Chelsea Clinton really loves coffee.
“Pretty incredible!” she wrote. “An Israeli startup created an all-you-can-drink coffee app for coffee addicts (like me!). I think we need something like this in America.”
We agree (as do the 664 people who “liked” her post).
Of all the ways that religion impacts the Israeli public sphere, the lack of public transportation in most of the country on Sabbaths and religious holidays has possibly the largest week-to-week impact on people’s lives. It means that those who don’t have their own vehicles can’t get far from home on these days.
The difficulty this poses is made greater by the structure of the work week here. In contrast to in the United States, where Saturdays and Sundays are rest days, here Sunday is a working day. That means that Saturday, when there is no transportation until nightfall, is the only full day off available for going on trips or to visit friends and family.
It used to be that if someone asked you if you wanted to shack up on the beach in Tel Aviv, there would have been a good chance they were rudely propositioning you. But now, they could very well be assisting you in making upscale hotel reservations for your trip to the Big Orange.
Looking to the pixel hotel trend that started in Austria (a pixel hotel has rooms scattered around the city in unconventional and abandoned locations, like old storefronts, former workshops, hidden courtyards, or even on boats), the Atlas hotel chain and the Tel Aviv municipality have announced that they will be upcycling lifeguard shacks on the Bograshov beach into boutique lodgings. Talk about a beachfront view!
Lilach Chitayat, Anat Safran, and Alan Chitayat are the designers for the project, and they hope to “pixelate” areas beyond the beach. They envision similar projects in the Jaffa Port, Neve Tzedek and water towers all around the country.
Tel Aviv had the honor on Thursday to be named one of the world’s most innovative cities, alongside London, Sydney, Stockholm and Shanghai. A special report by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper proclaimed that “while Tel Aviv is small, it’s one giant innovation engine.”
“The entire population of Israel may only number seven million—smaller than New York City,” the report says, “but this Middle Eastern state spends more of its GDP on research and development than any other nation.”
The writers highlight two main examples of Israeli innovation. One is the facial recognition software called Face.com, founded by Gil Hirsch and three other colleagues in Tel Aviv. “Face.com really made waves when Facebook integrated its site,” the report says. “Two Facebook-specific apps—Photo Finder and Photo Tagger—spawned calls from other developers eager to work with the technology.”
The second example of Tel Aviv’s technological creativity is Waze, a crowd-sourced GPS navigator. The software, developed by Ehud Shabtai and two other colleagues in 2009, optimizes driving routes with drivers contributing their data in real-time. According to the article, “since its arrival in the U.S. last year, two million users have begun contributing data, and Waze is now working to develop partnerships with broadcasters.”
Being the widow of one of the Middle East’s most notorious terrorists isn’t enough to stop Israeli doctors from treating you.
In one of today’s stranger news items, Israel’s Channel 2 is reporting that the wife of Mohammed Oudeh, the mastermind behind the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, is receiving medical care at Assuta Hospital in Tel Aviv. Channel 2 reporter Ohad Hamo says she’s in a coma, and is being visited by daughters who’ve arrived from Jordan and Ramallah. A third daughter is reportedly on her way from Syria — an unusual situation, to say the least, given relations between the two countries.
Israel’s government may kill two birds with one stone by converting as many as eight army bases into residential living areas.
The plan, still under discussion among the treasury, defense ministry and Israel Land Administration, would initially turn four bases into apartment complexes, in a move that could eventually create up to 40,000 new housing units in the greater Tel Aviv area. The plan addresses two sources of local protest: anxiety among residents who’ve seen real estate prices sky-rocket in recent years because of a housing shortage, and concerns among army officials over a treasury proposal to cuts its budget by 3 billion shekels (about $795 million) annually.
Claire Danes surprised TV talk show host Conan O’Brien by telling him what Tel Aviv nightlife watchers already know — that it’s “a party town.”
She told O’Brien that she learned this when she went to Israel to shoot the pilot for her psychological thriller Showtime series, “Homeland”, which is based on the Israeli series “Hatufim.” “The big reveal, the big surprise, for me was that Tel Aviv was the most intense party town I have ever been to,” she said.
It took more than a decade, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers have finally found a “more suitable time” to perform in Israel.
The band, which received a Grammy nomination yesterday for best rock album, will play in Tel Aviv next September in support of its latest release, “I’m With You.” The show will take place more than 11 years after the band’s original date for the concert, which it called off because of security concerns in August 2001, during one of the worst periods of the second intifada.
The Azrieli Towers have come to define the Tel Aviv skyline in recent years, but they have also become the prime location for those seeking to jump to their deaths. There have been 10 suicides from the towers in the past three years.
Israel’s Channel 2 News reported yesterday that the Tel Aviv police have opened an investigation into possible negligence on the part of the Azrieli Group and the towers’ management company. There is a fence around the perimeter of the towers’ rooftop balconies, but some feel its height is not sufficient. Three years ago, then Tel Aviv district attorney Ruth David sent a letter to the management company asking it to raise the height of the fence, even though it was technically up to code.
Does Yom Kippur in Israel unite or divide the country’s Jewish population?
Gesher, a nonprofit that promotes religious-secular dialogue, believes that a poll it just commissioned with Ynet shows the holiday’s unifying function. The poll found that 58% of Israeli Jews plan to fast. Taking a closer look at the figure for fasting, that means that nearly 100% of religious Jews and 87% of “traditional” Jews will fast, while 54% of “secular” Jews say they won’t fast.
