Foto Friday – Ron Shoshani’s Tel Aviv winter

It’s been about a year since Ron Shoshani was profiled in this column and it’s been quite a good one apparently. Shoshani’s color-saturated, hyper-realistic “eye candy”, as he calls it, makes up the background graphic for the Channel 2 morning show; he’s had the cover of Time Out Tel Aviv, and a newly uploaded stop-motion video marks a new direction into animation.

Shoshani loves Tel Aviv and his cityscapes express that affection. As winter draws to a close, here a few images of Tel Aviv in winter: the clouds, rain and strong colors that will soon fade to dusty pastels in the summer heat.

Tel Aviv Morning – February 15, 2011


Tel Aviv – First Railway Station

Tel Aviv LEGO 4/4

Sarbata Sunrise

The Sartaba isn’t in Tel Aviv; it’s the highest mountain in the Jordan Valley. Shoshani took the picture from within the ruins of a 1st century fort on the summit. After snapping the initial image, he works his magic using a combination of digital techniques. You can read more about it here, order prints directly from directly from and view many more amazing images on his Facebook page.

It’s a wrap

We first became aware of it back in 2005 when ISRAEL21c reported how American soldiers wounded while fighting in Iraq were being treated with a special, new Israeli-made bandage that effectively stopped traumatic hemorrhaging wounds with a built-in pressure bar.

The Emergency Bandage, developed by First Care Products, a tiny four-man Jerusalem start-up, allowed medics to twist the bandage around the wound once, and then change the direction of the bandage, wrapping it around the limb or body part, to create pressure on the wound. The pressure bar also enables a soldier to use the bandage on complicated injuries like the groin and head, which require wrapping in different directions.

The Emergency Bandage was back in the news this week in another more recent context – the January 8 shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. First responders credited the Emergency Bandage, commonly known as “the Israeli bandage” with saving lives in the aftermath of the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 13 wounded.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency report by Ron Kampeas, Pima County officials displayed the kit at a Jan. 21 news conference in Tucson, along with other military-grade gear used in ministering to the wounded in the Jan. 8 shooting.

“Without this care it would have definitely been a different situation,” Dr. Katherine Hiller, who had attended the wounded at University Medical Center, told The Los Angeles Times.

While it wasn’t clear whether the Israeli innovation was used specifically on Giffords, the bandage is known for its utility in stanching head wounds, and one model covers both entry and exit wounds, which Giffords is known to have sustained.

Since its 1993 invention, the Emergency Bandage has become standard issue in militaries throughout the world and is considered the first major innovation in bandages since the 1940s. It was invented by an American immigrant to Israel, Bernard Bar-Natan, who served as a medic in the IDF, and disgruntled at the stunted growth in the bandage field, formed First Care.

If there ever was a case to back up claims that Israeli ingenuity and saving lives around the world, this is it. Even Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, reportedly said that learning of the bandage’s role in saving lives in Tucson has been a highlight of his stint as ambassador.

Rebuilding Ikea

February 15, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Business, design, General, Immigrant Moments, Israeliness 

Both Rachel and David made their own comments about the Ikea fire in Netanya, but this cartoon commentary by The Wall, a self-proclaimed new media Tel Aviv advertising firm, really says it all.

First, the title: Natanya2011 How to Build Ikea Again; I’m not sure if the name Netanya was misspelled on purpose, as Israeli spelling in English — given that it’s not their first language — tends toward incorrections.

As for the rest of the piece: We have the obvious and necessary method of poking fun at Ikea instructions, as well as the obvious and necessary ways of poking fun at Israeli society. There are the four million wooden pegs, more than 2 million screws and just one Ikea Allen wrench. There are the 15 Solel Boneh trucks — Solel Boneh being one of the largest construction companies in Israel — the 40 Manofei Avi cranes, just your random crane company, the 1500 fire extinguishers, natch, and recognizable by the Arabic writing on their shirts and kaffiyehs on their heads, the 100 Arab construction workers necessary to rebuild the place, a comment on who does the building and construction in these parts.

By the way, it seems the fire was caused by a short circuit in the store’s electrical system. Plans are to rebuild within the year.

Foto Friday – Guy Prives Meets 100 Strangers

Guy Prives fell in love with photography while on a long trip to South America and has carried this passion — along with his camera — ever since. “Photography for me is another way to look and see the world from unique and different angles. Ordinary things can become extraordinary when captured through the camera’s lens”.

Prives’ professional work ranges from commercial and fashion photography to portraiture and nature photography. He also teaches photography at the Galitz School of Photography. His latest personal project is entitled 100 Strangers, the goal of which is “to take pictures of 100 different people that I have never met before.”

“100 Strangers” lays out the human tapestry that is Israel’s diverse population. Prives says, “For me, it’s not only the photography itself, but also the story behind the people. Understanding that behind every stranger we encounter for a brief moment, fascinating stories can be hidden.”

So, for example, Prives introduces himself — and us — to Mundir Hussien, a contractor working on a grocery market renovation in Tel Aviv’s trendy Florentine neighborhood. “Every day he calls the municipality to complain about [the dog shit and garbage] but no one listens to him…” Welcome, Mundir, to life in Tel Aviv.

