Cartography Catastrophe – Continued

Following the outcry in Israel after the Eurovision Song Contest‘s 2nd semifinal, in which Israel was the only country whose map was not shown prior to its song, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the Norwegian hosts of this year’s contest to convey their message. During tonight’s final the Israeli map was indeed shown – albeit missing the west bank. Sources in the MFA told Ynet that they insisted Israel “will be shown as a country with borders, and not some amorphous entity”.

Graphics shown in the ESC’s 2nd semifinal::
ESC 2010 - 2nd semifinal - Israel
Graphics shown in the ESC’s final::
ESC 2010 - Final - Israel

I realize that all this might seem like some kind of a bizarre Rorschach inkblot test, making too much out of a graphical element, but I think flags, anthems and maps are important symbols of independence, and it seems every now and again someone figures Israel is fair game.

Cartography Catastrophe

Did you watch the European Song Contest‘s 2nd semifinal last night? Did you notice it? It came and went really fast, but did you manage to notice how Israel was wiped off the map?

Before each live performance a short video clip about the participating country was shown, but right before that video some on-screen graphics created the map of each country. Yes, each country but one: Israel.
Right before Harel Skaat took to the stage, the same yellow graphics that filled the screen for each other country, that graphics was now squished to the side and quickly disappeared.

Did the 62 years old Jewish nation get the shaft? Did The Jew Among Nations got the regular treatment? Serbia, a country that got its independence less than 4 years ago got similar treatment in the 1st semifinal; Does that fact make it better or worse?

Here’s the video (Don’t blink during the first few seconds):

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqmjDtTAz24

Screen captures for each participating county after the jump:
Continue reading Cartography Catastrophe

For Once, the Yes Men Say No

Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, The Yes Men, have an unusual hobby: posing as top executives of corporations they hate. Armed with nothing but thrift-store suits, they lie their way into business conferences and parody their corporate nemeses by basically doing everything that they can to wake up their audiences to the danger of letting greed run the world. I have watched their 2003 documentary and was hoping to catch their newest film, when I found out they will be protesting Israeli policies by withdrawing from the Jerusalem Film Festival in solidarity with the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign for Palestine’. Here’s an excerpt from their letter to the JFF:

[…] This decision does not come easily, as we feel a strong affinity with many people in Israel, sharing with them our Jewish roots, as well as the trauma of the Holocaust, in which both our grandfathers died. Andy lived in Jerusalem for a year long ago, can still get by in Hebrew, and counts several friends there. And Mike has always wanted to connect with the roots of his culture.
 
But despite all our feelings, we cannot abandon our mission as activists. In the 1980s, there was a call from the people of South Africa to artists and others to boycott that regime, and it helped end apartheid there. Today, there is a clear call for a boycott from Palestinian civil society. Obeying it is our only hope, as filmmakers and activists, of helping put pressure on the Israeli government to comply with international law.
 
[…] To those who want to see our film, savlanut and sabir (patience)! And for all the rest of us, a little LESS patience, please.
 
L’shanah haba’ah beyerushalayim,
Andy and Mike
The Yes Men

After reading their full letter I still disagree with their action but I do so respectfully. Here’s what we’ll be missing:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUjXsUnjG_M

My Father is Palestinian From Northern Palestine

I am starting to get more and more uncomfortable with the messages I get from the US President I helped elect. First it was the Cairo speech in which the word ‘Palestine‘ was used in a way that insinuates the discussed state already exists. Apparently the only eyebrows that were raised were mine and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow‘s.

But now the White House has put out a video celebrating Muslim Americans who serve in the U.S. Government. That was all fine and dandy, until I got to the part about Lema Bashir whose father is apparently “Palestinian from Northern Palestine“. Neither the White House nor the State Department thought the wording was inappropriate – on the contrary, courtesy of the State Department who translated this video into 10 languages, you can now choose the captioning to be insulted in:

[singlepic id=223 w=525 h=409 float=center]

Northern Palestine?! Where the hell is that?

