a different side of Israel

Tag: London (page 3 of 3)

Etgar Keret: Israel’s best-selling author

Etgar Keret (left) and Samir el-Youssef at a literary conference in Israel.

Etgar Keret, 38, is an Israeli author whose many collections of short stories have all been best sellers. His parents are Holocaust survivors; his sister is ultra-Orthodox, married, the mother of 11 and lives in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighbourhood; his brother is one of the leaders of the movement to legalize marijuana use in Israel.

Samir el-Youssef is a Palestinian author of satirical novels who grew up in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Today he lives in London.

Keret and el-Youssef first met and became friends in 2000, at a meeting of Arab and Israeli writers in Switzerland. While everyone else at the event was busy flinging out the usual tired old political slogans and playing the blame game, Etgar and Samir discovered that they had a lot in common. They were both born in the 1960s and came of age during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon – an event that affected their lives profoundly. Neither identifies with a political leader: El-Youssef is critical of Yasser Arafat, and Keret of Ariel Sharon. And both believe that the human connection is more important than politics. Change, said Keret, will come from the bottom up – when people from both sides of the conflict transcend the political framework, leave aside conventional ideas and thus humanise each other.

During the height of the recent intifada, el-Youssef called Keret from London and suggested that they collaborate on a book of short stories. The result, Gaza Blues, became a best-seller in Europe. The two authors are now close friends. Last year el-Youssef made his first visit to Israel, to attend the Jerusalem Book Fair, and gave a joint presentation with Keret.

Keret’s stories are anything but conventional. He has a wild imagination, a fantastic sense of humor, and he takes his readers on crazy trips with totally unpredictable twists and unexpected endings. He writes about intimacy, love, death, grief, and friendship – all the things that are so much more important than the most recent speech given by a famous politician. And he makes you think.
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The Iran blame game

The bombings yesterday in the Iranian oil city of Ahvaz in the southern region near the Iraqi border, and a previous similar explosions in that
city are blamed by Iran on the British soldiers stationed in Basra. Followed a few days earlier by British blunt hints that Iran is supplying
the Iraqi insurgents with military technology that claimed the lives of several British soldiers last October.

The recent explosions and the one yesterday occurred near an Iranian Government building in Ahvaz on the same day of a planned visit of the Iranian president, rumors are that the president’s visit was cancelled following intelligence information of some planned action during the visit.

This time the Iranian foreign minister hinted that the people involved “have taken pictures with British officials in London, while enjoying
the intelligence facilities and support of the British military commander in Basra” his words. The British denied any involvement whatsoever,
and called the accusations ludicrous.

Iran became increasingly edgy recently as the American and the European countries seek to bring the Iranian nuclear program to the UN Security Council, after months of negotiations between Iran and the I.A.E.A and Iran’s recent restart of its nuclear “research”. Adding to Iran’s nervousness is the recent Israeli clear hints that Israel will not tolerate a situation in which Iran will possess nuclear capability, and is prepared to take military action to stop it.

Recently the Iranian negotiators changed their tactics and said they view the Russian compromise “positively” after rejecting it previously, but more time is needed to discuss the plan of enriching uranium in Russia. The British however see the Iranian move as an attempt to play for time and avoid the security council anticipated debate.

The Iranian nuclear program would have been dealt with long ago if not for the Russians who built the Iranian nuclear project, earning billions of dollars, and the Chinese thirst for Iranian oil at almost any cost, both preventing any serious action to stop Iran.

Yuval Yairi

Introducing Yuval Yairi, a very talented visual artist. Now showing at the Alon Segev Gallery in Tel Aviv.
Biography is attached below..

Yuval Yairi - Basement with typewriter and bottles

Yuval Yairi - East Bridge

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Nir Hod

Nir Hod offers a great perspective on life in Israel and serious talent. He is a graduate of the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and Cooper Union School of Art in New York. Thank you to the Alon Segev Gallery where these works are available.
Click the link below (more) to see some additional great pieces and check out his impressive bio.

