Israelity’s top 10 stories of 2009

December 31, 2009 - 7:20 AM by · 1 Comment
Filed under: General 

What a year. We started with the war in Gaza, and ended with a rash of terror attacks in the West Bank. And in between there was the water shortage, the Goldstone report, posturing and threats between Israel and Iran, and endless and bitter bargaining over the release of Gilad Shalit.

It was also, however, a year in which the Israeli economy weathered the global financial storm in extremely good shape, when new Israeli innovations in health and technology made good on the world markets, when Israeli charities gave life-saving aid to developing nations, and when Israel’s financial and technological success was finally recognized worldwide.


So what did our viewers enjoy reading the most in 2009? Well, the choice was as diverse as the year, ranging from the serious – the humanitarian aid webcam at the crossing into Gaza during the war, to the sublime – a YouTube mash created by an Israeli musician, and of course the ridiculous – the Bollywood style advert created by missile maker Rafael for the Indian market.

And, let’s face it, you all love to read about sex, scandals and supermodels as well.

Check out Israelity’s top 10 stories of 2009 below.

1. Foto Friday – Sexy Tel Aviv
In July, Rachel wrote a piece about gay clubbing in Tel Aviv during the hot summer months. The city has a lively gay scene and it abounds with great dance clubs and bars. Combine that with the great weather, and you’ve got a wild night out. Check out David Shankbone’s pictures in this post to see for yourself.

2. Israeli model Esti Ginzberg shot in New York
Fed up with all the hype about Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli (yes, yes, the one who dated Leonardo DiCaprio), in March Harry decided it was time to write about a different supermodel – an upcoming one.

Esti Ginzberg, is a Tel Aviv teenager who featured in 2009′s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and carried out modeling campaigns for international chains like Tommy Hilfiger and Pull and Bear. She’s been featured on the cover of the French version of Elle Magazine, and this year also became a Victoria’s Secret model.

Not long ago, Ginzberg joined the IDF for two years of army service. Check out our video interview with Ginzberg in uniform on YouTube.

3. Human body parts invade Haifa

It’s created controversy wherever it went on show. Israel proved to be no different. As David pointed out in March, the exhibition, Body Worlds, by German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, raised hackles with Israel’s religious community the moment it went on show in Haifa.

The exhibition, of human anatomical specimens which use plastic to replace the fat and water in human body parts, has been seen by over 26 million people around the world. In Israel, the Haredi population protested the opening, and rumors abounded that Michael Jackson had asked von Hagens if he too could be plastinated when he died – an event that most likely came much sooner than he expected.

4. Humanitarian aid webcam Gaza
In January, right in the midst of the Gaza conflict, the IDF decided to start operating a live feed of the Keren Shalom border crossing – the largest checkpoint between Israel and Gaza – showing humanitarian aid being transferred to the Palestinians.

Karin, who interviewed Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesperson working at the border crossing, wrote a blog post on the news with a link to the webcam, which operated for three hours every day, during the daily ceasefire.

5. Bar Refaeli proof that Israel is a land of wonder
She’s inescapable. Bar Refaeli made the headlines again and again and again this year. Either for upsetting the Haredi with her revealing ad campaigns , for appearing on the side of an airliner, or – in May –, for being voted the third “hottest” woman in the world by men’s mag Maxim.

Under her picture, the editors wrote: “If there’s any evidence that the Middle East is a land of beauty and wonder – not just unending turbulence – Bar is it.” Amazing what a pretty face can do. Not sure Refaeli is the right ambassador, however.
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Rafael Advanced Defense Systems goes from Bollywood to Paris

June 17, 2009 - 9:05 AM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Israeliness 

Just four months ago, co-blogger Nicky wrote about the abhorrent video that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems made for Aero India 2009. It’s a gem of a video and not to be missed. However, what was maliciously maligned in blogosphere was apparently fairly popular with the Indians. According to a comment on Wired’s Danger Room:

Regarding the “beyond-awful Bollywood-themed music video” …A friend of mine who works in Refael told me that the people from India Govt loved that clip, every minute of it. Nobody was offended. Refael presenters handed CD copies of the clip in a weapons show and everybody took one. I guess it served it’s cause but some other people around the world decided to get offended for India.

Thankfully Rafael listened to their clients and not to anonymous commenters in the blogosphere and have once again produced a much anticipated follow-up which made it’s premiere at the Paris Air Show. Unfortunately this one does not include a French troubadour singing sad French songs about chemical warfare, but rather a mime. Yes, a mime. A MISSILE DODGING MIME. The mime has a hard time dodging falling missiles (projected on the screen behind her), but thankfully Multi-Layered Air Defense Umbrella (in this case and actually umbrella) is used to protect herself from the projectiles. Not only does she protect her self, she openly mocks the missiles. Classic.

It’s in your hands

March 30, 2009 - 10:42 AM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: design, Environment, General, Movies, Pop Culture 

Well, if Rafael’s Bollywood advertisement made you give up hope that Israelis could ever do marketing, then hopefully this advert will make you think again.

Created free by the ad agency, Shalmor Avnon Amichay/Young & Rubican for EcoOcean, a non-profit organization dedicated to marine education, it’s a touching but simple advert that gets its environmental message – about saving Israel’s turtles – across cleanly and powerfully.

The Hebrew message at the end: “Life is in your hands.”

No baby turtles were hurt during the shooting of this video.

Israeli arms dealer goes Bollywood – uh oh

March 11, 2009 - 2:37 PM by · 11 Comments
Filed under: Blogging, Business, General, Movies 

Sometimes, just now and again, a YouTube video comes along that is so crummy, that it’s almost a masterpiece. Dubbed the worst marketing movie ever made by the blogosphere, an honor it undoubtedly deserves, this piece by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has got to be one of the most ill advised advertisements an Israeli company has ever made.

Undoubtedly, if you’re a defense company it must be hard to keep coming up with new and interesting ways to sell your products. I mean how many ways can you sell a missile?

Rafael execs decided they had to do something different, and so for last month’s Aero India 2009 show, they took their weapons, sprinkled them liberally with a seasoning of Bollywood and voila! A Bollywood-style movie featuring a man (Israel), and four dancing girls (India) in full Bollywood costumes dancing between a range of Rafael’s phallic shaped missiles.

I guess most missiles are shaped like this, but it’s not usually something you think about until you see men and women skipping suggestively between them.

The women sings: “I need to feel safe and sheltered. Security and protection. Commitment and perfection. Defense and dedication.” And the man chimes in: “I promise to defend you, fulfill your expectations. Shield you and support you. Meet my obligations.”

And the unforgettable chorus to this meaningful exchange? “Dinga dinga dee…”

Oh dear, oh dear.

The truth is Israel’s defense relationship with India is pretty darn strong these days – Israel recently became the country’s main defense supplier. And the government-owned Rafael is in a particularly good position. Just last August Rafael and Israel’s IAI signed a joint $2.5 billion deal with the Indian Ministry of Defense.

After a period of circling one another tentatively, the two countries have realized they have much in common – particularly in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack last November.

But that still leaves us with a question. Whatever possessed Rafael to make this movie? It’s a question Saurabh Joshi of the Web site StratPost asked a company representative at the Rafael stall. He was told that the video was intended to “help build familiarity between India and Israel and Rafael.”

Not everyone sees it like that. On Wired’s Danger room blog, Noah Shachtman called it “the most atrocious defense video of all time.” While on the blog DEW line, Stephen Trimble, called it a “catastrophic collision of Bollywood and the arms industry, and dared his readers to watch the video “and, if you’re able, immediately erase the awful tune from your brain.”

It’s harder than you think. Dinga dinga dee.


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