When I Cry, I Cry for Both of Us – Israeli Politics and the Eurovision

Everything you do or say in Israel can be construed as political, from the paper you read to the lunch you eat. It’s no wonder, then, that so many songs sent to represent Israel at the Eurovision song contest over the years have raised quite a bit of ruckus on the way. Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane:
In 1974, just after the Yom Kippur war, Israeli band Kaveret sang at Brighton, UK, “There’s enough air for a country or two”. In 1983, a decade after the Olympics massacre and half a century after WWII, singer Ofra Haza, in front of a German audience in Munich, sang “I am still alive”. In 1991 at Rome, Italy, a singing Duo Datz wished whoever comes ‘Ahalan’ in Arabic, but stated they were born ‘here’ and so were their children. At the 2000 contest in Stockholm, Sweden, things got so hectic that the band Ping-Pong were disavowed by the Israeli Broadcasting Authority after insisting on waving an Israeli and a Syrian flag (and some cucumbers). In 2007 at Helsinki, Finland, Israeli band Teapacks warned the world that you-know-who is “gonna push the button”.

Held this week in Moscow, Russia, the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest will include another political song from Israel, but one that is quite sober and realistic. Sung by “an Arab girl who looks Jewish and a Jewish girl who looks Arab” this song might not win Europe over, but I believe singers and songwriters Noa and Mira Awad will make many Israelis proud by their simple statement in English, Hebrew and Arabic: There must be another way:


There Must Be Another Way – Noa & Mira Awad – Lyrics

 
English:
 
 
Hebrew:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
English:
 
 
Arabic:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
English:
 
 
 
 
Hebrew:
 
 
Arabic:
 
 
English:
 
 
 
 
 
Hebrew:
 
 
 
 
English:
 
 
 
English Translation:
There must be another
Must be another way
 
Your eyes, sister
Say everything my heart wants to say
We’ve come a great distance
Our road has been long and hard
Hand in hand
 
And the tears fall, flow, in vain
Our pain has no name
We are both waiting
For the day ‘after’
 
There must be another way
There must be another way
 
Your eyes say
One day, the fear will be gone
In your eyes there is determination
That we can continue
Our journey
For as long as it takes
 
For there is no address to sorrow
I cry to the open plains
To the merciless sky
 
There must be another way
There must be another way
There must be another
Must be another way
 
A long and hard journey
Lies before us
Together, on our way to the light
Your eyes say
All the fear will someday disappear
 
And when I cry I cry for both of us
My pain has no name
And when I cry I cry
To the merciless sky and say
There must be another way
 
And the tears fall, flow, in vain
Our pain has no name
We are both waiting
For the day ‘after’
 
There must be another way
There must be another way
There must be another
Must be another way
Phonetic:
 
 
 
Eina’ih, ahot
Kol ma shelibi mevakesh omrot
Avarnu ad ko
Dereh aruka, dereh ko kasha
Yad beyad
 
Vehadma’ot zolgot, zormot lashav
Ke’ev lelo shem
Anahnu mehakot
Rak layom sheyavo ahrei
 
 
 
 
Aynaki bit’ul
Rah yiji yom wu’kul ilkhof yizul
B’aynaki israr
Inhu ana khayar
N’kamel halmasar
Mahma tal
 
Li’anhu ma fi anwan wakhid l’alahzan
B’nadi lalmada
L’sama al’anida
 
 
 
 
 
 
Derech aruka na’avor
Derech ko kasha
Yachad el ha’or
Aynaki bit’ul
Kul ilkhof yizul
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vehadma’ot zolgot, zormot lashav
Ke’ev lelo shem
Anahnu mehakot
Rak layom sheyavo ahrei
 
 
 
 

Update:
May 12, 2009 – Israel qualified for the final contest. Russian host Andrey Malakhov: “The most political-correct [sic] song goes to the final! Congrats Israel”.
May 17, 2009 – As expected, Europe did not fall in love and with 53 points Israel has finished in 16th place.

Which Way is Israel? – A Follow-up

Jerry I’m telling you I have this power. And I have no control over it.
 
   – – Cosmo Kramer – Seinfeld – s05e11

[singlepic id=185 w=320 h=240 float=right]Just two days ago I blogged about the mixed messages sent by Agritech, Israel’s agricultural exhibition, in their full page ads which had both an inviting slogan (The world arrives in Israel! Israel awaits the world!) and a deterring world map featuring relocated countries and arrows pointing every which way.
Well, it only took one phone call to event organizer Atar Krauss (as suggested by a reader of mine) to produce some results. In today’s Maariv newspaper the new ad is partly fixed: the countries are still playing musical chairs (except for Korea, circled in yellow by me, which was moved back), but at least the arrows are pointing to Israel, helping the world arrive there:

Before: After:
[singlepic id=186 w=525 h=151 float=center]
click image for higher resolution

Which Way is Israel?

