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  • Lebanons, part 5: The Smoke

    Yuval Ben-Ami’s new project is an anti-travelogue: an exploration of places unvisited. (Click here for more.) I made a bit of a headway. When the fog parted below me, the dark desert appeared at an exhilarating depth. Moreover: somewhere not far over my straining head, bits of grass stuck out, signaling the approaching end of the sheer cliff. I kept my eyes fixed on them while struggling up. The promised land of promised rest. There really was grass up there, and a bit of flat soil. I was far from the fall now, engulfed in sacred silence. I sat down to catch my…

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  • Lebanons, part 4: The Wind

    Yuval Ben-Ami’s new project is an anti-travelogue: an exploration of places unvisited. (Click here for more.) The three cages: my large one and the two small ones, remained clumsily interconnected. Then Israel withdrew its settlements from the Gaza Strip, and Hamas took over. The siege began, trapping 1.7 million souls in a territory one-tenth the size of Rhode Island, the most perfect, hermetic cage my land has produced to date. I didn't want to think about it. I wanted to be in nature, somewhere healthy and just, and I was just in such a place, in all but my mind. I was in…

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  • The Long Road to Bethlehem: Part five

    Read the previous chapters of The Long Road to Bethlehem here. Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” begins in Gaza. I am consumed by the news. I scroll through Twitter with the television on, flipping between Al Jazeera and CNN. Horrifying images stream out of the Strip. Rubble. Bodies. Crowds around hospitals. People running, carrying limp loved ones. Shujaiyah. When I can’t take it anymore, I turn off the TV, leave my phone inside, and go to the garden. I realize how fortunate I am to be able to “take a break” from the war — even if that break is somewhat…

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  • Lebanons, part 3: The Gorge

    Yuval Ben-Ami's new project is an anti-travelogue: an exploration of places unvisited. (Click here for more.) The next place on the map that had a name was "Schwarzwaldalp". I headed for it in the cool morning, winding downhill into a small valley. The pastures were dark green, the cows cute. The clouds were low, obscuring how tall the mountains were above it all. My foot kicked something on the trail, some stick that didn't feel like a branch. I looked down and found a titanium walking stick. The handle was broken off but otherwise it seemed fine. Nice luck. Shwarzwaldalp was not much…

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  • Lebanons, part 2: The Town

    Yuval Ben-Ami’s new project is an anti-travelogue: an exploration of places unvisited. (Click here for more.) I walked in beauty. I walked in fire. Early morning matured into fully boiling day just as the trail led me from shady forest into pastures. Above me soared rocks in outlandish angles that seemed carefully measured so as not to shield me from the sun. Each village spring was a life saver. One farmhouse advertised cheese. I knocked, craving the cool of their cellar far more than the cheese itself. Somehow I persisted, climbing to the town of Grindelwald, then beyond it. The mountains grew greater,…

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  • Lebanons, part 1: The Theft

    Yuval Ben-Ami's new project is an anti-travelogue: an exploration of places unvisited. (Click here for more). I was in Paris and it was hell. A heatwave beat down on the gray town, chasing people out through windows of old maid chambers. They perched in the evenings on roofs, Gothic spires in view, to sip wine by the light of an exhausted moon. Indoors was too hot, but then, out on the roof was also too hot. My hosts lent me a "wife beater" tank top to let my armpits breath. It did little good. During the day I went for…

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  • All I want for Christmas I found in the Tel Aviv market

    A simple walk through the market is all it took to remind me what has changed over the years, why even walking through the market isn't simple, and to stir up some surprising optimism. Jewish Israeli friends were having a Christmas dinner, and I wanted to buy some good vegetables for my modest contribution. So I went to the shuk for the first time in ages yesterday, on Christmas. In my first years after moving to Israel, I used to revel in the romantic grit of the Tel Aviv shuk. By contrast to Jerusalem’s renovated market, it is unreformed. The…

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  • The Palestinian-Israeli singer challenging everyone's misconceptions

    Call her a traitor, call her a normalizer — Palestinian-Israeli singer Amal Murkus has heard it all. Now as she gets ready to release her brilliant new album, the avowed Marxist and feminist is speaking out against the racism of the Israeli mainstream as well as Palestinian attempts to silence her. When I came home after my interview with Amal Murkus in a Jerusalem cafe, I turned off the engine and remained in my car with my eyes closed for an hour until the sounds of her new album "Fatah al-Ward" ("The Roses Bloomed") came to an end. [tmwinpost] This…

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  • The Long Road to Bethlehem: Part four

    Read the previous chapters of The Long Road to Bethlehem here. “I’m leaving.” I tell people in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. The words sound unexpected and foreign in every language, as though someone else is speaking them. While I’ve resigned from my post at the university and someone has already been hired to teach my fall classes, I haven’t given my landlady a firm answer as to whether or not I’m vacating the apartment, never mind a last-day-here-date. Nor have I begun to dismantle a houseful of stuff, the accumulations of a life. My place looks like I’ll stay there…

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  • Film review: 'We are Palestine, we're here and we are queer'

    Unlike previous films made about gay Palestinians in Israel, 'Oriented' is not about Jewish saviors trying to protect Palestinians from political or social repercussions.  Three men in their mid-twenties are gathered at a Tel Aviv apartment, preparing to go out to a dance party at a popular Jaffa bar called Anna Loulou. Speaking in Arabic laced with Hebrew expressions and the occasional English phrase, they warm up with vodka and grapefruit juice as they sprawl on the couches, talking and listening to music . Will there be Jews at the party? asks one of the young men. Yes, answers another.…

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  • Music video lambasts recruitment of Palestinians to Israel's army

    Prominent Palestinian musicians say recruiting minority ethnic and religious Arab groups into the army is part of Israel's divide-and-conquer tactics, pushing young Palestinians to 'side with the occupation' and shrug off their national and historical identity. Two prominent Palestinian musicians released a hip-hop music video this week lambasting efforts to recruit young Palestinian citizens of Israel into the country’s army. The video, by musicians Tamer Nafar and Jowan Safadi and released by the Baladna Association for Arab Youth and Hamleh (The Palestinian Social Media Center), features a group of Israeli scientists sitting in a lab and trying to create a…

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  • Two Palestinians and an Israeli walk into a mall...

    For years I have been escorting Mohammed and Maha to an Israeli hospital and back to Gaza. That is, except for those times when Israel denies him an entry permit. This week, as the illusory stability of daily routine disintegrates around us, something feels different. By Deb Reich We had stopped in a giant shopping center near Ashkelon on the way south to find Mohammed a new pair of sunglasses, because some kid in Gaza stole his recently. We hadn’t found any that he liked in Jaffa, where we lunched together as usual after Mohammed’s clinic check-ups at Tel Hashomer Hospital…

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  • Station to station 3: We the living

    In a land of rampant commercialism, abandonment isn't the worst thing that could happen to an historical railway station. Elisha Baskin photographs — and insists on riding the kiddy train. (for the full, four part project, click here) Once upon a time, the good people of this land were able to travel by train from the coastal cities up to Jerusalem. They still can, come to think of it, but nobody does. The trip is twice as long it as it is by bus and the terminal on the Jerusalem end is at Malha, a remote southwestern offshoot of the city.…

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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Illustrations: Eran Mendel