Gad Elbaz: An Israeli in Paris

Kudos to Gad Elbaz, the Israeli singer, for lighting up the streets of Paris in song, dance and joy. Mr. Elbaz released his video, Hava Nagila, on March 15, 2015, just over two months after the inglorious attacks against life, free speech and free religion at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, and at Hyper Cacher, the kosher supermarket. This is also the same day that Hyper Cacher reopened for business since the attacks.

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A Joyous Sound: Hava Nagila, Texas Style

A Canadian friend, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, married to a New Zealander, who now lives in the United States, sent me this video. She describes it as “a hoot, hootenanny style.” The email she forwarded to me with the link included this anonymous comment:

WE CAN CELEBRATE EACH OTHER’S CULTURE, EACH OTHER’S ACHIEVEMENT, NO MATTER IF WE AGREE WITH THE PERSON’S POLITICS OR NOT. WHERE ELSE YOU CAN HAVE AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESIDENT, A LATINA SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, AN AUSTRIAN IMMIGRANT BODY BUILDER FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA, OR A TEXAS CHRISTIAN CHURCH SINGING “HAVA NAGILA” WHILE DISPLAYING BOTH THE AMERICAN AND ISRAELI FLAGS? GOD BLESS THE USA.”

Here is the rendition of Hava Nagila by the CUFI Cornerstone Singers, performed at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.

Cornerstone Church was founded in 1975 by Pastor John Hagee. Under his leadership, the congregation has grown from 1,000 members to over 19,000. Pastor Hagee is also the founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

The statement on the CUFI web site reads, in part:

During the Holocaust, too many Christians were silent, and we were left to mourn the slaughter of 6 million Jews. Today, Bible-believing Christians must speak up and stand up for Israel. We must act to do whatever we can to protect Israel’s 6 million Jews from the second Holocaust. We must get it right this time. Our faith demands it. The times require it. Silence is not an option.”

Madonna’s Second Date in Israel

Madonna will resume her international Sweet & Sticky Tour in London on the 4th of July. The tour will end in Israel. After the September 1, 2009, concert in Tel Aviv quickly sold out, a second performance date was added for September 2, 2009. It has been 16 years since the pop diva last performed in Israel, although she has been a visitor to the country a couple of times since then.

While in Israel, Madonna plans to go to the Wailing Wall with her children, including her newly adopted Malawi daughter Mercy, age 3 or 4, and adopted Malawi son David Banda, 3.

The Israeli tabloid Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Madonna’s friend Justin Timberlake will be joining her in Israel. The two share an enthusiasm for Kabbalah. Mr. Timberlake has been studying the esoteric Jewish mysticism at the London Center with Madonna.

There have been no announced plans that Mr. Timberlake will perform on the Sweet & Sticky Tour, but it is rumored that there may be some onstage surprises.

Israeli or Palestinian?

Do you know the difference between an Israeli and a Palestinian?

That’s not a joke and there is no punch line. It’s a question raised by Swiss photographer Olivier Suter in his project Enemies.

Last March while on a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Mr. Suter asked Palestinians for photographs that he could use to compare with photographs of Israelis. He then published the eight photos he received in an ad in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, with the words “Wanted: people who look alike.” There was no mention in the ad that the people in the pictures were Arabs.

enemies_275x170The photograph on the left shows five-year old Adam Shurati, who lives in Bet Hanina, a Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem. On the right is an Israeli, Hadas Maor, in a photograph taken many years ago when she was six years old.

Hadas’ father Yehuda said, “Ben-Gurion was right when he said ‘The Palestinians are not our cousins, they’re our brothers. Turns out, they could be twins.”

Adam’s mother Nancy was surprised but happy about the resemblance between the children. But, she says, Adam is not too pleased that he looks like a girl.

See Also:
Can you tell the difference between an Israeli and a Palestinian? [Haaretz; May 30, 2009]

I Am A Jerusalemite

Stanley Goldfoot, the founder and editor of The Times of Israel, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. At age 18, he packed a bag and moved to Palestine. The British police sent him back to South Africa, where he was drafted into the army.

