Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Describe Fizzy Life: Israel Expands Like Bread

Happy family (mother, baby, grandparents and aunt) at a brit-mila (circumcision) ceremony. Life's fizzy nature buzzes all over the place / © 2010 AV

Recently I notice more books about Isreal's amazing growth and accomplishment. As if suddenly the world has noticed how the country leaped from the dusty backward land to a green modern state. What is missing in these stories is the real people element. After reading a part of The Land of Blood and Honey: The Rise of Modern Israel and comparing it to Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle which focuses on the high-tech aspect of Israel's development, I realized how books are great with dry statistics. Books are good with stories about companies and people of the past, but still dry. Pictures help me in seeing the people element, videos help most people, YouTube is the new addictive pastime.

I get a glimpse of everyday family life through my family. The extended one is big, so there are events and gatherings all the time. The family grows and blends into other families with births and weddings. When the families of newlyweds are different, like with my cousin's daughter, I get another view into a whole new culture. My impressions of the last three weeks with the family:


Monday, August 23, 2010

Tipex vs. Free Brazilian Music: Crying Over Spilled Digital Milk

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The funky Israeli pop band Tipex has a song about music piracy. The words describe a woman in her car playing supposedly pirated music. She doesn't care where the music comes from, she doesn't even care what goes on outside her Jeep. The Jeep, a metaphor in Israel for financial success and individuality, what Israelis have been seeking forever. No mention of the music industry in the song, it is a bit sarcastic and uses dark humor, Tipex's trade style. Tipex, a successful band that has seen the traditional CD industry collapse from pirated music, are trying to show how the music industry loses from piracy. In Israel, the music industry, specially CD manufacturing, studios and sales outlets was a nice industry. CD pirating killed that industry, in some sectors it came so quickly and completely as the saying goes: "they didn't see it comin'" . This is going back ten to fifteen years, so what is new here? Why cry over spilled "digital" milk? (i.e. why complain over a lost cause from so long ago?) See the CD on Amazon:Sitting at the Cafe


Saturday, August 14, 2010

English Books in Israeli Book Stores: A Pleasant Surprise

A typical English book section at Steimatzky. Independent shops and chain store shops normally carry about 1,000 titles / © 2010

If you like to read fiction in the original English, in Tel Aviv you are in luck. But also in Hertzelia, Jerusalem, Givatay'im and Ra'anana. Israelis like to read, and the ones that know English well like to read the original in English. That makes for a great selection of fiction in many stores. Most big stores in malls have at least one stack and usually two devoted to English books. Most of the books are fiction with sections devoted to science fiction and usually another category. There is usually one shelf of business books with current best sellers like Malcolm Gladwell [Outliers , The Tipping Point , and Blink].


Thursday, August 12, 2010

NOT TOO HOT for the Beach: Tel Aviv Beach at 35 ° C

Hardcore Matkot players take advantage of a hot afternoon when Gordon beach clears out. To some, it is never too hot for the beach / © 2010

Tel Aviv beaches are a magnet to tourists and locals all year long. Except when the temperature rises above 35° C (95° F) and the sun is at it's peak. This July and early August we had a few hot days. They come in two and three at a time. Even the busy beaches empty by 2 PM. On a Saturday afternoons this feels strange. Empty spots on the beach is not something bathers are used to. The hard core sun bathers get quiet and enjoy the quiet in the air. The hard core matkot players, that are used to kids dodging balls and mothers screaming "watch out" or "go play somewhere else" are still hitting balls back and forth. I always wondered how this game became so popular. In Israel there are not that many unique games. On the beach there are volleyball nets and a few people passing a soccer ball back and forth. So inventing a game just for the beach, that is easy to get started, is a good idea. Interesting how this really simple game can become an advanced competitive sport. The competition is not the main object here. The object here is to keep the ball going back and forth. Advanced players can stand 10 meters or even 20 meters apart and hit the ball so hard, it is a challenge to hit it back. That is how two players measure their skill level. Harder and farther away you stand from each other, more advanced your skill level.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Benyamin Netanyahu's Brother: Jonathan's Letters (Book)

Israel's prime minister's brother's letters: to these who believe Netanyahu needs reminding of the horrors of terrorism. To everyone else, a peek at a life of a soldier.

Is Benyamin Netanyahu out of touch with the new reality of the Palestinians? What many do not remember is bibi's brother Jonathan. Yoni (Jonathan's nick name) lead the Israeli raid on terrorists holding Israelis in Entebbe (Uganda.) The raid by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is one of the most daring operation in the army's history. Yoni died in the Raid. This must have been Netanyahu's strongest personal impression of Israel's fight with terrorism. I can imagine how Benjamin Netanyahu's personal view of terrorism was shaped at an early age. Jonathan's Netayahu's letters are collected in a book: The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu: The Commander of the Entebbe Rescue Force (Amazon link)


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Should Israel Spend More on Public Relations (P/R) and Advertising?

There is a split in opinion weather to promote Israel internationally using advertising or not. Some people see countries like Spain and Turkey advertising their beaches and ancient ruins as tourist spots. Should Israel do the same? Israeli reporters and PR professionals who see misleading international media reports from Palestinians are fuming. Palestinians are calling to ban Israeli goods and put pressure to release Palestinians imprisoned are getting more attention than Israel. Here people are calling for Israel to spend a little money and time to "correct the lies". On the other side stand government and private organizations which call for a more direct use of promotion funds. There are plenty of opportunities to show Israel's culture, people and government to people around the world. Israel has deployed a policy of sending people on missions to Jewish communities (much like religious missionaries.) Israel has also been supporting cultural and artistic outreach programs which to the government are just as crucial as political interests. With limited budget, the average Israeli citizen if not willing to spend money on both cultural mission and mainstream international media advertising.