Oznia, a blog of Israel things

~Exclusive Interview with Shaanan Street of HaDag Nachash! by ozniablog
June 25, 2008, 1:07 am
Filed under: arts/culture | Tags:

When hearing the term “Israeli music,” the first thing that probably comes to the minds of our parents and grandparents are hopeful chalutzim marches and folk singers like Naomi Shemer. While the poignant pitches of Yerushalayim Shel Zahav and Al Kol Eleh are undoubtedly timeless classics, it is important to recognize the revolution that is taking place on the Israeli music scene. It is no secret that Israel is a cultural melting pot; the unique sense of Middle-Eastern diversity is palpable in everything from the sounds to the signs on the streets. The greatest musical breakthrough in the past decade, combining the likes of ethnic beats and western pop, is arguably the strong surge of hip hop.

In 1996, the radio program Esek Shachor (Black Business) got started on the popular station Galgalatz to promote the American beat throughout Israel. Many Israeli artists were guests on Esek Shachor to show off their English rapping skills – many more, though, recognized that English rap should be left to native English speakers and they therefore attempted Hebrew rap. By 2000, the program was the most popular nationwide, granting big breaks to many artists, and nurturing the rise of Israeli hip hop.

Both within the state itself and throughout the international community, HaDag Nachash has become one of the most renowned Israeli hip hop groups. A mixture of jazz, funk and world music, the group continues to pick up speed as it discovers the excitement of new fans.

In a unique interview opportunity, Shaanan Street, lead singer of the band, explained to me how the band got started in 1996: “I had written, recorded and printed a rap song in Jerusalem early that year. After a month or two, an acquaintance of mine [David Klemes] heard the song and told me he loved it,” explains Shaanan. Klemes invited Shaanan to “jam with this funky instrumental band he was part of.” Shaanan did just that and, with Atraf Moshe Asraf on drums and Yaya Cohen Harounoff on bass, “HaDag Nachash came to be.”

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~Obama @ AIPAC by sjw414
June 20, 2008, 2:03 pm
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags:

On Wednesday, June 15 the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama spoke at the AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Surrounding his long campaign has been the question on many Jewish voters’ minds: is Barack Obama good for the State of Israel? He has been criticized for saying he would talk with leaders of hostile nations such as Ahmadinejad and the policy has questioned his commitment to Israel. During his speech Obama stated that the War in Iraq has made Iran stronger and the United States and Israel less secure. Obama said that he “will never compromise when it comes to Israel’s security”. During his speech Obama showed his commitment to protecting America and Israel from foreign threats. Hopefully now that Obama has throughout his campaign has pledged his support to the state of Israel, Jewish voters will be able to make the choice of who to vote for based on other issues besides for Israel. It is also interesting to note that Hilary Clinton, a candidate that many Jews thought would be a good friend to Israel, told the audience at the conference that Obama “will be a good friend to Israel”.

~Israel for the Very First Time by aklionsky
June 13, 2008, 3:03 pm
Filed under: opinion, religion | Tags: , , , , , ,

From 23 days, the countdown has come down to under 12 hours. I leave for my first trip to Israel in less than 12 hours. Actually, to be precise, I have to be at the airport for my first trip to Israel in less than 12 hours.

It’s exhilarating, exciting, and somewhat nerve racking: what should I expect? I’m not going on a tourist trip–although, of course, we’ll still visit the Kotel–and I’m not visiting family. I’m going with a program for high school journalists called Write On for Israel and we’re going to be meeting dignitaries, TV hosts, mayors, Knesset members, and other high-ra

nking officials.

I know it’ll be great, and I’m sure I’ll have “that moment” (that’s the only way I can describe it, forgive me) sometime when I’m there, but I honestly cannot imagine what it’s going to be like. Sure, I’ve seen our itinerary (“subject to change on a moment’s notice”), and I listen mostly to Israeli music, speak Hebrew and know a lot of people that live in Israel, but all of those things–even combined–I’m sure cannot measure up to visiting.

I’m so excited for this trip I can’t even begin to explain. I’ve got my camera, batteries, journal, and everything all set away, ready to be used all the time. I’m all ready to take a deep breath, get on a plane, and have the experience of my life.

Have a wonderful summer!

