a different side of Israel

Tag: USA (page 1 of 49)

Big Gaza No No

“Gaza, Gaza, Gaza, we understand it is too much to ask for you to recognize the State of Israel, or to cease acts of terrorism and violence. But when you fire rockets at Israel, can you please not use white phosphorous.”

Your pal,
The Jewish State of Israel.

Last week, Israel fielded a protest at the United Nations because Palestinians were firing mortar shells and rockets across the Gaza border, using white phosphorous; the chemical frequently used in weapons since World War II, which causes severe burns. Three were fired in September, and on November 19th (and last August) the Salah al-Din Brigade fired four mortar shells containing white phosphorus into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.

White phosphorous, a.k.a. WP, “Willie” or “Peter” is a material made from an allotrope of the chemical element phosphorus used in smoke, tracer, illumination and incendiary munitions. The use of phosphorous on civilians is banned under international law. Israel admits to using white phosphorous during Operation Cast Lead, two years ago, in Gaza, but in risking UN sanctions, have since stopped. At that time, NATO forces also used white phosphorous, but have also since reportedly stopped.

The United States has accused Taliban militants of using white phosphorus weapons illegally on at least 44 separate occasions and likewise, in May 2009, Colonel Gregory Julian, spokesman for General David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, confirmed that Western military forces in Afghanistan use white phosphorus in order to illuminate targets or as an incendiary for destroying bunkers and the equipment of enemies. In November 2009, Houthi fighters in Yemen claimed Saudi warplanes dropped phosphorus bombs on villages in north Yemen. The Saudi government denied this.

A coalition of militant Palestinian groups (including the al-Qaeda linked, Ansar al-Sunna) known as the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the latest attacks on Israel. They claim it was retaliation for Israel’s targeted killing of two leaders of the al-Qaida-linked Army of Islam in recent air strike on Gaza last Wednesday. Israel claimed the group was planning to kidnap nationals in Sinai Peninsula to use them as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile some polling by the Jerusalem Post does show some improvement. 56% of Gazans and 53% of West Bank Palestinians are sick of Hamas. The Islamo-Fascists in green are getting the Palestinian cause nowhere! These numbers are down from the 35% and 44% who had favorable views of Hamas in July 2009. Fatah got high approval ratings, also in Gaza, which is a positive sign. While most Palestinians (like Israelis) favor a two-state solution, they see it as a step towards having a one-state solution someday, Insha’Allah.

Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip hold animosity toward Iran.
Altogether, 54% of Palestinians think peace with Israel is a possibility and only 43% are despondent. The majority are ready for renewed Peace Talks with the Jews.

Everybody Must Get Stoned

“In feature films about John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush, Oliver Stone, gave free rein to his imagination and was often criticized for doing so”

Writes Larry Rohter of the New York Times. During the recent New York Times interview, Rohter wrote that Stone stated,

“People who are often demonized, like Nixon and Bush and Chávez and Castro, fascinate me…”

And the famed director does not wane in his creative calling or his denouncement of demonization.

Stated Stone:
Oliver Stone

“We’re going to educate our minds and liberalize them and broaden them. We want to move beyond opinions …Go into the funding of the Nazi party. How many American corporations were involved, from GM through IBM. Hitler is just a man who could have easily been assassinated.”

What is so fascinating is that such a political and historical skeptic would not come to the side of Israel – the true victim and even the archetypal victim of demonization.

Furthermore, is not anti-Semitic rhetoric really a kind of “funding” for neo-Nazism?

Stone stated in the recent New York Times interview as the cause for disproportionate attention to the Holocaust in American media:

“The Jewish domination of the media. There’s a major lobby in the United States” he said “They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f***ed up United States foreign policy for years.”

Mr. Stone will be attacked for his comments by those who love America and by Jews who love themselves – just as Mr. Stone is attacked by critics for the historical and biographical motion pictures which he makes. The common denominator is his masterful misrepresentation of the truth.

