Footnote Gets Oscar Nomination

”, a film by , has been announced as a nominee in the Best Foreign Film category at this year’s Academy Awards to be held on February 26 in Los Angeles. “Footnote” will compete against “Frida” (), “Dark” (Poland), “Mr. Lazar” (Canada) and “bolhad “(Belgium). “Footnote”, which stars and , is about the rivalry between a father and son who are Talmud scholars in Jerusalem. For Joseph Cedar this is the second nomination in three years. His previous film, “Beaufort” was nominated in 2007.

When Cedar was asked about the importance of the award and nomination, he answered:

“to be honest, the movie, “footnote”, is dealing with these exact issues- what happens when we let some kind of big prize or achievement take over our lives and control of our judgment. These are things that “footnote” touches. My feelings right now, are just like in the film, there is great excitement and a sense of pride on the one hand, and on the other hand there is concern that there could be some mistake.”

For the first time, is facing Iran, one of her great enemies. This is the second time that Iran is nominated for an . The previous time was in 1998 with “Children of Paradise”, they didn’t win the . So “Frida” can be a huge achievement for Tehran. Cedar referred to this fact by saying that “the Iranian director and I have many things in common”.

May the best movie win!


Sheldon & Newt

Having rich lobbies acting behind closed doors with politicians is nothing new. The whole system is run by money, as anyone who investigates what goes on in Washington could tell you, and those individuals and corporations who make big donations to politicians also get big friends. Now with last year’s Citizen United rule that was added to the books, opening the way for anyone to give unlimited amounts to presidential candidates, the money play is even more pervasive than before. Just this week, news media learned that Gingrich, one of the top Republican nominees, receives large amounts of cash from a single man, . This multi-millionaire invests many millions into Gingrich’s campaign, and is making a powerful friend.

But what exactly does that mean, and why could this be a problem? For one thing, anyone who becomes, by far, the biggest donor behind your campaign is sure to get the candidate’s attention. Indeed, the two men have regular meetings, discussing important subjects like , campaign finances, and legalization.

You see, Sheldon has some very strong political views. For one thing, he made most of his fortune in , by owning . So of course, he’s all for the legalization of gambling. But he’s also a hardliner, and believes in full US support of Israel. These views are shared by other Americans, but not all, and the problem is that if one man becomes so important to the next president, basically giving him the money he needs to reach the office, then that may give him and his views privileged access as well.

The problem with these types of donors is that the money they give always carry a political agenda, and thanks to the recent law, the door is wide open for these agendas to enter politician’s offices. In this case, it’s clear that Sheldon is betting his fortune on Gingrich, and doing everything he can so that he will win the White House. Often, voters don’t know the details of campaign finances, and they only hear what the candidate says, not what goes on behind closed doors, and what’s on the agenda, often an agenda that may be influenced by these big donors. But in this case, will Sheldon influence Gingrich? There’s no way to know for sure, but one reporter asked, after a meeting of the two men, what his view was on Israel, and not surprising, Gingrich had a view that was identical to Sheldon, promising to do aggressive backing of Israel, saying that in his term he would “seek to defend the and allies.”

Overall, this should not be much of a surprise. Many people warned that should such a law pass, and the doors stay open to large donors, then we would see cases like this, where a single entity funnels most of a politician’s budget, and the political agenda of the country could suddenly become very one sided.


Palestinian elections move forward, but will this change anything?

A voter registration office was opened in the Gaza Strip by the political rivals and last week, bringing the region one step forward toward presidential and parliamentary . These are set to happen later this spring, and we could see once more the two rivals pit against each other in a democratic process. But as this step is taken, and Palestine moves toward yet another election, will this really change much of anything in the region? Will peace prevail? It’s hard to see that as a likely outcome with everything that goes on behind the scenes.

We all recall how the last elections went. In 2006, Hamas won the elections, and it took a year until they managed to get control over Gaza, which they had to wrestle by force. Meanwhile, nearly the whole world considers them as a terrorist group, because of a multitude of attacks on civilians, which they say were provoked by military forces.

Meanwhile, Israel isn’t sitting by, and is arresting any member of Hamas it can find, accusing them of being terrorists, some of which were actually planning to be delegates in the coming election. Tensions aren’t any lower than they’ve been in decades, and while a few people actively work toward peace, there’s a lot of anger in the air. Regardless who wins this election, once again it won’t be done without , that much is certain. History is very plain, and tends to repeat itself, especially when it comes to this region of the world.

