Memorial Day

The day before Israeli Independence Day, the TV stations in Israel screen the name of every soldier who has fallen for the country. A name flashes on the screen for a second or two, then the next name appears. You go to bed, you get up, the names are still flashing. It takes 24 hours. That’s how they observe Memorial Day.
 
      Leo McGarry (John Spencer) – The West Wing s05e22

[singlepic id=290 w=525 h=397 float=center]
RIP uncle Private First Class Moshe Wiskowski (1950-1969).
We’ll see you again, next year…

NBC News: Israeli Army in Haiti Created “The Best Field Medicine Available”

Yet more compliments for the Israelis at Haiti: A report by NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman in Port-au-Prince, Haiti:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCd0Q_bQbHI
You can get updates from the IDF team in Haiti via Twitter, YouTube.

CNN: “The Israelis Came From the Other Side of the World”

Another brief moment of patriotism: This is CNN’s senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA2xOEoCiwk
You can get updates from the IDF team in Haiti via Twitter, YouTube.

Continue reading CNN: “The Israelis Came From the Other Side of the World”

NBC News: Israeli Army in Haiti “Just As You Would Expect”

Amidst horrible news from Haiti, a brief moment of patriotism: This is MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interviewing NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman in Port-au-Prince, Haiti:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH29wKSxKnk&start=369&showinfo=0
You can get updates from the IDF team in Haiti via Twitter, YouTube.
Continue reading NBC News: Israeli Army in Haiti “Just As You Would Expect”

War, A Rock Opera – Now Available For Free Download

After watching the brilliant Israeli rock opera ‘War’ on stage, and blogging about it, I have been corresponding by email with musician Kobi Vitman who created it based on his experiences in 2002 as a reserve infantry soldier during Operation Defensive Shield, and the PTSD that followed. A couple of months ago, when the original cast recording was issued, I tried to convey to Vitman my own experiences as a listener and a fan of the genre, emphasizing the difficulty in trying to track down these musical gems once the curtain closes on the original show. In accordance with my beliefs about file sharing, copyright laws and my own experiences searching for recordings of Israeli musicals, I tried to push for making the entire album available online.

Well, I am so very happy to announce that as of this week, the album is indeed available online and for free. You can still purchase the physical CD, booklet and all, for 40NIS, but if you just want the MP3 files, they are now legally available on WarRockOpera.com. You can still watch the show live in its acoustic version. Check the website for details.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzAz6Eo4gKA

Militarism – A Poem by Shahar Golan

 

 

I saw the eye doctor
And he showed me
A cool book
Filled with pictures.
He then said
There’s something wrong
With my 3-D vision,
But not to worry
I can still lead
A full and productive life,
But when I’ll join the army
I can never be
An Air Force pilot.

At age 7,
My life was ruined.

 

 

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Just finished watching ‘Taking Chance‘, an HBO film based on the experiences of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl escorting the body of LCpl Chance Phelps back to his hometown from the Iraq War. The film chronicles one of the silent, virtually unseen journeys that takes place every day across America, bearing witness to the fallen and all those who, literally and figuratively, carry them home. A uniquely non-political film about the war in Iraq, the film pays tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in military service.

Here’s the trailer for the film:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYcmblhVEJM

 

This would be
as good a
time as any
to honor
fallen
heroes.
An uncle,
a stranger,
a friend.

 

It’s Like Déjà Vu All Over Again

Israelis love their armchair activism. As long as they don’t have to do anything more than click their mouse, they are willing to show their support. This is particularly evident in the sheer number of people willing to join a so-called online protest, in comparison to how few are willing to put on their coat and walk to the city center for an actual real-world protest.

Armchair activism has a particularly disgusting side as it brings out the trigger happiness in people. In light of recent events, dozens of hawkish Facebook groups were created by Israelis, advocating the annihilation of the Gaza strip. All you have to do is click the ‘Join’ button, and you have instantly shown your degree of ‘patriotism’. Here is a selection of those Facebook groups:

 
[singlepic id=116 w=200 h=303 float=right]In this atmosphere of collective zeal, I think nothing can be more patriotic than watching War, A Rock Opera this coming Wednesday in Tel-Aviv. The show was created by Israeli musician Kobi Vitman based on his ordeals as an IDF reserve infantry soldier during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, but it was painfully relevant to the 2006 Lebanon War – and even more so now, as the conflict in Gaza escalates into a ground invasion. The collective Israeli memory is notoriously short, and so watching this show is an excellent reminder of what war is really like in a country where every citizen is a soldier.

What: War, A Rock Opera
When: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 10:30pm
Where: Tmuna Theatre, 8 Soncino street, Tel Aviv, Israel
Who: Kobi Vitman, Dvir Benedek, Ayelet Robinson, Yaniv Levi
Why: Read my critique

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzAz6Eo4gKA

Entertainment Weekly Deems Israeli Film One of 50 Sexiest Movies Ever

If you haven’t had the chance to see the Israeli feature film Yossi & Jagger, here’s another reason why you should: Entertainment Weekly just released a list of the 50 Sexiest Movies Ever, and at 49th place the 2002 movie just made the cut. Here’s what EW had to say:

Yossi & Jagger DVD | Amazon.comThe titular men (Ohad Knoller and Yehuda Levi) are sturdy Israeli soldiers stationed at an icy outpost on the Lebanese border. Like a less tormented version of Brokeback Mountain’s Jack and Ennis, they keep their coupling a secret.
Sexiest Moment: The guys go at it, fully clothed, on a snowy hillside. Because we see mostly close-ups of their faces as they make out, joke, and laugh, what’s sexy is their sweet delight in one another.

You can buy the movie here, and download or rent it here. Check out Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 50 Sexiest Movies Ever, and their 25 Least Sexy Movies Ever.

