(JTA) — Scarlett Johansson, fresh out of her SodaStream battles, declined to attend this year’s annual American Israel Political Affairs Committee policy conference. She’s in Paris, picking up an honorary Celeste award and promoting her latest releases,.
She kept appearing at the conference though, after a fashion.
Johansson featured prominently in AIPAC’s showcase of Israel’s high-tech sector on Monday.
Her image — 10 times over — was flashed during a demonstration of the ElMindA, a hairnet-like device that scans a brain’s electronic activity. The company’s managing director, Ronen Gadot, tested the device on Winton Stewart, a linebacker at Alabama State University who is also AIPAC’s deputy director of campus outreach. (Football players are especially susceptible to concussions, which the device could help diagnose more accurately).
The idea was that the device, by tracking how one’s brain registers an image, could then track one when it appeared in quick succession among other images. It is a more accurate measure, Gadot contended, than subjective memories. In other words, while one may remember detecting Johansson’s face five or six times, the device would be able to more accurately register exactly how many times your brain made the right call.
Stewart said he remembered eight out of the 10 viewings, and Gadot said the device recorded that many.
At the conference closing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought Johansson up again, although perhaps in a weirder way. He applauded her role in the SodaStream matter, when she rejected calls for her to boycott the product.
But then he likened her to … a plantation owner? His second paragraph alludes, after all, to Scarlett O’Hara the Southern belle of “Gone with the Wind.”
Everyone should know what the letters B-D-S really stand for: bigotry, dishonesty and shame. And those who — those who oppose BDS, like Scarlett Johansson, they should be applauded.
Scarlett, I have one thing to say to you: Frankly, my dear, I DO give a damn. And I know all of you give a damn, as do decent people everywhere who reject hypocrisy and lies and cherish integrity and truth.
Israeli model and entrepreneur/party wizard Eliad Cohen has made it, once again, to OUT magazine’s “Top 10 Eligible Bachelors” list.
2013 was Cohen’s most successful year as a party promoter. Through his startup business, Gayville — a (sort-of) gay interpretation of Airbnb.com — his “Papa” parties, which started in Tel Aviv, have taken off and Cohen has been travelling to New York, Paris and Sydney to make thousands of party people happy. In the next few weeks Eliad will also be traveling with his party to London, Rio and Singapore.
“The international success of the Papa Parties has a lot to do with the high-energy vibe that translates from music to show to theme to crowd interaction,” Cohen explained to the Australian magazine Star Observer this week. ” There is very much an interactive quality to the parties .No party is good without great music, so that’s always our number one concern.”
This isn’t the first time that Eliad Cohen has made OUT’s list: last year, the magazine’s readers ranked Cohen at #2, right after ‘Glee’ star Chris Colfer. The 2014 list was voted on by the magazine readers out of 100 potential gay bachelors.
Cohen is also far from the only Jewish guy to have made the list. American Idol alumnus Adam Lambert topped this year’s list, grabbing almost 22% of the votes. Actor Wentworth Miller (who came out as gay last year) was ranked at #9.
Other Jewish nominees who didn’t make the cut: Daniel Mendsohn, Billie Eichner, Ken Mehlman, Andy Cohen and Nate Silver.
Photo credit: Facebook/Eliad Cohen.
Move over, Gal Gadot. There’s a new Israeli taking Hollywood by storm — and she’s only 16.
Teenage actress Odeya Rush, who just wrapped filming for her role in “The Giver” alongside Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, has reportedly landed the female lead in “Goosebumps.”
The movie, which also stars Jack Black, is an adaptation of the novels of R.L. Stine — you know, those terrifying books that used to make you check under the bed before climbing in (or still do — no judgement here).
According to the Wrap, the 16-year-old will play niece to Black’s character, Mr. Shivers, an R.L. Stine-like author who is forced to hide from his scary literary creations when they jump off the page. Basically, your average “Goosebumps” plot.
Rush was born in Haifa, but grew up in the U.S. She was last seen in Disney’s “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” and has starred in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Law and Order, SVU.” Coming up: a role as the virgin Mary in a Jesus film starring Ben Kingsley and Julia Ormond.
(JTA) — We didn’t think it was humanly possible, but Natalie Portman has gone and inspired us yet again. This time, The Times of Israel reports, the actress, director, and adorable mom has donated money and clothing to Syrian refugees via Operation Human Warmth.