On the one hand, if Hamas wins, then the situation will be the same as in 2006, with few countries recognizing them as a legitimate organization, and few people willing to let them take power without violence. On the other hand, if Fatah wins, it will be hailed by the world as a victory for peace, which will anger Hamas and they are unlikely to sit still, prompting once again more violence. The situation has been going on for decades, and there seems to be no solution in sight.

Imposing peace has never worked without a strong military presence behind, and everyone is careful not to appear biased or to provoke the anger of the world powers. As a result, the same things keep happening, with Israel trying to bring some order to what they consider their lands, prompting retaliation strikes on civilian populations, which in turn brings more violence. It’s a circle that won’t be broken by yet another round of elections.

Overall, it’s still nice to see a peace process go forward, and this action of a new voting booth should be applauded. But in reality, it’s unlikely to change much at all.


Rescue 24 abused boys – save their home from closure!

’s Reut home cares for 24 boys, who have suffered the most extreme physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse and neglect. Due to their traumatic life experiences they endure deep behavioral, learning, and psychiatric difficulties. Their vulnerability is so acute, that Reut is their last chance. No other program in will welcome and care for such severe cases. Without Reut, these boys have nowhere else to go – they would end up on the street, in psychiatric wards or juvenile detention centers. Without Reut they have no other hope for a better future.

In 2010, the decided to close down Reut because its facilities were cramped and dilapidated. Following a long battle, they finally allowed Orr Shalom to keep it open but only if we urgently renovate the entire facility.

We urgently need to raise $25,000 by 31 March 2012 for the first stage of renovations.

If we are unable to raise the money needed for the full renovations, Reut will shut down, and the boys will have nowhere to go. The work includes building a bomb shelter and totally refurbishing the living and sleeping quarters.

Rescue 24 abused boys – save their home from closure!



IDF preparing to take in Syrian refugees

The is preparing for a possible flood of Syrian refugees following the potential fall of President , Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, the army chief said that members of Assad’s are expected to seek shelter in should the Syrian leader, an Alawite himself, be removed from power.

“The day the Assad regime falls, this is expected to hurt the Alawite sect,” Army Chief Gantz said. “We are preparing to take in Alawite refugees on the Golan Heights.”

Addressing other possible implications of the Syrian upheaval, the chief of staff added that Israel fears that weapons could make their way from to Lebanon. “We must monitor the process,” Gantz said.

Turning his attention to , the army chief said that 2012 is expected to be a “critical year in the meeting place between ongoing nuclear efforts, the domestic changes in ’s leadership, increasing pressure from the international community, and things that are happening there unnaturally.”

Meanwhile, President Assad delivered a two-hour speech Monday, charging that foreign elements are aiming to topple his rule. The Syrian president claimed that a “foreign conspiracy” was causing the unrest in his country but was failing. The civil unrest in Syria was a test of the country’s national resilience, he added: “Outside forces did not find a foothold in the revolution that they had hoped for… Nobody is deceived anymore.”

He further claimed that it was his idea to send observers to Syria “to find out the truth… Syria will not close doors to Arab solutions,” he continued, as long as “they respect Syria’s sovereignty.” The Syrian leader also rejected Western and human rights groups’ claims about the in his country, insisting that he did not order troops to direct live fire at innocent civilians, “unless it’s a case of self-defense.”


21st Century Apartheid in Kiryat Malachi

In a case of new immigrants versus the more established immigrants, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver caused an already heated Knesset Committee meeting to get out of control.

Speaking at a Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee meeting on against the in , Landver told an Ethiopian social activist: “Say thank you for what you got.” Her statements came in response to those made by the social activist, , who called the MKs hypocrites and said:

“You have created a 21st Century version of Apartheid in .”

Landver then replied: “While you hand out marks you need to understand that the State of Israel invests a lot in this matter,” and stressed “Say thank you for what you got.” MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) then joined the argument, screaming at Yiberkan: “When they were speaking against haredim no one said a word, I wish I was Ethiopian.”

The Ethiopian community is angered by what they believe is the racist behavior of Kiryat Malachi’s established residents who are unwilling to rent out or sell them apartments. Some of the residents have even signed contracts under which they have made a commitment not to sell or rent out apartments to members of the Ethiopian community. Members of the Ethiopian community and their supporters numbering in the thousands demonstrated against the discrimination in Kiryat Malachi on Tuesday night.

