been a definite “hit” in America, it was high time for the gold-laying chicken to learn how to speak Hebrew. Still, it wasn’t a simple case of a format purchasing and localization. Israel 10 went several steps ahead and has grossly altered the known format, turning the fast-paced reality into a semi-scripted soap opera. Countless magazine articles have published multiple claims of game manipulation by the Israeli production, ranging from the supply of groceries to the castaways, and up to changing the rules on-the-fly in order to keep their preferred characters inside the game, when these faced an imminent threat of dismissal by their fellow tribe members. Personally, I have no idea if these claims have any truth in them; the production certainly denies such allegations. One thing is for sure, the show fulfilled its purpose as a major rating magnet, and provided Channel 10 with a widespread buzz, that is normally the exclusive property of Channel 2.
Three finalists came on top after 52 days on the island: Dan Mano, the young Haifa attorney, whose uncle owns the wealthy Mano Cruise company. Dan has been painted as the manipulative mastermind, who managed to irritate most of his fellow castaways, and a great proportion of the viewers. At one point, when Dan was about to be voted off the island in the following tribal council, the production suddenly transferred him into the women’s group, virtually “saving his ass”. He always claimed to simply playing the game, and personally I must admit that he was my favourite pick for taking the one million shekels prize. Next to him, we had Na’ama Keisary, the new mom, who left her one-month baby, and her dying father, in order to challenge herself in this dire experience. She hadn’t won even a single contest on the island, yet came across as a strong and independent woman. Last but no least, the third finalist pleading the jury for a check last night, was Noam Tor, the humble bee-keeper, who was elected Israel’s sexiest man alive by a major magazine. Noam was voted off the island relatively early in the game, but survived a secondary game in what was called “the Island of the Dead” — a serious deviation from the original format.
Despite being filmed in the Caribbean Islands, the winner wasn’t chosen on-site, as done in the original version, nor was the decision free of public influence. The castaways arrived at the Nokia Arena while already enjoying a celebrity status, and have had many weeks to influence the members of the jury after leaving the island. In addition, the TV finale included an SMS poll, in which the audience was asked to pick its favourite finalist — and these results would have been considered the tie-breaking vote if such a scenario was materializing. In the end, after an excruciating evening that included 3 weary finalists, and many emotional breakdowns, Na’ama Keisary was chosen the ultimate Survivor, surprising everyone believed strongly that Noam was signaled by the production as the suitable winner.
Now that the first Israeli season came to an end, Channel 10 is losing its first rating monster, and leaving many viewers with a bad taste in mouth. Nevertheless; it was fun, it was hot, and it was addictive. Expect a second season heading your way next year….
Passover is over. Matzah left over can be an issue you need to deal with. The Jewish Robot marketing team is thinking of a few ideas for you
Thank you Rashi!
This is a greeting sent to us from some friends (Hat Tip: Bili)
A few tips on how to negotiate a successful Yahoo! deal…
I dedicate this to my lovely wife
Great Parody – Thanks Allison….
A recent survey conducted by one of Israel’s largest universities revealed some interesting facts regarding the sexual habits of Israeli women. Conducted by a group headed by Dr. Mayanet Shenhar, a prominent sexologist, the study interviewed women from several age groups as well as from various social and cultural backgrounds. Following the interviews, conducted over a period of several months, the following findings were revealed:
1. Only about 57% of all women interviewed said they could manage to achieve a satisfying orgasm during coitus.
2. More than 50% of younger women interviewed preferred to have without use of a condom. This revelation appeared to be despite the danger of AIDS/HIV and other sexual transmitted diseases.
3. 80% of the women interviewed believed that (male) organ size is important to achieve proper sexual satisfaction (who doesn’t think this?).
4. Only 23% of Israeli women use sexual enhancers such as vibrators.
In an interview on an Israeli Channel 10 morning program, Dr. Shenhar and Dr. Arik Schecter, a Haifa based sexologist specializing in sexual dysfunction among individuals and couples, both noted that most women interviewed prefer to have “light’s out” sex or sex performed in the dark. They also said that cultural and religious backgrounds affect the women’s likelihood to want to ‘experiment’ during sex and prefer to practice only a few basic sexual positions.
What was interesting was that eating chocolate appears to enhance sexual desire. This could come from the amount of caffeine and cocoa powder present. In fact, scientific studies have been made in which it has been found that eating chocolate helps to enhance desire in women by decreasing premenstrual tension. Women will low libidos (sexual desire) were found to become much more amorous after eating chocolate.
While no real earthshaking revelations came out of this survey, i.e. as compared to women in European countries for example, it does indicate that the sexual habits of Israeli women are not unlike women living in the U.K. or North America. Israeli women’s sexual habits are naturally more liberal than those in surrounding countries who are much more restricted by religious and cultural taboos.
For those who may be interested, a “sextival” or sex festival is being planned next month at the Tel Aviv Port area, in which various sexual enhancing products will be displayed and “seminars” will conducted involving overcoming sexual problems. The 3 day event is being put on by one of the country’s top fashion models, who is also a regular television personality.
No doubt, many of the women interviewed in the above survey will be attending the festival. If they don’t, the men in their lives probably will.
Thank you AG
This is for all those teachers who are back at school. I heard on Internet radio today…
A young teacher had been invited to the house of one of his students for dinner. The father was a high-powered CEO and quite a wealthy man. Perhaps too much wine was served with dinner or perhaps it was just the father’s personality, but as the desert was being served, he asked the teacher “what’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided that the best he could do in life was be a teacher? After all, those who can, DO. Those who can’t, teach.”
The young teacher paused as he was about to put a forkful of apple pie into his mouth. Without looking at his host, he set his fork down.
“I mean, let’s tell the truth,” said the CEO, “last year, my production companies grossed over two million dollars. What do you make?”
“What do I make?” asked the young teacher. “I make kids feel good about themselves. I make the C- student know that he can be an A+ student with a little help and effort. I make kids and their parents see the best in themselves. I make kids know what it is to work hard to improve yourself. I make kids see an adult worthy of respect. I make kids see that they can make a difference in the world. I make kids do and re-do and re-do again because getting it right isn’t easy and it’s important. I make kids wonder about the world. I make them apologize when they should apologize. I make them respect other people. I make them think about how people should be judged.”
The teacher paused and continued. “I make them so excited about learning that years later they’ll come back to visit me just to tell me how they’ve done. I make them realize that those who can’t teach are forced to find less rewarding forms of work.”
Putting a piece of pie on his fork and looking his host in the eye, he concluded:
“I make a difference in the lives of students… what do YOU make?”