Nir Hod Israeli Artist

Nir Hod Israeli Artist

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Yigal Ozeri

I want to show off some of Yigal Ozeri’s work, I came across it at the Alon Segev Gallery (thank you) where his works are available.
Read the bio below – impressive.

Yigal Ozeri

Yigal Ozeri

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Political Wrap up with 88 days to go

Well we took a break from the elections but there’s no avoiding it any longer. They are coming. So what has happened in the last couple of weeks in politics you ask? All images are from Arutz 2’s “Eretz Nehedert”.

Bibi on Eretz NehedertWell Bibi (Benjamin Neyanyahu) is leading the Likud. “Killed” Silvan Shalom real quick. I believe the term Silvan used when he heard the score was equivalent to “we’re screwed”. And they were. He did offer Silvan the number 2 spot though to keep the peace. Silvan took the job. What else.

Bibi was real happy and came into Likud HQ all Gung Ho.. First item of business was an attempt at getting rid of Moshe Feiglin, head of the Jewish Leadership faction in the Likud and what is considered the “radical” element in the party. Bibi also wants to clean house so he is suggesting that the Likud charter be changed to ban all members who spent more then 3 months in prison. This would again prevent Feiglin from running on the Likud ticket, he was convicted in 97 for incitement. He is expected to withdraw from running for Knesset and is expected to make the announcement Sunday. In recent polls the Likud is gaining and is now expected to get 14 seats, 21 for Labour and 39 for Kadima.

Labour is sliding a little. Shelly Yachimovich is out in the field. In an interview this weekend she voiced her support of the economic and social agenda and her severe, really severe dislike for Eretz Nehederet, the show that has included her in the usual cast of characters. In a TV interview she had with Yaron London she was grilled and then lashed back at the interviewer. Sour grapes from the media world on her departure according to her. An intelligent and articulate woman she is an intensive advocate of women’s rights, raising the minimum wage and better conditions for the working class. Maybe wound a little too tight though.

A little hostility there between her and Alon Pinchas, ex consol in New York and Labour contender. The latter claiming that Labour needs to have a national and political agenda that goes beyond becoming the “welfare party”. If Peretz is to make any headway he needs to concentrate more on the security, national and political agenda and gain the votes that are concerned with those issues. Seems like there is something there, polls also show this week that there is some concern about the capabilities of Amir Peretz as Prime Minister (40% in one survey) and his lack of experience in matters of security.

In Kadima things are holding. Lots of rumors and speculation about the health of Ariel Sharon. His weight in the papers (and we mean physical) was fluctuating anywhere from 110 Kg to 130 Kg (242 – 286 Lbs) amid ongoing speculation as to the state he was in on the night of the mini stroke. We now know he has 195 Cholesterol and 120 over 80 in blood pressure, what we don’t know is what exactly happened that night and how healthy he really is. We have a better chance of finding out who killed Kennedy though so no point thinking about it!

Sharon on Eretz NehedertIn a potential “Hot Potato”, Sharon ordered his campaign managers to halt all “paid bonus” schemes to member of his campaign staff for recruiting voters. Apparently the bonus plan was thought up by Avigdor Yitzchaki, campaign manager for Kadima, and was quickly stomped by Sharon when he heard about it in the news. Avigdor is an accountant. Phew…

A new addition to Kadima is Avi Dichter, ex Head of the General Security Services. He has done the research, weighed the evidence and decided to join Kadima. He first considered joining the party when he became head of the GSS. When working with government and political heads he realized the rate at which ministers where changing and noticing the lack of stability in the halls of power and the detrimental effect on work in the field he began looking into a political career. He is a patient man and should be an interesting addition to Kadima.

Stay Tuned!

