A recent report released by McAfee and the Security and Defense Agenda Think Tank ranked Israel one of the most “secure” countries in the world in terms of cyber defense security.
Despite recent successful hacking attempts on the part of pro-Palestinian hacker groups on Israeli websites, Israel ranked alongside countries such as Finland and Sweden as the most protected.
The report emphasizes the paradox that information security experts repeat over and over: the more a country depends on technology and computers, the more vulnerable it is to attacks. On the other hand, progress in the realm of computer security allows experts to better understand existing threats.
According to Isaac Ben-Israel, senior security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a professor at Tel Aviv University, Israel sees approximately 1,000 hacking attempts every minute, although it is able to block most of them. And although hacking groups such as Anonymous are able to cause minimal damage, the greatest threats come from “states and major crime organizations.”
Ben-Israel further emphasized the vulnerability of computer security systems, stating that “a cyber-war can inflict the same type of damage as a conventional war,” saying that cyber technology can bring down power and water supplies “without firing a single bullet.”
New Israeli musical duo Project Passport is releasing its freshman album “State of Grace”, a musical journey that has been a year and a half in the making in three different international destinations – New York, Stockholm and Tel Aviv. The duo is comprised of musical producer and composer Gal Padeh and renowned Israeli fashion model Angel Bonnani, who has ventured into acting and singing.
Padeh, a graduate of NYU, studied music & business and went on to work alongside Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Gordon Williams, while living in New York City. Meanwhile, the Uruguay-born Bonnani is considered Israel’s leading male model, featured in fashion campaigns for Jean Paul Gaultier, Donna Karan and Banana Republic and has graced the pages of prestigious magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar. During the past few years he starred in numerous popular Israeli TV dramas and is now fully pursuing his love for music.
The musical collaboration between the two was first showcased to the public with Project Passport’s debut single “Borrowed Time” back in June 2010. “I started writing songs when I was living in TriBeCa, and since I’m not a singer I was looking for one” Padeh tells AbbaNibi in this exclusive US interview, “When I got back to Israel and was working in a studio in Ramat Ha’Sharon, Angel came there one day to work on materials for his solo album and I knew right then and there I’ve found my missing link”.
So where did the name for the project come from?
“We called it Passport because the project has gone through three different continents, America at the beginning and eventually Israel and Sweden”.
How would you describe your genre?
“We are both musically influenced by American folk rock acts, such as Bon Iver and John Mayer, all with lots of warm strings and electronic touches, like with Nine Inch Nails and Trent Renzor”.
Angel, you are the lead vocalist, would you describe it as an unusual transition from modeling?
“I was raised in a very musical household. My father was an opera singer so I have always loved singing. I wouldn’t call it a transition, but more of a natural continuation of what I’ve always done”
While the duo continue to take their majestic music on stage with intimate venues throughout Israel, they keep gaining more and more captivated audiences. Project Passport’s “State of Grace” will be available online via their label High Fidelity records.
More information and music is available on the official website
Israeli fashion designer Tal Sheyn, who has dressed A-List celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria, Mandy Moore and even Ashton Kutcher, has announced a new collection, entitled ‘Alexis,’ inspired by her recent collaboration with celebrity housewife Alexis Bellino of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
The ‘Alexis by Tal Sheyn’ line has actually turned into a sub company, owned by both Tal and Alexis after such a positive response and successful reaction that they’ve recieved. The line will be featured on the new company website,Alexisbytalsheyn.com, and will be actually pushed and promoted on the show The Real Housewives of Orange County, which premiers Tuesday Feb 7th on Bravo.
Sheyn is very excited about her new project, but she never forgets to mention that while designing high-couture fashion, she always thinks about all body types. “My signature designs are created to make all women, regardless of body type, feel vibrant and beautiful while wearing my clothing,” she says in a personal letter to her friends. “Over the past year I have expanded from designing couture evening gowns to designing sophisticated yet casual wear appropriate for any occasion, which is very exciting.”
The Israeli team took the first place in the European 2012 Bread Baking Cup over the weekend, beating culinary powers like France and Germany and leaving countries like Portugal and Britain far behind.
The competition, held in Rimini Fiera in Italy, included four different categories. Israel won two of them: Innovative Bread with a Health Focus and Baked Dessert.
In the first category, the Israelis prepared a modern version of pita bread with falafel. They baked green pita bread (with spinach), filled it with cheese balls coated with pistachio, and sprinkled yogurt sauce on top.
For dessert, the team prepared Black Forest-style strawberry and fruit brioche.
In the Traditional Bread category, the Israelis came in second after serving the judges whole-wheat bread with eggplant and Pecorino cheese.
In the last category, Artistic Bread Centerpiece, the bakers created a tambourine alongside Jacob’s Ladder and the angels, but were only ranked fourth.
The team captain was baker Eli Avraham, and other member included pastry chef Eran Schwarzbard, artistic bread designer Osnat Lipson and baker Alex Besser.
“We prepared for the competition for a long time, making many changes in the pastries until we came up with the perfect recipes,” said team trainer Jacky Hazan, the bakers and pastry chefs’ representative at the Israel Chef Association. “This victory proves that Israeli chefs and bakers are at the forefront in the world.”
The German team took the second place in the championship, while Australia came in third.
“Tel Aviv is hot right now because it’s unique,” said Adir Steiner, who co-ordinates gay pride events for the city.
“It’s in the Middle East, where it’s not so easy to be gay, and it’s like a paradise in an area where you will not obviously find an open city like Tel Aviv,” he said.
