Tag Archive | Israel

My October Berlin Events


21.10.2016 – On the coming October i will be part of the ID FESTIVAL in Berlin – In “Language Beyond Borders” i will part of a panel looking at the blessings, drawbacks, and interesting consequences associated with working and living in-between languages, where people learn to think and speak outside of their national borders.

Curator & moderator: Dr. Elad Lapidot

Guest speakers: Olga Grjasnowa, Steve Sabella, and me


Photo: Festival Id Berin 2016


Photo: Festival Id Berin 2016

Here is the poem i read on the Festival

25.10.2016 “Eine orientalische Liebesgeschichte – Juden und Araber in Berlin.” Shalom-Salaam-Aktivist Armin Langer stellt sein Buch “Ein Jude in Neukölln” vor. Der israelische Schriftsteller Mati Shemoelof liest neue Berliner Gedichte. Dazu gibt es Musik vom “Berlin Oriental Ensemble” mit Hassan Abdul Fadl aus Syrien und Gidi Farhi aus Israel. Leben Araber und Juden nirgendwo so gut miteinander wie in Berlin?

28.10.2016 Join us with a new Poetic Hafla חפלה פואטית اُمسية شعرية !


 Few words i told The New York Times about Israeli cultural minister Miri Regev מירי רגב : “The danger of the Mizrahi struggle is that it will fall to a place of unjustified hatred, where there’s no grace and no compassion, and where there’s an inability to accept a multiplicity of voices,” says Mati Shemoelof, a Mizrahi writer and editor. And many on the left see an inherent hypocrisy in the gap between Regev’s words and her actions. Ayman Odeh - أيمن عودة, the leader of the Joint List, an alliance of Arab political parties, told me: “You can’t reconcile this seemingly liberal and egalitarian approach with an attack on Arabs, which is what she’s doing.”

Few words i told The New York Times about Israeli cultural minister Miri Regev:


“The danger of the Mizrahi struggle is that it will fall to a place of unjustified hatred, where there’s no grace and no compassion, and where there’s an inability to accept a multiplicity of voices,” says Mati Shemoelof, a Mizrahi writer and editor. And many on the left see an inherent hypocrisy in the gap between Regev’s words and her actions. Ayman Odeh – أيمن عودة, the leader of the Joint List, an alliance of Arab political parties, told me: “You can’t reconcile this seemingly liberal and egalitarian approach with an attack on Arabs, which is what she’s doing.”



Israelis, Iranians pay the same price for nuclear ambitions

The discussion surrounding Netanyahu’s Congress speech presumes that Iran does not have a right to nuclear weapons but that Israel does. Another way of looking at things is a nuclear-free Middle East, and an alliance between the oppressed citizens of Iran and Israel.

IAF fighter jet during an exercise (photo: IDF Spokesperson)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States, which was ostensibly meant to address the danger of Iran’s nuclear program, has a hidden angle that goes unspoken in the Israeli media

The discussion surrounding Iran deals mainly with whether the Islamic Republic has nuclear capabilities. This angle does not deal with Israel itself, or with nuclear proliferation of the entire Middle East. In light of the upcoming elections, it is especially important to note the exorbitant price that Israeli citizens pay (a quarter of whom live below the poverty line) for Israel’s choice to be a nuclear power, according to foreign sources. Those same sources claim Israel has Jericho missiles, tactical delivery systems, ballistic missile submarines and nuclear-armed fighter jets, as well as hundreds of nuclear bombs that continue to be developed

Do nuclear weapons protect Israel? Is the investment worth it? These issues are never spoken about. Preventing the enemy from obtaining similar weapons is practically axiomatic in this country. According to the West, the Jews are allowed to have an unsupervised, unlimited nuclear arsenal with no environmental regulations. Think about the danger such an old nuclear reactor poses to the nearby city of Dimona. Is the reactor carcinogenic for its workers and the people who live in the area? Where does Israel bury its nuclear waste

According to the West, Israel can have nuclear weapons because of the Holocaust, but the Iranians are dangerous because their previous leaders have called for the elimination of Israel. And here? Both the Right and the Left adopt this premise