There is no defense for the artist who tells lies in the real world. His honorable occupation of story-telling on the silver screen loses credibility, you see.

So while Stone slanders his father’s people and Mel Gibson digs his hateful hole deeper; while Meg Ryan boycotts Israel and Stone’s boy Hugo Chavez lets the Hezbollah operate freely in Venezuela, and the “demonized” Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to tell lies and facilitate the murder of Israelis – not one Christian Hollywood notable has stepped up and said, “enough!”

Aside from this, Stone should be aware: the true demon is within himself. Because of this, his art suffers.

PRACTICAL PALESTINE POLICY: Pushing Pragmatism Under the Magic Carpet

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research has conducted a new poll which revealed that the vast majority of Arabs who are living under the American-backed Palestinian Authority are opposed to attempts by the PA to prevent them from working construction jobs in local Jewish communities.

This was brought to Western attention last winter in the first laps of the settlement freeze by publications such as The Christian Science Monitor and – that is the sheer lack of pragmatism behind the freeze.

The Palestinian Authority prohibition on working in Jewish communities, such as the boycott of local Jewish products, was essentially designed to augment the effect of the 10-month settlement freeze forced down the Middle Eastern throat by one US President, Barack Obama last September. The catch is that a high percentage of Arabs living under the Fatah-led PA earn their livelihoods, sometimes solely from local Jewish construction projects.
Therefore, as writes independent Israeli reporter Avi Yellin in the

“They have been some of the most unrecognized victims of the politically-motivated building freeze…”

In addition to the cruel scarcity of construction work – that is the main source of income for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, which has resulted from the US-imposed building freeze, the PA boycott on Jewish products is being ardently enforced by PA security forces. Troops trained by United States Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, have been working to furrow out Arab merchants suspected of violating the boycott.

According to the poll, conducted between June 10 and 13, the vast majority of Arabs in Judea, Samaria and the Hamas-controlled Gaza region are opposed to being kept from working construction jobs in Jewish towns. Contrary to the staunch song sung by the press portraying Palestinian nationalists set on driving Israel from Judea and Samaria, the majority of Palestinian Arabs just want to provide food for their families.
According to the poll, the majority, that is 60% to 38% of all Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza oppose the prohibition. Deducting ancient Gaza, where Jewish citizens may no longer roam, support for the ban drops to 34% percent.

Takin’ It To China

While China has wavered over whether to participate in the American-led march to hang sanctions on Iran, officials of the Jewish Country have been pushing their own mum campaign to convince the Chinese that Iran should be disciplined for their renegade nuclear program.

Last February, an Israeli delegation made their way to Beijing to present evidence of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The divulged purpose of the visit was to illustrate the economic impact on China that would result from an Israeli strike on Iran. Should the international community fail to stop Iran from assembling an atomic weapon, Israel warns that an attack is inevitable.

Said one Israeli official:

“The Chinese didn’t seem too surprised by the evidence we showed them, but they really sat up in their chairs when we described what a pre-emptive attack would do to the region and on oil supplies they have come to depend on.”

Ties between Israel and China were marred when in 2000 an arms deal became bungled. The United States pressured Israel to cancel a $1 billion arms deal, many years in the making, to sell China an advanced airborne tracking system. Israel later agreed to pay a $350 million penalty. In 2005, Washington blocked another Israeli arms deal with Beijing involving a drone aircraft.

Well, Israel is also threatened by China’s growing thirst for Middle East oil from many of the Jewish State’s sworn enemies.

The Israeli ambassador to Beijing, Amos Nadai was heard saying:

“Israel is not a great supplier of the kinds of natural resources that China can find among some of our neighbors but we do have a lot to offer them, and there is a strong sense of mutual respect.”

Well, look at it in this light:

These two nations have some remarkable commonalities:

“their histories as ancient civilizations and the transformative economic growth that has defied conventional wisdom and a yearning for regional stability.”

Says Andrew Jacobs, Jerusalem correspondent for The New York Times.

