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Tel Aviv Protestor Sets Himself on Fire

A protestor is fighting for his life right after setting himself on fire during a rally for social justice in the streets of Tel Aviv. Before lighting the match, he read aloud from a note saying that the state of Israel has stolen from the poor and given to the rich.

According to fellow protestors, the man was an activist from Haifa. He operated a company that went out of business, which forced him to get a job as a taxi driver. His luck made a turn for the worse when he suffered a stroke and became unemployed. He later moved to Tel Aviv but became drowned in debt due to the high cost of living in the city.

The remnants of the man’s note say that the government’s misdeeds left him unable to pay for his rent or medication. He also talks about the millions of dollars he has paid in tax as well as his many years of service in the military.

An estimated 8,000 marchers were at the demonstration. A separate protest also took place in Jerusalem and Haifa. The rally was a call against the rising cost of living. Protestors took to the streets shouting for the prime minister to resign.

A similar protest took place last year. In response, the government started a committee to address the demands for reform. However, since then, very little progress has been made. The situation remains dire for thousands of Israelis who continue to face rising costs.

Protest organizers hoped for tens of thousands of marchers to take the streets, though the number of turn outs were pretty dismal in comparison to last year’s march, in which roughly half a million demonstrators took to the streets.

The man who set himself on fire definitely got his message through, though only time will tell whether it will change anything.

New: The Port at Night


All Tel Avivians know how pleasant the port is at night. A beautiful waterfront view with great restaurants and shopping. Well, this nightlife is about to spice up a little more. From now on there will be live television broadcasts and advertisements on the buildings.

According to Ynet, NIS 30 million (roughly $8 million) has been invested in the project that was spearheaded by the Atarim company.

Aratim develops Tel Aviv’s tourist sites and is co-owned by the Tel Aviv Municipality as well as the Tourism Ministry.

According to reports, the company will be setting up a night film screening and culture complex in the northern part of the port.

Itamar Shimoni, CEO of Atarim told Yedioth Ahronoth’s economic supplement, Mamon:

“The investment in the entire compound is estimated at NIS 100 million ($26 million), while the film screening complex will cost some NIS 30 million. The first stage of the works will begin in November…The complex is currently being tiled with a wood deck on which the port will hold concerts and multimedia events…This will be one of the biggest recreation centers in Israel. The plan is to hold cultural events, rock concerts, art exhibitions, video-art, etc….We want to turn the complex into a recreation, culture and leisure complex for the entire family. We are interested in bringing more people in the morning and afternoon, and not just as a night compound.”

Housing Revolution Rocks On in Tel Aviv Tent City

Tent city Tel-AvivThe housing revolt is in full swing. The atmosphere is amazing. Finally there is a social uprising. Israel’s version of the Tahrir Square riots. Bibi will have his hands full with this one. It’s not going to just go away.

What started as a students uprising has become a social uprising. People have had enough of the “usual suspects” running the country and making living in Israel impossible for the younger generation trying to have their own housing.

On Friday this was a show put on by the student union. Local artists have been participating and showing in Rothschild Blvd. Similar tent cities have been popping up in other cities. This goes beyond the students.

On Bibi, Bieber and Buber

We are now living in the month of springtime and this brings to mind three B’s, along with the brisket I will be eating at the family Passover seder. They are: Bieber, Bibi and Buber. That is, Justin Bieber, Binyamin Netanyahu and Martin Buber. All influential figures will go down in the hall of fame, though, one is not Jewish. Can you guess which?

Justin BieberThe former B – Justin Bieber is not a Jew. Actually, rumor has it his family is not that keen on God’s chosen. Record exec, Scooter Braun, found an amateur Bieber’s 2007 YouTube videos by accident while surfing the web. Braun contacted the boy’s mother, Pattie Mallette was reluctant to give permission for Justin to do a demo with Braun because of Braun’s Jewish religion.

She recalled praying:

“God, I gave him to you. You could send me a Christian man, a Christian label! … you don’t want this Jewish kid to be Justin’s man, do you?”

Apparently, God wanted just that – Bieber went on to become an international pop sensation. This week, on the heels of the Passover holiday, 700 children from southern Israeli communities hit by recent rocket fire from Gaza were given free tickets to see 17-year-old Justin Bieber’s conert.

The tickets for the show in Tel Aviv, as well as transportation, are a gift of The Schusterman Foundation-Israel, The Morningstar Foundation and ROI Community of Young Jewish Innovators.