War, A Rock Opera – Read My Critique – or, Better Yet, Skip My Critique And Just Buy Your Tickets Today!

[singlepic id=59 w=200 h=300 float=right]War, A Rock Opera   has been running for a while now at Tzavta Theatre in Tel-Aviv, but I had the pleasure of watching it for the first time just this week. I really liked the show, but above all I think it is a very important show to watch. Kobi Vitman     , a young Israeli musician, started writing songs about his ordeals as a reserve infantry soldier during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and about battling symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder upon returning home. Dialogues joined song and accumulated to an all-Israeli rock opera. Just like stand-up comics excel in the phrasing of our mutual experience into funny, Vitman and the cast serve the audience an intensive dosage of articulate Israeli bitterness, which, when served in the form of rock tunes, appeals to the sense of utter despair felt by an entire generation of my peers.

War, A Rock Opera - My Ticket

Highlights:
Cast: Dvir Benedek plays an excellent IDF commander, with just the right amounts of arrogance and smugness he reminds everyone the army commander each one of us had in our time.
Music: Vitman wrote some powerful songs, some of which are bound to enter the Israeli pantheon of political tunes. Most of the lyrics are written tongue in cheek and appeal to a cynical generation all too familiar with the knee-jerk sentences Israeli political figures dish out oh so easily.
Band: Electric guitarist Ron Bunker should be singled out for praise. While the entire band plays awesome rock, Bunker’s solos brought the roof down. Bravo!

Lowlights:
Sound: As I have said before, this is my biggest pet peeve when visiting the Israeli theatre. You always have to strain your ears to distinguish the words from the music. If they can balance it well abroad, why can’t they do it in Israel?

Have a listen to Sleep My Child (Shan Yaldi), one of many songs that so eloquently convey the pathos used in the efficient indoctrination of the Israeli citizen in the acceptance of perpetual war. My ad-hoc translation of the lyrics into English is provided for your listening pleasure.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Sleep My Child (Shan Yaldi) – War, A Rock Opera – lyrics:

Maya (Ayelet Robinson):
Sleep now my wee child
You are not alone anymore
One day maybe we will fulfill the dream
Everything will work out
You will see one day
Instead of war peace will come

One day when you will grow up
Only if there will be no other choice
One day maybe you will be a soldier
You will run, observe, crawl, duck
You will think you have it all
I hope you will be fortunate

I as well wanted a son
That will study, get married,
That will build a family here
In the meantime there are laws, a constitution,
There is a cabinet office,
In the meantime you have no other choice

They’re building the future now
What is there else to say
My dear son
Go out and fight
Bring some warmth
To this cold world

Sleep now my wee child
You will see one day
We will not fear anymore
Sleep now my wee child
You will see one day
We will not fear anymore

Gever (Dvir Benedek):
It is a war for survival
It is who shall live – who shall die
My dear son
In a cruel world
Your narrow world
That is all that’s left

This is the war of existence
Forestall by slaying him
My son you will be grand
And you, give him love
You shall be filled with pride
Later we will mend it all

Cast:
Sleep now my wee child
You will see one day
We will not fear anymore
Sleep now my wee child
You will see one day
We will not fear anymore

Cast repeats: will not fear
indistinct speech in Arabic
Speaker in Arabic: Death to America!
Crowd in Arabic: Death to America!
Speaker in Arabic: Death to America!
Crowd in Arabic: Death to America!

Cast:
Sleep now my wee child
You will see one day
We will not fear anymore
Sleep now my wee child
You will see one day
We will not fear anymore

מאיה (איילת רובינסון):
שן עכשיו ילדי הקט
אתה כבר לא לבד
יום אחד אולי נגשים את החלום
הכל כאן יסתדר
אתה תראה שיום אחד
במקום המלחמה יבוא שלום

יום אחד כשתגדל
רק אם לא תהיה ברירה
יום אחד אולי תהיה חייל
תרוץ, תצפה, תזחל, תיפול
תחשוב שיש לך הכל
הלוואי יהיה לך מזל

גם אני רציתי בן
שתלמד, שתתחתן,
שתקים כאן משפחה
בינתיים יש חוקים, חוקה,
יש קבינט של ממשלה,
בינתיים אין לך ברירה

עכשיו בונים את העתיד,
מה כבר יש פה להגיד,
בן שלי יקר
צא ותלחם,
תביא קצת חום,
אל העולם הזה הקר

שן עכשיו ילדי הקט
תראה שיום אחד
כבר לא נפחד
שן עכשיו ילדי הקט
תראה שיום אחד
כבר לא נפחד

גבר (דביר בנדק):
זאת מלחמת השרדות
זה מי יחיה – זה מי ימות
בן שלי יקר
בעולם אכזר,
עולמך הצר,
זה כל מה שנשאר.

זאת מלחמת הקיום
להורגך תשקים לקום
בן שלי אתה תהיה גדול
ואת תתני לו אהבה
עוד תתמלאי בגאווה
אחר-כך נסדר הכל

כולם:
שן עכשיו ילדי הקט
תראה שיום אחד
כבר לא נפחד
שן עכשיו ילדי הקט
תראה שיום אחד
כבר לא נפחד

כולם חוזר: לא נפחד
נאום בערבית
נואם בערבית: מוות לאמריקה
המון בערבית: מוות לאמריקה
נואם בערבית: מוות לאמריקה
המון בערבית: מוות לאמריקה

כולם:
שן עכשיו ילדי הקט
תראה שיום אחד
כבר לא נפחד
שן עכשיו ילדי הקט
תראה שיום אחד
כבר לא נפחד

Here you can watch snippets. Here you can buy tickets.