~YouTube Israel Search by bdavis90
June 12, 2008, 8:47 pm
Filed under: opinion | Tags: , , ,

It’s always interesting to see how the internet search algorithms work out. Everyone remembers Google’s “Jew” scandal last year…

So I thought I’d try searching for “Israel” on Youtube and see what comes up. Unfortunately I must say it’s nothing too great…unless you consider Al Jazeera’s Walt-Mearsheimer-esque critique of AIPAC something positive.


Or how about “Jewish” on youtube? Another Al Jazeera criticism of AIPAC.


Ironically, two of the most contentious terms I searched for – “Jew,” generally used in a derogatory way, and “Jerusalem,” the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – yielded the least anti-Israel or anti-Semitic results. “Jew” produced a number of cute videos created by Jewish people and at the top of the “Jerusalem” search was none other than Matisyahu. Down the list were other songs extolling the ancient city.

Of course, searches change daily. But it could be important to track. The impact of these videos could be significant.

~Vision vs. Reality? by tal123
June 12, 2008, 7:48 pm
Filed under: opinion | Tags:

Thomas Friedman’s article in the New York Times, People vs. Dinosaurs, makes the case that Israel, which may seem to be headed for trouble due to political chaos, is actually looking towards a brighter future than Iran. Iran seems to maintaining a stronger position due to the world’s economic dependence on oil. However, Israel is presented as a nation with an excited and pioneering population, one better equipped to deal with the technologically advanced world.

Friedman’s idea of betting on a nation built on fresh ideas is seductive. But is it so simple? In some time, oil may be a thing of the past. At this point, however, society remains captive to gas. If Iran maintains its power through its stronghold on oil, will Israel’s dynamic spirit be overshadowed? Before we can make bets on the next twenty years, perhaps we should have a solution to the energy problem. Maybe we should look to the spirited, innovative people of Israel for an answer.

~The Shield of Divergent Opinions by rainbowsprinkles17
June 11, 2008, 5:48 pm
Filed under: opinion | Tags:

Atlantic Article: “Is Israel Finished?” By Jeffrey Goldberg

Parents of soldiers, soldiers, government officials, those who live in settlements, writers: everyone has an opinion about how to deal with the conflict that has enveloped Israel since its inception. Different people’s experiences affect their views and shape their opinions. Some say that peace will come once we give up the settlements. Others believe that as long as we hold out in the settlements, proving only we will dictate our actions, we will exist. When analyzing different people’s perspectives, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the different ideologies and the fear that the different viewpoints will create a divided country. And with a divided country, Israel’s existence would shrivel, regardless of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

In the Atlantic cover article “Is Israel Finished” (May 2008), Jeffrey Goldberg illustrates Israel’s internal conflict by juxtaposing David Grossman’s perspective and Prime Minister Olmert’s perspective. Through the way in which they relate to one another and the different events in their lives that shape their opinions, it becomes clear how far apart the many opinions are regarding what is in the best interest of the Israeli state. Grossman, having had a son die while fighting in Lebanon and being an expert at the art of language, believes very strongly in a verbal/conversational approach with the more moderate of the Palestinian people. Olmert, on the other hand, being a strategist and competitive in nature, has a very different opinion about what is in Israel’s best interest.

At first, after reading the article I felt disillusioned. It felt like there were just too many hurdles to overcome: not only do we need to employ a strategy that will work, but we need to agree upon a strategy and stand united behind it. Yet after thinking about it long and hard, my disillusionment subsided. The way in which Israel was unique became clear to me. Where else could you find a country where everyone has an opinion? Where else in the world is everyone so passionate and invested in what happens? Suddenly the different opinions didn’t seem so daunting anymore, but rather they were comforting. It hit me that the different opinions were a shield, joined together rather than divergent, serving as a tool to Israel’s success.

~No More Oil! by melthebest

Instead of gas stations, there will be battery swap stations.

This is what Israel plans to do within the next few years. To reduce the pollution caused by gas burning vehicles and to reduce dependency on foreign oil, Israel is trying to push the nation towards electric drivers.

There is one problem – what happens when the battery of the car runs out? Shai Agassi’s (former SAP executive) solution – A typical car battery can last for 100 miles. Since Israel is a small country, most people don’t drive 100 miles at once. There will be power outlets in many of Israel’s parking lots, so people can charge their cars while they are out shopping or visiting a friend, etc. If someone wishes to take a long trip and their battery is low, they can simply drive into a battery swap station, and give in their empty battery in exchange for a fully charged one. If this idea works, our dependency on foreign oil will significantly decrease. Israel is so smart!