In the game of tangible goods, Israel sells China: telecommunications equipment, high-tech products and irrigation systems. Trade between these two countries reached $4.5 billion last year; that’s up from $3.8 billion in 2006, although three-fourths of this is Chinese exports to Israel.

If not for the two-decade-old American-led embargo on arms sales to China which has stymied the Jewish Country’s most lucrative export, the imbalance would be less severe. Well, Israeli officials are frustrated over the ban, though they’re forced to acknowledge that their Washington relationship trumps the yearning for Chinese business.

Andrew Jacobs says that:

“Oddly enough, the close ties between Israel and the United States have become something of an Achilles’ heel for the Jewish state, during the 1990s, when Beijing was diplomatically isolated after the violent crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, the Chinese sought closer relations with Israel because they thought it might bring them closer to the United States”

“This was an illusory period during which China thought the Jewish and Israeli lobbies could open doors for them in Washington”

Said research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, Yoram Evron.

A deeply held affection for Karl Marx and Albert Einstein and regard for the Jewish’s country’s military prowess are cornerstones of a Chinese fascination with Jews. Adding to the previously mentioned commonalities between the two ancient nations, recall that both are victims of genocide and Japanese hatred during the era of the Second World War.

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.

On Hezbollah

Hezbollah, the free-world’s formidable foe is back in OneJerusalem news today. Here’s why:
Word on the street is that the Israel Defense Forces have started a one-week-long civil defense drill on sunday.
This drill will partially entail an attack on The Jewish Country’s national water carrier.

Well, Hezbollah is telling their forces to scram!
Terrorist commando turned commander, Nabil Kaouk told it like so:

“A few thousand Hizbullah warriors will not be able to go and vote in next week’s round of local elections.” He warned that were Lebanon to be attacked, “Israelis will not be able to find any place to hide”.

And there’s more:
The Jerusalem Post informs us that the United States of America has “grave concerns” about Hezbollah in Lebanon acquiring arms by one Syrian government.
Israel is positive that Syria has supplied the Hezbollah with hundreds of surface-to-surface missiles, including Scuds and advanced M600s, capable of targeting Tel Aviv.
Lebanon’s Saad Hariri has denied these allegations. And hotly so. He compares this claim to America’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ahead of the 2003 invasion.
White House spokesperson, Robert Gibbs informs us that Barack Obama and Saad Hariri will hold a meeting soon.

The topics on the table will include “broad range of mutual goals in support of Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, regional peace and security“, (that is rebuilding their military and telling those Hezbollah creeps to take a hike). They are “also likely to discuss international efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear program.” Until May 31, Lebanon is the president of the UN Security Council.

“Go Home Chomsky!” said Israel, but did they mean it?

A fierce debate was had after Israeli authorities refused to permit Noam Chomsky, linguist and American left icon, to enter Samaria from Jordan.

So, like how can an 81-year-old professor emeritus at MIT pose a risk to Israel? Right?
Noam Chomsky
Mr. Chomsky, a Jew who lived on a kibbutz in Israel in the 1950s, is a blunt critic of both American and Israeli policy. But a terrorist?

Barring him from entering the West Bank to lecture at Bir Zeit, a Palestinian university, “is a foolish act in a frequent series of recent follies,” said Boaz Okun, the legal commentator of Yediot Aharonot.

“Put together, they may mark the end of Israel as a law-abiding and freedom-loving state, or at least place a large question mark over this notion.”

Government spokespersons were humiliated and issued statements saying that the decision was made by an Interior Ministry official at the Jordan-West Bank border and did not actually represent policy.

“There is no change in our policy”

Said Bibi’s spokesman Mark Regev,

“The idea that Israel is preventing people from entering whose opinions are critical of the state is ludicrous; it is not happening. This was a mishap. A guy at the border overstepped his authority. Upon a second attempt to enter, Mr. Chomsky would succeed…The Jewish Country has no intention of breaking policy — or threatening the spirit of freedom for that matter”.

