Iranian art lovers, who flocked to the international photography exhibition presented last month at an esteemed art gallery in Tehran, had no idea that two of the pictures presented in the exhibition were taken in Tel Aviv – by Israeli photographer Tome Bookshtein.
So how do Israeli works of art make it to the heart of the Iranian capital? It all began when Tome Bookshtein, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, took pictures of buildings of the Histadrut labor federation in Tel Aviv, in a bid to express the social aspects hiding behind the buildings.
Bookshtein’s work drew the attention of contemporary art curator Sharon Tuval. For the past year, Sharon has been collecting pictures of women photographers from all over the Middle East for the exhibition “Individual Journey to Poetry,” which he created together with Austrian photographer Sini Coreth.
The exhibition, which was initiated by the Austrian Foreign Ministry’s Cultural Forum, presented the work of eight women photographers from Israel, Iran, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Oman, China, Japan and Austria. After the exhibition was displayed in Vienna and at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, the Austrian Foreign Ministry sent it to Iran.
The owners of the Tehran art gallery agreed to display the Israeli photographer’s work as well, as long as they could write “anonymous photographer” instead of “Tome Bookshtein, Israel” so as not to get in trouble with the Ayatollah regime.
“We couldn’t believe it. We’re so happy that Israeli works of art are being displayed at such times in the heart of Tehran,” said Tuval.
“I never expected to present there,” added Bookshtein. “It’s a shame that the Iranians didn’t mention my name and where I’m from. Apart from the fact that I would have loved to get credit, the anonymity cancels any option for a dialogue and slightly misses the point: Promoting a social and gender-related dialogue that will also reflect on political awareness.”
The parents of a Jewish boy who was declared brain dead after falling from a fourth floor window have donated his kidney to a 10-year-old Palestinian boy thus saving his life.
Three-year-old Noam Naor fell from the fourth floor of his parents’ apartment building and was rushed at critical condition to the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. His injuries were so extensive they had caused him irreparable brain damage forcing doctors to declare him brain dead.
After consulting the matter with rabbis, Noam’s parents, both religious, decided to donate their son’s kidneys.
Given Noam’s young age there was no choice but to donate the kidney to a child as the organ could not be transplanted in anyone weighing over 30 kilograms.
A tissue test run through the national waiting list found only one match – a 10-year-old Palestinian boy.
Yakoub Ibhisad had been treated at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for the past seven years for kidney failure. None of his family members were a match.
The transplant center asked Noam’s parents’ permission to give the kidney to a non-Israeli, and was given their consent.
“I thought about Shimon Peres’ efforts for peace with our neighbors and realized I was making the right decision,” Noam’s mother Sarit said.
“Knowing I saved a life gives me great comfort and the power to go on,” she added. “It was not an easy choice, but I today I am happy I made it. It doesn’t matter that it’s a Palestinian boy, I wish it would bring us peace.”
Having been made aware of the mother’s wish to speak to President Peres, the transplant center arranged a call between with the president who conveyed his condolences and expressed his support for the family’s decision.
“It’s one of the most moving contributions to peace,” Peres told the mother. “It shatters all prejudices.”
The transplant was performed at the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva, where Yakoub is still hospitalized. He is scheduled to be discharged soon.
Samir Ibhisad, Yakoub’s father said, “I haven’t the words to thank the family that saved my son’s life. We’ve been through many years of suffering when my son was on dialysis and his life was in danger.
“We are grateful for the donation and hope that God willing the couple will be blessed enough to have another child.”
Health Minister Yael German said, “Noam’s parents are noble and inspiring people. Their donation is a source of pride and an example of humanity and kindness. ”
A group of Palestinian and Israeli businessmen have defied the antagonism supposedly dividing their communities, and met on the shores of the Dead Sea to appeal to their governments to get out of the current political rut, and make real steps towards a two-state solution.
Nearly 200 top Israeli and Palestinian executives convened this week at the Breaking the Impasse Initiative (BTI) meeting at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.
Organizers said they would leverage their collective business experience and influence to convince leaders on both sides to begin serious negotiations.
Yossi Vardi, chairman of International Technologies Ventures, said: “Today we are announcing the existence of this group and we make a commitment and a pledge to continue to find a solution for the two people who are living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
“Enough is enough. Too much tears were shed by mothers. There is no family, Israeli family or Palestinian family, which didn’t suffer.”
The Israeli-Palestinian corporate declaration came in the wake of another round of visits by US Secretary of State John Kerry to the region to restart peace talks stalled since 2010. He left last week after meeting with the leadership of both sides, but no breakthroughs were announced.
“Should Iraqi Kurdistan have open diplomatic relations with Israel?” Students in the University of Kurdistan think the answer is yes, at least that is the position that won during an unusual debate held in the university in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
More than 200 students from all of the university’s faculties showed up to take part. In the event, two teams numbering three people each faced off in front of a judges’ panel.
