a different side of Israel

Category: People (page 3 of 21)

People, celebrities, characters, criminals and others…

Who remembers Leonard Cohen?

Leonard CohenHis music is from the ’60’s and early ’70’s, and he definitely looks his age. But those who do remember this folk music icon of a bygone era, and have the NS 400 -600 needed to buy a ticket will be present in Ramat Gan Stadium on September 24, when Leonard Cohen saunters out on the stage and begins to sing the folk ballads that for a while made him almost as well known as another Jewish folk legend, Bob Dillon.

Cohen isn’t afraid to let the world know of his religious and cultural background, and has refused to sing at a concert for Palestinians in Ramallah for the simple reason that they had demanded he cancel his Israel gig. This fact, however, has not stopped Cohen from promising that all the proceeds from his concert will go towards Israeli and Palestinian organizations that are working towards reconciliation between the two peoples. In fact, he calls his September concert “A concert for reconciliation, tolerance and peace”.

Some of Leonard Cohen’s greatest hits, as were noted on a best selling album in 1975: Greatest Hits – The Best of Leonard Cohen, includes ones like Suzanne, Hallelujah, Bird on the Wire, and Dance Me Till the End of Love. His soulful, gravelly voice was popular with millions of fans who appreciated his lyrics and the timeless message they sent out; especially for people trying to recover from the traumas of Vietnam and the aftermath of what had been known as the “Hippie generation”.

More than twenty years after his greatest hits album, Cohen came out with another album entitled More Best, which includes some songs which were “updated” a bit to suit changing times. Some of these include ones like The Future, and Closing Time. His Greatest Hits album, has also been re-issued this year, and includes songs from both previous Best of Leonard Cohen albums.

Cohen’s first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, came out in 1967, when Americans were embroiled in the midst of the Vietnam War. But his messages of peace and love soon caught on in other countries, especially the UK, where he has performed a number of concerts over the years. His classic song, Hallelujah, was recently reintroduced in the London music charts, where it rose to the No. 1 position on the U.K. singles chart. Many people say this is his best song; but many others, including Suzanne and Bird on a Wire, are also claimed to be his best ones by his fans.

His Israel gig will come close to the time of Madonna’s scheduled September 1st concert. But obviously, those who get into Cohen’s type of music probably aren’t going to make the Madonna concert as the music of both artists just doesn’t have the same “vibes”. Nevertheless, Cohen’s performance should being back a lot of memories for a lot of us who dreamed different dreams and looked at the world in a different way than we do now.

Dr. Mordechai

Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University discusses Jerusalem and the settlements on Al Jazeera.

Bar on the “Rampage” – the fashion Rampage, that is!

Bar Refaeli Rampage

Supermodel Bar Rafaeli seems to going on a virtual fashion model “rampage”; and this time her beautiful attributes are gracing the pages of Rampage Clothing Company, an upscale fashion clothing and accessory company, whose quality apparel is sold via licensed representatives (upscale clothing department stores) and via their online shop. Following her two previous cover girl appearances on Sports Illustrated Swimsuits and on the men’s magazine Esquire, the Israeli beauty queen, who recently celebrated her 24th birthday, was given an attractive offer by the Rampage management to model their company’s upcoming Fall 2009 fashion line.

Ms Rafaeli, whose lovely form and facial appearance was seen in the company of American actor ands heart throb Leonardo Dicaprio, seems to enjoy her new status as one of the world’s most beautiful women – so much in fact that no other model in her home country wants to appear in any kind of modeling job with her in fear of being upstaged by the young blond bombshell. And all this is in spite of Israel’s present representation of having some of the most beautiful women in the world living there.

In a recent TV interview, Rafaeli said that it doesn’t bother her to do a variety of poses, including many where she is very scantily clad – or, in the case of the Esquire poses, virtually unclad. “I enjoy my work and am happy that people find me attractive” she said.

So far, she has refrained from posing for such international “flesh” magazines as Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler; although they would probably pay her a pretty penny to do so.

While some talk of Bar Rafeli pursuing a film career, as other Israeli women have done, including Natalie Portman and Liraz Charhi, Bar seems content at the moment to let her “body do the talking”; and this is apparent in her new fashion gig display for Rampage.

And why not? She is a hot item in the beauty and fashion world and has a long way to go before reaching her prime. What direction her career will head off to now is still uncertain; but for sure, we’ll see more of her beauty in the coming months. As the popular saying goes: “If you’ve got it – flaunt it!”

