a different side of Israel

Tag: Tel Aviv (page 13 of 17)

Transport Ministry enacts New Law to Reduce Road Accidents

Israel’s Transport Ministry has introduced a new law to attempt to reduce the number of road accidents by impounding and removing vehicles driven by traffic offenders. In effect since Thursday, May 11, police offices will now impound both cars and commercial vehicles for periods up to 60 days. Drunk drivers, especially young adults, as well as new drivers (those without a licensed sitting beside them) will be particularly susceptible to the new regulations, as well as those caught driving after their license was previously suspended. “Drivers involved in ‘hit and run’ accidents, will become believers when they have both their license and their car taken from them – perhaps forever” a high ranking police officer was quoted as saying.

The new law will be especially had on drivers of commercial vehicles as well. These drivers, often involved in scores of traffic violations, will become responsible for paying the costs of retrieving their employer’s vehicle from an impoundment facility that could be 60 – 100 kilometers from the scene of the impoundment. Police officials believe that by having to go long distances to retrieve the vehicles, paying the towing and storage fees, as well as the fine itself, will make all drives think twice before they become involved in traffic violations again. This new reality also will apply to young drivers, many in the midst of their army service, who take their parent’s out for a night of “pubbing” in Tel Aviv and other popular weekend entertainment spots. The law will have no sympathy, without regard for who is actually driving at the time of the violation.
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Photographing women in the IDF

Ashkan Sahihi: women in the IDF
Women of the Israel Defense Forces, by Ashkan Sahihi

Ashkan Sahihi is an Iranian-American photographer who has gained fame with his remarkable portraits. I met him at a party in New York several years ago, where his Drug Series – portraits of non-drug users feeling the effects of substances they were using for the first time – was on exhibition.

We fell into conversation, and I learned that he was born in Iran to a Baha’i family that moved to Germany when he was a child, and from there to the United States. He told me that he remembered visiting Israel as a child, when his family came to see the world-famous Baha’i temple in Haifa. He said he fell in love with Israel, and wanted to visit again.

The Baha’i Temple, Haifa

Several years later, I met him by chance at a Tel Aviv art gallery. He had come to Israel at the invitation of the Israeli foreign ministry, to promote his Women of the Israel Defense Forces series.

Women of the IDF

When Ashkan’s series was exhibited at a San Francisco gallery a couple of years ago, he was interviewed for the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Considering Sahihi’s track record with the taboo, it is no surprise he chose uniformed youth gripping guns twice the size of their forearms for his series. “The women introduce two additional layers to an already multilayered subject matter. They bring up the question of democratic society vs. non-democratic society,” Sahihi, who was born in Iran and raised in Germany, explains.

“For example, feminists in Germany and Sweden have been arguing in support of women in military service, but by the same token German feminists consider Israeli politics aggressive, occupational and undemocratic.”

And then there is the issue of beauty. “In open-minded circles people find anything with guns uncool and perverted. They are chicks with guns, but there’s no way you can’t see human beauty in them. You could hate what they stand for and the sick man who produced the photographs,” he says with a laugh. “But there is plain imagery, beauty that you can’t escape.”

It’s safe to say that Ashkan courts controversy, and I’m perfectly fine with that. His images may be shocking sometimes, but they are never boring, they are often thought-provoking and they are even more often very beautiful.

Yossi Banai 1932 – 2006

Yossi Banai 1932-2006
By Maurice Picow
The people of Israel lost one of their most beloved and talented artists with the passing of Yossi Banai on Thursday, May 11. A real ‘man of all seasons’ in the Israeli entertainment realm, Yossi was beloved and admired by all, from government ministers to the ordinary people who watched his performances over Banai’s long career, spanning more than 50 years.

Born in the Mahane Yehuda section of central Jerusalem, Bani’s long theatrical career at the Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv was interlaced with a successful career as a singer, song writer, as well as actor on Israel television, from its very beginning. As a comedian he had few equals, and many well known Israeli entertainers owe their careers to his influence, as well as his warmth and friendship.

Just a few of Israel’s popular entertainers who owe a lot to Yossi’s assistance for their own careers are Gila Almagor, Rifka Michaeli, and the long time comedy group: Hagshash HaChever, which included Yossi’s brother, Gavri Banai. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying: “the State of Israel bows its head today in memory of this great man”.