Leon Avigad, owner of the gay friendly Brown Hotel, said Tel Aviv is popular with gay tourists and is enjoying a tremendous tourist boom in recent years.
“Tel Aviv is small enough to be intimate but big enough to absorb hundreds of thousands of tourists every year … we’re cosmopolitan, we’re very Western, European and American, but on the other hand we’re very much into the Middle Eastern warmth and welcoming, and this combination attracts,” Avigad said.
At The Block Club, a blond drag queen twirled and bopped as the vampire-fanged DJ spun his records. Loudspeakers pumped out pop hits and under a mirror ball, the men took to the dance floor.
“I fell in love with the city,” said Iliya Sheirtz, a tourist from Berlin who took part in the midnight festivities.
“In the summertime, in the wintertime, it doesn’t matter, you have the beach here, the sun and a lot of great parties, a lot better than Berlin,” Sheirtz said.
This month, Tel Aviv won best city in an American Airlines and GayCities.com contest, sweeping past New York, Berlin and San Francisco with 43 per cent of the votes. Russell Lord, a travel consultant who specializes in gay tourism, said he has been flooded with requests ever since.
Israeli authorities do not have exact figures for the number of gay tourists who visit, but Steiner said international attendance at Tel Aviv’s annual pride events was up 25 per cent last summer.
Lord said the itinerary he designs for his gay tourists has all the sites one would find on the “regular” tourist trail through the Holy Land, but with a gay twist.
“At the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial (in Jerusalem) I make sure the guide will also speak about the (Nazi) persecution of homosexuals,” he said.
Lord said that Tel Aviv, about a 50-minute drive from Jerusalem, “is close to all the tourist sites so it serves as the base, and at the end of the day they go back there for the nightlife.”
At Tel Aviv’s Evita club, it was Eurovision song contest night. Swedish hits and red lights flashing prompted some to dance while others sipped their cocktails. British tourist Tom Berry, 27, said it was his first time in Israel.
“(Tel Aviv) is a great city, I can’t compare it to any other city. There’s a vibe about it, it’s different. A small city that acts big. A lot of variety in restaurants, cafés, shops, markets and the people are from all different backgrounds,” he said.
Tel Aviv is often referred to in Israel as “the bubble,” a city far different from Jerusalem, where ultra-Orthodox Jews in their traditional black garb make up a quarter of the population.
Some see its abundance of art galleries, cafés, clubs and bohemian jive as a bastion of secular pluralism. Others condemn it as an island of hedonism.
In Tel Aviv, the sight of a gay couple walking down the street hand-in-hand is fairly common.
“Ours is a city in which everyone can be proud of who they are,” Mayor Ron Huldai said after the GayCities.com contest winner was announced.
Steiner said gay tourism has become a growing market internationally. “Billions of dollars are spent around the world . each gay tourist coming into Tel Aviv is spending a lot of money, going to good restaurants going to theatre, the opera.”
Israel’s Tourism Ministry, along with Tel Aviv’s municipality, launched a campaign three years ago aimed at boosting rainbow tourism.
“Gay tourists spend more money and are trendsetting,” said Pini Shani, director of the ministry’s Overseas Department.
Back at The Block, the Holy Wigs drag queen ensemble was preparing to take the stage. Wearing a red dress and blond wig, drag queen Ziona Patriot said part of Tel Aviv’s allure was its freshness. New York and Amsterdam were old news.
“And of course we have the Israeli guys, (who) are so amazing. The best-looking dudes in the whole world are in Israel,” Patriot said.
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Israel is first country to host European-African zone group for two years in a row
The southern city of Eilat will host for the second consecutive year The Fed Cup Women’s Tennis Games, which will open on Wednesday for four days.
The Fed Cup Women’s Tennis Games will be held at Red Sea Tennis Center in Eilat, which was built especially for the games. Israel, which hosted the games in 2011, is the first country to host the European-African zone group for two years in a row.
Countries expected to participate in the 2012 games include Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Britain, Holland, Romania, Sweden, and others.
In 2011, over 90 countries participated in the games – a sporting event which received significant coverage and media interest all over the world.
The Ministry of Tourism, which assists in planning cultural events and international sport competitions in Eilat, will invest about NIS 4 million ($1 million) in 2012 in various events which will take place in the city.
Other sports events that have taken place recently in Eilat include the European Open Water Swimming Championship, the Triathlon, Iron Man, the Desert Challenge races and the Eilat Formula races.
In addition to supporting various cultural and sports events, and with the aim of improving the tourism product and enhancing Eilat’s advantages over the regional competition, the Ministry of Tourism will invest about NIS 33 million ($8 million) in 2012 in infrastructure development and marketing the resort all over the world.
NIS 8 million ($2 million) from this total will be invested in the five-year development program designed to develop, upgrade, rehabilitate and maintain the tourism infrastructure in the city.
The remaining NIS 25 million ($6 million) will be allotted to marketing Eilat as a sports, tourism, and vacation resort, based on the new branding of the city “Eilat+”.
According to Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, “The city of Eilat, whose economic revenue is largely based on tourism, must continue to develop the tourism industry, by building hotels, new attractions and businesses, holding events that will attract tourists and building the physical and personnel infrastructures that will assist Eilat compete in the tourism arena.
“The Ministry of Tourism is obligated to the city of Eilat and its citizens and will continue collaboration with various officials in order to strengthen the positioning of Eilat as a leading attractive tourist resort in Israel.”