Chomsky held a television interview from Jordan with Al Jazeera in which he said:

“There were two basic points…One was that the government of Israel does not like the kinds of things I say — which puts them into the category of I suppose every other government in the world. The second was that they seemed upset about the fact that I was just taking an invitation from Birzeit and I had no plans to go on to speak in Israeli universities, as I have done many times in the past, but not this time.”

A conservative group of Parliament members, though, said they had no objection to the decision.

“This is a decision of principle between the democratic ideal — and we all want freedom of speech and movement — and the need to protect our existence,” asserted Otniel Schneller, of Kadima. “Let’s say he came to lecture at Birzeit. What would he say that? That Israel kills Arabs, that Israel is an apartheid state?”

Mr. Chomsky said he had last visited in 1997 and was then refused entry as well, and returned to Amman, the Jordanian capital.
Moustafa Barghouti, Chomsky’s would-be host in the West Bank, condemned Israel’s decision, saying:

“The decision of Israel to prevent Professor Chomsky from entering the Palestinian Territories is a result of the numerous campaigns against Chomsky organized by the Jewish lobby in the United States.”

Last month, Ivan Prado, one of Spain’s very famous clowns, spent six hours at Ben-Gurion airport being questioned by security agents before being sent back to Madrid. He was planning to run a clown festival modeled after one in Spain in Ramallah but was accused of having ties with Palestinian terrorist groups.

Actually, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Mr. Prado was caught lying during questioning at the airport and that his cell phone, which he denied having, contained a telephone number of a Palestinian, considered to be a member of a terrorist group.

Levant Basin Province Has Gas

According to the humble estimate of a US energy industry expert, international companies might soon join exploration efforts for oil and gas in the Holy Land.
Fred Zeidman told Globes website:

“It is quite likely that international firms will join the exploration efforts on Israeli territory; this comes one year after the ‘Tamar’ and ‘Dalit’ discoveries in the Mediterranean Sea. One international firm has already embarked on the could-be gold rush: Noble Energy, which was the partner of Delek and Isramco in their respective discoveries”.

Two of Israel’s largest financial groups: Nochi Dankner‘s IDB group and Ofer Nimrodi’s Israel Land Development too have entered the sector already.

Zeidman said:

“It happens all the time…We see in the US that the moment a company discovers oil or gas that can be transported, there’s a crazy rush to the region by other companies, and that’s a function of the size of the reserves found. Around the world, as soon as Noble goes to a place, many other companies follow in its wake. The prospects here are amazing, and I have no doubt that we’ll see an economic boom, and a rush of more companies to Israel from overseas following Noble.”

Levant Basin Province

A report done by the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas are in the Levant Basin Province in the eastern region of the Mediterranean.

This area includes the coastal areas near Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

Brenda Pierce, a USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator said:

“The Levant Basin Province is comparable to some of the other large provinces around the world…Its gas resources are bigger than anything we have assessed in the United States.”

The Levant Basin Province holds an estimated 1.7 billion barrels of undiscovered oil, which can be easily recovered with existing technology. This marks the first time the USGS has assessed the Levant Basin area for extractable resources.

Unique Israeli Artist Jack Jaget

Jack Jaget is a graduate of Music and Art High School and the Cooper Union Art School of New York. For some years he was the Art Director at the World Publishing Company. Once, this master designed books for most major publishing companies in the States, for which he won many awards, among these:

Best 50 Books – American Institute of Graphic Arts, AIGA children’s book selection (A total of 14 books), honor book for the Caldecott Medal, and he was a member of AIGA and the American Heritage of Graphic Arts.

In 1974 Jaget, his wife and three children immigrated to Israel and founded a graphic studio which turned out designs for companies, hotels and banks such as the Sheraton and Carlton Penta, Bank Hapoalim, the BIRD Foundation, and others.
Hebrew Wood Mezuzah Case by Jack Jaget
Wood-working has long been Jack’s great love – so he turned it into an occupation. Each Jack Jaget piece is individually fashioned in various woods and decorated with gold leaf. All of the metallic parts are gold plated. He uses the finest lacquer finishes, to give his creations a unique and mysterious Middle Ages aura.

