a different side of Israel

Tag: Finland

Jonah’s Requim : Saving One of the Earth’s Gentlest Mammals

By Maurice Picow
Israel and Man’s largest Mammal don’t really have much in common; except for the Biblical moral story about a man who, after fleeing from God’s directive, spent three days in the belly of “a great fish” – supposedly a whale. This non-relationship suddenly changed when Israel voted along with other non-whaling nations to limit the amount of international whale hunting that has been partially responsible for severely depleting the world’s whale population. Whaling, or whale hunting for it’s oil, meat, and other products (once nearly all respective women wore corsets reinforced with whale bone) has been an important industry in countries like Russia, Norway, and Japan. America and many other countries either curtailed or completely banned whale hunting after their ‘products’ were no longer being used by their populations.

Israel, as a member of the International Whaling Commission, and due to increase pressure by animal rights activists, cast the deciding vote to limit international whale hunting, much to the chagrin of Japan and Norway. The Japanese still hunt these noble and non-violent creatures, and consume whale meat as part of their diet. As more are more Japanese citizens have discontinued serving this ‘delicacy’ however, it will hopefully not be long until that country joins the anti-whale hunting ‘club’ and gives up hunting them as well. Many of the larger species of whales, including sperm whales, blue whales ( by far the largest of the species), and hump-backed whales have been hunted or decimated by pollution and global warming to the point of some of them being put on the list of endangered species. The fortunes of these great beasts have been further threatened by a severe decrease of certain food supplies, such as marine shrimp-like creatures that many whales consume as their main source of food. Certain forms of algae also important in the whale’s ‘food chain’ are being decimated as well.
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In Defense of the Finns and the Eurovision

Comments on the recent article appearing in this blog-site regarding Israel’s performance in the annual Eurovision song contest have unfortunately gotten out of hand, with a lot of misunderstandings. The dismal rankings by Israel in this contest was partially due to a song performed by a group who only consented to appear after other groups refused to take part. Singing an American type gospel melody was a bit out of place, even though some Hebrew lyrics were used.

Eurovision Israel has won the contest three times, more than many other participating countries, despite its small size and population. Through the years, many songs sung in the contest by Israeli performers have been good, and many others have not. That can also be said of other countries as well, including ones such as Ireland and the U.K. whose performers have always sung in English, their official language. When the ‘ground rules’ of the songfest where changed a few years ago, allowing non-English speaking countries to enter songs in English as well, many other countries, including Greece, Turkey, Russia, the Ukraine, etc., began placing better, and even winning the contest instead of placing far below others who had the advantage of singing in a more internationally acceptable language, which includes many of the “romance languages” as well.

As years went by, many countries began experimenting with using more dancing, physical gyrations and various fad type of costumes to improve their chances of winning, resulting in their actually taking home the coveted first prize. Countries using this method of increasing interest in their acts have recently included Germany, Russia, the Ukraine, and now Finland. For Finland, one of the more docile of the Nordic or Scandinavian countries, the decision to send this kind of an act to the contest was met with great debate and controversy by the Finns themselves, and was only allowed to proceed in its final format when public opinion allowed it to be done. Many Finnish citizens were afraid that the act might generate the type of opinion against them as was noted in the previous article.

As it turned out, however, the performance received tremendous praise and acclaim by not only the Finns themselves, but millions of viewers as well. The act’s originality and ‘campiness’ won out in the end, especially with younger viewers who voiced their approval by voting in favor of Finland’s entry.

Israel, who finished next to last, with only Malta receiving less votes, will undoubtedly continue to enter the songfest and may one day win again. The lesson to be learned by all is that many factors come into consideration. After all, why did all the Balkan countries vote heavily for each other, and why did so many former “satellite” countries of the former Soviet Union vote heavily for Russia? Alliances and politics do play a part in these events, as they do in other things as well. One must simply put all factors into proper perspective, and judge accordingly. After all, didn’t someone say the following saying, so long ago: “Judge not, lest ye be judged”?

Iran, The Eurovision, and Us

Israel’s fortunes at the annual Eurovision song contest have never been easy, even though we have won the contest three times during its 51 year history. Israel first entered the contest in 1956, and often, the voting results from participating countries have been laced with controversy in regards to biased opinions against the Jewish State. This year, following a number of political controversies that have placed Israel in even more difficult relationships with the E.U. and other European countries, our song entry, sung by imported performer Eddie Butler and a mixed chorus group of Israeli and Afro American singers, finished almost last with only 4 votes, and these coming from (of all places) France.

Israeli singers, including ones like Sarit Hadad and Shiri Maimon, have recently managed to hold their own against the European hordes, and walk away with at least a feeling that they finished respectfully, despite all the negative flack being thrown at them by an increasingly hostile Europe. Last night’s poor results on behalf of the “European Jury” may cause future Israeli native and guest singers to think twice –even thrice – before making the trip to this contest again; this time to be held in Helsinki Finland.

Speaking of the Finns, their ‘heavy metal’ version of The Rocky Mountain Horror Show was nothing less than absolutely disgusting. Many other countries, including Sweden, Germany and even Russia (which came in second) had much better songs than the Finns whose living in Lapland must be so boring that they have to go to these extremes to win a song contest. Their gyrations and bizarre costumes were so grotesque that any sane person can only wonder if the Continent of Europe is once again slipping back into the Dark Ages, like what occurred following the destruction of the Roman Empire by the Huns and Visigoths during the Fourth and Fifth Centuries C.E.

This entire scenario comes on the heels of what has been going in Iran, courtesy of their astute president Mahmoud Admadinejad, who recently proclaimed that Israel is a non legitimate country and therefore should be “wiped off the face of the map”. This almost happened last night in Athens, as it became obvious that no voting country was prepared to give Israel even the least bit of praise or consideration. The four votes that France did give us were most likely because French Jewish citizens, especially the younger ones, got on the phones and cast their vote for the Jewish State. In a way, this was very fitting as more and more French are making Aliyah and purchasing properties in Israel, as they appear to see the writing on the walls concerning their future in the French Republic.

Iran even went one step further in regards to it’s own Jewish community by discussing in Parliament the possibility of passing a law similar to the ‘Nuremberg Laws’ passed by the German Third Reich in the mid 1930’s requiring Jewish citizens to wear stars to identify them as Jews. Though not yet passed into law, the mere discussion of this possibility already has Iranian Jews a bit worried, with their lovely President already being compared to Adolf Hitler.

Not that Israel’s song would have won, but it would surely have finished in a much better position had these modern day ‘Huns’ not been out to assist Mr. Ahmadinejad in his plans. As the saying goes: today the Eurovision, tomorrow Kristalnacht!”

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