Speaking at the Knesset meeting, Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud) said: The Kiryat Malachi case is a warning bell but it isn’t the only case. We want to come out of the committee meeting not just with platitudes and empathy but with decisions on the legislative level.”

Danon announced his intention to promote a legislation package that would aggravate punishment and declare racial discrimination as a criminal offense with a NIS 100,000 ($26,000) fine and up to six months imprisonment.


Nuclear Professor Assasinated in Tehran

Mysterious blast in Iranian capital leaves one dead, injures two. Local media reports say blast ‘reminiscent’ of previous attacks on scientists.

According to Iranian media reports, the incident “looks similar to attacks on nuclear scientists in the city,” more than one year ago. The semi-official Fars news agency cited witnesses as saying a motorcyclist stuck a bomb on the side of the car which then exploded, killing one and injuring two people inside.

Fars identified the victim as . State-run Press TV said he was a university professor. Another Iranian nuclear professor was killed earlier this year when a motorcycle rigged with explosives was detonated outside his home. Iranian authorities, who claim Western governments seeking to thwart the country’s nuclear ambitions are behind the attacks on nuclear scientists, issued a statement blaming today’s attacks on “Zionist agents” and vowing revenge.

The U.S. and its allies are pressuring to halt enrichment, a key element of the nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at producing atomic weapons. enriched to low levels can be used as nuclear fuel but at higher levels, it can be used as material for a nuclear warhead.

Iran has claimed that ’s , the and Britain’s spy agency are engaged in an underground “terrorism” campaign against nuclear-related targets, including at least three slayings since early 2010 and the release of a malicious computer virus known at Stuxnet in 2010 that Iran says disrupted controls of some centrifuges a key component in nuclear fuel production. Both countries have denied the Iranian accusations.

Israeli officials have hinted about covert campaigns against Iran without directly admitting involvement. On Tuesday, Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was quoted as telling a parliamentary panel that 2012 would be a “critical year” for Iran in part because of “things that happen to it unnaturally.”

“Many bad things have been happening to Iran in the recent period,” added Mickey Segal, a former director of the Israeli military’s Iranian intelligence department. “Iran is in a situation where pressure on it is mounting, and the latest assassination joins the pressure that the Iranian regime is facing.”


Romney Victorious in New Hampshire

won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night with a broad-based coalition of both conservative and moderate voters overwhelmingly motivated by their worries about America’s economic future and wanting above all to beat President in November.

According to exit poll data, more than a third of voters on Tuesday said the quality that mattered most in deciding their vote was the candidate’s ability to defeat Obama. Romney won an overwhelming 62 percent of those voters.

Regardless of how they voted, 56 percent of Tuesday’s voters thought Romney would be most likely to beat Obama in November; the runner-up in that category was Rep. of Texas with only 15 percent and only 11 percent saw former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman as most likely to defeat Obama.

Even though Tuesday was a Republican primary, independents could request Republican ballots and vote in the primary.
Remarkably, self-described independents accounted for nearly half of all voters Tuesday – a piece of data which has implications for November. Paul won 32 percent of independents, with Romney getting 29 percent, and Huntsman picking up 23 percent of them.

In his 2000 battle with Al Gore, George W. Bush won New Hampshire by 7,211 votes out of a total of nearly 570,000 votes. If Romney is the GOP nominee that would make New Hampshire competitive this fall. Having an appeal to independents would be crucial to his hopes of carrying the state and its four electoral votes.

Among self-described Romney won a solid 49 percent of them, according to exit poll interviews. The closet contenders with appeal to were Paul with 16 percent and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 13 percent.Huntsman invested heavily in New Hampshire and will likely finish a distant third once all the votes are counted.


Global Friction, Men/Women, Jew/Muslim: Incident – Anastasia Michaeli << link to You Tube video if you can't see the one above <<

Knesset Member Anastasia Michaeli threw a glass of water at Knesset Member Ghaleb Majadele four days ago. It made for a great news clip and gave us all a peek at the hidden world of Knesset committee discussions. There is one Knesset channel on TV, but as most houses of representative and senate video feeds go, you can imagine how interesting most speeches members give — ENOUGH TO IMAGINE THE PAINT DRYING. All of Israel’s political, social, financial and every other category of friction ends up on the Knesset floor (and committee hearings.) I would venture to expand this craziness to even international friction between the west and middle-east, free world and the Arab non-democracy and maybe even free markets and structured Arab ones. When it comes to the edge between two civilizations, Israel is IT! Here, in this little state, we are truly the seam between the west and middle-east. We have the friction between Jews and Muslims, men and women, secular and religious, probably all three drove Anastasia Michaeli to lash out that day.