[singlepic id=183 w=320 h=240 float=right]

“Ya know, I don’t get it. I’m not allowed to ask a Chinese person where a Chinese restaurant is? Aren’t we all getting a little too sensitive? If somebody asks me which way is Israel, I don’t fly off the handle.”
 
  – – Jerry Seinfeld – Seinfeld – s05e10

Israel may be a leader in agriculture, but probably not in cartography. Agritech, The 17th International Agricultural Exhibition will be held in Tel-Aviv this coming week. Published in the local papers is an ad for the event sporting a map of the world and the ambiguous slogan “The world arrives in Israel! Israel awaits the world!”. I assume publishing full page ads is costly, and so I have to wonder: who was in charge of putting arrows on the map to direct the world to Israel?
[singlepic id=182 w=525 h=583]
Come to think of it, upon closer inspection this seems like the craziest map I have ever seen:
Korea seem to have moved into China, Nigeria is now in the center of Africa instead of the Congo, Ukraine moved to Russia and Bulgaria is now where Germany used to be. Way to welcome the world to your exhibition, Agritech! …or is this game of musical chairs intended to break the ice?
Israel gets plenty mad whenever anyone gets creative drawing a map of the Middle East and usually raises a storm when someone uses a different color for the occupied territories – so the act of relocating whole countries seems to me like the strangest way to say welcome.

Update: This post has a follow-up here.

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

Hebrew Obama Poster: YES OUI KEN

When I created my first Hebrew Obama poster, I never imagined it would become one of the most popular posts on my blog, lead to a couple of interviews in the media, and that I will get asked to create additional graphics in Hebrew for the campaign. And so, as the Illinois Senator arrives in Israel this evening, I thought it would be appropriate to publish my latest creation.

Following are my new Hebrew posters, one in blue and one in white:

[singlepic id=92 w=400 h=800 float=center] [singlepic id=93 w=100 h=200 float=center]

To download a ZIP file containing a print-size JPG and PSD, click for
the BLUE version, or here for the WHITE version.

Disclaimer:
– Use the graphics in any way you see fit, as long as it is not for financial gain, and as long as it gets Obama elected.
– You can use CafePress, Zazzle, or similar online printing services to print merchandize for you and your friends, as long as you do not set up a public shop.
– If you have used the graphics online or printed it and held it in an Obama rally, it would be nice if you could send some photos and share the joy.
– Feel free to link directly to the original post on my blog, but do not link directly to the files.

Make sure you check out my other design:
Hebrew Obama Poster: CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN | frgdr.com

I will elaborate a bit on my artistic decisions:
While the literal translation of ‘yes we can’ to Hebrew (‘KEN ANU YECHOLIM’, כן אנו יכולים) was what I aimed for when I started this project, it quickly proved to be unacceptable from a graphic point of view: unlike the English words, each one spelled using three letters or less, the third Hebrew word (YECHOLIM) is spelled using six letters, thus breaking the balance of the original design.
Since the original slogan became so prominent in the official campaign, I had to exercise some ingenuity if I wanted to incorporate Hebrew into it, and so YES WE CAN soon became YES OUI KEN, affirming the candidate in English, French and Hebrew, correspondingly. Yes, it’s a trick, but I was forced to use it.

Now let’s talk fontology:
Just like with the previous poster, I used WhatTheFont?!, which helped me discover Arial MT Black is a pretty close match to the original.
For the Hebrew word KEN, I first tried Hebrew fonts but none did the job, and so I decided to use the English letters O and I, the former was changed to look like a the Hebrew letter KAF and the latter was extended to look like a NUN SOFIT and not like a VAV.

The original English PDFs were downloaded from here (now defunct).

To The Still-Unnamed Still-Living American Soldier Who Doesn’t Know It Yet

Today, as the Iraq war starts its sixth year, and only a short time before the 4000th American soldier is inevitably killed in action, I thought I would share a song by Pink, an open letter to the person who had a lot to do with the predicament the world is in right now:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eDJ3cuXKV4

Dear Mr. President – Pink – Lyrics

Dear Mr. President,
Come take a walk with me.
Let’s pretend we’re just two people and
You’re not better than me.
I’d like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why?

Dear Mr. President,
Were you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
How can you say
No child is left behind?
We’re not dumb and we’re not blind.
They’re all sitting in your cells
While you pave the road to hell.

What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You’ve come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye?

Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Building a bed out of a cardboard box
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
You don’t know nothing ’bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
Oh

How do you sleep at night?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Dear Mr. President,
You’d never take a walk with me.
Would you?