Banai was attributed to writing and singing numerous popular songs, including several renditions of popular French melodies, which were translated into Hebrew with the help of another recently deceased icon, Naomi Shemer. One of Yossi’s best songs, one that will often be sung to memorialize his passing, is entitled Kaparot Tarnigol (sacrificial rooster), the chorus of which is noted here:

“I remember a sacrificial rooster, a little bird on a roof,
Angels stroll on the walls here and there, all white for the days of awe”

One of the best attributes to Yossi Banai’s career was his ability to adapt himself to nearly four generations of Israeli cultural life; from the very beginnings of the country’s struggles to build a nation from the multitudes of immigration; to the more sophisticated modernity that has characterized the Israeli entertainment industry in recent times.

A modest and often quiet man in his private life, he made up for this with his talent before the public of his beloved Israel, where he entertained everyone for so long. He was awarded the Israel Prize in 1998 for his achievements in the performing arts. But his real achievements will be remembered by all whose lives he touched.

International Marijuana Day Celebrations in Tel Aviv

International Marijuana Festival in the National Park in Tel Aviv Please be advised, this Saturday 6.5.2006 is the International Marijuana Festival in the National Park in Tel Aviv. Organizers are reminding visitors to remember that Marijuana is still illegal and to abstain from bringing illiegal substances. The picnic is organized to bring about the legalization of the marijuana plant in Israel and is in conjuction with the Worldwide Marijuana Organization.

Yalla Maccabi !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tonight the Final Four Maccabi Tel Aviv is playing Tau Vitoria in Prug.

Maccabi TA in Prug 2006

Living with the “cult of suicide”

Suicide bombing in Tel AViv
Taken on the scene of the April 17 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Credit: Lisa Goldman

I guess a lot of regular OJ readers were expecting a post about the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on April 17, or at least the day after. Instead, we wrote about art galleries and the Passover holiday.


Well, lots of reasons – one of them being that life in Israel doesn’t stop, or even slow down, when there is a terror attack. The sad fact is that we have become all-but completely inured to these horrors. It’s too difficult to wonder constantly about what would motivate a human being to strap a bomb filled with long nails on his body, walk into a restaurant and detonate himself. It’s too hard to mourn individually for all the dead. It’s too exhausting to analyze what all this means for the future of our part of the world.

And, forgive the cliche, life does go on.

I happened to be quite near the site of Monday’s bombing when it occured. I covered the story as a journalist, and wrote about it on my personal blog.

That post, plus the one I wrote about reactions among Israeli bloggers for Global Voices Online, got an awful lot of traffic. There is something about suicide bombings that is simultaneously horrifying and morbidly fascinating. For many reasons, people want to know more and more about the who, how, where and why.

Or, as Bradley Burston put it in this very well-written column for Haaretz, “Suicide is the ultimate pornography.”

We cannot look away, it hits too deep in the human imagination. Perhaps that is because suicide constitutes the ultimate mystery. Anxious to know why a suicide takes the decision, we can only ask those who fail at it. Those who succeed at it, remain precisely as indecipherable as death itself.

In the lexicon of suicide, there are few acts more obscenely pornographic than human bombs who target the innocent and the uninvolved.

Read Burston’s article for an excellent analysis of why suicide bombings are, in a perverse way, “popular” among some people – and why, ultimately, they will serve to isolate the Palestinians from the global community and work against their cause.

The Pink City

Tel Aviv Gay Pride
Photo: AP

The first Hebrew city wants to be the first gay city. Work is underway in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism to turn Tel Aviv into the international tourist destination for the gay-lesbian community in order to boost business in restaurants, hotels, city attraction sites and beaches.

“Gay tourism has been accelerated lately, and we are entitled to large support from the Tel Aviv Hotels Union and the Ministry of Tourism,” Shay Deutsch, spokesperson of the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community, said Wednesday.

Read the rest of the story, Danny Sadeh for Ynet, here.

Exhibition at Tel Aviv’s Rosenfeld Gallery

by Jill Cartwright

RosenfelI must have walked past the Rosenfeld Gallery on Dizengoff thousands of times and never thought twice about it or drawn my attention inside. And had it not been for my art aficionado friend Ophira, who led me there after the Nurit David exhibition on Gordon, I would never had known that it is the one of the prominent galleries in the city, a sought after exhibition spaces that has nurtured and developed many artists from the local scene since it was opened in 1952 by Eliezer Rosenfeld.