A sad farewell to the King of Pop

For all the millions in the world who watched yesterday’s farewell memorial service for pop star Michael Jackson, and especially those present in the packed Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, not shedding a tear or two for this truly musical genius would have definitely been out of place. The star studded extravaganza, lasting more than two hours, continued to build up momentum each time a music artist sang one of Michael’s songs, or a memorial testimonial was given. The mood seemed to grow more poignant, even though the 20,000 people in attendance (including more than 17,500 who received tickets via the internet) were remarkably well behaved; which added significantly to the tribute being given to Jackson.

Michael Jackson MemorialFollowing an introductory eulogy by Pastor Luther Smith, a long time friend of the Jackson family, recording artist Mariah Carey sang Jackson’s “I’ll Be There”; Lionel Richie followed with “Jesus is Love”; an emotionally wrought Usher sang “Gone Too Soon”; John Mayer did an instrumental version of “Human Nature”; and Stevie Wonder sang “I never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” as a personal tribute to a fellow “brother” and artist. “This is a moment that I wish I hadn’t lived to see” Wonder said, trying to hold back his tears. Jennifer Hudson, a former American Idol winner and one whom Jackson had personally admired, also sang one of Jackson’s former hits.

Many of the personal tributes given were as moving as the musical renditions, especially those by Brooke Shields, who had known Jackson since age 13 and said she and Jackson “formed an immediate bond as we both understood what it meant to achieve stardom at a very young age. We were considered by many as an ‘unordinary pair’, but we knew we could depend on each other”. She went on to call Michael Jackson “the sweetest and purest person I have ever known”.

But perhaps the greatest tribute, from a professional standpoint, came from Gary Gordy, whose Crown Record Company helped propel the Jackson Five singing group and Michael Jackson individually to stardom. Gordy said: “not only was Michael Jackson the undisputed King of Pop; he was much more than that – he was the greatest entertainer who ever lived!”

Of course there were other tributes, including those by basketball greats Kobi Bryant and Magic Johnson (who said he was most impressed when he shared a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken with the pop star); the Reverend Al Sharpton, and both of Martin Luther King’s children Eunice King and Martin Luther King III, who said that “you have be the best at what you are, and that’s what Michal was”.

Congressperson Sheila Jackson Lee, from the Houston Texas Congressional District, pointed out Jackson’s many good deeds, including his many charities (“he may go down in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of charities he was actively involved in”) and when he visited wounded US servicemen at Walter Reed Hospital, outside Washington D.C. “When he died on June 25th, we all stood in a moment of silence for the passing of a great American icon. Michael Jackson, I salute you!”

Other musical renditions were given in Jackson’s honor, including those by Motown great Smokey Robinson (of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) who wrote a number of songs that Jackson later turned into hits. But perhaps the most musical surprise of the evening came from 12-year-old Shaheen Jafargholi, of Swansea Wales in the U.K, with an excellent rendition of Jackson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You.” The young singer had been picked by Jackson to appear in his “This is It” concert tour, which would have begun in London in a few days.

Jackson’s own family rounded out the celebrity and star-studded morning with his brother Jermaine Jackson singing a wonderful version of the Charley Chaplin song “Smile” which Michael made famous as young child. And Marlon Jackson, choked with emotion, said of his departed brother: “we will never understand what he had to endure. Maybe now, people will leave him alone”.

As a final musical tribute, everyone who participated came on stage for the finale musical number “We Are the World”, which Jackson made famous as a song of love and hope for all the world’s children.

What brought down the house, emotion-wise, however, came from his 11 year old daughter, Paris Katherine, who sobbed: “Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine – and I just want to say I love him so much!”

As his bronze and gold plated coffin was wheeled out, voices from the audience cried “Michael, Michael” in one last tribute as the dead King of Pop left for his final journey to his eternal resting place. And as it was with another King, Elvis Presley, only history will conclude how great Michael Jackson really was.

King of Pop Michael Jackson dead at 50

Michael Jackson Dead at 50

Pop star icon Michael Jackson died Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles of an apparent cardiac arrest. He was 50 years old. Jackson’s death was reported to the media by he brother Jermaine, who was at his side when he has taken to UCLA Medical Center hospital after apparently suffering a heart seizure. An emergency room team worked on him for over an hour trying to revive him but to no avail, and he was pronounced dad at 2:26 p.m. Pacific Time.

Jackson had been trying to make a music comeback and had several concerts scheduled for this summer with tickets for them virtually sold out. His recent concert in London had been received by a packed house, indicated that the King of Pop was still top billing despite not being actively involved in the music and entertainment business for some time. His sister Janet, who was in the midst of making a movie, went immediately to be with her family after hearing the tragic news.

Although Jackson had not personally appeared in Israel as a music artist, he had several close Israeli friends, most notably magician and surrealist effect artist Uri Geller, who said he was profoundly saddened to learn of Jackson’s death.