World without Zionism

World without Zionism - Iran's VisionLast Wednesday the 4,000 students in Teheran got a guest speaker, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This was part of their course titled “A World Without Zionism“. His presence was part of celebrations for the final Friday of the Ramadan fast. The main message of this lecture was the need for the destruction of Israel and the immediate removal of this “stain” on the face of Islam. The crowed cheered with acceptance at these words.
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London 7/7 – a local perspective

These are selected excerpts from an article written by Johann Hari on his blog. Johann is an award winning journalist and play write, he has written for The Independent, the New York Times, CNN and many other intenrational publications. He is also the contributing editor for Attitude (Britain’s main gay magazine) as well as being on the editorial board of The Liberal and other UK publications.

I headed for the East London Mosque – a few minutes’ walk away from the bomb in Aldgate – to watch afternoon prayers. In the stark white prayer hall, there are three hundred Muslim men, some wearing traditional white robes, others in leather jackets and jeans. Chairman Mohammed Bari reaches the podium and says, “Only yesterday, we celebrated getting the Olympics for our city and our country. But a terrible thing happened in our country this morning… Whoever has done this is a friend of no-one and certainly not a friend of Muslims. The whole world will be watching us now. We must give a message of peace”.

As everybody mills outside the mosque, there are groups forming to go and give blood at the Royal London Hospital up the road. Many people make a point of smiling at me, an obvious non-Muslim in their midst. There is an awareness here – although not yet in the rest of the country – that the Bin Ladenists who planned these massacres despise democratic, non-violent Muslims who choose to live in the West as much as they despise the rest of us. Anybody who tells you these bombers are fighting for the rights of Muslims in Iraq, occupied Palestine or Chechnya should look at the places they chose to bomb. Aldgate? The poorest and most Muslim part of the country. Edgware Road? The centre of Muslim and Arab life in London and, arguably, Europe.

This is not a fight between Muslims and the rest of us. It is a civil war within Islam, between democratic Muslims and Wahhabi fundamentalists who want to enslave or kill them. Yassin Dijali, 31, says, “It could have been our children on those trains too. This is where we belong. These people are insane.”

London’s response to the attacks is subtly different to other cities’. Like New York, we have our pictures of the missing-presumed-dead, but there is no visceral nationalism, and I have not seen a single Union Jack. Unlike Madrid, I could find no backlash against our political leaders (or at least, not yet); people seemed to react as if this was not a political act but a natural disaster, with no deeper causes than the tsunami.

On Friday morning, sitting outside a café on Whitechapel High Street, one of the lingering Jewish residents of the old East End, an 86 year-old called Henry Abelman, is drinking tea, as he does every day. He was here the last time fascists attacked London; he says with a laugh that he expects to be here the next time they toss some bombs at us too. “Not so long ago, we had bombs like this every day for six years coming from an army backed by twenty million people. That didn’t destroy us or divide us, so what do you think a few spoiled brats with home-made bombs are going to do?”

Like Henry, I’ll see you all on the tubes and on the buses Monday morning.

London attacks

Bus Blast in London July 2005It’s all over the news and I have been watching Sky today and getting the media’s official coverage of events. Interesting people the English. Strong in a polite sort of way. The official death count is 50, 4 attacks on 3 tubes and a bus. A severe hit for a large metropolitan and mostly because of the psychology and stress involved with these attacks. The real “value” for the terror organizations is the disruption of daily life, and I think that for the most part they have failed in London.

London Attacks mapped outI was very impressed by the calm and order that were visible in the streets in the following 24 hours. No crowds or disruptions to the police and an overall sense of cool control. Cool customers these British and good for them. Well handled.

King Cross Tunnel - London BombingsAs someone who has lived through a long period of urban terror, its not easy to keep daily life moving along. I spoke to several friends living in London in the hours following the attacks and they were most of all surprised. I think that locals were in a way better prepared. They seemed to have an idea that this was coming and almost knew to expect it. Foreigners working in London were surprised this could happen in a city like London. That sort of raises another thought. Have people living in large cities become the new front line warriers in this world?

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