The city of Eilat has been busy this week, preparing for the first triathlon European Championship ever to be held in Israel. Athletes, including many of Europe’s best, have been arriving all week, to compete in the event this weekend.
“We’re very primed and excited,” Idan Sandak, secretary general of the national triathlon association, told Haaretz on Thursday. “It’s an exceptional event. We’re closing off most of the city for the entire weekend.”
Over 700 athletes from 35 nations, including 300 Israelis, will compete in the race, which consists of a 1,500 meter swim, a 40-km bike ride and 10-km run.
The men’s event will include competitors from 25 countries; Spaniard Javier Gomez is the favorite. He is ranked first in the world and is the world champion as well as a former European champion. Also competing will be Russia’s Alexander Bryukhankov, number six in the world, and Joao Silva of Portugal.
Israeli triathlon fans will be disappointed by the absence of the Alterman brothers, Ran and Dan. Ran, who failed to qualify for the London Olympics, was injured last year and only returned to the sport recently. Dan is preparing for competitions next month in Mexico and San Diego, where he will have a chance to book his place in the Olympiad.
The brothers told Haaretz they wanted to represent Israel, but that the timing was wrong. After years of sacrificing a lot to prepare for the Olympics, they had to make what they described as a very painful decision and pass up on Eilat.
Sandak said it was a real shame the Altermans won’t be participating. “Ran and Dan are our leading athletes,” he said. “We wanted to see them represent the country.”
In their absence, Israel’s top athlete this weekend will be 19-year-old Ron Dermon, one of the country’s big hopes for the 2016 Rio Games.
‘I’ll give my all until my legs can’t give any more,’ vows Ron Dermon, Israel’s top athlete in the race.
Dermon arrived from Australia this week, so he says he’s a little tired but feels great and is ready. “Because this competition is at home, I want to put on a show, but first of all it’s important to stick to the lead in the race. I’ll give my all until my legs can’t give any more. I feel on top of the swimming and riding, and I want to improve the running.”
On the women’s side, Nicola Spirig of Switzerland and Rachel Klamer of the Netherlands will be the leading participants among athletes from 22 countries. Israel’s female representative in the race will be 20-year-old Fanny Beisaron, who finished in sixth place in the 2010 Youth Olympics. Beisaron was drafted into the IDF Wednesday and was given a temporary release to participate in this weekend’s race.
In addition to the elite races tomorrow, the weekend will include European Championships for various age groups as well as a Paralympic race.
Three Israeli students have reached the finals in Google’s Photography Prize competition, beating out more than 20,000 students worldwide who entered the contest. The finalists’ work will be displayed at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London for a month-long exhibit beginning April 25. The grand prize winner will be announced on April 24.
The photo competition began about five months ago, with a deadline to submit photos by January 31. Students from around the world were invited to participate by sharing what they consider to be their best work with other Internet surfers worldwide through the Google+ platform. The international panel of seven judges narrowed down the competition to a top 100 shortlist, all of whom won a Galaxy Nexus smartphone. The top 10 finalists’ names were posted on Google’s blog shortly afterward.
The three Israelis among the top ten finalists are Dana Stirling, 22, from Ma’aleh Adumim, a third-year photography student at Hadassah College in Jerusalem; Sasha Tamarim, 25, a third-year student of photographic communications at Hadassah College who immigrated to Israel in 1995; and Adi Sason, 25, a student of photography and digital media at Sapir College of the Negev, who lives in student housing on Kibbutz Sa’ad.
“I found out about the Google competition through hearsay and through friends,” Stirling said. “I didn’t think I had a chance of winning because it is an international competition involving big names like Google and Saatchi. It’s like being a tiny grain of sand in the desert. But I submitted a project that very night that I had photographed during my second year of school. At the start of the project, I tried to recreate or resurrect childhood memories from places that I knew well. Slowly I understood that I wasn’t actually trying to recreate, but rather to create a reality that maybe existed but maybe didn’t. It is present in my personal memory anyway and I was expressing it through photography. I created new memories for myself and casted them onto my childhood; I don’t necessarily remember it.”
Tamarin said that he is very committed to the photographic medium, in which he has invested most of his time and energy in recent years. “I heard about the Google Photography Competition after receiving an invitation from the college. I appreciate this opportunity so much because we are having a tough time finding competitions that don’t require an entry fee or don’t judge work according to the number of social network recommendations one gets.”
Sason’s photographs are part of a broader project documenting nights on Kibbutz Sa’ad, a religious kibbutz located near the Gaza Strip. “Night after night, I wander through the serene pathways of the kibbutz, amazed at the contrast between the noise of daily life and the night’s silence. The silence assumes a central place, pushing other things aside and revealing a hidden life. Night photography adds a perspective and different significance to things. Time is meaningful, and slow shifts over time leave their mark.”
The Google Photography Prize competition is open to students over age 18 around the world who are currently studying in institutions of higher education. They can submit up to eight images in the format of a public Google+ profile. By uploading pictures to the profile, students became competitors; the photos are publicly available on Google+ here.
Source: Israel Hayom
A young Arab woman who won a popular Israeli music competition has become an unlikely star, capturing hearts in a country where suspicion and hostility often mark relations between Arabs and the Jewish majority.
Nissren Kader recently won first place on “Eyal Golan is Calling You,” a popular television show hosted by one of Israel’s most successful entertainers. On the program, Golan as host chooses over the course of a 3-month-long competition the best performer of Mizrahi songs, the musical tradition of Middle Eastern Jews.