Michael Jackson was born in Indiana in 1958 and his early talent as a singer and performer was seized upon by his father who featured his six year old son in a family singing group that became known as the Jackson Five. It was no turning back after that, and the young pop star led the group to win Grammy after Grammy until he finally “went solo” as a teenager during the 1970’s. During his music career, Jackson achieved fame that few musicians ever have and was indicted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Once with the Jackson Five and once as a solo singer. He won more than 12 Grammies in all as well as numerous musical awards. His pop movie, Thriller, won 8 Grammies on it’s own.

Jackson’s personal life was as news worthy as well as it was tragic, and was often filled with controversy. His strange and often eccentric life style, included being married to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of music legend Elvis Presley. That marriage, in which it was often queried if the couple actually lived together, lasted less then two years. He then married Debbie Rowe, and had two children with her before the marriage dissolved in 1999. Jackson made headlines when he was photographed dangling one of his children off a balcony of a hotel the family was staying in while visiting Berlin.

Jackson love for young children, especially young boys, was also mixed with controversy; and while many said it was due to his lost childhood by being thrust into the entertainment world at such an early age, there were also rumors that he had more than a fond relationship with them. He often brought hundreds of young children to his extravagant Neverland Ranch where he set up an almost Disneyland type of atmosphere, complete with a large zoo. He also established his Heal the World Foundation to help better the lives of underprivileged children, one of whom, a 13 year boy, accused Jackson of molesting him. That court case, which was literally plastered on the world media, cost the singer his career, and he never really recovered from it, even though he was eventually acquitted. He also have a strange skin problem that caused him to literally “turn white”, which was coupled with being burned once during a singing performance (he lost most of his nose during that accident). He also became the victim of ridicule and off-beat humor by numerous talk show hosts, who appeared to enjoy capitalizing on his misfortunes.

Jackson had amassed a fortune during his music and entertainment career, but didn’t have the ability to hold on to most of it, as he spent millions on his Neverland Ranch, and his numerous legal defenses, including several financial settlements with his ex-wives and with children who has accused him of sexual misconduct. He also traveled to several world locations, including the Persian Gulf Emirate of Dubai, to try to find “a haven form the world” for himself and his children. Some people who knew him well say that he was in a bad financial situation, which is what may have prompted him to return to the public concert scene and even to consider making new pop music recordings.

Tributes have been coming in from all over the world, and the noisy atmosphere of New York City’s Times Square and Los Angeles’s Chinese Theater (where Jackson’s celebrity “star” is included along with other entertainment celebs) seemed gripped in moments of silence when word of Jackson’s death was broadcast by the media. “I was really saddened to hear of Michael’s death – he was a true friend and co-worker” said actress Brooke Shields, who had known Jackson during his career. “Learning of Michael’s death was almost like hearing about (John Fitzgerald) Kennedy’s assassination” a fan noted.

Shari Arison: It’s time people knew who I really am

The wealthiest woman in Israel tries to change her image. She is coming out with a new book, and, in its honor, breaks from her usual solitude and agrees to an interview. On her divorce from Ofer Glazer: “I love him but we’ve closed the circle”. On Dankner: “They’ve hung a man in the village square without a trial”. And on her yacht and the rosy future she predicts for herself, after she predicted the economic crisis. (Mako, Emanuel Rosen)

Shari ArisonAt 51, Shari Arison appears to have it all. She has a bank, she has billions. She is the wealthiest woman in Israel and she works nonstop, contributing, active, and still, Arison feels she’s missing out on something. She doesn’t have our love. She wants us to know her as she really is, and not the image created of an estranged, yet glowing, satiated woman. Perhaps the new book she has written, Birth, will accomplish this for her.

“I think I simply felt the time has come for me to be heard, who I really am”, she explains her decision to publish the book. “My book speaks in my voice and people will get to know me.”

Arison writes in her book that she has wanted people to admire her all her life, and it hasn’t happened. She feels exploited, a victim who gives but does not receive. “I am a person who gives a lot of herself”, she says, “and at some point, when you give and give and give and don’t get any back, or the opposite – get back only cynicism and ill will – then you feel empty and used and unappreciated”.

She wishes to free herself from her famous yacht, perhaps the symbol of her wealth. “It’s not for me,” she tries to explain. “For a while I enjoyed it and then I went through a period of torment. I realized I didn’t enjoy all the fuss surrounding it”. The economic crisis created an opportune excuse for her to look for a buyer. The problem is that there aren’t any buyers right now.
Bank of Israel’s insistence on dismissing its Chairman of the Board (Bank HaPoalim), Dani Dankner, she still doesn’t understand. “I think Dani was a wonderful Chairman”, she says. “I didn’t see a justification for what they are doing to him, but besides that, I think the global economic crisis occurred largely due to a loss of values. I don’t think one can hang a person in the village square without a trial or without any reasons I can see”.

