Oznia, a blog of Israel things

~Surprising Loss for Waltz With Bashir by ozniablog
February 25, 2009, 7:41 pm
Filed under: movies/television | Tags: , , ,

When the presenter announced the Academy Award nominees for best foreign language film, I held my breath. I had read glowing reviews and favorable predictions that suggested Israel would finally win for the chilling biopic released just a few weeks ago. And, truthfully, when the Oscar went to Japan, I was livid. Waltz with Bashir tells the story of director Ari Folman’s experiences as a young fighter in the first Lebanon War. The animated documentary follows his attempt to recall the painful events he has blocked out in his memory. The film received immediate international acclaim, and even scooped up the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film as well as a host of awards abroad, in countries including Britain and France. If Israel was not slated to win, France’s The Class was next in line; Japan swooped in, though, with a shocking win for Departures, a movie about a cellist. “I saw the Israeli movie which I honestly had thought would win as it was wonderful,” Japanese director Masahiro Motoki told reporters.  Better luck next year, Israel!


~Hyper-proportional government by elan
February 24, 2009, 3:20 am
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: , , , , , ,

One of the strengths of the Israeli political system is its high degree of proportionality–the makeup of the knesset very closely resembles the relative success of the parties in the election. In the past 15 years, the Knesset has seen a massive shift in composition, marked by the weakening of the ‘big tent’ parties and emergence of single-issue campaigns that can muster enough votes to capture a few seats. In general, this has allowed the small parties hold coalitions hostage to their demands and topple the government. In fact, the average lifespan of a government has decreased markedly since the establishment of the State.

I would like to introduce for public debate and criticism a system I call ‘hyper-proportional government’. Each voter would be allowed to split his or her vote into a number of discrete parts, and cast fractional votes for different parties. These micro-votes would be tabulated as usual and the Knesset seats would be allocated in accordance with the results. Voters who currently cast their ballots for a one-issue party because of strong convictions or desires would have the opportunity to support all of their favorite positions instead of just one, and even support a major party.  Voters who currently choose large parties will have the chance to distribute some of their vote to smaller causes. I am not sure whether this would help concentrate power in the larger parties or not. Either way, it should help develop stronger coalitions. The new Knesset and coalition would be extremely representative of voter mandate, and thus ride the political winds more adeptly.

Please comment on this idea! Hopefully, I’ll be able to incorporate your suggestions and expand this idea further. I hope to address some of the technical considerations in a later article.

~Avishai Cohen’s Shalom Aleichem Video by melthebest
February 23, 2009, 6:31 am
Filed under: music | Tags: , , , , ,

Israel jazz musician has put out quite a good video for his popular version of the Shabbat song “Shalom Aleichem.”  Enjoy!

~Lack of segregation prompts stoning by elan
February 19, 2009, 12:56 am
Filed under: opinion | Tags: , , , , , ,

The iconic image of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. illustrates the Jewish interest in civil rights and our people’s role in the fight against discrimination in America. Dr. King and his contemporaries advocated nonviolent protests  and boycotts. Perhaps most ingrained in the American memory are Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott.  I am shocked and dismayed that Haredi Jews, living in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, stoned an Egged bus because the company refused to segregate one of the routes passing through the neighborhood. According to Haaretz, Egged, which is government-subsidized and operates a regulated monopoly over much of the bus industry, already runs 6 gender-segregated routes in Jerusalem. The High Court has not ruled on the legality of these arrangements.

Violence in the name of religion is counter-productive and shameful. De facto, the buses on the route in question are already segregated, since the majority of the patrons are Haredi and choose their seats accordingly. The issue of contention is simply which entrance the women must use, since the bus company does not provide payment machines at the rear entrances of non-segregated buses. The entire incident leaves me with a vile taste in my mouth.

Personally, I see nothing inherently illegal with discrimination by individuals or private companies. Sure, it is morally abhorent and extremely backwards, but I think the only imperative is for the government to remain neutral in the manner in which it treats citizens. In a highly competitive market, if one company does something displeasing in the eyes of the consumer, they can simply switch companies. Therefore, I would suggest that legally-sanctioned Egged monopoly be broken, that the public funding for the company terminated, and that Egged be allowed to carry out business as it wishes. Needless to say, the perpetrators of today’s attack should be aprehended and punished. Other bus companies, which may be more willing to operate strictly segregated routes, will move into the area. Haredi costumers will fight with their shekels, not stones, to establish the ethical framework they think is right.

~Israeli Old School Rap -> Cohen@Mushon by melthebest
February 16, 2009, 8:11 am
Filed under: music | Tags: , , ,

Check out this vedio from Cohen@Mushon.  It’s kind of like what would happen if the Beastie Boys were Israeli and still in High School.

~28 < 27, sometimes by ronshapiro

With 99% of the votes counted, it looks like Kadima will edge out Likud, 28 to 27.  150,000 eligible absentee votes still have to be counted (of soldiers), and because soldiers normally vote more right, the seat numbers are not final.  As of right now, the numbers look like they will be:

Out of 120:

Kadima :: 28

Likud :: 27

Yisrael Beiteinu :: 15

Labor :: 13

Shas :: 11

United Torah Judaism :: 5

Meretz :: 3

Jewish Home :: 3

National Union :: 4

Hadash :: 4

United Arab List – Ta’al :: 4

Balad :: 3

Even though Kadima will most likely have one more seat than Likud, that doesn’t guarantee Tzipi Livni to be Prime Minister over Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu.  Because the right is much stronger, with Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas having a combined 26 seats, Bibi probably has a better chance to form a coalition government of 61+ seats.  It is up to President Shimon Peres to decide who he believes will great the strongest coalition.  Either way, both Kadima and Likud will both be part of the majority in the 18th Knesset.

Avigdor Lieberman, Yisrael Beitenu Chairman, now plays a big role in who Shimon Peres will pick.  If he sides with Likud (rightest) over Kadima (centrist), Bibi could become PM over Livni.  This could end up happening, since the extreme rightest Yisrael Beiteinu shares more of its beliefs with Likud over Kadima.  Lieberman could make his demands very high, since his 15 votes are critical to either party.  Whoever gives him a better cabienet position will most likely become the new PM.

Once Shimon Peres decides who he believes has the best shot at forming the coalition, that party Chairperson has 21 days (and an extra 21 days if needed) to form a government.  If they can’t, then Peres will pick a new candidate who will have the 21 (with 21 extra) days to try and do a better job.

~Bibi, Barak, Livni, Oh My! by melthebest
February 9, 2009, 9:29 am
Filed under: opinion | Tags: , , , ,


This Tuesday is election day in Israel!  With Benyamin (Bibi) Neyanyahu of Likud currently leading the polls ahead of Tzipi Livni of Kadimia and Ehud Barak of Labor, there are still many question regarding who will win and which party will receive more seats in Kennest.  To help navigate the confusing Israeli election system the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as put out this handy guide while both Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post have special section dedicated to the elections.