The West encourages Israel to arm itself with nuclear weapons; Germany sells us nuclear submarines; the United States sells us fighter jets. But are the Germans and the Americans aware that Israel’s arms industry, and the generals who control Israeli politics, are actually starving their citizens while they become rich? Are they even concerned by the sale such a dangerous weapon to a third world country such as Israel? Why is there no parity between Israel and Iran’s potential nuclear arsenal

The Iranian people also suffer due to their leaders’ desire for the doomsday weapon, despite the societal costs that it brings about. Two years before the Arab Spring, the Iranian people tried, unsuccessfully, to revolt against the regime. Here is what Israeli social activist Barak Cohen told the Iranian people on Facebook, with the help of a Jewish-Iranian


Netanyahu is heading to the United States in order to frighten the world over a nuclear Iran. We want to tell the Iranian people that as opposed to a prime minister who does not represent us, the people here are not in conflict with the Iranian people. We have terrible rulers who use war in order to harm our freedoms, equality and ability to live a decent life. We know that your regime is also terrible, and uses the same tools to harm your ability to live a decent life.

This is not a conflict between the Jewish people and the Iranian people. This is simply two forms of dictatorship that abuse you and us in order to continue ruling. The Jewish holiday of Purim is upon us, and there are Jews in Iran, and we want to say that with the help of God, who is one, just as in Purim our luck changed, we will defeat the dictatorship here, and you will defeat the dictatorship there. With the help of God, we will be able to visit Iran and you will be able to visit us here, and the walls will crumble!

Cohen’s message to the Iranians does not differentiate between Jews and Persians (unlike in Purim, there is no need to kill Haman). This is the same Jewish-Arab message that we sent in 2011 with our letter to the young people of the Arab World who were fighting for freedom. This message is the exact opposite of what the government is doing through its nuclear arsenal, its weapons and its societal abuse. This is the message we need to send to Washington, Iran and the Arab world. A message of social democracy that worries about its citizens, and does not invest everything it has in a doomsday weapon, which only weakens and endangers its own citizens

Mati Shemoelof is a writer. His first storybook was published by Zmora Bitan PublishersThis article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here



Il sapore aspro di un budino di latte: Il costo della vita in Israele

Un post di Facebook sui prezzi a buon mercato di Berlino ha avviato una polemica in Israele. Il costo della vita era solo una piccola parte di essa

di Meron Rapoport
Giovedi 9 ottobre 2014

“Milky” è il nome di un popolare budino di un caseificio israeliano, una dolce crema bianca sulla parte superiore, budino marrone al cioccolato sul fondo. E ‘anche il nome del più caldo dibattito politico in Israele, uno che è iniziato dall’alto costo della vita e si è concluso con i fondamenti del sionismo, toccando questioni che si occupano della giustizia sociale, dell’occupazione e della guerra a Gaza

L’attuale ciclo di discussioni è cominciato all’inizio di questa settimana, quando un gruppo di israeliani che vivono a Berlino ha postato su Facebook la ricevuta della loro visita in mattinata al negozio di alimentari locale. Il punto forte era il prezzo di una tazza di latte-come quello del budino: 0,8 shekel (0,19 Euro) a Berlino rispetto a 4 shekel in Israele. Il succo d’arancia, un tempo simbolo dell’agricoltura israeliana, costa ai Berlino meno della metà del suo prezzo a Tel Aviv. In media, i prezzi erano il doppio

Economisti importanti e uomini d’affari del commercio al dettaglio si sono affrettati a spiegare che il confronto era viziato e senza senso, ma per molti israeliani, la ricevuta di Berlino era un ricordo che la vita in Israele è insopportabilmente costosa. Ha inoltre fatto eco in una corda sensibile nella società israeliana. Tre anni fa, nell’estate del 2011, Israele ha sperimentato le sue più grandi manifestazioni di sempre, quando centinaia di migliaia di israeliani sono andati in piazza, scandendo slogan come “il popolo vuole la giustizia sociale” e “Ecco che arriva lo stato del welfare