Now under the direction of the son Zaka Rosenfeld, the gallery is still flourishing – that even on an afternoon in the middle of the week, visitors were traipsing in and out and wanderng around the three-story exhibition space.
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Who’s afraid of art?

by Jill Cartwright

Givon Art Gallery Tel AvivFret not! This is no in-depth art review; no discussion on Proto-Renaissance shall ensue and there will be no mention of the death of the modern artist, nor the post-modern, nor the neo-post-modern. For I am no art expert.

In fact, I tend to steer clear of art galleries – those vacant chambers of muted whispers, off whose cold, white walls my lack of knowledge always seems to echo and reverberate. They make me feel very uncomfortable and a little bit pointless.
Until today. Today I discovered that all you need to do to get over galleriaphobia is to go with someone who knows what they’re talking about and who knows where to take you. And that someone for me was my friend Ophira, a passionate art buff, lover of all things artistic and all-round culture vulture.
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Popular Passover Pursuits

by Liza Farachdel

seder plate, passoverHaving to work on Passover sucks. Big time. If I’d been able to afford the vacation days, I’d have used them, but given that I need to save them all for an upcoming trip to the US, I now find myself in the unenviable position of sitting on the train at 8:07am (having taken a train 40 minutes later than usual), heading towards the big city. I haven’t been in the office for five glorious days, having worked from home for the half-day of work on Passover Eve, as well as on and off yesterday, as much as my two year-old would allow (read – not much). I thought it best to put in an appearance at the office at least once during the holiday, so here I am.

Despite my disappointment at actually having to go into work, I must say that taking the train to work when there’s a holiday on (and I’m not referring to that last minute crush of people trying to make it home before the trains stop running just before the holiday begins) is nothing short of delightful. As opposed to most mornings, when train travel is akin to a communal sardine experience (with a varied assortment of sites, sounds and smells…), today the train is virtually empty. Not only did I have my choice of seats, I’ve even got two seats to myself. As I type, I’m moving my legs all over the place, just because I’ve got room to do so, though I suppose I really must try to keep the fidgeting to a minimum, as people will begin to wonder what is wrong with that spasmodic woman sitting in seat 16B.
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Not Jewish?! What are you doing here? (Part Eight)

Jill Cartwright

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven

It’s All About Money

Aaah, money. Nobody seems to earn much of it in Israel – certainly not in 2003, at the height of the unemployment crisis, and least of all our heroine. Her relationship with Boaz over, she starts to wonder if there’s any point in staying on. Perhaps she should go travel, clear her mind? Excellent idea! There’s just one small problem… How will she afford the trip?

by Jill Cartwright

Since the talk on the beach with Boaz, it took only a few weeks for the relationship to completely unravel. There had been talk of him moving full-time up to Tel Aviv as his studies in Be’er Sheva only required him to be there a couple of days each week and of us finding an apartment together, but the whole marriage conversation had really nipped it all in the bud and it seemed pointless to be picking out paint for the living room walls when we knew things weren’t really going anywhere.

And so once again we parted ways and I wondered what I would do with myself. Things felt different this time – more final, like the book had been closed and sealed on this chapter of my life. I was feeling it was time to move on. Noa had moved out to a moshav with her boyfriend, Shahar was newlywed, Grizzly was ensconced with his new girlfriend and I felt I needed to be far away from Boaz, fearing that if I stayed we would constantly sway into each other’s lives, but always a little unsure and always a little reluctant. Maybe it’s time I left Israel, I thought.
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Chakra power in Tel Aviv

Our roving reporter, Jill Cartwright, reports on the annual convention of alternative healing held in Tel Aviv.

Alternativa massage
A free massage at Alternativa

When I walked into the hall, and looked through the fine mist of incense that hung in the air, it seemed every herbalist, masseuse, healer, meditator and psychic chanter in Israel had set up stall for the Alternativa 2006 convention, which was held at the exhibition grounds in Tel Aviv from April 4-6.