Arison tries to explain why she changed her custom of keeping herself far from the camera’s eye in this story. “I am a person and first and foremost I am true to myself,” she says. “I sat quietly while everyone had their say in the newspapers and on TV, whether it was truth or lies and I said: “That’s it, I have something to say and I’m going to come out and say it'”.

The wealthiest woman in Israel claims she foresaw the global economic crisis. “I’ve been receiving messages, call them spiritual communications, for many years”, she tries to explain. “I see things, many things, before they happen. Apparently I’ve been granted this gift, to see the future, not in order to run and buy and sell and make a lot of money, but in order to bring the world to another place”.

She receives these messages, she claims, in images or words, sometimes during sleep. “I received a message that there would be a global economic crisis, that people would begin to go crazy, and we have seen that”, she says. “More and more people are going crazy, it’s amazing”.

These messages also bring hope. “Things will be good afterwards,” she predicts. “I think we are nearing salvation. Right now, it seems like we are in the dark, but light will follow”.

She is also now willing to speak about her father, Ted Arison. “At first, my father didn’t want to leave his businesses to me”, she admits. “Today I understand that it was out of concern. My father’s view towards his daughter was very subjective; he felt that I should stay home with the children. I thought he thought I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t deserving enough, but I now understand that this wasn’t true”.

Along with these stormy times, Arison has also had to face the scandal of her divorce from Ofer Glazer a few weeks ago. It was the last stop in a stormy relationship that fueled the press, particularly embarrassing stories – the height of them – her husband’s conviction in two acts of indecent assault and his going to prison.

“We got along well together from the very first moment”, she testifies. “I loved him very much. I love him very much, it was great fun and I learned a lot. I learned to laugh with all my heart, to enjoy, to do major things that are against my nature.”

She describes Glazer as a great hedonist, who loves to travel and have fun. “He likes everything in extravagance”, she says and points out the difference that perhaps brought about the crisis. “I’m very modest, very shy, very introverted. It was good for me”.

So how did it end? “I went through a very important period with Ofer, but we eventually closed the circle”, she says. “I guess I got what I was meant to have, and he got what he was meant to have, and now both of us have to move on”.

She stands behind him regarding the sexual charges he was convicted of. “He was done an injustice”, she says. “I was at home, I was a witness. Nothing happened”.

So who is Shari Arison, besides the woman and her wealth? “I have a lot to offer, and it isn’t money”, she says. “Shari Arison is a business woman, Shari Arison is a philanthropist, Shari Arison has a generous heart. I have a lot to offer”.

Bar Gone Wild

bar refaeli esquireHoly Crap! Bar Rafaeli’s latest cover-page splash seems to do nothing but “snap-crackle-pop”. The sizzling 23 year old Israeli model seems to be getting more daring, as her posing for America’s oldest and (many say) most prestigious men’s magazine, Esquire, leaves almost nothing to the imagination.

Following her recent cover page pose for Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit edition (also a very prestigious gig that many top athletes literally fight for) Bar was approached by Esquire‘s photo people who offered her a bit of an “unusual” pix in which she would pose au natural with excerpts from author Stephen King’s latest tale . Bar’s attributes are definitely attracting attention in world beauty circles, and the high profile rating beauty and pop culture magazine Maxim has rated Bar as number 3 of the world’s 100 “hottest” women (that goes beyond sexy, I believe). In fact, Maxim went one step further in its admiration for the young Sabra beauty queen by saying:

“If there’s any evidence that the Middle East is a land of beauty and wonder – not just unending turbulence – Bar is it.”

Well, in Bar’s case, we can very much agree with Maxim. Said to still be hanging out with actor Leonardo di Caprio, despite rumors they had gone their separate ways, Ms. Rafaeli seems to be well on the way to topping Maxim’s list which is now headed by actresses Megan Fox and Olivia Wilde.

Many Hollywood actresses, including icons like Marilyn Monroe, started off as fashion models, like Rafaeli presently is now. Is she getting ready to set her goals toward the cinema industry? If she does, no telling where it will take her, as she’s definitely on her way there now!

Dudu Your Friendly Neighborhood Thug

Dudu TopazDudu Topaz, one of Israel’s icon television and theater entertainers, is a guy who just can’t stay out of the public limelight. But age and poor ratings apparently began catching up with the man who once had some of the most highly successful programs on TV. His catastrophic fall from grace reached a climax yesterday, when he was arrested and indicted for his alleged role in a conspiracy to attack and intimidate some top management officials in the Reshet and Keshet Israeli television network companies, including Shiri Margalit, Deputy Director General of Reshet, and daughter of Channel 1 TV icon Dan Margalit.