Susan Mandelvey, head of the university’s public relations and one of the members of the judges’ panel spoke to Ynet and said: “We see ourselves as an institution in which people can openly express their opinions.”
At the end of the debate, the judges’ panel decided that the team arguing for relations with Israel was victorious, and afterwards the audience echoed their decision vehemently voting in favor for relations with the Jewish state.
Another judge in the Erbil debate said: “The arguments of the winning team focused on the historic relations between Jews and Kurds. I also believe that we can have good and fruitful relations with Israel.”
Nonetheless, she diplomatically evaded giving further details on the character of those relations when pressed for an answer, saying “because I judged the debate I am barred from fully stating my own opinion. I need to remain neutral.”
Iraqi Kurdistan was formed in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. Its formation was further spurred by the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Iraqi Kurds, who number around five million, enjoy the highest level of autonomy of the entire 30 million strong Kurdish population spread world wide, located mostly in Iran, Syria and Turkey.
In wake of Kurdish aspirations and independent identity, tension between the central regime in Baghdad and Masoud Barzani, Iraqi Kurdistan’s regional government president since 2005, have become common.
The government of Chechnya is constructing one of the largest and most magnificent mosques in Israel in the village of Abu Ghosh, near Jerusalem, in a project that both the villagers and the Chechen president view as renewing ties severed 500 years ago.
Construction of the mosque, situated near the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, began four years ago, at the private initiative of residents who had raised funds. Work stopped however when those funds ran out.
Through the mediation of a Chechen-born Jew, the villagers established ties with the Chechen government, which agreed to contribute more than $2 million to build the mosque as well as another $1 million to upgrade the approach road, says Abu Ghosh local council head Salim Jaber.
Jaber and other village notables reached the deal during a visit to Chechnya two years ago.
Today the building, about 4,000 square meters in area, is all but complete. A recent decision calls for the erection of four minarets, as is customary in the Caucasus region. The road already has two symbolic turrets, built by experts from Chechnya.
The links between the predominantly Muslim village, located about 10 kilometers west of Jerusalem, and the Islamic republic are scheduled to expand, and will include student and delegation exchanges. Recently a delegation, including Chechnyan Foreign Minister Ilyas Akhmadov, members of parliament and the wife of President Ramzan Kadyrov, visited Abu Ghosh.
The Chechnyan government, led by Kadyrov, has been looking for ways to enhance ties with Israel. Abu Ghosh is one of the only Arab villages outside Jerusalem to have emerged from the 1948 War of Independence unscathed, due mainly to the residents’ cooperation with Jewish forces. Today, Jewish Israelis flock to the village on weekends to feast on Abu Ghosh’s well-known hummus and other culinary offerings.
Traditionally it is believed that the residents of Abu Ghosh trace their ancestry to the Caucasus region. According to Palestinian-born historian Aref Al-Aref, the first villagers came from a region called Ingusha, located between Chechnya and Georgia. They arrived here as soldiers in the army of Ottoman Sultan Selim I, who conquered Palestine in 1516. The name Abu Gosh, according to geographer and place names expert Yehuda Ziv, is a corruption of the name Ingush.
“We always knew we had come from the Caucasian mountains,” says council head Jaber. “We welcome the renewed connection.”
After battling it out for nearly three months on live television, talented contestants from The Voice Israel’s second season have been competing to be crowned this year’s top vocalist. This year’s winner? An Arab-Israeli.
19-year-old Lina Makhoul from Acre out-sang her competitors on Saturday evening’s season finale, and will be awarded a record deal, as well as a scholarship to attend music school.
While accepting her victory on Saturday’s live television broadcast, Makhoul admitted to being a victim of racism throughout the filming of season 2 of The Voice Israel.
In Makhoul’s final performance, she belted out a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and proved her talent was deserving of a top place in this year’s competition.
This year’s final four was entirely female: Rudy Beinsin, Dana Tzelakh, Ofir Ben Shitrit, and Makhoul. The finale consisted of two rounds, the first being a series of solos performed by final four contestants, and the second round included each finalist singing a duet with their “mentor.” The “mentors”, Shlomi Brakha and Yuval Banay of popular Israeli rock band Machina, Mizrachi artist Sarit Hadad, rock-star Aviv Geffen, and Shlomi Shabbat, were to help advance their team members to the final round, however only Makhoul and Ofir Ben Shitrit survived the sudden death round.
Last year’s winner, Kathleen Reiter, a native-Canadian, has taken tremendous steps in her career since placing first in The Voice Israel, and has recently released her first single since her victory, Klum Lo Ozer Li (Nothing Helps Me).