He’s recently been caught storming New York’s Waldorf-Astoria (now owned by an Israeli) and referred to jahnun on “Saturday Night Live”, all in character as the bearded, Hebrew-speaking Middle Eastern tyrant General Aladeen, leader of the fictional country of Wadiya, who is taking the world by storm in “The Dictator,” and will soon be in Israel, presumably to visit his grandmother.
He is Sacha Baron Cohen, the Jewish, English and half-Israeli comedian who has created a career out of imagined characters who deftly comment on the political, cultural and social issues of the moment.
He began his career as the fictional Ali G on “Da Ali G Show,” playing a boorish, uneducated type, and often baffled his celebrity and politician interviewees who didn’t realize he was in character.
Now he’s a celebrity, married to a fellow — converted — celebrity, actress Isla Fisher, with whom he has two daughters, including one whose name is Elula. For those who knew him when, as a fellow Habonim Dror youth group member or Cambridge student, his current antics are hilarious, sometimes crude, but his success is not altogether surprising.
“I remember being on the bus during our Habonim Mahane Lomdim trip, and he did this standup bit about lost property at the front of the bus,” said one woman now living in Ra’anana, who attended a three-week seminar with Baron Cohen in Israel when they were graduating high school. “He was really very nerdy, he didn’t hang out with the girls, but we were literally crying from laughter because he was so funny. I remember thinking how talented he was, and very, very smart, a genius, really.”
Arab-Israeli swimmer Jowan Qupty will represent Israel in the European Swimming Championship. Qupty, 22, was originally denied a spot on the national team. He won a Swimmer’s Association appeal over the decision on Thursday.
According to the Swimming Association, Qupty’s participation in the competition depends on his achieving a better result in the 100m breaststroke than that of Imri Ganiel, who was chosen to compete in the event.
Qupty was excluded from the 100×4 mixed relay set to take place at the swimming championship in Debrecen, Hungary, in June, despite the fact that his result in the 100m breaststroke was better than Ganiel’s.
“We shouldn’t have had to deal with this situation to begin with, but the (Swimming Association) eventually came to the right decision. Justice was done. I’m going to win the competition which will hopefully bring us closer to the Olympics,” Qupty told Ynet after the ruling.
Attorney Eyal Yaffe who represented Qupty said: “Qupty will represent Israel in the best possible way. Every swimmer on that team deserves their spot and so does Jowan, who earned his place just like any other swimmer did. I’m positive he won’t disappoint the association in the competition.”
The saga came to an end on Thursday after the parties involved took part in a mediation session led by Sarah Frish and Ofir Katz who were asked to bring an end to the conflict ahead of Friday, due to it being the last day for the championship’s registration.
The two parties consisting of the Swimming Association’s legal team, Qupty and his attorney sat for three hours before coming to an agreement.
The association claimed that Qupty did not meet the criteria required in order to participate in the championship.
Qupty’s attorney countered the association’s claims by presenting evidence which showed that in other championships, swimmers who did not meet the required criteria still participated in the competition.
Yaffe further addressed Qupty’s result in the 100m breaststroke which is clearly better than that of Ganiel, who was picked to compete in the event. The evidence shown was intended to prove that the designated spot on the swim team should go to the better swimmer.
The new research was based on working with and questioning 134 kids who were diagnosed with ADHD, alongside kids who were randomly chosen from the population database of Israel. Turned out that kids with one syllable names, and also kids whose names express some sort of activity (Hebrew names like ‘Barak’, which means ‘lightning’ and ‘Saar’ which means ‘storm’), tend to be less calm and less concentrated.
Ruzgar Barisik, who serves as senior investment officer at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) says he sees great potential for Israel’s cleantech industry.
Barisik, who recently visited Israel, said that “Israel is a very exciting place for us: Market interest in a growing number of Israeli technologies makes this a very promising area we want to be part of.”
“I’ll be attending Agritech Israel 2012 this month, and it will be my third visit to Israel since we launched our Cleantech Investment Program this past September, meaning I’ve visited Israel more than any other country,” he told Israel NewTech.
Barisik further explained the IFC’s cleantech program’s motivation to invest in Israel: “The World Bank was founded after World War II, with a mission to alleviate poverty worldwide.
“After 10 years of activity, the organization understood that to do so it needs to be active in the private sector as well as the government sector, and in 1956 the IFC was born.”
Today, IFC is one of the world’s largest financiers for companies in the developing world and holds a $48.8 billion portfolio, spanning almost every major industry, reaching millions of people in more than 100 countries.
The IFC, he added, is looking to invest in innovative, high growth companies who are commercializing new technologies or business models.
“Israeli companies are usually looking to expand their activities beyond their domestic market. They are driven by Israeli entrepreneurs who tend to be very international in their approach, having often been educated or done business abroad.
“Additional success drivers in Israel are the great academic and industrial research programs, the strong venture capital investment community active in the country, as well as the support of government programs like Israel NewTech,” he said.
The IFC has yet to invest in Israel, but according to Barisik, the Cleantech Investment Program of the IFC is planning to invest some $150 million annually in 15 companies worldwide, and he expects that one to two of these investments can be made in Israel every year.
Reprinted with permission from Israel NewTech