Topaz was remanded into custody at Tel Aviv’s Abu Kabir lockup on charges that he masterminded a group of thugs who were sent out to beat up and destroy the property of Margalit, Avi Nir, Director General of the Keshet network; and even Topaz’s own agent, Boaz Ben Zion. Things must have gotten pretty bad for Dudu is he put out an intimidation contract on his own agent, but this is apparently what happened, according to police sources, who now say that Topaz was at “the top of the pyramid” of the gang, and that he spend “thousands of shekels” of his own money to try to get even with people in his industry who had probably had enough of his actions.

Topaz, actually David Goldenberg, had reached the point where he wasn’t given any offers to host new TV programs, due to his poor ratings in previous ones. The three mentioned people who had been attacked by men who are now said to have been Topaz’s security guards, were attacked over a period of nearly two years. Ms. Msraglit, the apparent last victim of Dudu and the gang, was injured in the assault and had to be taken to hospital for treatment. Topaz is said to suffer from medical problems, including a form of diabetes, which could be partially responsible for his irrational behavior, sources say. When “interviewed” recently in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, Topaz almost had the appearance of a homeless person and told a Channel 10 interviewer that “if any of you (TV and the public) think I’m capable of doing such things, it’s very sad”.

People who know Topaz personally, including his brother Miki and long time friend and fellow icon Manny Peer, said Topaz is “a man who loves people” and will do anything to help those in distressed. But often his remarks and gestures got him intro trouble, including incidents such as the time he called right winged Likud party members “cha chacktim” (low persons w/o education) and when he fondled a visiting Argentine actress during an appearance on a TV show. Not being considered for recent variety programs (for which Dudu was once a master of) must have been too much for him, as he is that kind of individual who simply has to be in the limelight all the time. And when his own agent quit working for him, that must have been the last straw. His most recent girlfriend, Dr. Rita Rodriguez Barer (herself a psychiatrist and possibly a former physician treating Topaz) said she cannot believe he would do such a thing.

When arrested, reporters tried to interview Topaz when he was being shuttled from room to room by his police guards. When asked if he had any comments regarding his arrest, his answer was “All I have to say, I’ll say to the police”.

Yossi Sibi, a close friend of Topaz, said that his “colorful lifestyle” often got him into trouble. For all of us who remember Dudu in better times, his long fall from grace is a very sad event and something that Hollywood movies often pick up on.

Topaz, who police said was trying to leave the country, will be remanded for 8 days while the investigation continues.

Where is he now?

arafat yasserEver since the demise of the PLO’s long time standard bearer and first Palestinian Chairman or “President” Yasser Arafat, many people might be speculating what might be happening to him in the after-life, known to Jews as the Olam ha Bah. During his “illustrious” career, Yasser Arafat had many “accomplishments” he could be proud of, including the murder of several thousand of his avowed “Yahud” enemies by acts of terror (most of which he personally authorized or provided funds for), those cherished moments when he almost became legitimate while shaking hands with a former “Zionist” enemy, Yitzhak Rabin, on the White House Lawn; accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Norway (the same city which gave its name to the now defunct Oslo Peace Accords); and, his most notable accomplishment of all, providing his widow Suha with a ‘king’s ransom’ of an endowment, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world.

Yes, the Chairman does have a lot to be proud of; including turning his beloved Palestinian Authority into such a mess that it will be a long time (if ever) before it can eventually be worthy of being part of the “two state solution” that the new American President, Barack Obama, is so much in favor of. But perhaps one of Arafat’s greatest achievements was sending so many of own countrymen and women to their deaths in what is known in the Muslim World as Holy Martyrdom or shaheedim . Long before groups known as Hamas or Islamic Jihad came into being, Chairman Arafat, or Comrade Arafat as he was known then, encouraged young Palestinians and international terror associates (Baader Meinhoff, Japanese Red Army, Carlos the Jackal, etc) to wreak death and personal suffering on as many of “the enemy” as could be shot, stabbed, clubbed, or blown up, often with sensational media coverage. A few of these were the slaughter of people at Ben Gurion Airport in May, 1972, by
Members of the Japanense Red Army, the Savoy Hotel terror attack in Tel Aviv, the attack on Jewish school children in Qiryat Shmona, the Egged Bus attack on the Coastal Road in February 1978, and the attack in the coastal town of Nahariya, not long afterwards.

But perhaps his most sensational terror accomplishment was the attack on the Israeli athletes at the summer Olympic Games of August 1972, carried off by members of the Palestinian Black September faction, who had direct ties to Arafat’s Fatah organization. 11 Israeli athletes and coaches lost their lives in an episode that is still being talked about to this day.