Queste manifestazioni sono state una sorta di rivelazione per la società civile in Israele, che è sempre stata molto debole. E [la società civile] è diventata improvvisamente consapevole della sua capacità di protestare, per chiedere il cambiamento. Ma i risultati concreti, come quello che è accaduto con le proteste sorelle -in Spagna o Occupy Wall Street – che hanno avuto luogo al tempo stesso, erano scarsi. Il governo non ha cambiato, lo stato sociale non ha recuperato ed i prezzi sono rimasti alti

Gli autori del post di Berlino finalizzavano proprio a questo sentimento di frustrazione, nato dal fallimento delle proteste del 2011 e rafforzate dal bilancio prossimo del 2015, dove l’esercito avrà un aumento di 6 miliardi di shekel ($ 1,7 miliardi) e i servizi sociali non ne otterranno quasi nessuno. Vivere in Israele, hanno scritto sulla loro pagina di Facebook, “priva voi e i vostri figli del cibo, istruzione e alloggi … vivere in Israele è un abuso economico continuo. Ci vediamo a Berlino!

Questo è, naturalmente, una sfida premeditata per la società israeliana. L’emigrazione da Israele non è nulla di nuovo, e più di un milione di israeliani sono emigrati negli Stati Uniti, in Europa e altrove nel corso degli ultimi sessant’anni. Ma questi emigranti che non si vantavano circa la loro decisione, sono stati trattati con mancanza di rispetto, se non come traditori del sionismo. L’immigrazione in Israele è chiamata Aliya (arrampicata), come se ti elevassi venendo in Terra Santa. L’emigrazione da Israele è chiamata Yerida (discesa). Emigrare con orgoglio a Berlino, con tutto il suo significato nella storia ebraica e sionista, è quasi un sacrilegio

Si stima che circa 40.000 israeliani vivono a Berlino, la maggior parte dei quali provenienti negli ultimi dieci anni. E ‘diventato una sorta di voga tra i giovani israeliani urbani. Mati Shemoelof, uno scrittore e un poeta che si è trasferito a Berlino un anno fa, è consapevole, ovviamente, del significato storico di vivere a Berlino, ma sostiene che non è fatto per una sfida. “Ci sono più possibilità a Berlino, è la città più economica in Europa centrale e una destinazione preferita per l’immigrazione da tutto il mondo, non solo da Israele.” Ottenere un visto per rimanere in Germania è relativamente facile, spiega

Boaz Arad, un giornalista israeliano che ora vive a Berlino, ha pubblicato un articolo questa settimana su Haaretz dal titolo “Perché si parte per Berlino (e non per il ‘Milky’).” Egli nomina il trasporto pubblico come funzionante, la forte rete sociale, lgli ‘istruzione gratuita, alloggi a prezzi accessibili, le tariffe di affitto controllate per legge, le condizioni di lavoro dignitose “e non meno importante: nessuno sporge il naso nella vita privata, richiede una spiegazione del perché il tuo coniuge non è ebreo o perché non disponi di un coniuge

Ma questa è solo una parte della storia. Secondo Shemoelof, molti israeliani che vengono a Berlino negli ultimi dieci anni sono stati formalmente attivisti politici in Israele. A Berlino, egli dice, si trovano in fraternità con gli immigrati provenienti da tutto il mondo. Alle manifestazioni contro l’ultima guerra a Gaza, gli israeliani hanno marciato a lungo con manifestanti palestinesi o iracheni o curdi. “Berlino è diventata una città di rifugio”, aggiunge

Mentre gli israeliani che vivono a Berlino non si trasferiscono fuori dalla sfida, Shemoelof è consapevole del fatto che in Israele questa emigrazione è concepita come “una metafora dell’esistenza ebraica fuori di Israele.” Secondo il sionismo, la vita ebraica poteva essere soddisfatta solo in Israele. Gli israeliani possono ingoiare il fatto che milioni di ebrei vivono in Gran Bretagna o in Francia o negli Stati Uniti, dice Shemoelof. Ma è difficile per loro quando vedono persone che sono nate in Israele emigrare liberamente e con orgoglio, soprattutto quando Berlino è interessata

