Oznia, a blog of Israel things

~Cartooning for Peace by ozniablog
September 8, 2008, 2:43 pm
Filed under: arts/culture, politics | Tags:

Though Israelis and Palestinians might have differing views, when it boils down to it, the majority of each side is rooting for peace.  Centuries of history have proven that the more conventional means for reaching a harmony (such as attempted negotiations and conferences) do not always have the desired outcome, or even a strong effect on the general public.  Fortunately, many projects in recent years have focused on bringing the effort of reaching peace down from a national level to a personal one; in other words, rather than make this endeavor a heavy diplomatic one, it is being made more relatable to the people, who ultimately control the result.

One of these projects, called “Cartooning fore Peace,” took place this past June in Israel.  The workshop included a diverse group of cartoonists, among them Israelis, Turks, Palestinians, Americans, French, Algerians and Egyptians.  These artists had the opportunity to present their work to one another, and take part in educational sessions (whose audiences included diplomats). Israeli political cartoonist Michel Kichka, who helped to found “Cartooning for Peace” explains that the event was important because it gave these people an opportunity to talk.  He says that this allows us to discover “how much we have in common and how similar is our fight.”

He also emphasizes the relevance of peace to cartooning; while it is an art, it is too often used to ridicule certain ethnicities and religious groups.  He explains that the beauty of the workshop is that it teaches to not take democracy for granted.  Freedom of speech is a powerful right; it can either be used forcefully for the worse, or tremendously for the better.

By appealing to the hobbies of individuals, these projects help the more unlikely of people to connect by highlighting their shared interests, and perhaps even achieving peace along the way.


~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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~Israeli short film wins at Cannes Film Festival! by rbd8912
May 28, 2008, 3:20 pm
Filed under: arts/culture, movies/television | Tags:

On Friday, Israeli director Elad Keidan’s was awarded First Prize “Cinéfondation”, the first place in the students competition for his film Anthem . He was the first Israeli to win the prize at Cannes!
The 36 minute movie is about a young boy who, while preparing for Shabbat, meets an “eccentric group of people along the way”.
For more info check out the articles at the Jerusalem Post and Israel21c

~The Lemon Tree by aklionsky

Looking for some summer reading? Try,The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan, a story of a young Palestinian man (Bashir Khairi) and a Bulgarian-Israeli woman, Dalia Eshkenazi.


Before Tolan wrote the book, however, the story was recorded as a radio documentary, which you can listen to here: http://www.thirdcoastfestival.org/audio_library_2001.asp

Dalia’s family escapes from Bulgaria to Palestine when she is a toddler. After the war in 1948, they move to a house (with a lemon tree in the back yard) in Ramle, which had been an Arab neighborhood. In 1967, when Israel acquired the territories, the soldiers weren’t guarding the borders (they were fighting or guarding the new borders), giving Arab families who had left in 1948 the opportunity to see what their old homes were like. Bashir (a few years older than Dalia) had lived in Dalia’s house before Israel was established, and in 1967 he knocked on Dalia’s door. She was 19, and home alone, and made the decision to open the door for the young man; she had often thought about whose house she was living in, and although she was told they were the Arabs’ houses, wasn’t satisfied by that answer.

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~Mazal Tov, Boaz! by madeinisrael

Congratulations to Israel’s Boaz Mauda for placing an impressive 9th place (out of a total of 43 spots) in the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) in Belgrade, Serbia. The event, which took place from May 20-24, is an annual contest where countries that are members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)* send a singer/band to represent their country in a continental-wide singing competition. Viewers from all the countries then vote for their favorite performer, crowning one country the victor. Russia won 1st place with Dima Bilan’s performance of “Believe.”

The ESC, which once was credited and respected as an international contest of musical merit, has become over the past several years known to showcase ostentatious costumes and meaningless pop lyrics. However, to me, it still represents an incredible feat of international collaboration for a common cause. A “musical Olympics” of sorts.

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~Yom HaZikaron by ozniablog
May 7, 2008, 3:23 pm
Filed under: arts/culture

Today we remember the 22,437 Israelis killed in wars, terror attacks and in service to the State of Israel.

Haaretz, Ynet, and the Jerusalem Post all have powerful articles about the day.

Reshet.tv has put up some moving video memorials providing a personal understanding to this day of mourning.

~Hand in Hand by ozniablog
May 7, 2008, 2:11 am
Filed under: arts/culture, opinion, politics | Tags:

No name. Just “55.”

Okay, see you soon! My parents replied. I looked at my older sister nervously.

You see, it’s not so easy to get a taxi in Israel for a family of five. Until this past trip to Israel, we would send my dad to the front seat, while my mom, two sisters and I would pile into the back of a rickety white sedan and hold our breaths. Israel’s recent enforcement of seatbelt laws, however, has thrown off our routine. Calling a cab company and explaining, in broken Hebrew, that we are five people and will need to get to Tel Aviv on Tuesday at 10:15, and then Zichron Ya’akov on Thursday at 7:30 is not always pleasant. That’s why, when they asked for his name, my parents were satisfied with our Arab driver’s response. We finally had a relaxing ride and had a good amount of traveling to go, so why sacrifice comfort for surrendering to your conscience’s suspicion? We called the company and he returned the next day to drive us to Jerusalem.
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