Chairman Arafat finally went to his “heavenly reward” in November 2004, after complications from a medical condition which some say was caused by AIDS, and others by some form of poison. He must have been looking forward to meeting up with some of those 72 virgins (the sex of them open to speculation) as is the reward to all those who did holy deeds on behalf of his religion (he was still a devout Muslim, despite his political leanings).

But in Yasser’s case, did he actually meet up with them, or with something else altogether? All of us on the receiving end of his “good deeds” can only hope he received “something else altogether”.

Bar Refaeli Not on List of World’s Ten Sexist Women

When an article appeared recently in some news sites regarding the list of the world’s ten most sexiest women (including Britney Spears of all people), it appears it left out a young woman who has already received the attention of model and fashion publications all over the world; many of whom have picked her as the world’s most sexiest female. And that person is none other than 23 year old Bar Refaeli, Israel’s sizzling blue eyed bomb shell who must have something going for her as she was Hollywood film star Leonardo di Caprio‘s personal friend and ornament for more than a year.

Bar Refaeli on Sports IllustratedRefaeli, who hails from the town of Hod Hasharon, just outside Tel Aviv, is just one example of the luscious and foxy females that this Mediterranean country of only 7 million has managed to produce since its founding 61 years ago. Bar is not exactly a role model for her country though, since she split for the USA not long after finishing high school, and has said during interviews with Israeli newspapers that she considers serving in the Israeli Army as “a waste of time” and that posing in swimsuits is much better for her career.

Ms. Refaeli, who is said to have a “perfect hourglass figure” of 89-61-90 in centimeters, which ‘translated’ into American means 35.6-24.4-36, has become a well known fashion fixture in a number of magazines, including Sports Illustrated, and fashion clothing and cosmetic companies like Ralph Lauren. She is also listed with several high ranking fashion model agencies, including One Management (NY), IMG (Paris/Milan) and Iconic (Berlin). After making the fashion scene in the Big Apple, where she was seen frequently with DiCaprio, she changed her location to Los Angeles in September 2008, after apparently breaking up from the star of Titanic, Blood Diamonds, and other well known flicks. Bar, who speaks perfect American English, besides her native Hebrew, appears to feel comfortable on either side of the world, whether it be the USA or her native Israel.

Sports Illustrated hired her to be in some promotion films wearing sports clothing and an array of fashion swimsuits. She was also photographed recently by world renown Italian fashion photographer, Raphael Mazzucco, on the Caribbean Grenadines Islands. When interviewed by Swimsuit 2009, she pulled out all the stops regarding her personal life, career aims, and what “that special guy” in her life has to be. According to Bar, the guy in her life has to have “a sense of humor, a love of life, family values, and be intelligent, giving and understanding”. Apparently Mr. di Caprio did not possess all of these traits, even though Refaeli still considers him as “a personal friend”.

She doesn’t like to go on blind dates, and doesn’t like guys who are vain and “like to talk about themselves”. She also doesn’t like guys who “curse a lot – that’s a definite no!”

Bar hopped over to home country recently to do some publicity bits, including some public service ads dealing with Israel’s worsening water crises, where she and other Israeli personalities were seen “drying up” to dramatize the need by the public to conserve water resources and help save the rapidly depleting Sea of Galilee. Although she constantly exercises to watch her weight and keep her figure in shape, she loves good food, and will occasionally deviate from her health food regime to down “fries and a burger”. When asked what food from Israel she misses the most, her immediate reply was : “Humus! I have yet to find a good place outside of Israel that serves good hummus”.

At least that’s something that she misses from there!

No Perdone Por Il Papa

Pope In Israel 2009Criticism is still being heard following Pope Benedict XVI’s visit Monday to Yad Vashem, in which a short speech he gave appeared to be a bit lackluster. The Pontiff had begun his visit to Jerusalem with a formal call to President Shimon Peres at his official residence, followed by an entertainment program in which a number of singers and choir groups took part, including children representing the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Yad Vashem visit, which took place at the end of day, appeared to be let-down for a number of Rabbinical and other leaders, including Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a former Chief Rabbi and the present head of Yad Vashem.

Although the Pontiff did say expressions like “I have come to stand in silence before the monument erected to honor the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah,” he didn’t make mention of the Nazis as such and didn’t go far enough to express his sincere regret that the Church did not do enough to save Jews during the Holocaust – especially his predecessor, Pope Pius XII.

Knesset speaker Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, who was present during the Hall of Remembrance ceremony added that Benedict’s visit there was not enough to receive forgiveness in the eyes of the Jewish People.

“I came to the memorial not only to hear historical descriptions or about the established fact of the Holocaust. I came as a Jew, hoping to hear an apology and a request for forgiveness from those who caused our tragedy, and among them, the Germans and the church. But to my sadness, I did not hear any such thing” Rivlin said.