Solo un anno fa, il ministro delle Finanze, Yair Lapid, il cui padre era sopravvissuto all’Olocausto, ha attaccato quegli israeliani che sono “pronti a gettare nella spazzatura l’unico paese che gli ebrei hanno perché è più facile a Berlino.” Le reazioni questa volta non sono state meno dure. Gli immigrati israeliani a Berlino sono stati chiamati bugiardi, deboli, anti-sionisti e anche traditori. Gli autori della pagina di Facebook che hanno iniziato il dibattito erano senza vergogna. Essi hanno chiesto a 300.000 israeliani di “arrampicarsi”, cioè di emigrare a Berlino. Solo se lasciamo Israele, dicono, il governo capirà la crisi. L’emigrazione si è trasformata in uno strumento politico

Questa pagina Facebook è più di un aneddoto. Nelle ultime settimane, dopo la guerra di Gaza, voci che chiedono per l’emigrazione da Israele come l’unica scelta politica a sinistra per gli israeliani “normali”, si sentono ancora e ancora. Il più importante è stato un articolo di Rogel Alper, un giornalista di Haaretz, che ha intitolato: “Devo lasciare questo paese.” La destra religiosa-messianica è sempre più forte, la battaglia per porre fine all’occupazione è senza speranza e ora, dopo Gaza, è diventato pericoloso rimanere in Israele. “Non si può condurre una buona vita qui”, ha scritto Alper, “si può morire qui, non si può trovare un riparo, e si può solo andare via

Shemoelof vede, come un modello portato dal fallimento delle proteste del 2011, la rielezione di Benjamin Netanyahu come primo ministro, l’ultima guerra a Gaza e l’attuale discussione sui prezzi di Milky e l’emigrazione a Berlino. “C’è una sensazione che Israele sta cadendo a pezzi,” dice, citando alcuni libri israeliani recenti su una apocalisse a venire, “il futuro appare oscuro

E ‘troppo presto per dire se l’emigrazione da Israele diventerà un grande movimento, se intende rappresentare una vera sfida per i partiti di governo. La maggior parte di questi nuovi emigranti orgogliosi provengono dalle fila della sinistra, in modo che il governo attuale può anche gioire di questo. Ma rappresentano anche le future élites di Israele, e nessun governo sarà felice di vederli rendere i loro servizi in paesi diversi da Israele. Ciò che è chiaro è che tutta la storia di MIlky, con tutte le sue ramificazioni, è un altro segno della crescente disperazione strisciante in sempre più ampi settori della società israeliana

Digital roundtable brings Israeli writers to campus | Linda B. Glaser

A “digital roundtable” held Nov. 14 is the latest example of how 21st century technology is breaking down international borders and transforming Cornell’s campus in the humanities as well as the sciences.
“New Mizrahi Writing in Israel: Digital Roundtable,” held in a Martha Van Rensselaer Hall videoconferencing facility, brought together writers on three continents to discuss the contemporary Israeli literary scene for an on-campus audience of students and faculty. The writers were chosen, said organizer Deborah Starr, because their work grapples with the cultural and linguistic heritage of their families who immigrated to Israel from Arab or Muslim countries (termed “Mizrahi Jews).

“The webcast panel offered students in Ithaca a glimpse into the vibrant Israeli literary scene,” said Starr, professor of modern Hebrew and Arabic literature in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. “And it gave the writers a chance to get to know each other. It was a pretty lively discussion, as they had very different points of view”.

Michal Held, poet and scholar of Ladino, participated from Jerusalem, and began the event by reading a poem in Hebrew and English that she called a “manifesto” against not being categorized “Mizrahi”.
Her manifesto was echoed by Sami Berdugo, participating from Berlin, who read a poem in Hebrew, Arabic and English that reflected his ambivalence toward Hebrew and his Israeli identity. “I feel I have no community in Israel, religious, Mizrahi, sexual or other,” he said, adding “no category applies to me.
Poet Anat Zecharia, calling in from Tel Aviv, said she agreed with Berdugo. When someone reads her poems “as a manifesto of feminism or as an Israeli poet or as a Mizrahi poet, it makes him see maybe the end of the poem, but he never gets down deep to what I mean or think”.