According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, ROI approached The Schusterman Foundation to help cover the costs of the tickets. Bieber arrived in Israel on Monday and is scheduled to tour the country. He will visit Christian sites in the Galilee, Masada, the Dead Sea, Acre and Caesaria. He will also meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Though an official date has not been set for the meeting of Bibi and Bieber.

This meeting between Bibi and Bieber may be due in metaphysical part to Buber. That is, Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher.

Martin Buber (1878 –1965) was an Austrian-born Jewish philosopher known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of religious existentialism centered on the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship. Buber observes the God-Man relationship as I-It, or I-Thou, perhaps, more I-Thou in Bieber’s Catholic religion and more I-It in terms of Bibi’s Jewish religion.

However, all religions see the God concept as an It. Moreover, Bieber and Bibi must build bridges based on Buber’s I and Thou philosophy of dialogues to appreciate the respective culture of each.

God Bless.

Party on Tel Aviv

This week Lonely Planet, a travel guide company released their Top 10 Cities for 2011 and placed Tel Aviv at number three, calling it a “modern sin city.”

New York City came in first and Tangier second.
The report was as follows:

Tel Aviv

“Tel Aviv is the total flipside of Jerusalem, a modern Sin City on the sea rather than an ancient Holy City on a hill. Hedonism is the one religion that unites its inhabitants. There are more bars than synagogues, God is a DJ and everyone’s body is a temple. Yet, scratch underneath the surface and Tel Aviv, or TLV, reveals itself as a truly diverse 21st-century Mediterranean hub. By far the most international city in Israel, Tel Aviv is also home to a large gay community, a kind of San Francisco in the Middle East. Thanks to its university and museums, it is also the greenhouse for Israel’s growing art, film and music scenes.”

In other news, the student union at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan is hosting a party on November 4th, at Tel Aviv’s Haoman club, featuring a live performance by national hip-hop superstars, Hadag Nachash.

The party happens to coincide with the 15-year anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin.

According to a report in Ynet, one Bar-Ilan student said:

“The official memorial day for the prime minister’s assassination is marked according to the Hebrew calendar but the student union should have been more sensitive, especially since the assassin, Yigal Amir, was a student at Bar-Ilan. It’s very embarrassing that of all unions the Bar-Ilan Student Union would hold the party on this date.”

The university’s student union responded:

“We are aware of the public significance of the memorial day for the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and on the official, Hebrew memorial day, special panels were held as well as a ceremony at the university… We sent representatives to the memorial rally last Saturday night. We respect the Rabin assassination anniversary. Any attempt to sully the Bar-Ilan University including all its students and present the student union in a negative light is cynical and even ridiculous.”

Rihanna Does Israel Right

The Grammy Award winning popular rhythm and blues singer Rihanna performed at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium Sunday night.

The 22-year-old singer, born in Barbados and currently based in the United States, spent two days prior to the concert touring sites in Israel – one such site was of course the Kotel where she purchased a Red-String Protection From Evil Eye Bracelet. She bought it on the steps in front of the Beit Midrash of the Aish HaTorah world center and made of it a photo opportunity.

As part of a volunteer project, Rihanna also helped paint a mural on the Kfir Scouts community center in Tel Aviv.
She said that her Israel journey was an “amazing, amazing experience.”

In September 2009, Rihanna performed at Jay-Z’s “Answer to Call” concert, a tribute to the police officers and firefighters who died during the September 11 attacks.
Metallica also performed in Israel a couple of weeks ago and other artists, such as the Pixies and Elton John have shows scheduled in Israel this summer.

In addition to her tour of Jerusalem, Rihanna’s first Israel visit also included a taste of hummus in Abu Gosh. The young artist refused to tell the reporters what she wrote in the note she hid in the Western Wall, saying that it was between her, God and the wall.

It was requested of the reporters to not to ask about her personal life or about the cancellation of the Elvis Costello gigs. Most of the press conference was devoted to the volunteering project, with Rihanna expressing her delight over the success of the campaign.

Tel Aviv was Rihanna’s last destination in her current European tour, which was launched to promote her latest album, “Rated R”. In the past two months she performed in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Scotland.

SICKO

On Tuesday, the Tel Aviv District Court ordered the remand of the arrest of a notorious polygamist up until the termination of all legal proceedings currently being held against him. The 59-year-old cult leader from south Tel Aviv was romantically involved with 32 women and fathered 40 children.

Goel Ratzon has been charged with rape, enslavement, indecent acts and fraud.
Goel Ratzon
Judge Hayuta Kochan who issued the verdict for Ratzon’s remand, called him

“A base and contemptible man with a sick and perverted personality”.

