The Israeli blogosphere on Obama

November 6, 2008 - 4:05 PM by · 11 Comments
Filed under: A New Reality, Politics 

Yes we can!There exists a world of English writing bloggers – native born as well as immigrants – here in Israel and like everyone else in the world are thinking about President-elect Obama. Here is a sample of what the English writing Israeli blogosphere is saying:

• Native Israeli Shachar over at frgdr.com was the first to create Obama posters in Hebrew which were spotted all over America. He’s elated and says “As someone who is not a US citizen and could not vote in the elections, I can still say I have done my part, however small, and proudly announce that I helped elect Barack Obama. Like millions of others, I, too, was inspired by the man and the campaign he ran. The Hebrew graphics I designed were viewed thousands of times and the files I made available were downloaded hundreds and hundreds of times.”

• Gershom Gorenberg over at South Jerusalem has what he calls “hope envy.” He laments: “Yesterday was a rare moment that I wished I was over there – standing in an unexpected line to vote, celebrating afterward with friends in the streets of Washington, New York or Chicago, getting up this morning wondering what special blessing a religious Jews should say for such an event.

• Rock of Galilee isn’t an Obama fan but at least he has a sense of humor about it. He’s having a few computer problems and blaming Obama.

• Amir Mizroch of the Jerusalem Post talks about a speculative Q&A going on in the Israeli government right now.

• Dave at Israellycool wrote a song all about Obama to the tune of the theme to Transformers (robotrickim in Hebrew). It’s horrible and he should be punished.

• Sarah stayed up all night live blogging and her shplikes has gotten the best of her I’m afraid. She has not been heard from since.

Occidental Israeli is worried about Rahm Emanuel’s appointment and hopes that some of the Irgun blood running through his veins has some weight. Don’t hold your breath.

• Niv Calerdon is jumping on the Obama bandwagon and hopes to use the momentum to get more people using Firefox. What?

• Gila of My Shrapnel, despite being eligible to vote sat this one out believing that since she no longer lives in America she shouldn’t have a say in their elections. Her argument is a compelling one and can be read in it’s entirety here.

• And finally Shy of Total Eclipse was up all night feeling nervous about the outcome of the election. He’s relieved and completely jealous that he was unable to be part of the process.

Time doesn’t pay

November 5, 2008 - 5:21 PM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Art, Crime 

Marie Antoinette sans pocket watchIn a bizarre tale involving old time pieces, a notorious super-thief, a former queen of France and an Israeli woman living in LA, The Associated Press recently published a report on the recovery of items stolen in Israel’s most damaging heist ever in terms of value. As far as intrigue goes, the story may rival the news from July about Kafka’s lost writings possibly being horded in a cat- and mildew-filled Tel Aviv apartment.

So here’s the deal. A collection of 106 clocks was stolen from Jerusalem’s L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art back in 1983. One of the pieces in the collection, a gold and rock crystal pocket watch made by renowned watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet for French queen Marie Antoinette (pictured), was worth over $30 million alone.

And the authorities were stumped – until 2006, when the museum told investigators that they’d bought back some of the collection from an anonymous American woman. After some digging, the trail led to Los Angeles resident Nili Shamrat, the widow of one Naaman Diller, a criminal, watch-loving mastermind who stole much high-profile contraband in Israel over the years before passing away in the US four years ago. When local police went to Shamrat’s home to interview her, they saw some of the clocks from the collection around her house. A confession that Diller had told Shamrat about the heist on his deathbed soon followed, and now a media gag order has been lifted.

Investigator Oded Yaniv seems honored to have been involved, expressing admiration for Diller:

“He was a legendary robber. He was very different, very intelligent, and had a unique style,” Yaniv said. “We are all disappointed that we don’t have the chance to sit and talk to him and investigate him. We feel like we missed out on that.”

Ah, if only….

The tourist cycles

November 3, 2008 - 4:46 PM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Environment, General, Sports, Travel 

Cycling and IsraelThe Israeli government’s recent aggressive courting of various niche tourist markets has targeted the Chinese and the gay, and now officials seem bent on attracting the cycling crowd.