But Almog Behar, award-winning author and poet and a visiting scholar at Cornell, said, “For me, you can be Mizrahi and Israeli and Jewish and Arabic and so on and they don’t contradict each other.” He noted that in the previous generation, “calling people ‘Mizrahi writers’ was a limiting title that was meant to place them in a narrow place in Israeli culture which would be marginalized within Israeli literature … but as a self-definition it also has the power to broaden Israeli literature. It allows us to connect with parts of our literature that were hidden from us”

Poet and playwright Mati Shemoelof, participating from Tel Aviv, said he has begun writing in prose “to find a new place in the culture so the categories focused on my writing will be different. In my prose I am less aware of the categories and try to write less politically and more freely than before.” Still, he added, “I’m proud that my work until now has been Mizrahi work. I’m proud of my ethnicity.

The roundtable was sponsored by the Department of Near Eastern Studies, the Jewish Studies Program and the Society for the Humanities, with support from the Hope and Eli Hurowitz Fund. Behar’s visiting scholar appointment is funded by the Shusterman Foundation.

Linda B. Glaser is staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences

This article was first published on Cornell Chronicle


Controlling our future

Protestors block a road in Tel Aviv during a demonstration against privatization and exportation of natural gas. June 19,2013. Photo by: Keren Manor/ Activestills.org

Demonstration against exportation of natural gas, Tel Aviv, Israel, 19.06.2013 || Protestors block a road in Tel Aviv during a demonstration against privatization and exportation of natural gas. June 19,2013. Photo by: Keren Manor/ Activestills.org

Controlling our future

Israel’s natural gas must remain here for the good of its residents. Otherwise, generations to come will rue the decision.

Israel’s natural resources are the driving force behind the country’s future. For years these resources have been pawned off to privately owned companies controlled by tycoons, and in the current era these resources are exported elsewhere.

It is no coincidence that Makhteshim Agan Industries (one of the world’s largest agrochemical companies) was sold to the Chinese and Eden Springs Ltd. was sold to a foreign capital fund for more than a billion dollars. If Israel decides to go the tycoon route and export over half our natural gas, we will be faced with a new reality in which our fate will be determined by foreigners. Israel’s future must be kept in its own hands.

This is not only about the exportation of our resources. It is about the future of every worker in the gas production plants. Domestic management can assume responsibility for the workers and their job security. Foreign management will minimize this responsibility and alienate them, with no sense of responsibility for the welfare of the local communities they represent. According to estimates, the State of Israel and its citizens will lose 600 billion shekels ($165 billion) from gas export deals — the same gigantic funds that could instead be invested in education, welfare, health, infrastructure and erasing the huge gaps between the rich and poor.

Allegedly, the tycoons will request autonomy over deciding whether to export the gas. They will also present rational justifications for their business plans. But the rush to demand that the gas be exported arouses significant suspicions. Why is the decision on such an enormous amount of money not the subject of profound debate? After all, this sum can and would certainly alter the future of Israeli society. This is especially true considering the world’s economic crisis, recession and general instability of global markets. Would we really squander this gift the land has given us, and put it in foreign hands instead of investing it for the sake of our own needy?

The truth is that this is about the lobbyists who work for the gas companies and who are rushing to push Israel into the pockets of the tycoons. There is not enough information about the gas reservoirs or about the exact needs the Israeli market has for them. Can a decision about a large portion of the national budget be made in a debate from which the public is absent? After all, the government, which is supposed to represent the public’s interests, is unable to withstand the will and pressure applied by the lobbyists and tycoons.

Remember how the Sheshinski committee changed the royalty rate to be received by the country? Indeed, this is precisely how we as citizens, by focusing our struggle against the export of our natural gas, can change the face of our future.

This is about more than just economic and social interests, it is about an environmental decision of the utmost importance, because natural gas can replace more polluting methods of energy production. This is about quality of life for the country’s citizens, which can drastically change for the better.

As stated, the ultimate decision must be made by the Knesset, not just by the cabinet — if for no other reason than because this is not a regular decision.

Remember what happened to other countries that rushed to export their energy reserves and then became dependent on more expensive alternatives. The natural gas is a strategic resource, and for the security of Israel let us keep it in our own hands.

This op-ed was first published on ISRAEL HAYOM

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