Mr. Goldfoot returned to Tel Aviv. He worked as a journalist and participated in activities in opposition to the British Mandatory Power. He officially made aliyah to Israel in 1956. On November 24, 2006, he passed away at the age of 92.

In 1969, Mr. Goldfoot published his controversial Letter to the World from Jerusalem in the first issue of The Times of Israel. However, the Letter remains as relevant today as it was 40 years ago. (The entire text is printed at Israpundit.)

Aish.com has produced this poignant film from Mr. Goldfoot’s words:

See Also:
A JEWISH HERO IN OUR TIME

Edinburgh Film Festival Snubs Israeli Grant

A £300 grant from the Israeli embassy was returned by the Endinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) in response to pressure from prominent anti-Israel British film director Ken Loach, who urged “all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation and stay away.” The grant was to be used to pay the travel expenses from Israel to Scotland for Tali Shalom-Ezer, a graduate of Tel Aviv University, whose film is scheduled to be screened at the event.

“By banning the Israeli Embassy from supporting a filmmaker, the festival is helping to exclude Israelis from British cultural life, something that is clearly unfair,” said Lord Janner of Braunstone, a Labour party member of the House of Lords. Lord Janner is the former President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the main representative body of British Jewry. He is also the Founder and President of the Commonwealth Jewish Council and the Inter-Parliamentary Council Against Antisemitism.

Sir Jeremy Isaacs, former CEO of Channel Four, said, “I have admired the Edinburgh International Film Festival for many years and would like to think that this appalling decision will be rescinded.”

When the United Arab Emirates refused a visa to Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer, preventing her participation in Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, the Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon took a stand and refused to broadcast the event. “This is an easy decision to come by, based on what is right and wrong,” he said. “Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion. They are simply about talent. This is a classic case, not about what country did what to another country. If the state of Israel were barring a citizen of an Arab nation, we would have made the same decision.”

While movies often have political themes, Ms. Shalom-Ezer’s film, Surrogate, does not. It is a romance set in a sex clinic. Like Mr. Solomon, the board members of the EIFF should have taken a position against a bullying manifestation of bigotry.

At least they are making a proper gesture. A spokesman for the EIFF said that the festival will pay Ms. Shalom-Ezer’s travel expenses.

See Also:
The Edinburgh Bigotry Festival [Spectator.co.uk; Melanie Phillips; May 21, 2009]
Edinburgh film festival bows to pressure from Ken Loach over Israeli boycott [Times Online; May 20, 2009]

Israel Recognizes the Righteous: Wilm Hosenfeld

The 2002 film The Pianist was nominated for seven Academy Awards and earned three, the Oscar for Best Direct (Roman Polanski), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Adrien Brody) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Ronald Harwood). The movie tells the true story of the survival of pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew, beginning with the onset of World War II.

One of the people who came to the aid of Mr. Szpilman was a Nazi officer, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld. Mr. Szpilman had written to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial, and also in his diaries that “in November 1944 Hosenfeld helped him find a hiding place and that he provided blankets, food and moral support.”

On Monday, February 16, 2009, Yad Vashem posthumously honored Mr. Hosenfeld as Righteous Among Nations, a recognition bestowed on men and women who helped the Jews during the Holocaust.

Mr. Hosenfeld’s diaries revealed “his growing disgust with the regime’s oppression of Poles, the persecution of Polish clergy, abuse of the Jews and, with the beginning of the ‘Final Solution,’ his horror at the extermination of the Jewish people,” according to Yad Vashem.

The Soviet Union arrested Mr. Hosenfeld at the end of the war. His sentence of life in prison was commuted to 25 years. He died in a Soviet prison in 1952.

See Also:
German Officer Made Famous in ‘The Pianist’ Named as Righteous [Bloomberg.com; February 16, 2009]
Nazi officer who saved Jews honored [International Herald Tribune; February 16, 2009]
German officer of ‘Pianist’ fame honoured in Israel [AFP; February 16, 2009]