Members of a subculture that espouses environmentalist as well as fitness values, bicyclists have been gaining momentum in Israel as of late, through expanded local and national cycle-friendly development endeavors as well as cycling community activities. There was even a highly publicized event that combined the ever-growing wine tourism niche with the cycling niche – and a Jewish holiday (not sure how that one turned out).

Back in the heady days of August, local environmentalism blog Green Prophet quoted Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balili on Israel’s bicycle tourism development plans:

“The Tourism Ministry leads the development of the cycling tourism industry as part of its policy to position Israel as a unique and quality tourist destination at an international level. This is in light of the worldwide trend in the tourism industry that places cycling tourism as a significant and developing market segment. Developing the industry will improve Israel’s image around the world and increase tourist traffic, while preserving the environment.”

Last week, the blog followed up with the latest details on the budget and where it’s going. Some NIS 20 million in “short-term” (through 2013) spending is said to cover the planning and creation of cycling paths all over the country, including a north-to-south Israel-spanning cycling route and regional loop trails that circle the perimeters of population clusters and bodies of water.

Image courtesy TLVshac from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Time for sachlab!

November 2, 2008 - 6:21 AM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Food 

Sachlab!I enjoyed my first sachlab of the season yesterday. As far as I’m concerned, the only places I truly enjoy a nice cup of sachlab are Abulafia in Jaffa and Mifgash HaShech in Jerusalem. Mifgash HaShech has been serving up Sachlab for many years (but certainly not 125 like Abulafia) in Talpiot and is open 24 hours a day, but not on Shabbat. They flirted with a more “upscale” location at one point but it proved to be an epic failure.

Silly me. There must be some of you who have no idea what Sachlab is. Allow me to explain. Take some vanilla orchid root and milk, mix it up, sprinkle on a generous amount of cinnamon, peanuts (sometimes walnuts) and coconut and you have a hot, creamy concoction that is Middle Eastern comfort food at it’s best. It’s the perfect drink for cold Jerusalem nights. Yeah, so the sachlab was alright. Not the best I’ve had, but satisfying. My friend said it was watery. I disagreed. While it wasn’t the thickest I’ve had, it definitely wasn’t kool aid consistency. I don’t like it too thick anyway. Thicker sachlab tends to taste very starchy. So I’d take a thinner sachlab with flavor over a sachlab pudding any day. And this sachlab certainly didn’t lack flavor. And doesn’t it look fantastic?

Sommeliers-in-training

October 31, 2008 - 11:36 AM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: A New Reality, Blogging, Business, Food, General, Israeliness 

A member of The Premier CruOne of the most cleverly snide Israel-related blogs out there, Zabaj pines for an Israel that makes the most of her potential. But Zabaj conveys this message by bitingly yet lovingly calling natives out on their shortcomings. A recent Zabaj rant cuts an up-and-coming sommelier collective down to size nicely.

Israeli wine tastes have steadily been improving over the past decade or so, and with the growing number of delicious wines now being produced here, the country has become a destination for oeno-tourism. So it only makes sense that firms like Premier Cru are starting to pop up, offering wine catering for private upscale events, consulting services for discerning (or discerning wannabe) customers and special tastings.

Nevertheless, the launch of the Premier Cru website is surely an occasion for ridicule.

The most interesting part of the site, however, is “The Team,” where they provide detailed bios on all their wine connoisseurs.

In this case, knowing the people behind the company makes you lose any interest in actually working with them. The impression you get is that most employees are students at Tel Aviv University (many seem to be majoring in biotechnology) and are also children of the former soviet union.

But wait – it get’s more entertaining and scathing….

And if you have any doubt, make sure to read Tal’s profile, where you’ll learn that she enjoys “light athletics” (don’t ask me what that means) and “banji.” I wonder if she packs a beg of mashrooms while on her way to do banji.

Does anyone get the impression from the website these people can do what they claim? No references, no real pictures, no stories… just glamorous-sounding mumbo jumbo. And, by the way, all the pictures on the site were taken in a furniture store.

Ouch. Alright – so their transliteration from Hebrew-appropriated English into proper English isn’t the most accurate. And they don’t really have sense of what kind of marketing content would be impressive to potential customers. If only I could find the address for that furniture store….

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