No doubt that the Pontiff, as the official head of his faith’s 1.2 billion adherents, was not at liberty to express any personal pleas of forgiveness – not that any might have been forthcoming. The words he did say were probably carefully reviewed by church officials, and even practiced beforehand prior to the visit.

For a pope born and raised in Germany, and who was a member of the “Hitler Youth” as a child, his visit to this scared shrine, in which the ashes of unknown Jewish victims are buried under it’s black granite floor, it might be said that his words did at least commemorate their deaths, and raised sincere hope that this horrible tragedy will never happen again. No mention was also made of the Church’s long persecution of Jews, including the 400 year long “Holy Inquisition” in which perhaps millions of Jews were either vanquished from lands such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy; or tortured and put to death in the most cruel and barbaric fashion if found to be practicing their faith in secret after converting to Christianity.

The Pope’s agenda on Tuesday, included visits to the Temple Mount Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and other holy sites and held an audience with both Jewish and Muslim leaders. Perhaps he will be more forthcoming during this visit, and will say a bit more regarding his church’s responsibility for so much suffering.

Michael Oren Israel’s new US Ambassador

Michael OrenDr. Michael Oren, an American by birth and currently a professor of Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University, has been chosen by the new Israeli government as the next ambassador to the USA. Dr. Oren came to Israel in 1979, and has served in the IDF’s Paratroop Brigade, seeing combat duty during the 1982 war in Lebanon. Receiving a PHD in Middle East Studies in 1986, Oren’s connection to this region also includes a number of academic publications, including the best seller Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East ; an in-depth study of the June, 1967 war. This particular work, published in 2002, received the Los Angeles Times Literary Award for History and was on the New York Times best seller list for seven weeks. The Washington Post called this book the “Best history of the Six Day War written to date.”

He has also published numerous works dealing with Israeli foreign policy and political implications of recent Middle Eastern events. His most recent book, Power, Faith and Fantasy, published in 2007, deals with U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East from 1776 to present day.

Oren has also served as IDF spokesperson in recent military conflicts, and while on a break from his academic career in January served as an IDF spokesman during the recent Cast Lead operation. He also served as an Israeli liaison officer to the US Sixth Fleet during the 1991 Gulf War.

Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are very impressed with Oren credentials to serve in this post. Oren will replace current ambassador, Sallai Meridor, who agreed to step down following the formation of the new Netanyahu government.

American politicians are also very pleased with the new appointment, including Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a leading Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; who said that Oren will be “an outstanding ambassador for Israel”.

It appears that Oren’s experience and background makes him one of the most outstanding appointees for this position to date. We wish him the utmost success as Israel’s new US Ambassador. Just watch out for those sex toys

Miki Goldwasser Remembers Her Son Udi

Ehud GoldwasserAs we once again remember the more than 22 thousand soldiers and civilians who have been killed in wars and acts of terror, we living in Israel cannot help but wonder how women such as Miki Goldwasser, the mother of Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser, can go from being in a state of sad remembering to one of joy when Yom Hazikaron (Soldiers Remembrance Day) changes in just 24 hours to the festivities of Israel Independence day, Yom Haatzmaut.

Ehud Goldwasser, together with another soldier, Eldad Regev were kidnapped on July 12, 2006 by the Hezbollah along the border with Lebanon. For two agonizing years, their exact fate had been unknown (at least to their loved ones) until their bodies were finally returned to Israel in two black boxes on July 16, 2008, virtually 2 years after their Humvee jeep had been attacked by enemy fire. Along with Udi’s wife Karnit, his mother Miki had waged a relentless campaign to have him returned to his family, only to have him come home as another fallen soldier.

Miki was recently interviewed by the Jerusalem Post reporter Ruthie Blum Liebowitz, during which time she talked about her son and what kind of person he had been during his short life of only 31 years. She recalled how he had become so much in love with life, and with his country and his wife, with whom he had planned to raise a family following their graduation from university (they were both graduate students at the Technion when the Lebanon II war broke out). She spoke about Udi’s childhood and how, from a very early age, he had decided that he could live nowhere else but in Israel.

Udi’s love of life was shown many times during his life, both at home, in school, in the army, and especially with Karnit, the love of his life, and childhood sweetheart. Although Udi had lived abroad with his parents from time to time (his father Shlomo was a merchant marine ship captain). Udi knew that he could live his life only in the country he loved. Miki recalled how her son had once told her that even though it was comfortable living in places like South Africa, he could only fulfill himself by living in Israel. He went with Karnit for more than nine years before they finally married, and were only together as husband and wife for 10 months before that fateful day in July, 2006.