The initiative is the result of several Israeli organizations—the youth group Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, the social and education organization Dror-Israel, and Israeli Flying Aid, a global humanitarian organization–coming together to collect winter supplies for those displaced by the civil war in Syria.
Portman, who who is currently in Israel working on her directorial debut, an adaptation of Amos Oz’s novel “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” learned of the project through Israeli friends.
“When I heard about Operation Human Warmth I felt deeply moved and compelled to get involved,” she said in a statement. “In the middle of a brutal winter, these children have no shelter and their lives are in serious jeopardy from the cold. I am proud to take part in an operation where Israeli youth of all backgrounds are taking action to help out those whom need it most.”
Portman is no stranger to the whole mitzvah thing. The Israeli-born do-gooder has served as an ambassador for the microfinance organization Finca, supported environmental causes, and encouraged teenage girls to pursue careers in science. Have we mentioned how much she inspires us?
Amar’e Stoudemire may have spent a little too much time around Israeli kibbutzim.
The New York Post reports that the New York Knicks player has bought a 190-acre farm in Hyde Park, Dutchess County.
According the Post, Stoudemire talkes about his new farm on a new MSG show, “In the Kitchen With,” which launches on February 7.
No details yet on whether or not Stoudemire plans to build a house on the property. Maybe he just wants an organic farm to grow vegetables for his upcoming cookbook, “Cooking With Amar’e — 100 Easy Recipes for Pros and Rookies in the Kitchen.” Co-written with personal chef Max Hardy, the book will be released in May. ‘
Let’s hope there’s a good recipe for brisket a la Amar’e.
(JTA) — Scarlett Johansson’s decision to act as spokesperson for the Israeli firm SodaStream has been controversial from the get-go. Forget the debate over whether or not it’s okay to represent a company with a factory in the West Bank, or whether or not Oxfam should ditch her, though. That’s all just fluff. The real controversy, it turns out, stems from four words the Jewish actress utters in the home soda maker’s upcoming Super Bowl ad.
“Sorry, Coke and Pepsi,” Johansson says at the end of the spot.
Fox, the network airing the big game on Feb. 2, was apparently worried this wouldn’t sit well with Big Soda and asked SodaStream to drop the line. The company grudgingly cooperated, but the uncensored version lives, of course, on YouTube.
More dramatic than the soda slam, in our opinion, is the line Johansson delivers prior to shedding her lab coat, revealing a sexy dress. ”If only I could make this message go viral,” she says suggestively. That one will air on game day.
(JTA) — The Israeli media is abuzz over the revelation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 23-year-old son, Yair, is dating a non-Jewish Norwegian woman. The pair met while they were both studying at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
Pamela Anderson came back from her honeymoon Israel with some serious business on her mind.
If passed, the bill would make Israel the first country in the world to impose a national fur clothing ban. More than 40 members of the Knesset have endorsed the legislation so far.
(JTA) — On his first trip to Israel this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper hit all the expected stops for visiting dignitaries. He went to Yad Vashem and the Western Wall, picked up an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University, and laid the cornerstone for a bird sanctuary that will soon bear his name.
But he also took a moment to do something that is apparently his trademark: performing a rocking rendition of “Hey Jude” as a beaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, look on. When he announced his intention to visit Israel at a JNF fundraiser in Toronto in December, he performed for a full 35 minutes.
His audience in Israel wasn’t nearly so, um, lucky.
Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, will be a contributor to CNN.
“Michael will be joining CNN as a Middle East contributor,” a spokeswoman for Oren told JTA in a statement.
(JTA) — Forget Hawaii! Newly remarried couple Pamela Anderson and Rick Salomon took an El Al flight straight to Israel after exchanging vows on Sunday. According to The Times of Israel, the former “Baywatch” star and her film producer hubby (of Paris Hilton sex tape fame) are staying in a suite at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. They have already visited the Dead Sea.
“I’m Palestinian and my roommate is Jewish, so we’re always fighting over where his room starts and mine ends. He pays more rent, but I’ve lived there longer.”
Sammy Obeid’s joke is fifth on the list, with 13.4% approval. As per his Twitter bio, he is a “#Comedian & Writer, as seen on CONAN on TBS & America’s Got Talent – The guy who performed 1,001 consecutive days of comedy #1000daysofcomedy”
Check out the rest of the jokes here.