A number of Jack’s pieces have been presented to CEOs and notable scholars. Among well-known personalities who were the recipients of Jack’s books are, the late King of Jordan, as well as US President George W. Bush.

His work includes; Bibles, Tehillim, Sidurim, Pesach Haggadot, Machzorim, Tzadakah Boxes, Torah Pointers and Mezuzah Cases.

Navy Seals Commandeer Antiguan Ship Carrying Iranian Weapons to Hezbollah

During an overnight raid on Tuesday last week, the Israeli Navy, about 100 nautical miles off the coast west of Israel and near Cyprus, seized hundreds of tons of weaponry on a ship sailing with an Antiguan flag. The weaponry was sent by Iran and destined for Hezbollah, in Syria.

The IDF was monitoring the Francop for several days before Navy Seals boarded it in the middle of the night. When they found the dangerous cargo, they easily commandeered it and sailed it to Israel.

The government of Antigua informed Israeli Intelligence that a ship left from the Bandar-Abbas Port in Iran with cargo which was shipped through the Suez Canal, unloaded in the Mediterranean Port of Damietta in Egypt and then loaded onto the Francop. The intended destination was the Latakia Port in Syria.

The ship’s crew was unaware that there were weapons on board, as they were disguised as humanitarian aid.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem denied the entire event. He said:

“Unfortunately there are official pirates disrupting the movement of goods between Iran and Syria, I stress, the ship was not carrying Iranian arms bound for Syria, nor was it carrying material for manufacturing weapons in Syria. It was carrying [commercial] goods from Syria to Iran.”

Meanwhile both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres complimented the Navy and the IDF, for the exemplary execution of a critical operation.

Today in Knesset, Tzipi Livni said:

“We all today praise the Navy and IDF over the seizure of the ship – it’s not a controversial matter. There are issues over which there are no coalition and opposition. We are all partners in the people of Israel’s war on terror – whether it’s Hamas, Hizbullah or other supporters [of terror]. Well done.”

Now since the world is basically ignoring this OBVIOUS WAR MONGERING ACTION BY IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH LAYING THE GROUND WORK FOR THEIR NEXT WAR – WE THOUGHT WE WOULD PUT TOGETHER A LITTLE GALLERY FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE (again, these are not weapons as the Syrian Foreign Minister explained, these are commercial goods!!!!)

Annual Check Up

Something I found in my Inbox this morning…

I sincerely hope that when the president goes in for his annual check-up, the doctors at Bethesda will do a brain scan. Surely something must be terribly wrong with a man who seems to be far more concerned with a Jew building a house in Israel than with Muslims building a nuclear bomb in Iran..

The Sputnik Observatory Internet Project

Big fan of Jonathan Harris and this is his anouncement of the latest project called The Sputnik Observatory. Amazing and worth a look.

A result of a two-year collaboration with New York-based Sputnik, Inc., an organization that documents contemporary culture through intimate video interviews with hundreds of leading thinkers in the arts, sciences and technology, covering a wide range of topics.

The central premise of the Sputnik project is that everything is connected to everything else, and that topics and ideas that may seem fringe and even heretical to the mainstream world are in fact being investigated by leading thinkers working in fields as diverse as quantum physics, mathematics, neuroscience, biology, economics, architecture, digital art, video games, computer science and music. Sputnik is dedicated to bringing these crucial ideas from the fringes of thought out into the limelight, so that the world can begin to understand them.

Conducted over more than ten years and previously unavailable to the public, the interviews within the site chronicle some of the most provocative human ideas to have emerged in the last few decades. The site itself aims to highlight the interconnections between seemingly disparate thinkers and ideas, using a simple navigational system with no dead ends, where every thought leads to another thought, akin to swimming the stream of consciousness.

There are about 200 videos on the site today, and there will be thousands more added over the coming weeks, months, and years.