“In his twisted and perverse way, and his complete control of every aspect of these women’s lives, he mutilated their thoughts and castrated their personalities until they totally lost their free will. His baseness and contemptibility soar to new heights with the sexual relations he forced upon them.”

She added that the women members of the cult were:

“Weak, vulnerable, and mainly young and innocent, so it was an easy task for him to instill in them the faith that the world he created around him was all good, while the world outside was entirely evil and corrupt.”

Judge Kochan also wrote that Ratzon brainwashed the women into the belief that engaging in sexual relations with him would secure their entry into heaven:

“He introduced a reign of terror and fear, and those who did not do as he commanded were painfully and humiliatingly punished in a manner that made use of manipulation and severe chastisement…He forced them to dress modestly and work only in the home, and they were not allowed to be delayed if he did not permit it, not even while buying water at the grocery store. Ratzon never worked and these women provided him with all of his needs. For example, they bought homes for him, trips abroad, and all the luxuries he desired.”

Destination: Zion

“There are about 200 countries in the world, but it seems that only two attribute holiness to their capital: Israel and Palestine (still not a recognized state, but on the way there). Perhaps three, if we count the Vatican as a state.”

– Yossi Melman

western wall jerusalemU.S. President Barack Obama is delaying an action which would move the U.S. embassy in Israel, from the Tel Aviv coast to the city of Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is the former capital city of the State of Israel – and while the nation always dreamed of having Jerusalem as its capital, the change didn’t actually happen until 1980.

In 1995 a U.S. law was passed, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in the same ruling it was ordered that the embassy be moved to there. The law also allowed a 6-month leeway to delay the change, in the name of national security grounds – this clause was invoked during the presidencies of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively. Barack Obama joined the U.S. presidential trend of delay, when on Thursday he told Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to delay moving the embassy until at least June.

Madeba mosaic JerusalemThe fear is that left-leaning Obama is thinking along lines similar to Yossi Melman of Haaretz, who wrote an article on June 12th 2009, suggesting that Israel give up Jerusalem as a capital altogether. He suggests that it has always been an obstacle in the Middle East peace process:

“Most capitals contain religious symbols: cathedrals, mosques, temples, but they were not selected as capitals because of these. Even Saudi Arabia did not select Mecca or Medina, holy cities to Muslims, but Riyadh as its capital. Conclusion: The attitudes attributing holiness to a city were, in most countries, isolated from the political considerations that govern and shape day-to-day life.”

The Haaretz contributor added:

“It is hard to understand how two peoples, in the modern era, are willing to die for the sake of religious symbolism of stones and places of worship. Moreover, this ‘holiness’ is preventing any chance of achieving a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

For me, what is so hard to understand is how any Jew could be so removed from the soul of his heritage. If you wish to cite Saudi Arabia as a parallel to Israel, you are already wide of the mark. Saudi Arabia is the home of a culture which conquered much of the world often by the sword – and has most of the world shaking in their boots, today, out of sheer intimidation, inspired by a recent history of vicious violence. Israel, on the other hand, is a nation which has been oppressed more than any other on the planet and was driven from its capital as a result of racial, religious and cultural persecution. Yossi Melman is the one who should change location, not Zion.

Someone’s Looking out for Sderot

Liane Thompson, an American producer and director based in Tel Aviv, is working to create a feature-length documentary called “Children of Missile City” about the 7,500 children caught up in the ongoing rocket war between the southwestern Negev and the Gaza Strip. Studies suggest that nearly 90 percent of the children in Sderot suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the only clinic available to treat them, The Resilience Center, is in danger of closing come December.

PTSD has the children so paranoid of the noise that even a loud microphone in the mall can startle them. And though there is a lull right now after Hamas took a walloping from Operation Cast Lead earlier this year, but it’s only a matter of time before the rocket attacks begin again. Until then, consider donating to the Resilience Center.

Hene Ani Ba – Hadag Nahash

This is a new section called ….. you guessed it – Israeli Music :)
Once a week we will post a music video (no promises) – we’ll start with a favorite, Hadag Nahash

Terror strikes Tel Aviv Gay Community Center

RobberyNot only is political or nationalistic terrorism a problem, but that against certain interest groups too. A long gunman wearing a mask burst into a central Tel Aviv gay community center late Saturday night, firing an automatic weapon at the crowd of young people who had gathered there. The result left two persons dead and at least 12 more wounded; four of them critically. The center, located on Nahmani Street, off Ahad HaAm, was a well known meeting place for young homosexuals and lesbians, as well as for those who weren’t quite sure what their actual sexual “orientation” really was, but needed a place to discover themselves. Most of the victims of the shooting were teenagers between 16 and 18. The two killed included a male counselor, Yaniv Katz (26), and a young woman, Liz Tarbishi (17).