Unless you are here and see society pushing and bumping at the edges, you don’t have a sense how much of a border mentality we have here in Israel. Here there is a true friction between west and (middle)-east, developing countries and the developed world, democracy and dictatorship, liberal and autocratic, developed and undeveloped, religious and secular… and a few other sharp differences between typical European modern states and middle-eastern developing states. Sometimes the contrast between people here is even hard to accept. One reason is simply limited space. Israel and each city (or region) is simply small physically. Jerusalem, a confluence of so many different `

The Russian immigrants, like Michaeli and her party’s leader Avigdor Lieberman, have shown their friction with Arabs, orthodox Jews and left wing idealists. Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, is a good example of how a small (12.5% of the seats in the Knesset) section of the population not only holds power but also can influence what we see on TV and interrupt the dialog with other parties. In Israel tossing water at an opponent is not a disturbing act as much as a strange amusing one. There were clips from Russian water tossing fights between their politicians. Is it that Russians, after 70 years of repression, suddenly decide to assert their right to voice and opinion, then find themselves just a peep in the ever growing noise of political banter… turning into small extreme acts of protest. Just to be clear, a Knesset member dumping water at another member, even on TV, it’s not something we take seriously. Every day there are protests much more serious and relevant to our lives. Ethiopians protested in Kiryat Malachi about housing discrimination: Ethiopians are prevented from renting and buying apartments in certain areas. This is a great example of an African community brushing with more established European and middle-eastern ones. Here the government does not deal with discrimination like in other places (i.e. US and Europe) so whatever happens inside communities usually stays there until the situation is bad enough to explode. While Ethiopians are accepted by most Israelis, there is still some discrimination. I am sure that in other places Africans also face certain discrimination, here in Israel there is a big community of Ethiopians, there are three generations of them from the time a large immigration has come in the mid 1080s. (see statement by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the state of Ethiopian Israelis) What we see here is a serious topic of friction between African communities, which should be well accepted by established European communities, but for some reason they are not. Israelis take this kind of problem much more seriously than water dumping in the Knesset. One important issue to notice is how these social and community frictions are not just serious but also taken as a reflection of how our society deals with global problems locally. Nobody wants to see discrimination, yet the situation is real and does affect many people. The government can’t be testing and watching at every case of discrimination or even small attacks. Yet there is need for some sort of government or community standards. Well, we don’t have a solution, at least not one that we can show off to the world. But that’s not the end of it. The “Social Justice” protests of last summer as slowly making their way through Israeli society. In the government arena, all kind of new political candidates are looking for a place to make a change. Eventually it will get better. Like other things, it make take time, but it will certainly change. From my own little border, just right of Tel Aviv… THANKS for reading again 🙂

Cracking Down on Ultra Orthodox Violence

“There is no reason on earth for a person to raise a hand – let alone on helpless girls.” Beit Shemesh Mayor said Tuesday in reference to Na’ama Margolis, the seven-year-old girl who was spat on by a haredi man who claimed she was not dressed “modestly enough.”

Addressing the recent acts of against women in his city perpetrated by local ultra-Orthodox, the mayor said “there is no pardon for those who behave provocatively. Rioters should be dealt with a firm hand.”

Abutbul spoke to reporters at his office just hours before a mass demonstration is expected to take place in the city against the exclusion of women from the public sphere. “ denounces such behavior. Violent men belong behind bars. I urge Police to act with a firm hand against all the rioters, and I call on you (the press) not to put all (the ultra-Orthodox) in one basket,” the mayor said.

The mayor’s office rejected claims that municipality was backing the exclusion of women in the city. City officials mentioned that since Abutbul took office five women – all secular – were appointed to senior positions in the municipality.

“The exclusion of women may exist on some streets or in some neighborhoods, but it has nothing to do with the municipality or its policies,” one official said. Jerusalem Police has completed its preparations for the mass rally, with hundreds of officers being deployed to maintain order and secure the demonstrators.

Mayor Abutbul said he welcomes the protesters to Beit Shemesh “to send a clear message against violence perpetrated by a few (members of the Sicarri sect) who shame the city and all of Israeli society.”

On Monday the City of Beit Shemesh announced that it would install between 300 and 400 surveillance cameras throughout the city as part of the effort to curb the growing violence.