The event had pulled in the crowds, who had braved the day’s appalling weather (pouring rain) to be there, and the scene was brimming with half naked people being pummelled by men and women in white coats, squatting in front of machines having their eyeballs analysed, sitting silently while their third chakra powers were read, or just generally scratching and sniffing, fondling and prodding the huge array of natural cosmetics, soaps, candles, spices, herbs and strange looking dried fruit that was out on show.
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Hang on, doesn’t democracy mean freedom of expression?

Paradise Now

By Jill Cartwright

The Machsom Watch exhibition that I posted about on this site a few weeks ago has been banned by the Be’er Sheva municipality because of its “harmful content.” On One Jerusalem the exhibition, which showed photographs taken by the women of the human rights group that monitors soldiers’ behavior at the checkpoints, was described as being neither extensive, nor hard-hitting.

In fact I found it to be a rather insipid display of cliched images – soldiers looming over babies, old people and walls. However, Yaakov Turner, the mayor of Be’er Sheva, found the contents to be so explosive that he banned the exhibition in his city for fear it might “offend the sensitivities of the city’s population.”

What’s more, when Machsom Watch went to the High Court to appeal the ban, the court upheld Turner’s decision ruling he was acting within his authority as mayor.
Machsom Watch
And while we’re on the subject of wild censorship, the town of Acre has cancelled a showing of Hany Abu Asad’s Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated movie Paradise Now, about two Palestinian would-be suicide bombers and the dilemmas they face before going to execute their mission in Tel Aviv. The movie is excellent, by the way, and I highly recommend you go and see it.

However, it seems some right-wing Jewish extremists from Acre disagree with me. They threatened to demonstrate outside the hall where the movie was due to be shown and, it seems, exerted such pressure on the town leaders that the screening of the movie was cancelled.

The Acre municipality said it had not given into pressure but had decided not to show the movie so as not to disturb the delicate balance of coexistence in Acre, which has a mixed population of Jews and Arabs. No excuse, if you ask me. Go and see the film if you can. It’s screened nightly at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.

Israeli street art exhibition in New York

Street Art by Rami Memri
Street art by Rami Memri

Via Stephanie, I found out that the works of some of Israel’s most talented street artists are currently on view at the Bronfman Center Gallery in New York.

Stephanie wrote an excellent article about the exhibition that was published here, but I’d just like to add my two cents.

First of all, Rami Memri’s site is amazing. Check it out to see a whole gallery of his striking works, many of which I have admired while walking on the streets of Tel Aviv.

And secondly, if you live in the New York area you really should take a look at the exhibition – the works are just stunning evidence of why Israeli artists and photographers have been gaining an international reputation over the past few years. There’s some awesome talent in this country, and some very serious international art dealers have long been aware of that fact.

Nir Aharon, whose works are also at the Bronfman Gallery exhibition, has taken some inspiration from Jean-Michel Basquiat and created his own original art. Like this piece:

If you live in New York, here’s your chance to find out what the buzz is all about. Check it out.
Jean-Michel Basquiat

Trendy Tel Aviv Online

Tel Aviv punksters
From the photo gallery of Sheinkin Street Online

Tel Aviv’s Sheinkin Street has long been synonymous with all that is trendy in Israel. On Friday, the first day of the weekend, teenagers from all over the greater Tel Aviv area flock into the city to meet on Sheinkin where they gather in the cafes, check out the fashionable boutiques and music stores, and hang out in the little park where musicians gather to jam and political activists gather to talk about their causes.

Sheinkin is where you can find boutiques selling original designs, like Ron Mandelman.
Ron Mandelman

Or you can stop and get a fresh fruit shake, citrus juice or vegetable juice from Ido, who has a parallel career as a musician and often appears on local television.
Ido, the juice man on Sheinkin St.
Ido, the juice man on Sheinkin Street.

And when you get really hungry, stop by Orna and Ella (Hebrew site here) for consistently great cafe food. This is where some of Tel Aviv’s best-known actors, artists, musicians and writers hang out – and everyone is addicted to the sweet potato pancakes, served with a sour cream and chive sauce. When you try them, you’ll understand why.
Orna and Ella - Tel Aviv

For lots more information on Sheinkin, including video clips with subtitles in English, check out the new Sheinkin Street website. There are links to shops and restaurants, photos of Sheinkin and more…

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