The attack sent shock waves throughout the entire Tel Aviv entertainment sectors, as many thought this was a Palestinian instigated terror attack. It was an act of terror, all right, but one of a different form and apparently meant to target the city’s homosexual and lesbian communities, considered to be the largest and most open in the country – if not the entire Middle East. So far the lone gunman has not been apprehended, who witnesses said was “dressed in black”.

Police Chief Inspector General David Cohen called the attack “a most serious act” and one in which his police force will utilize all its resources to capture the perpetrator
and any possible accomplices. Israel Gay Youth organization chairman Yaniv Weizman said that the victims “were teenagers to came to center from all parts of the country to receive help and talk to each concerning their apprehensions regarding being gay.” He added that people coming to the center, which also served as a social center, thought that this was a safe place to meet, and was not meant to be pub or nightclub.

“Today, however, someone sent a message that members of the gay community in Tel Aviv are not safe. Someone knew what was going on here”, Weizman added.

The last serious act concerning gays in Israel occurred in Jerusalem in 2005 when two Gay Pride marchers were stabbed by a member of Jerusalem’s Haredi ultra orthodox community.

How Much for a Get-Out-of-Nuclear-Iran-Free Card?

Gush Dan, the most heavily populated section of Israel encompassing Tel Aviv, Herzeliya, Givatayim, Ramat Gan, Rehovot, Bnei Brak, Kiryat Ono, Holon, and a litany of other municipalities sectioned at the whim of some cartographer with either a very shaky pen or very creative gerrymandering aspirations, stands at an estimated 3 million people. It may suddenly occur to you that this represents half of the Jewish State’s entire Jewish population.

The thought of a first strike by a nuclear Iran there…it’s best not to contemplate. And not contemplating it is how the country functions, because you can’t get up and go to work every day with the thought of a nuclear weapon whispering in the breeze. It’s just not that great for sales. But somebody’s got to deal with the problem. That kind of thing is left up to politicians, and some interesting stuff was reported today on that front.

Apparently, a deal is starting to be worked out between Israel and Western leaders concerning international support for a first strike on Iran. This, in return for certain concessions to the Arab world. At first, this sounds pretty good. Israel gets to ensure the existence of the 3 million sitting ducks from a possible nuclear attack on Gush Dan, and everyone promises not to yell at her.

Is it just me, or does something smell funny? The question is, what does international support mean? Will the Western leaders sit at their desks, pump their arms and go “Woot Woot!” as Israeli F16i’s cut through the skies and destroy the nuclear facility at Natanz, risking their lives in the process? I’d like to ask top military strategists about their assessments of the strategic value of “Woot Woot!”.

Iraq bombedLet’s go back in time 28 years to 1981 for a second and think together here. Israel, completely on its own initiative and totally lacking the backing of the wooting West, decided that her life was more important than international support, and bombed Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor in Operation Opera. Not only was Western support lacking, but Osirak was actually sanctioned, designed, and built by Western powers in the first place, lock stock and barrel. Here’s a photo to remind us.

The young strapping lad in the mustache would be Saddam Hussein, and the guy in the glasses? Here’s a superimposed hint. It is of course the young, strapping Jacques Chirac, former president of France.

Now fast forward another 10 years to 1991 and the first Gulf War. Conveniently for the United States, Iraq was lacking nuclear weapons. If he had had them at the time, world history would have developed slightly differently. It turns out, then, that Israel wasn’t only saving itself 28 years ago. It was saving the Western powers, too.

Now back to the present. Essentially, Israel is being told that if she wants Gush Dan and its 3 million inhabitants, she’ll have to do what the West says. Now imagine if that happened in 1981 and Osirak was never destroyed. It could just be that, by making demands on Israel, Europe is endangering its own safety.

It’s hard to say what concessions to the Arab World Israel would have to make for some international cheering. But whatever they are, are they so important that Europe is willing to compromise its own security? Woot woot…

Ku Klux Klan Fugitive Seeks Refuge in Israel

Louis Mayon in IsraelMaybe its the heat in Israel. As strange as it may seem, it’s often been said that the best place for people involved in hate crimes against Jews to hide out in a Jewish country like Israel. This notion turned into reality on Monday when a high profile member of the American racist organization. The Ku Klux Klan, has discovered to be hiding out in a south Tel Aviv apartment. The person, Mickey Louis Mayon (33) was arrested in Tel Aviv’s Bohemian Florentine district, and area considered to be gaining in popularity by young single people. Mayon, is on the American FBI’s most wanted list of 100 wanted criminals, and has been involved in a number of racist inspired crimes, including physical violence against racial minorities, setting fire of federal agent vehicles, and other serious crimes.