(JTA) — Scarlett Johansson, faceless in the movie “Her,” has just landed a gig as the face of an Israeli company. According to The New York Times, the Jewish actress has been chosen as SodaStream’s “Global Spokesperson” and will star in its upcoming Super Bowl ad.
In the commercial, airing during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl XLVIII on Fox on Feb. 2, Johansson will show us how the home soda maker works. The point is to ”demonstrate how easy it is, how sexy it is, to make your own soda,” said Daniel Birnbaum, chief executive at SodaStream International.
World, brace yourself,
Bar Refaeli got a tattoo. The Israeli model and pride of the Jewish people posted announced new ink on Instagram with the caption: “I finally did it. My first (and last) tattoo.”
Move over Winona!
Ayelet Ben-Shahar, who played a high end jewelry dealer on Showtime’s “House of Lies,” was busted for allegedly stealing $400 worth of groceries from a Gelson’s Market in Studio City, California.
Yes, groceries. According to TMZ, the 27-year-old was placed under citizens arrest.
The Israeli-born actress grew up in Rehovot, Israel and began acting at age 12 when she joined the Performing Stage of Arts. She has previously starred in American shows “90210”, ‘“Weeds” and “Chuck.”
Another famous institution has jumped on the Israel academic boycott bandwagon. A little place known as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry announced that it would “cancel summer student exchange programmes it has in place with several Israeli magical institutes, and withdraw from a Quidditch tournament arranged by the Israeli Tourism Ministry due to be held at Eilat by the Red Sea next Spring.”
At least, that’s what was reported by the Pan-Arabia Enquirer — essentially The Onion of the Middle East.
Merlin’s beard, what a relief! Imagine having to part with all that Harry Potter memorabilia (yes, we know about the Gryffindor scarf hidden in the back of your closet).
(JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres sent out a mostly boilerplate Christmas greeting yesterday, but what jumped out at me were the video’s first 22 seconds, where Peres stands at the center of a group of kids dressed in Santa suits, all singing “Jingle Bells,” accompanied by a piano.
Discerning viewers will note, though, that Peres — while admittedly moving his mouth most of the time — doesn’t seem to know the words to the song. He looks like he’s employing the same technique he used in the 1990s, when he didn’t appear to know the words to Arik Einstein’s “Ani v’Ata” in an impromptu duet with Bibi Netanyahu.
It isn’t surprising, of course, that an Israeli man born 90 years ago in Poland wouldn’t know the words to an English Christmas standard. Given Peres’ constant talk of peace, perhaps this would have been a more appropriate selection.
It was Israeli superstar David Broza, and leger de main mentalist Kenny who helped make the December 16 American Friends of Reuth’s — “Reuth at 75” — celebration an evening to remember.
During the pre-dinner mingling, the 170 festively dressed guests at The New York Palace were amazed and distracted by illusionist Kenny, whose disarming tricks included levitation of a paper dollar, resetting guests’ wrist watches and [gasp! gasp!] identifying obscure details of attendees’ lives.
Ido Aharoni, Israel’s consul general in New York, lauded the Reuth Medical Center noting how he was “inspired by the stories of patients and staff” and touting its “energy—considering the severity of many of Reuth’s patients, ailments and disabilities.”
Aharoni also designated event honoree Broza as “an excellent ambassador for Israel as well as an activist for many worthy causes.”
The Christmas-release underdog this year — in the ring with “American Hustle” and “Wolf of Wall Street” — is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” in which Ben Stiller plays a man with a vivid imagination who embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.
In an interview with Parade to promote the movie, Stiller dished about a real-life adventure he took with dad Jerry Stiller as a teenager:
“My dad and I took a father-son bonding trip to Israel when I was about 16. We got a car and drove across the country. We went to Jerusalem and Masada. I’ve always loved history, so it was great exploring that part of the world.”
In between scuba diving in the Red Sea and watching Jerry rocket around on a Jet Ski going 40 mph, Ben admitted to engaging in some naughty business — behind the Kotel.
“I met a girl on that trip and we had a whirlwind romance,” he said. “Is it blasphemous to say we ended up making out near the Western Wall? It might be. But we did.”
Apparently, Jerry was supportive. Of course he was.
(JTA) — Israel’s first family seems to like its creature comforts. The prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem spent $1,700 on scented candles and more than $4,200 on wine in 2012. There was also some $2,600 spent on mezuzahs.