“This is a day for everyone, which connects all factions among the people of Israel,” said Gesher director Ilan Gal-Dor in response to the poll, and in a sense he is correct. The fact that almost one in two secular Jews will fast to adhere to a system of religious law they generally reject is notable.
Husband-wife trips don’t always work out well, but this one turned out far, far worse than the usual bad vacation.
Israeli police were summoned to a hotel room on the 15th floor of Tel Aviv’s Dan Panorama hotel earlier this week to find Australian tourist John Paul Sebastian with the body of his 54-year-old wife, who had been stabbed multiple times in the neck and upper body. Sebastian was arrested on the spot.
Sebastian, 45, from Melbourne, is facing possible murder charges, but in the meantime is being held for eight days for psychiatric evaluation. He claimed that he was compelled to kill his wife because she was an enemy agent “with a written agreement that meant she owned him.” Even more bizarre was his assertion that she had forced him to eat raw meat and human flesh.
Hopefully the concert will be more exciting.
Paul Simon stayed studiously boring during a press conference in Tel Aviv today, shortly after arriving in Israel for a concert tomorrow night in Ramat Gan. The 69-year-old musician claimed never to drink, smoke or party — or even to consume dairy products — in order to preserve his voice. He denied rumors of a feud with Bob Dylan (allegedly over a collaboration that never happened), and offered flattering remarks about the most benign topic imaginable — the local weather.
Israelis traditionally fill their city squares during warm summer nights. This week, young Israelis in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities are doing just that — but they’re not going home at the end of the night.
Israel’s “cottage cheese revolution,” having spurred a number of economic protests, has now led to a young people’s revolt against the high cost of housing. The National Students Union has joined with other young citizens’ groups and individuals in a mass camp-out demonstration on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard begun by a young woman named Daphni Leef.
The gap between the center and the “periphery” — a term that is increasingly used to refer to pretty much everywhere in Israel except Tel Aviv and its surroundings — is growing, at least economically. But happily, the cultural divide may be starting to narrow.
Two weeks ago, Tel Aviv didn’t sleep — it held its “White Night” of nocturnal events. Today, four other cities will prove that they, too, know how to pull an all-nighter and will benefit from 2.4 million ($685,000) of Culture Ministry funding to get the party started.
While Benjamin Netanyahu was delivering a fiery speech to Congress, another Israeli challenged the U.S. by just standing there — and succeeded spectacularly.
Stuntman Hezi Dean balanced atop a pole in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square for 35 consecutive hours, toppling magician David Blaine’s record.
“It was very hard. I want to tell you only one important sentence: Nothing stands in front of the will,” Dean said in Hebrew following the stunt.
The Bibi-Bieber summit is off.
Contrary to yesterday’s reports, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be meeting Justin Bieber this week before the pop star’s Tel Aviv debut. The pair were set to have a tête-à-tête today, but the meeting has been called off amidst what’s turning out to be another PR fiasco for Israel.
According to Netanyahu’s office, Bieber had requested a meeting with the Israeli leader this week, as part of the Christian singer’s first trip to Israel. Netanyahu obliged, but then — perhaps to justify meeting with a teen singer — invited children from near Israel’s volatile border with Gaza. The move appears to have displeased the singer, as have overly zealous local paparazzi.
The Bieber has landed.
After months of hysterical anticipation among Israel’s tween girls, the Canadian pop star has arrived in Israel, where he will perform Thursday in Tel Aviv - and, it turns out, meet with Benjamin Netanyahu.
The prime minister’s office, sounding somewhat defensive, has let it be known that the singer and his manager requested the meeting, and not the other way around. Either way, Netanyahu plans to get some political mileage out of the event, inviting children from near the rocket-strewn border with Gaza to attend.
After a delay of several months, the Chilean miners are officially on their way to Israel.
The 33 miners — who captivated much of the world last year with their rescue after spending 69 days trapped underground — will make the trip between February 23 and March 2. The visit, announced today by Israel’s tourism ministry, will include stops at the country’s major Christian sites, as well as the Dead Sea, Masada, Caesarea and Tel Aviv. The miners will attend a reception hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres, and the trip even has an official name: “The Pilgrimage of Thanks in the Holy Land.”
If imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, teen pop star Justin Bieber should consider himself very, very flattered. Israel, whose tween girls last week demonstrated their website-crashing love for the Canadian singer, now have their own homegrown version to worship.
Yair Danor, a 15-year-old from the Tel Aviv suburb of Ra’anana, is enjoying his own rise to musical stardom, with a strategy and look taken straight from the Bieber playbook. Sporting a hairstyle strikingly similar to Bieber’s signature cut, Danor established himself through YouTube and Facebook before getting signed by a profesional label. As with his slightly older predecessor, the response to Danor has been ecstatic — Israeli news Web site Mako today described the phenomenon as “hysteria.”
Are Macy Gray’s political views like the weather? The pop singer, best known for her 1999 hit “I Try,” was “conflicted on whether or not she should cancel shows in Tel Aviv because of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians,” according to the Hollywood reporter — and “solicited advice on her Facebook page.”
The singer posted: “I’m getting alot [sic] of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians… What the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is disgusting, but I wanna go. I gotta lotta fans there I dont want to cancel on and I dont know how my NOT going changes anything. What do you think? Stay or go?”
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