Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov issued last-minute personal pleas, urging the public to cast their votes for the Dead Sea in the New 7 Wonders of Nature contest, which concludes Friday, 11/11/11, at 13:11 Israel time.
The Dead Sea, representing Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, currently ranks among the top 10 of the 28 contestants still remaining in the competition, sponsored by the New7Wonders Foundation. Stressing the importance of a Dead Sea win to Israeli tourism, the government has poured millions of shekels and led a wide-scale public relations campaign toward securing the win since the spring. According to the contestwebsite and a tweet from the Tourism Ministry, votes for the Dead have “accelerated” in the past day – meaning, they increased at a higher speed on Wednesday than on Tuesday.
In his own words of outreach, the prime minister emphasized that winning the competition would help further development of the Dead Sea region.
“Winning will transform the Dead Sea into one of the leading tourist sites in the world and will contribute greatly not only to us, but also to other countries in the region, and will increase regional cooperation,” Netanyahu said.
Meanwhile, Meseznikov implored citizens to contribute to this “national effort” in the last two days of the contest.
“We believe in victory and strive for it,” Meseznikov said. “The meaning of a win for the Dead Sea in the competition is the addition of hundreds of thousands of new tourists, which will bring about the creation of thousands of new jobs, contribute tens of millions of shekels to the state treasury and contribute to the creation of a positive image for the State of Israel as an attractive tourist destination. In two days that remain, a national effort is required for the last-minute encouragement of friends, relatives and acquaintances in Israel and abroad, to vote for the Dead Sea and bring it the coveted title.”
In addition to government figures across the political spectrum, the competition has gained the support of many Israeli artists, like singer Laila Malcos, photographer Elhanan Yair and fashion designer Osnat Subah, as well as American naked installation giant Spencer Tunick. And on Wednesday afternoon, the salty sea also gained the public backing of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.
At about 2 p.m., Refaeli tweeted: “Have you voted already for the Dead Sea? Competition for New 7 Wonders of World is concluding in two days!!!!! Text ‘Dead Sea’ to the number 2244.”
Until the contest’s conclusion, voters can – as Refaeli mentioned – send SMS messagescasting their ballots for the Dead Sea by texting the words “Dead Sea” in English, Hebrew or Arabic to the number 2244, or by visiting www.new7wonders.com or votedeadsea.com.
Bloom Field, Ruchama 12, 972-8-518-0124
In June, this design concept shop arrived in Noga, solidifying the neighbourhood’s of-the-moment status and elevating the city’s retail scene. “Tel Aviv is ready for this kind of boutique,” says Sevonne Cohen. “This city embraces the new.” Here reclaimed timber-and-steel bookcases, salvaged wooden trunks and a 1960s-era tripod-turned-lamp sit alongside locally designed summer dresses and jewellery, rotating artwork and a stack of vintage magazines. “There’s nothing else like this,” adds Cohen.
Tamara Juice Bar, 171 Dizengoff St., 972-3-523-4445
Juice kiosks abound in Tel Aviv, but Tamara stands out. “It’s different,” says Hagai Maoz, who lives nearby and visits frequently with his partner and their twin one-year-olds. “It feels like the original juice stand.” Maoz names the carrot and ginger juice and the orange, mango and strawberry smoothie as his favourites, but adventurous imbibers may prefer the iced coffee with bananas or a date-and-pomegranate-based concoction. As Maoz puts it, “You can’t go wrong.”
Most Tel Avivim associate Metzitzim (peeping) Beach with the eponymous 1973 film, a comedic cult classic about peeping Toms. Not Danny Jacob. “I’ve been playing volleyball here with the same friends for over 15 years,” he says. Most days, the courts bustle with action. New arrivals are always welcome to join in, though Jacob’s own games might be a touch competitive for some: In 2005, he was a national beach volleyball champion.
Sonia Getzel Shapira, 1 Simta Almonit, 972-57-944-2801
The backyard garden at this café is “a hidden gem,” according to Noah Slepkov. With palm-tree-mounted fans, scattered pockets of sunshine and friendly service, Sonia offers a laid-back antidote to a frenetic city. But house-baked Moroccan breads, addictive shakshuka – a Middle Eastern staple of eggs, tomatoes and spices – and bright, satisfying salads made with produce from nearby Carmel Market take the appeal beyond the atmospheric. “This is a place I love – a place I’ll bring visitors to or come to on my own,” says Slepkov. “I’ve never been disappointed.”
Comme Il Faut, Vieux-Port, Hangar 26, 972-3-1717550
Fondée en 1987 par Sybil Goldfainer et Carole Godin, cette griffe féministe comprend aujourd’hui neuf boutiques, un spa pour femmes seulement et ce café dans le Vieux-Port réaménagé. « À l’origine, seules les femmes travaillaient ici, dit Shirlee Harel. Les hommes n’avaient même pas le droit d’entrer. J’imagine qu’elles ont décidé que ce n’était pas bon pour les affaires. » Cependant, pour Shirlee, l’attrait de l’endroit est avant tout gastronomique. « C’est un excellent restaurant de fruits de mer, même si mes plats favoris sont le carpaccio de bœuf et la salade cinq tomates. »
Dan Panorama Hotel, Charles Clore Park, 972-3-520-2552
It’s been 20 years since Merav Zachor’s relationship with the Dan Panorama began. “I first came in 1991 with my husband – just a month after we met,” she says. These days, when Zachor visits the 483-room luxury hotel, it’s with four children in tow. “We live in Modi’in, about 30 minutes away, but the moment we walk into the hotel, we’re on holiday,” she says. “The kids love the pool” – a sprawling, pristine, beachfront oasis – “and my husband and I love the nearby restaurants.” With a sparkling new spa, Mediterranean-facing balconies and a legendary breakfast buffet, the hotel offers a tranquil escape from daily life, even if daily life is just a half-hour away.
(Benjamin Leszcz is a freelance writer based in London.)
Cover shoot of 22-year-old Huda Naccache of Haifa is first time Israeli Arab model has been featured on front page in so little clothing. ‘My family supports me very much and had no objections whatsoever,’ she says
As makeup artists and hairdressers circle her, Huda Naccache calmly discusses the media frenzy sparked by her appearance, clad in a skimpy bikini, on the cover of an Israeli Arab magazine.The long-limbed 22-year-old, who comes from the mixed Israeli and Arab port city of Haifa, doesn’t see the cover shoot for Lilac magazine as anything out of the ordinary.For her, it was simply another part of a campaign in the run up to the Miss Earth competition in Thailand this December, where she will represent Israel.
But the cover shoot was the first time an Arabic magazine here has put a model in a bikini on its cover, and the first time an Israeli Arab model has been featured on a front page in so little clothing.
The image in question featured a defiant-looking Naccache in a black-sequined bikini, an open white shirt draped over her shoulders and her thumbs hooked in the sides of her bikini bottom.
“Miss Huda Rocks This Earth!” blared the caption in English.
The media buzz was immediate, but Naccache brushes it aside with a flick of her long, dark hair.
“I have a family that supports me very much and had no objections whatsoever to me appearing on the cover in a bikini,” she says, seated in front of a mirror in a white and red string two-piece, prepping for another shoot.
“My father was very pleased when he saw it for the first time,” she adds. “He said it was very beautiful and wished me good luck.”