Check out a sample video by Jonathan about Human Feelings:

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.

Americobsession – The Final Chapter

Part 5 of 5

My last post – consisting of a kind of “psychoanalytic” reading of the American pop-culture craze in Israel – sent me searching for the opinions of other youngish Israelis, some like myself (American-born immigrant to Israel), others not at all. I corresponded with people from various backgrounds: American-Israelis, Israelis with American-born parents, Israelis with one American and one Israeli parent, the religious, the secular, and some natives whose parents literally planted the first seeds of Modern Israel.

AmericobsessionI asked six highly intelligent individuals three questions related to the induction and subsequent effects of pop-culture Americanization in Israel. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll find the bases of the questions to be obvious. What I have already done is set up a problem that I think is prevalent to the whole country, and perhaps the whole world. I wrote out a fairly one-sided view of young Israeli culture. That admitted, I decided to ask some other people what they thought, partly with the hopes of finding out that I was right in my claims, and partly with the hopes that those claims would challenged.

Question 1: “Do you believe that there is a thriving Israeli culture amongst teenagers today?” The first response was as follows:

You may call it thriving in the sense of being in transition. Historically, in the first decades of the Israeli state, western influence was perceived as threatening to Jewish-Israeli authenticity. So the influence and acceptance of foreign influence is relatively new, and perhaps taken to an extreme. But still youth organizations/movements in Israel are popular and though they are influenced by foreign elements, they are still inherently “Israeli.” Some try to deal with the Israel-Palestinian conflict, others with the secular / conservative one, and most focus on the army as a significant rite of passage in Israeli identity formation.

Another interviewee made an excellent point regarding the various sub-groups amongst Israelis and how these divides amongst individuals may also cause a shift in opinions about America’s pop-culture influence:
I suppose that really depends on where you live. I would definitely say that the majority of Israeli teenagers are much more taken in by American culture, than the Israeli one. And even the Israeli one seems very American at times. Although, I would add that here in the south (and in other places in Israel as well), there is a different, “Israeli” culture – an “arsi” one, (how would that translate to English?) that is definitely not American, and has more of a middle eastern flavor – the music, clothes, food, all goes with it.

(By the way, and if anyone is willing to translate “arsi” for our readers, we would all love to read it).

The responses to the first question were fairly unanimous. Most people said that there is in fact a culture specific to young Israelis that has its roots outside the American pop-culture that has seeped into the country’s existing art/tv/music culture. However, if we look at the next question, we’ll see that some of those who expressed their opinion regarding the existence of an Israeli-specific pop-culture also expressed concerns regarding the heavy influence of American pop.

Question 2: Do you fear that American popular culture has had or will have too great an influence over young Israelis?

– I definitely see the seeds of American pop culture sprouting here in Israel, and fear it will only become worse. I believe there are too many negative qualities in American culture – competition, an idealization of external qualities, nothing sincere, and of course, that terrible “American dream” – that clash with what we are trying to build here in Israel. These values do not coincide with the Zionist, pluralistic, socialist and multicultural understandings that Israeli society needs to deal with, considering its geography, history, society and religion, and what’s more, American popular culture, in my mind, only obstructs the path to constructing a moral, happy, peaceful society.

– Not really; it’s a hodgepodge of internal and external cultural contradictions and influences, not all American. Israeli music (specifically that mixture of Sephardic and Ashkenazi influences) is as equally influential as American pop culture on Israeli youth; “Eretz Nehederet” is as essential to Israeli youth culture as any American prime time TV show or Latin telenovela. We have McDonald’s, Pepsi and Levis, but also Falafel, Humus, Zara, Adidas and Puma. I think that the foreign influence, which is a global problem, will gradually balance itself off against the Israeli one. American culture is perhaps the most pervasive foreign influence because we share a similar multicultural / multiethnic background — that’s why, I think, American culture is so appealing to us.

Most responses to the above question leaned towards the side of disgruntlement and frustration. Others, however, took into account the complexities of Israeli culture and all of its influences.

