It’s a bit ironic that it happened on International Women’s Day. Israel’s most prominent female-by-choice, Dana International, scored a big victory last night when her song “Ding Dong” was chosen to represent the country at the glitzy annual Eurovision Song Contest, the kitchy and politicized competition that, ironically, spawned international stars like Abba and Celine Dion.
Dana International was born Yaron Cohen into a traditional Yemenite family in 1972 and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1993. In 1998, the performer’s song “Diva” took the first-place crown in the contest and was later chosen as one of the 14 most-popular songs in the history of Eurovision.
The undisputed Israeli disco queen struck gold again last night. “Ding Dong” was the favorite among television viewers, who texted votes to choose the winner following live performances. The song beat out nine other tunes sung by Israelis competing to be this year’s Eurovision entry.
“Some people call me anonymously, swear at me,” Stephane Zerbib tells Israel’s Ynet News.
Though surely upsetting, those phone calls aren’t entirely surprising, given Galliano’s now world-famous anti-Semitic rant, which got him fired from Christian Dior last week. After initial reports of a Jew-baiting tirade at a Parisian cafe, a video of a separate incident went viral online in which Dior announced, “I love Hitler,” and taunted onlookers with comments about their Jewish relatives being “f—ing gassed.”
One of the Jewish state’s veteran Ashkenazi entertainers has ignited the latest battle over Mizrahi music, the genre that arrived with Jewish immigrants from the Arab world. Traditionally disdained by the country’s Ashkenazi elite, the music has long been a symbol of Mizrahis’ outsider status in Israeli politics, education and income distribution.
So singer Yehoram Gaon should have known better when he told the student newspaper at Ariel University that Mizrahi music is “garbage” and a “natural disaster.” Referring to the music’s soaring popularity in recent years, the 71-year-old Gaon added that he was “waiting for this foul wave to pass.” (This is roughly akin to someone like Paul Simon making similar comments about rap or hip-hop, with all the corresponding identity politics.)
Milan, New York, Paris and … Ramallah.
The Palestinian city has joined the world’s style capitals by staging its own fashion event, “considered the first couture show in the West Bank,” according to Israeli news Web site NRG.
Featuring the work of Palestinian designers, the three-day affair is focused mostly on bridal gowns, with the designs worn by European models and the shows attended by both locals and visitors. Among the highlighted designers is Jamal Taslaq, a Rome-based Palestinian who says he tries to incorporate Palestinian tradition into each of his creations. The Ramallah fashion festival included a dress resembling the Palestinian flag, as well as a headpiece made from olive branches.
Just when The Shmooze thought he couldn’t come up with anything loopier, Charlie Sheen has managed to surprise us.
The former TV star - who was officially axed from “Two and a Half Men” yesterday - is now talking about his Jewish roots, two weeks after making headlines for comments widely criticized as anti-Semitic.
Speaking to “Access Hollywood,” Sheen said that his mother, Janet Templeton, is Jewish - a trait she shares with his most recent wife, Brooke Mueller.
“My mom is Jewish,” Sheen told the entertainment show in a phone interview. “Here’s where it gets confusing – we don’t know who her father was. But she is, in fact, Jewish. So, I guess that would make me Jewish, and my children Jewish. And Brooke, my ex-wife, is Jewish. So, I guess I should’ve rolled all that out, too.”
It is in Canada, after all. Maybe that’s why Montreal-based Shtetl magazine, sounds like a kinder, gentler HEEB — albeit with an agenda including “sex, drugs, and Talmud,” according to founder Tamara Kramer.
Launched last week as a spinoff of Kramer’s wildly eclectic radio show Shtetl on the Shortwave — whose guest list careens from performance artist Annie Sprinkle to Hasidic rappers to African rabbis — Shtetl will continue sharing Kramer’s “beautiful and bizarre Jewish discoveries,” with a much wider potential audience. “I think Shtetl could travel well and I would like there to be a presence for the magazine in other cities,” Kramer told the Forward in an e-mail. “My grandfather was born in China and I’m particularly excited about starting a Shtetl Shanghai. They bring Chinese food into our homes and we bring Yiddish expressions into theirs?”
The White House can add one more senior staffer to its list of advisers with Jewish roots, and it is an unlikely name. Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior adviser and assistant for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement, disclosed her Jewish ancestry to a Jewish gathering on Monday.
