Monday, January 30, 2012

Footnote, Israel’s Oscar Nominee for Best Foreign Film

“The nominees in the category of Best Foreign Film are…”

Headlines this past week stated that the ‘Israeli film industry is a surprising powerhouse’ due to the fact that the country has had four nominations for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in the past five years, “giving Israel more nominations during that period than any other country.”

But, no Israeli film has ever won the coveted award. With an Iranian film the favorite for this year’s Oscar, the Israeli film “Footnote” will probably remain just that, a footnote on the list of the country’s nominated films that just miss winning top accolades.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Will This Man One Day Be Israel’s Prime Minister?

Two weeks ago, popular news anchorman Yair Lapid announced that he was leaving his Channel Two position in order to prepare for an entry into Israeli politics. Within days, public opinion polls predicted that a new political party headed by Lapid would win between 15 - 20 seats in the Knesset, thereby becoming the country’s second biggest party after the Likud. The political shock waves sent out by Lapid’s announcement may signal the advent of new general elections sooner, rather than later.

The major problem with Lapid’s entering the political fray is that no one knows what he really stands for.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cold Snap, a Review

Reading Cold Snap by Cynthia Morrison Phoel one is immediately transported to Bulgaria, where the author served as a Peace Corps volunteer. The linked stories deal with the residents of Old Mountain, a ragged fictitious town some 60 kilometers east of Sofia. Just six stories in total make up this collection. By the time one finishes the book, the characters and their daily struggles are well-known and almost demand a second reading to make sure nothing was missed.

I found Cold Snap to be an amazingly effective title for this short story collection. “Cold Snap” is the name of the concluding, novella-length story that ties all the characters together. It deals with a bitterly cold season, when the residents of the town are forced to endure freezing temperatures as they wait for the central heating to be turned on. Cold snap could also describe the painful fall of Pavletta, whose ankle is broken so loudly that the sound of the cracking bone is carried across the town square.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One Year after Bulgaria

At the beginning of January 2011 my wife and I packed our bags and boarded a Bulgarian Air jetliner for the final return trip to our home in Israel, after living and working in Sofia for two years. We left our Bulgarian apartment with mixed emotions, but we were eager to be back with family and friends and start the next adventures awaiting us.

Looking back, it’s hard to imagine that we lived in Bulgaria for two whole years, as the time flew by very quickly. We made many friends in Bulgaria, explored the country, discovered a totally different culture, learned to differentiate between the confusing letters of the Cyrillic alphabet, and have many memories, photographs, and souvenir magnets to remind us of those experiences.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cyber Terrorists Launch Attack on Israel

The leaking of the private credit card information of thousands of Israelis last week was a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation,” stated Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon yesterday. "Israel has an enormous ability to protect itself and I reckon that we will do so and find all of the breaches. Whoever harms Israel’s cyberspace is not immune from retaliation,” Ayalon said.

Last week a group identified as Saudi Arabian-based Group-XP claimed it had obtained the personal information of about 400,000 Israelis. The group hacked the popular Israeli sports website One.co.il and linked from there to files containing the information.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

1Q84, a Review

It is difficult to cozy up with Haruki Murakami’s new novel, 1Q84, because the hardcover version is so big and heavy. But diehard Murakami fans, myself included, have been eagerly awaiting the latest fiction from the popular Japanese author and greeted this 925-page tome with the reverence it deserves.

The title of the book refers to an alternate version of the year 1984, one in which two moons rule the night sky and Little People are secretly in control of what’s going on. This may sound like a fantasy, but then again Murakami’s works always portray lonely characters trapped in surreal landscapes that distort the boundaries of reality. 1Q84 is a parallel world, or possibly, a different way to look at the existing world.