The Shmooze

A Christmas Song, Brought to You by an Israeli-Iranian Duo

By Anne Cohen

What’s the only thing that Israel and Iran can agree on?

Christmas, apparently.

Israeli singer Liel Kolet has teamed up with exiled Iranian singer Ebrahim Hamedi, 64, better known as Ebi, to release a holiday single called “I Can Hear Christmas,” Ynet reported.

Originally written by Yoav Ginai and Tomer Addadi for Israeli singer Boaz Sharabi, the song was released as “Chag Sameach Ahavat Chayai” (happy holiday, love of my life) about three years ago. Kolet got the idea of re-recording by Tomer Addadi, to be featured on her upcoming album.

What ensued is perhaps the most absurd Christmas video ever to hit the Internet, from the early shots of a yarmulke-clad boy bowing to a little girl in a hijab (and then them holding hands in front of the Christmas tree) to the black and white montage of the singers dramatically embracing world peace.

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Iran Nuke Scientists Get Heavy Metal Blast

By JTA

getty images

An Iranian nuclear scientist complained to a cybersecurity expert via email that the AC/DC song “Thunderstruck” was playing from computers at two of the country’s nuclear facilities.

According to the Times of Israel, computers at the Nantaz and Fordo facilities blasted the heavy metal song at full volume in the middle of the night last weekend. The virus that caused the song to play also shut down part of the network.

The cybersecurity expert, Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at the Finnish security firm F-Secure, could not confirm the reports.

The head of Iran’s Information Technology and Communications Organization, Ali Hakim Javadi, called on Wednesday for international condemnation of cyberattacks on Wednesday.

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Shimon Peres Wishes Iran a Happy New Year

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Hot on the heels of the Facebook love fest between everyday Israelis and Iranians, the social media-savvy Israeli President Shimon Peres is sending out special videotaped Nowruz greeting to the Iranian people. Nowruz, the Persian New Year, is being celebrated today.

In his taped message, Peres comes across as genuinely concerned about the Iranian people. But let’s not kid ourselves — given the tense situation over Iran’s nuclear build up, it is not just by chance that the president is making this gesture now.

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Shimon Peres Does Tinseltown

By Rex Weiner

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Shimon Peres

When Jason Alexander, the veteran actor from the 1990’s hit TV series “Seinfeld,” met Shimon Peres at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Thursday night, it was, at first, as though he were channeling his old character, George Constanza.

“Happy Purim!” he exclaimed, immediately launching into a comedy routine. Then, commenting on the heavy security on the way in, he said, “I had to give them the names of my rabbi, my cantor—and my moyle…”

It was the last leg of Peres’ visit to the U.S., and for a moment the gathering, organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Israeli Consulate, seemed headed in the direction of yet another Hollywood roast. But Alexander quickly turned serious, paying tribute to the 88-year-old Israeli president by citing the Nobel Prize winner’s oft quoted motto: “Pessimists and optimists die the exact same death but they live very different lives.”

One pessimist in the crowd told the Forward earlier in the evening that she was not entirely an admirer of Peres, whose efforts resulting in the Oslo Peace Accord earned him his Nobel award.

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Madonna Fans To Bibi: Hold Off On Iran Strike

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Madonna’s upcoming concert in Tel Aviv, or the Iranian nuclear crisis: Which is more important? The answer is obvious to some of the Queen of Pop’s Israeli fans.

Confident that they have their priorities straight and that their cause is just, Madonna fans are pleading with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off on striking Iran until after the singer’s concert has taken place at the Ramat Gan Stadium on May 29. And just like any other protest group, they have set up a Facebook page — this one replete with a photo of Bibi posing with Madge, likely taken on one of her recent visits to the Holy Land). It’s called, “Bibi, No War with Iran until after Madonna’s performance on May 29.” Not too snappy a title, but they do get their point across.

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Iran Hiker Josh Fattal's Judaism Kept Secret

By Renee Ghert-Zand

In an exclusive report, the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia has revealed that Josh Fattal, one of the two American hikers released from Iranian prison last week, is Jewish. This information had been purposely kept out of the press for the 26 months of his captivity for obvious reasons.

Although local friends, acquaintances and rabbis in suburban Elkins Park, Pa., Fattal’s home town, knew of his being Jewish, it was a deliberate decision on the part of the Fattal family to decline offers of assistance from Jewish organizations. The hiker’s Jewish identity was kept almost completely under wraps, and the Exponent refrained from reporting the story. “When it comes to someone’s physical safety, we’ll always err on the side of caution, even if it means suppressing such a dramatic and important story,” said Lisa Hostein the paper’s executive editor.

Fattal, 29, had been in Israel just prior to meeting up with friends Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd in Syria and then continuing on together to visit Iraqi Kurdistan. It was as they hiked in Iraqi Kurdistan in July 2009 that they allegedly — according to Iranian officials — crossed the Iranian border, prompting Iran to claim they were U.S. spies and arrest them. Shourd was released in September 2010.

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Holocaust Documentary To Show in Iran

By Nathan Burstein

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be a vile Holocaust denier, but that won’t stop some of his countrymen from learning about the genocide in their own language.

The Aladdin Project, a Paris-based organization devoted to co-existence and education, has announced that the landmark Holocaust documentary “Shoah” will be beamed into Iran next Monday via satellite. The film will be translated and subtitled into Farsi for the broadcast, and will be followed by similar Turkish- and Arabic-language airings elsewhere in the Middle East. The broadcasts “will allow wider audiences to be acquainted with the history of the Holocaust in their own languages,” Aladdin Project officials said in a statement.

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'Oh Lord': Iran at Work on a Search Engine

By Lauren F. Friedman

People ask for Divine guidance on life decisions and matters of the heart, so why not on more mundane questions like: What is the capital of Azerbaijan?

With its new search engine, dubbed “Ya Haq” (that’s “Oh Lord” in Persian), Iran is seeking to take on Google and allow its people a non-Western (read: non-evil) option for online fact-finding.

According to a Sunday article in The Media Line, the service will debut in 2012. Some sources implied that the new site will just be the first step in developing an Iranian intranet that will only allow access to approved sites.

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Iran Declares War — On Pets

By Lauren F. Friedman

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they have now been added to Iran’s ever-growing list of enemies.

This week, the Los Angeles Times reported, a powerful Iranian cleric issued an anti-pet fatwa. Pets have become increasingly popular in Iran, but the fatwa cites Islamic texts that classify dogs as unclean.

The same cleric, Ayatollah Nasser Makkarem Shirazi, had previously upbraided Iranians for owning dogs, saying they were “blindly imitating the West,” which would lead to “evil outcomes.” (According the LA Times article, the crackdown may have more to do with targeting well-to-do families — who make up most of Iran’s pet owners — than following religious mandates.)

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