Speaking on behalf of the administration at the annual plenum of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jarrett, who is African-American, told the story of the first Passover seder she attended as a child.
“Many, many years ago, my parents hosted a seder for a group of our Jewish friends, and it was here that my father first told me that my great-grandfather was Jewish. What a wonderful surprise for our friends, and for me! So Passover has always been a special holiday for me.”
Not only is being Jewish good for your health, it makes you happier, too. At the request of the New York Times, the Gallup research organization has put together a profile of “the happiest person in America,” a demographic composite based on surveys the company has conducted daily among 1,000 U.S. adults for the last three years.
For better or worse, the “happiest person” is not widely found in nature. He is, according to Gallup, “a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year.”
Despite the rarity of the breed, such a person does exist (although maybe only one). “Meet Alvin Wong,” the Times wrote. “He is a 5-foot-10, 69-year-old, Chinese-American, Kosher-observing Jew, who’s married with children and lives in Honolulu. He runs his own health care management business and earns more than $120,000 a year.”
John Galliano could be headed from the fashion house to the big house.
French prosecutors have confirmed they’ll press charges against the disgraced designer, who was fired from Christian Dior this week after the release of a video that showed him launching an anti-Semitic tirade at a Paris cafe last fall. Galliano told shocked onlookers, “I love Hitler,” and that their relatives would have been “f—ing gassed” by the Nazis.”
Actress Isla Fisher is taking this whole Judaism thing seriously.
The “Wedding Crashers” star and her husband, “Borat” comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, have reportedly named their second child Elula, after the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar. The name is a female form of Elul, which usually falls in the late summer or early fall. The name is not one the Shmooze has heard before — even in Israel — although Sivan, the third month of the Hebrew calendar, is a fairly common girl’s name.
Elula joins an older sister, Olive, who was born before her mother’s conversion to Judaism.
It’s an unusual rallying cry for Aryeh Eldad, one of Israel’s most right-wing politicians. He’s calling for action on behalf of “disenfranchised Palestinians.”
But Eldad, a lawmaker with the National Union party, isn’t advocating a change in Israel’s policies in the West Bank. Instead, he wants Jordan to improve its treatment of Palestinians, and is making this demand in this online petition which has 2,500 signatures to date.
Eldad is still holding out for the idea, long-since dismissed by the Israeli mainstream, that in view of the high concentration of Palestinians in Jordan it should be considered a Palestinian state - invalidating claims to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Coming up with fresh TV material can be difficult - even if you’re a rock icon with a porn-star wife.
For the next season of his A&E reality series, KISS singer Gene Simmons has solved the problem by planning a family trip - to the Holy Land.
Israel’s Ynet news Web site is reporting that Simmons will visit later this month to film footage for “Gene Simmons: Family Jewels,” a visit the article describes as a “roots trip.”
The son of an Auschwitz survivor, Simmons was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, and moved to the United States at age 8. He remains fluent in Hebrew, the article says, but has never performed in Israel with KISS.
Who knows what evil lies in the hearts of celebs? In the age of cell-phone cameras, radio talk shows and YouTube, the answer is: nearly everyone.
At least in the last couple weeks, that evil has been a familiar one: anti-Semitism, with everyone from Charlie Sheen to (allegedly) Julian Assange to a Japanese rock band making what were at best questionable statements (sartorially or otherwise) about Jews and/or Nazis.
The Shmooze, in recent days, has come to resemble nothing so much as a running tally of anti-Semitic celebrity behavior, as well as a log of other celebrities making excuses for the anti-Jewish ranters and ravers.
What gives? (Or as our editorial yesterday asked, “Who raised these guys?”) A quick scan of the news rules out the normal explanations. Relations between Israel and its neighbors are relatively calm, for once, with the main drama in the Middle East unfolding in repressive Arab police states. The global economy, sadly, is still limping along, but there haven’t been any specific developments that would stir up the old hatreds and conspiracy theories.
Shortly after a Japanese department store came under fire late last year for stocking a Nazi costume, The Guardian published a response suggesting the Land of the Rising Sun might be suffering from cultural amnesia. In other words, new generations of Japanese have somehow forgotten their ancestors fought alongside Hitler.