And finally, Question 3: Although pop-globalization is said to be happening all over the world, do you feel that it has affected young Israelis any differently than in other places, especially considering U.S.-Israel relations? A couple of answers:

– Is the situation better / different in South Africa? No, I think it’s a global problem.

– I don’t know, I really don’t know how it is all over the world. I know that there are a lot of Israelis working in the US after the army, which does appear to be particularly “Israeli”. I guess that has something to do with an Israeli, youthful vision of America.. So my hunch is that yes, Israel has been affected differently, and I think Israel-US relations do contribute to it (just look at all the American flags on Yom Haazmaut! It drives me wild)…

And so yes, the influence is here, it’s creepy in its excess, but I what I was reminded of is that globalization does not discriminate based on nation: the crap is everywhere. And hence, perhaps we should all take comfort in the fact that youngsters in Iran are drinking CocaCola, in Lebanon they’re chowing down McGrills, and the top requested hit on Middle East Music TV is Spears’ “Womanizer” – and these are all facts.

Who knows? American pop-culture globalization may soon bring peace to the Middle East – one pair of China-made baseball caps at a time.

Written by Alana Sobelman

Americobsession: An Application

Part 4

We have recently defined Freud’s terms, the id, ego, and superego for the sake of playing with a new understanding of what it is about American pop-culture that sends young Israelis flying to the mall for the latest Rihanna album or happy meal. Allow us to divide young Israel in the same fashion as the mind: the id would be the part of this group that endlessly craves all of the food, attention, and love it can get. The ego would be that part that tries to rationalize the basic desires by performing a balancing act between the id and the superego, the latter of which takes in the societal rules and regulations. I would like to argue, then, that it is the id of young Israeli culture that most thirstily craves American pop-culture, for it is the kind of goods coming out of MTV and McDonalds that are most immediately satisfying: they are the cheapest, take the shortest amount of time to achieve, and take the least amount of conscious thought. The battle between the id, ego, and superego of young Israel is clear: id-ruled young ones want it all, and ego-rationality belongs only to those who can differentiate between the movies that one can watch while talking on the phone and eating a burger, and those that take concentration and, if I may say, intellect. But who, then, informs the ego so that it may protect the id from receiving every bit it pleases? As we learned, it is the superego that learns to cope by first, living with and imitating parents, and second, by following the rules and regulations of society. The difficulty would seem in our case, then, that what society is dishing out is aimed at the id, rendering the ego helpless in the face of such juicy junk as Top Model and 90210.

McDonalds GenerationAfter all of what’s been discussed, one thing we can say for sure is this: American pop-culture, by its very nature, will always be the most accessible and masturbatory form of food and entertainment. It aims to satisfy—it goes straight for the id—and in such a young and, as I said, “culturally vulnerable” place like Israel, it seems the only thing that will stop its ultimate takeover is very early education. And what about the networks and companies that are allowing the dribbling in of this crap? They are more or less completely unstoppable – they in fact are paying for the leakage. And they now have a hold of what we crave, so much to the point that they’ve picked on what White Castle has reminded Americans endlessly: “It’s What You Crave!”

Maybe, despite the repugnance that I’ve expressed in these posts, you still may, “but is American popular culture really so awful?” No, it can be quite fascinating actually. The real concern arises out of the thought of every new generation of Israelis acting more and more like infants to later and later stages of life, until one day – if there are no other forms of cultural entertainment besides all that dribble I’ve mentioned – we may cease concerning ourselves with anything else, including how to remain the historically rich, diverse, and culturally remarkable place that we in fact really are.

In the next and final post of this series, we’ll hear from some Israelis and Americans on the subject, both here and in the States, in order to find out if my concern is such a concern for others. Perhaps what defines Israeli culture is all a matter of personal perspective, or it could be that the infusion of American into Israeli culture is somehow seen as necessary for the future; in any case, it seems a topic worth discussing.

Written by Alana Sobelman

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