Mayon’s whereabouts was discovered after investigative work by the newly formed “Oz” immigration police unit, had received information that Mayon might have come to Israel on a one-way ticket in 2007 to escape arrest in America for a number of crimes including illegal use of firearms (he fired his gun in the air as a “warning”). The Oz unit had received information from Interpol that Mayon might be hiding out in Israel, but he had managed to evade apprehension by moving several times to other addresses.

Speculation as to why Mayon chose Tel Aviv Israel as a “city of refuge” ranges from his possible admiration of Israel Defense Forces, possible connections with local Neo-Nazi groups who were shown recently on TV as being involved in beatings of foreign workers and other people; or, just deciding on his own that Israel would be the best place to hide out in, in light of his personal background (who would look for a KKK member and fugitive in a place like Israel?).

Mayon was taken to a police lockup for illegal immigrants in Holon until a decision is made concerning deporting him back to the US, where authorities there would like to have a word with him. As a post script to this bizarre tale, perhaps Mayon was interested in opening a Klan chapter here in Israel. After all, it is rumored that they changed their by-laws a few years back to allow Jews to become Klan members – if any so desire. He might have thought that Israel is “fertile ground” for establishing the Klan here, in light of all the adverse feelings between Jews and Arabs – especially Palestinians.

MENTAL NOTE: Following this story I think someone should offer special discounted KLAN TOURS TO ISRAEL, tours for Klan members who really want to visit Israel but were too ashamed to ask. Who knew Israel was such an attraction or we could have offered this a long time ago…

Gay Pride Parade celebrates Tel Aviv’s 100th

More than 20,000 gays, lesbians, and curiosity seekers turned out for Tel Aviv’s 11th annual Gay Pride Parade on Friday, June 12. The event was staged by the city’s growing homosexual community, was coordinated as a part of the community’s Gay Pride Month and the city’s 100th birthday celebration. Gays and lesbians from all over Israel, as well as many visitors from abroad participated in the colorful event which includes groups like “Rugada”, a Russian group of (slightly) hairy gay men, Transgenders for Change, the Israeli Arab lesbian group “Asawat” (voices), “Bat Kol” ( Jewish religious lesbians) and one called Femmes.

Gay Pride in Tel Aviv 2009The celebrations began at 10 a.m. with a “pre parade” Gay and Lesbian Tourism Expo outside the Gan Meir GLBT Center in central Tel Aviv that included a number of tourism and other exhibits of interest to the gay and lesbian community, as well as music and other live entertainment. The parade itself kicked off at 1 p.m. on Borgrashov Street, and moved along to Ben Yehuda and Gordon streets before ending up at Gordon Beach where a TGIF beach party was held with music mixes by a professional DJ and plenty of snacks, beer and soft drinks until Shabbat began.

Besides the usual drag queens, muscle beach guys and other celebrants, this year’s parade included Israel’s version of Dykes on Bykes, in which lesbian participants on all kinds of motorized two wheelers (from cycles to mopeds) rode in unison together with rainbow colored Gay Pride flags attached to their handle bars.

Another unusual event this year was a mass “wedding” of five couples, something never done before in the Community (such weddings, although not legally recognized, are usually done in private due to adverse reactions from the non-gay community, especially the religious communities).

The festivities didn’t end on the Sabbath’s onset, however, as smaller parties continued into the night at various gay and lesbian pubs and other hang-outs.

For those who had to end their celebrating at the onset of Shabbat, as well as for all other interested participants, a Pink Elephant party will kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday evening at the Tel Aviv Port opposite the Montana Ice Cream emporium.

Tel Aviv’s homosexual and lesbian community has become one of the most active ones in the Western World; and certainly the most high profile one in the entire Middle East. Gay and Lesbian tourism to Israel has increased substantially in recent years, with visitors from many countries coming to the “non-stop city” to enjoy its many attractions for the Community. “We want people to feel fully free to come here and enjoy being with Israeli gays and lesbians, and even to get married if they choose to do so”, a Gay Pride official said.

Happy & Hot Gay Pride in Tel Aviv

Even the cops were in a good mood today. It was humid and hot but that didn’t slow down anyone. If you are in Tel Aviv around this time next year, it’s certainly worth the experience. Bring suntan lotion :)

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