Reinforcing the notion, another blunder hit the newswires early this week. The BBC reported that Kishidan, a popular J-pop band known for portraying school boys, appeared on MTV Japan back in February clad in SS-style black uniforms with iron crosses and red armbands.
As if the boys’ haircuts weren’t heinous enough.
Crossposted From TMZ
Charlie Sheen sent a scathing, anti-Semitic text to Brooke Mueller about his manager, saying, “I must execute mark b [Mark Burg] like the stoopid jew pig that he is,” the actor’s estranged wife said.
Sources say Sheen sent the text last week, after firing Burg but before rehiring him.
The text was quoted in Mueller’s declaration in support of her request for a restraining order.
Sheen told TMZ he did not send the text, saying, “I busted Brooke a year ago sending text messages from my phone to family members to cause discord. Both Natalie and Rachel (aka, the goddesses) will testify they observed Brooke with my phone on that day.” Sheen added, “I have to believe the text about Mark Burg is a repeat performance.”
To most Long Islanders, it’s just the Suffolk County JCC. But admirers of Semitic sportspeople also know the Commack building as home of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. And on March 27, the Hall will get its latest inductee: Tal Brody, “Israel’s first modern-day sports hero… who led his Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team to the European Cup Championship,” according to a spokesperson.
“Tal Brody continues a long and great tradition of outstanding Jewish basketball players/coaches/executives — Tal, [late All-America basketball star] Alan Seiden & [late Washington Wizards owner] Abe Pollin, all 2011 inductees — are three more Jews who have amazing ‘court sense’ and have added to the reputation of Jews in basketball who have made a big impact on their sport and beyond,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail.
** Update 4:29 p.m.: According to sources, Galliano has checked into rehab
The Shmooze is ready for hateful fashion pirate John Galliano to slither off to rehab or Mel Gibson’s house or wherever it is that disgraced anti-Semitic ranters go, but first the newly fired Christian Dior designer had to issue a faux apology.
“Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society,” Galliano said in a statement released today through a British law firm. “I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offence.”
That whole “unreservedly” part wasn’t actually true, however, as Galliano went on to paint himself as the victim of the now-famous incident last week at a cafe in Paris, where the designer allegedly launched into a racist and anti-Semitic tirade against a couple at a nearby table. On Monday, video of a separate incident appeared online that showed Galliano proclaiming “I love Hitler,” and telling onlookers that their Jewish relatives would have been “f—ing gassed.”
Anti-Semitism is out of style this season.
Designer John Galliano has been fired by the Christian Dior fashion label after he was caught on tape declaring “I love Hitler,” and merrily telling a Jewish couple that their relatives could have been “f—ing gassed.”
Galliano was suspended by Dior last week following initial reports about an anti-Semitic tirade in a Parisian restaurant. The video clip, which went viral online yesterday, appears to have sealed the designer’s fate with the company.
Freshly minted Oscar winner Natalie Portman, who also endorses Dior’s Miss Cherie Dior perfume, surely influenced the decision yesterday when she released a statement expressing “shock” and “disgust” over Galliano’s statements. “In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way,” she wrote. “I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful.”
Crossposted From TMZ
Charlie Sheen claims he doesn’t hate Chuck Lorre because of his “Jewishness” … he hates him for other reasons … and now Sheen is lashing out at a Jewish organization for insinuating he’s an anti-Semite.
Sheen is still furious with the Anti-Defamation League for saying the actor exhibited “borderline anti-Semitism” when he referred to the “Two and a Half Men” creator by his Hebrew name, Chaim Levine.
Now, Sheen’s lawyer — legal pitbull Marty Singer — has fired off a letter to the ADL demanding a retraction… because Sheen’s only intention was to “address the man rather than his television persona.”
Her husband runs one of the world’s most repressive police states, but Vogue wants you to know that Syria’s first lady runs a “wildly democratic” household. She is also, the magazine says, “glamorous, young, and very chic.”
As other Arab dictators are forced from power, the fashion magazine has released what has to be one of its more awkwardly timed recent profiles, a fluffy feature about Asma al-Assad, described in the article’s headline as a “rose in the desert.”
Though Vogue is hardly the place to turn for clues about Syria’s true inner workings, the article is still occasionally thought-provoking, mostly for the questions it raises about the editorial decisions that went into its euphemistic phrasings and largely positive portrayal of the Assad regime.