Both Miki and Sholmo have been active in the recent campaign to free still captive soldier Gilad Shalit; and they have been regular visitors to the Shalit home in Moshav Mitzpeh Hilla in the Western Galilee. They understand what Noam and Aviva Shalit, Gilad’s parents, are going through. And she is even more determined to perpetuate Udi’s memory by helping other families whose sons have also fallen for the country they loved. This is just one example of the brave young men and women who dedicate themselves to their country; and to their parents – ones like Miki and Shlomo Goldwasser.

Yom Hashoa and John Demjanjuk’s Extraction to Germany

DemjanjukIn a way, it seems almost fitting that former concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk is on the verge of being extradited to Germany as this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day begins. Demjanjuk is being extradited from the USA to stand trial in Germany for his part in one of Mankind’s most horrendous acts of cruelty in modern times. Demjanjuk, now nearly 90, had originally been extradited to Israel where he had been convicted and sentenced to death for his role as the notorious “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka concentration Camp where nearly a million Jews and others were killed during WWII. Demjanjuk had been living quietly in Cleveland Ohio for years since coming to the USA in 1953 from his native Ukraine.

He was freed from Israel after new evidence shed a reasonable doubt that he was indeed the notorious Treblinka camp guard who was personally said to have killed many inmates himself in various cruel ways. His arrival back in the US was centered in controversy, and many people sought ways to have him deported to some other country, such as Poland or the Ukraine. But no one wanted him; even the country of his birth.

New evidence secured in (of all places) Germany implicates Demjanjuk as being a guard at a much smaller camp, Sobibor, in southeastern Poland, where more than 200,000 people are said to have been killed, at least 29,000 during Demjanjuk’s duty tenure. Demjanjuk’s son, John Jr., was quoted as saying that he and his family “will do everything possible” to prevent “this cruel and inhumane punishment” from happening to his father, who is now in a very bad state of health.

Cruel and inhumane punishment, eh? Many people, especially those surviving Holocaust victims who still remember this man, may be remembering how he expressed his “humanity” to camp inmates he was in charge of – especially those as old and as feeble as he is now. Would he have been as concerned for their welfare as Demjanjuk’s family are concerned about him now? Concentration camp survivors, many of whom are well into their 80’s (as Demjanjuk is) still have nightmares concerning the horrors they experienced during their incarceration in a number of death or forced labor camps, including those as notorious as Auschwitz –Birkenau, Buchenwald, Treblinka, and others. Perhaps any “compassion” Demjanjuk may have shown to his charges was to kill them quickly, and not torture and humiliate them as he has been accused of doing.

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2009 is being commemorated as usual with ceremonies and events to remember the more than 6,000,000 Jews who were slaughtered between 1938 and 1945. But few will shed a tear for this man, Ivan John Demjanjuk; especially the few remaining camp survivors who had the “distinction” of knowing him personally.

Zvi Sela & The Good Sheikh Yassin

Sheikh Ahmed YassinIf any of you read an article in Friday’s Haaretz about an interview with former police psychologist Zvi Sela, now turned writer, you may have been as surprised as we were to read Sela’s remarks about deceased Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, whom Sela met with many times during Yassin’s imprisonment in Hadarim Prison, south of Raanana. Sela, who worked for many years as a senior police officer and has a PHD in educational psychology, told Haaretz reporter, Kobi Ben-Shalom, that Yassin, though cruel and ruthless, and responsible for most of the suicide bombings that were killing scores of Israelis during the mid 1990’s, was willing to have his Hamas organization recognize Israel as long as the Palestinians were given a state of their own. Sela said during the interview that “if we (Israel) had tried for an agreement with Yassin, we would have succeeded”. He also said that Yasser Arafat, with whom Israel was trying to negotiate, was in reality very corrupt, and that Hamas could not deal with him at all.

In regards to a final settlement, Yassin was quoted as saying: “I have no interest in destroying you – all I want is a state”.

Sela confessed his unhappiness that Israeli governments refuse to talk to Hamas leaders, saying that this is due to “the ego of our leaders”. During his two years of conversations with Yassin, Sela also had meetings with other imprisoned terrorists, including Samir Kuntar; who said he had not been responsible for the murders of Danny Haran and his daughter in Nahariya in the late 1970’s. Sela seems to paint a different picture of these people, whom many say return to terrorism immediately upon their release back to Gaza or Lebanon. In fact, Sela believes that long time terrorist internees, like Kuntar for instance, do not return to terrorism after being set free.

Return to active terrorism or not, these people certainly do not keep quiet about their feelings towards their former captors, as was seen from Yassin, before his assassination in 2004; and has been seen from Kuntar, who is being used as a symbol of resistance by another Sheikh, Hassan Nasrallah of the Hezbollah.

So are there some “good” terrorists and extremists, as far as Israel’s security is concerned? We’ll let everyone draw their own conclusions on this subject.

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