In winning the show, the 25-year-old Kader seems to have pulled off a difficult balancing act: She touched on the nostalgia that many first and second generation Mizrahis, or Jews of Middle Eastern origin, feel for their ancestral homelands, even though most proudly identify as Israeli. And by singing beautifully in Hebrew, she charmed her audience by showing that she too was moved by their cultural traditions.
“I am so proud: I’m the first Arab to win a Hebrew singing program,” said Kader, who is from the northern Israeli city of Haifa.
“I never imagined that they (Jews) would like me to the degree that they did. I’m an Arab citizen in a state that has troubles and disagreements between Jews and Arabs, and they saw something else,” she told The Associated Press. “They saw another side.”
Kader, who before competing on the show worked as a wedding singer in the Arab community, shared her win in late March with Maor Ashwal, a Jewish Israeli. The finals, on a cable TV music channel, were the second most-watched show on television that night, according to an economic magazine that publishes Israeli television ratings.
During the final, her audiences sang along, cheered and clapped to songs in Hebrew — and Arabic.
Israel’s Arab minority makes up about one-fifth of the population and occupies an uneasy place. They are citizens of a Jewish state who identify with their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza. Arabs in Israel are generally poorer, less educated and complain of discrimination.
In recent years, Jewish and Arab politicians have used increasingly harsh rhetoric against each other, further polarizing relations.
Kader, for her part, has stirred up mixed feelings among Israelis. They marvel at the power of her voice, but are uncertain about how to deal with her Arab ethnicity.
“My friends criticized (host) Eyal Golan: ‘Why did you pick an Arab? You chose an enemy and let her win the show,’” said Moshe Alfassi, an Israeli of Moroccan descent who works with troubled youth. Alfassi, 27, said he found it strange to see an Arab woman singing Mizrahi music, but like many other Israelis, was quickly won over by her voice.
Eliyahu Haviv, a 70-year-old Iranian-born Israeli, said Kader deserved her victory, and shouldn’t be viewed through the prism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He noted, as many Israelis did, that Kader sang in Hebrew to God to protect the people of Israel in a song that was originally written to commemorate slain Israeli soldiers.
“She sang our prayers, and I think it was very good because she sang them with emotion,” Haviv said. “I say yes, there are Arab terrorists, but this is something else. We need to be as one heart.”
“We are taught that in the house of Israel, there will be a prayer for all people,” said Eliyahu Dahan, 50, a Jerusalem bar owner. “That was her song.”
The popularity of Golan’s show also highlights just how far Mizrahi culture has come in Israeli society.
When Middle Eastern Jews fled en masse to Israel in the years following the Jewish state’s establishment in 1948, they encountered a European Jewish establishment that regarded them, and their cultures, as inferior and threatening because they resembled their Arab enemies.
That included Mizrahi music, which was seen as lowbrow — a stigma that still lingers. The music ranges from soaring liturgical chants to cheesy pop that is indistinguishable from top-40 tunes in the Arab world. In an echo of that Arabic heritage, many Mizrahi Jews enjoy classic Arabic songs — tunes that Kader belted out to the delight of the audience in the studio for the show’s final.
Her victory is part of a small but growing trend of Arab artists and entertainers rising to prominence.
One of the country’s most popular sitcoms is a comedic satire about an Israeli-Arab journalist trying to fit into Jewish society whose attempts frequently backfire. The program is written by Sayed Kashua, an award-winning Arab writer.
All but one of Israel’s soccer league teams have Arab players, including the season’s top scorer, Ahmed Saba.
Israeli entertainer Golan said he faced criticism for his choice, but said Kader’s talent couldn’t be ignored. He is currently producing an album for her.
It will likely have Mizrahi and Arabic music on it, and Golan believes Israeli Jews are ready to hear it.
“There will always be those who will jump up and say, how did you pick an Arab?” Golan told the AP.
But, he said, “I didn’t do a political program. In the end, what wins is the songs, and not whether she’s an Arab or a Jew.”
A powerful rendition of British singer Adele’s Rolling in the Deep last October had judges of the Israeli version of The Voice leaping from their seats and clamouring for the chance to coach the 23-year-old, who had decided to “make aliyah,” or immigrate to the Jewish homeland, that summer.
And when the show’s first season ended Saturday, Ms. Reiter was crowned victor — a win that has propelled the trilingual pop powerhouse to national stardom
“It was a huge surprise and I think I’m still a bit in shock,” Ms. Reiter said when reached by phone in Tel Aviv on Monday. “I don’t really realize what’s going on.”
Ms. Reiter had taken voice lessons in Montreal since age 12 and competed in singing competitions on a much smaller scale — clinching the title of Montreal’s Jewish Idol in 2004 when she was 15.
But never had she taken such a risk — stepping out before a national television audience in a country she had only visited in the summers of her childhood.
In the New7Wonders: Cities competition, which aims to highlight the seven wonders of cities around the world, Jerusalem is currently the top-ranked city in the Middle East. Tel Aviv is ranked third, and Bethlehem and Jericho, listed in Palestine, both made the top ten. Tehran is ranked number 12.
Starting in January, more than 1,200 cities in 220 countries were nominated for the competition. Last week, the campaign whittled down the entries to a little over 300. The numbers will be further pared in November and December, and the winners of the New7Wonders: Cities will be announced in December 2013.
Israel mounted an intense campaign to be awarded one of the coveted New7Wonders of Nature for the Dead Sea in November, but lost in the final stage of voting.
The New7Wonders competition is an effective avenue for advertising, Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov said following the Dead Sea campaign. “Though we did not win the title, thanks to the impressive campaign led by the Ministry of Tourism over the last two years, hundreds of millions of people worldwide have now been exposed to the Dead Sea and Israel”