On another outing, Prives meets Kristin Eulitz from Berlin, a student volunteer at The Friedrich Naumann Foundation. “She started a week ago and nowadays meets with Palestinian intellectual representatives from the West Bank in Hebron and Bethlehem…”

Prives tells the story of this elderly mechanic with elegant simplicity, starting with, “In 1949, when Kaduri Rubin arrived to Israel, there was nothing on Shnitzler St. but orchards and a mill. But then the Jewish Agency opened a garage…”

Ray Turla arrived in Israel from the Philippines… where he was earning $300 per month… So he decided to leave his family, moving to Tel Aviv to nurse an elderly Israeli…”

Doron Lukach owns a doggy day care… [and is] one of the first pioneers here of this industry…”

Says Prives, “I chose to do this project in Tel Aviv in order to show the plurality of different people in one city. I hope you’re captivated by the photos and their stories.” The full story for each stranger — all of whom, through interlocutor Prives’, become our friends — can be found on his blogsite (with more works on his Facebook page). He hasn’t reached 100 yet so there’s much to look forward to.

Nostalgia Sunday – And then there was IKEA…

The tragedy of yesterday’s IKEA fire is compounded by the fact that it leaves us, the Israeli furniture-buying public, exposed to the elements of bad taste that previously dominated the local furniture scene. And when I say bad taste, I am being kind. I should really say “horribly bad taste”.

Who among us, on their first visit to Israel in the 60s and 70s — and even well into the 80s — was not impressed by the Scandinavian-style furniture that decorated many a living room? Except, it turns out that Danish modern wasn’t the people’s actual choice. It was the style foisted upon them by Socialism, in all its practicality.

Because most of the new country’s residents came to it with the shirt on their backs — quite literally in many cases — there was a need for functional and affordable furniture. This was manufactured by kibbutz industries like Shomrat HaZorea which was once the watchword in teak dining room / living room sets. In the late 80s, such items were dumped on the street to be collected by the local alte zachen rag n’ bone men. (You can now find those same pieces in high-end Tel Aviv boutiques selling refurbished mid-century modern).

In their stead: the black, red and chrome “Hi-Tec” look for the hipsters, along with futons for the crunchy granola set. (I had both).

Meanwhile the older generation finally fulfilled their desires for real antiques by purchasing fake ones. Really bad fake ones, the most obnoxious one being the “vitrina”, a glass-fronted cabinet for storing knick-knacks, bric-a-brac and other tschockes collected on the trips abroad that Israel’s middle class was finally able to afford.

It was a classic case, to paraphrase Tom Wolfe’s From Our House To Bauhaus, of the intelligentsia designing simple, clean-lined and functional workers residences only to discover that the actual inhabitants would immediately cover the walls with flocked velvet wallpaper, hang gold framed pictures of teary-eyed children, put plastic roses in pink glass vases on top of lace doilies and in general decorate with other commonly accepted signifiers of wealth.

But never, I must point out, at the expense of comfort! Some years ago, when I was on a journalists’ junket to the Natuzzi furniture factory in Italy (call it my Italian couch trip) one of the executives asked our group why it was that they always received orders from their Israeli distributor for a certain kind of chair; it wasn’t popular in any other country.

“What kind of chair is it?” I asked, already knowing the answer. He showed us a picture of a television recliner.

That’s right. Israelis love their La-Z-Boys, American Comforts and any other chair that lets you lay back, put your feet up after a long day and watch TV en famille. In fact, it’s better if you have two. Israelis also see nothing wrong with white plastic stackable Keter chairs in the dining room or the office (a good idea that somehow went wrong in the aesthetics department). Your ultimate kiddie bed? The “sapat noar” or youth sofa: bed by night, couch by day (if you can convince your kids to ever straighten up their beds). The ultimate adult bed? A double bed split in two, each with its own adjustable mattress and separate controllers — all the better to watch TV with.

In the 90s, knock-down DIY was already infiltrating Israel but you couldn’t get your hands on it. (My friend Debbie actually took the IKEA catalogue to a carpenter and had him build a bookshelf according to the picture on the cover). More outrageous was going shopping in areas known to have low-priced furniture like Tel Aviv’s Herzl Street, picking out something that had clearly come from a flat-pak and having to pay top dollar — or shekel — all the while having one’s ire placated with “Giveret, zeh firma”, which means something like “Lady, this comes from a very fine quality manufacturer”. If I could have afforded fine quality, would I be shopping on Herzl Street?

No, I would have been at Tollman’s, I-D Design, Castiel or the local outlet of Habitat. Because fine furniture was also coming in, sold to the petit bourgeoisie by other members of the petit bourgeoisie. It was pricey and their importers wanted to keep it that way. Which is why they tried sway public opinion away from IKEA by giving interviews praising themselves and denigrating quality of the Swedish company’s wares.

And weren’t they surprised when IKEA finally opened its doors and didn’t fail. Israelis became adept at wielding the Allen wrench, assembling Billys, Rakkes and Malms, redoing their rooms and refinishing their kitchens. Because IKEA is the Bauhaus ideal incarnate: reasonably priced, nice-looking, well-designed, functional goods for the working middle-class that can be used and then, when the time comes, easily dispensed with and replaced by new ones.

Thank the good heavens that the smear campaign launched against IKEA by the Israel Furniture Industries Association also didn’t succeed. A second IKEA branch opened last year in Rishon Lezion (and you can’t convince me there isn’t a connection between the repeated attempts to block Rishon’s municipality from zoning the store and the location of the Israel Furniture Center, the IFIA’s ill-appointed so-called showcase in the Rishon Lezion western industrial zone).

So we’ll be Rishon-bound for the next six months to a year, which is how long it will take ’til the Netanya store reopens and all will be right in the world.

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