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Life & Culture

  • The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, Chapter 2: Casino San Remo

    Yuval Ben-Ami and his gang are going where no man or woman has gone before: They are trying to produce a bilingual, bi-national album based on the songs of pop prodigy Lorde. The only problem: The gang itself is homogenous to the core. An insurmountable challenge?   For the entire Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, click here. A week after our Yemenite feast, I met with Yaron to start working out the details. "I have a title for the EP," I told him, "I want it to be 'העונה לתספורת קצרה,' that's 'Buzzcut Season,' the name of one of Lorde's songs. I think…

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  • The Israel-Palestine Lorde diaries, Chapter 1: The lunch

    Freshly back from his journey down the beaten path, Yuval Ben-Ami is setting out on another adventure, a musical one, a political one — forging a binational tribute to the Kiwi queen bee. For The entire Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, click here. There's a nice restaurant in Tel Aviv where my girlfriend Ruthie and I have lunch almost every Friday. It is named "Nehama," or rather, it is named nothing. No sign graces its door, or rather its opening. The entire place is a modest kitchen that greets the Yemenite quarter by way of a missing "fourth wall." Nehama, a middle aged…

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  • The Beaten Path epilogue: Is this the place? (Part 13)

    Nothing in the Holy Land is very imposing in and of itself. What visitors seek is a connection to holiness, to an ancient story or to one currently unfolding. The deconstructed tourist trail ends with a realization: Everything here is a trace. The final installment in Yuval Ben-Ami's journey to Israel and Palestine's most-trodden tourist sites. On the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, overlooking the Salt Lake Valley, is a park with a peculiar name. It is called: "This is the Place Heritage Park" and features the imposing "This is the Place Monument." Ironically, it is not the place, and the bronze…

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  • The Beaten Path: Jericho, city of flexible time (part 11)

    On we go, deconstructing the tourist trail, except this time it melts in our hands, much like Salvador Dali's clocks. Welcome to Jericho, oldest city on earth, established right this moment. Part 11 of Yuval Ben-Ami's latest journey. When I visit Jericho with groups, the visit is typically brief. This sweet, ultra-historical desert town is an attractive destination, but is sadly stuck between two far more attractive ones: Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. It ends up being no more than a way station for most. We usually swing into town, scale "Tel al-Sultan," the mound that marks Jericho's original Neolithic…

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  • 'Activestills' photographers featured in 'Local Testimony' competition

    Photojournalism exhibition opens in Tel Aviv. Works by Tali Mayer, Yotam Ronen and Oren Ziv of Activestills are among those being featured for their work in 2014. Photographers from the Activestills collective, partners of +972 Magazine, Yotam Ronen, Tali Mayer and Oren Ziv are among the winners of the 2014 “Local Testimony” photojournalism competition. The “Photograph of the Year” was taken by Yuval Chen of Yedioth Aharonoth, who documented the girlfriend of 20-year-old fallen IDF soldier Guy Algranati standing over his grave, surrounded by members of his army unit in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery. Daniel Tchetchik of Haaretz won the…

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  • WATCH: A heartbreaking portrait of life in Hebron, in 9 minutes

    By Moriel Rothman-Zecher What does life under occupation look like for a teenage Palestinian? A new, powerful short film by filmmaker and activist Yuval Orr attempts to show exactly that, by following 15-year-old Awni Abu Shamsiya as he attempts to maintain some shred of normalcy in his hometown of Hebron. Hebron, where the occupation is in many ways manifested in its rawest form, is the only Palestinian city inside which there is an Israeli settlement. It is a junction of direct and daily conflict between Palestinian civilians, Israeli soldiers and Jewish-Israeli settlers. It is a city where streets are segregated between…

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  • A land without a people?: A visit to Russia's Jewish autonomous region

    A visit to Birobidzhan, where Jewish autonomy hasn't exactly worked out — and yet, the sign for Lenin Street is still written in Yiddish and public monuments commemorate Sholem Aleichem. By Yakov Rabkin Last summer, after three months of teaching in Japan, I decided to return home to Montreal via Birobidzhan, in Russia’s Far East. The Jewish Autonomous Region was getting ready to celebrate its 80th anniversary, and I easily found people to host me. Built by Jewish enthusiasts from a dozen countries including Argentina, Canada, France, the United States and British Palestine, Birobidzhan is conceptually akin to Israel, which also considers Jews as…

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  • Does Israel have a place in Jewish identity?

    The proposed 'Nation-State Law' and a wave of violence point to the urgency of questioning Israel's place in Jewish identity. Shlomo Sand's latest book, 'How I Stopped Being a Jew,' offers a starting point for such a discussion. When I left Palestine this summer, I was relieved to leave the Israeli flag behind. No more blue and white snapping at everyone who passes military checkpoints. No more Star of David standing high over the army bases. Saying goodbye to the Israeli flag, or so I thought, would also mean an end to my ambivalence about it. Upon seeing the flag,…

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  • The Beaten Path: Framing the story at Yad Vashem (part 8)

    Exploring Jerusalem's Holocaust museum allows us to understand the way in which the Zionist narrative deals with the destruction of European Jewry. But is it the whole story? Part eight of Yuval Ben-Ami’s journey through the Holy Land's most popular tourist sites. In the early years of the 11th Century, the Holy Land was taken over by ISIS. The religious militants came from the north, their faces covered. They pillaged every town through which they passed, beheading "heathens" and abducting women. Their sense of self-righteousness and the blessings of fundamentalist clergymen made them entirely blind to their atrocities. They did not…

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  • LISTEN: The rarest records, from India to Palestine

    The members of Tel Aviv's Fortuna Records have spent the last several years collecting some of the rarest records from the Middle East. The music runs the gamut from classical Egyptian to Palestinian folk to Greek-Israeli music. Check out a mixtape of their favorite rarities, accompanied by their stunning (and often strange) album covers. By Fortuna Records 1. Koko - Koko The debut album by Koko, an unknown singer on the Tel Aviv "Kol Dorit" label, and who sings in Greek, is without a doubt one of the best albums recorded in Israel during the 1970s. If you ask us,…

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  • Jerusalem: Against the dying of the light

    The streets are seething, a tautness hangs in the air, clinging to one as if walking through cobwebs. Yet in the middle of it all, I find a most profound reparation by the simplest means. A crack of light, and my heart hurts less. By Natasha Roth “Do not go gentle into that good night.” I am sitting in an archway in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, taking a break from guiding a friend who is visiting from the UK. He is smoking a cigarette, and I am photographing the street sign across from us. We are on…

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  • The Beaten Path: Fixing a hole in Safed (part 6)

    The deconstructed tourist trail reaches the mystical Galillean town and its many ghosts. Safed is the incredible shrinking city, forever threatened by its own capacity to be more than one thing. Part six of Yuval Ben-Ami's journey. Safed makes me sick. Literally. As soon as I hop off the bus, take in the obligatory breath of fresh mountain air and settle at the "Baghdad Café" for an Americano, my stomach begins to torment me. I know this isn't only the snack I had in Geinosar. This place makes my spirit sad, and my body sympathizes. Safed is one of many cities…

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  • WATCH: Listening to the 'Sound of Torture'

    A new Israeli film takes a disturbing look at the torture camps for Eritrean refugees in Sinai, and the Swedish-Eritrean journalist who has devoted herself to exposing the torture victims’ stories and ending their suffering. Related: A life of forced labor: Why Israel's Eritrean refugees fled home Testimony: Sudanese refugee details torture by Sinai smugglers What the bones remember: Israeli doctors talk torture

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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