A song from an Israeli singer with Yemenite roots – but who has never visited the country – has become a surprise hit in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, the Economist reported on Tuesday.
Zion Golan’s song “Sana’a al-Yemen” is frequently heard blaring from stereos and minibus speakers. “Come with me to Sanaa,” Golan sings in Yemeni Arabic. “Sanaa, my home, you’ll like it.”
But although the lyrics refer to Sana’a as home, Golan has never been there. As an Israeli Jew he is forbidden to travel to Yemen.
Golan is one of more than 300,000 Israelis who trace their roots to Yemen, once home to a significant Jewish community dating back to at least the 2nd century, the Economist writes.
The bulk of Yemen’s Jews left when Israel was founded in 1948, escaping Yemen’s instability, poverty and instances of anti-Jewish violence. Today barely a hundred Jews remain.
But cultural ties have survived. Yemeni restaurants in Israel’s Tel Aviv serve traditional cuisine and some markets discreetly stock qat, a leafy mild narcotic popular in Yemen.
Israelis of Yemeni descent such as Golan and the late Ofra Haza, a pop star famed for her fusion of western and eastern sounds, continued to write music that found an audience in Yemen, since it is grounded in the traditions of their ancestral home.
The artists’ bootleg albums have long been bought and sold underground (trade with Israel is illegal in Yemen). More recently, the internet has made the songs more accessible. Young Yemenis watch performances on YouTube, sharing them on social networking sites such as Facebook, where they often express astonishment at the resilience of Yemeni culture and lament the Jewish community’s near-extinction in Yemen.
An expanded and modernized CIFTA will enhance bilateral commercial flows by reducing technical barriers, enhancing cooperation, increasing transparency in regulatory matters and reducing transaction costs for businesses. In the area of sanitary and phytosanitary measures, a modernized agreement will provide new mechanisms to increase cooperation and resolve market access irritants more expeditiously. This initiative will also create new opportunities for Canadian agriculture, agri-food, and fish and seafood companies in the Israeli market. The first round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in Israel from February 3-9, 2014.
CIFTA is a cornerstone of Canada’s commercial relationship with Israel.
The Agreement came into force on January 1, 1997, and amendments were brought into force on November 1, 2003, to implement further tariff concessions on agricultural and fish and seafood products.
Since CIFTA came into force, Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with Israel has more than doubled.
“Our Government is committed to providing Canadian businesses with the market access they need to compete and succeed internationally. An expanded and modernized trade agreement with Israel will generate more jobs and economic growth at home and in Israel, while strengthening the clos
The new Norwegian government, which so far was considered one of the most hostile administrations facing Israel, is working towards bracing the ties between the two countries and enhancing mutual cooperation in an array of fields.
The conservative-progressive minority government, which was established some three months ago, included an article in its elections platform that states that the government will change its Middle East policy and implement a more balanced course of action. This is in stark opposition to previous leftist administrations, whose policy was clearly pro-Arab.
As part of the new policy, Norway’s Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader Erna Solberg is expected to make a visit to Israel later this year. It will be the first visit of a Norwegian prime minister in over a decade. Solberg was also among the first world leaders to issue a letter of condolences following the passing of former prime minister Ariel Sharon.
“There are indications of a significant improvement in the ties between the two countries,” said Israeli Ambassador to Oslo Naim Araidi. “The public and the authorities are beginning to understand that relations with Israeli do not necessarily have to be defined by the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the two nations can develop normal ties in every field irregardless.”
Immediately following the establishment of the new government, the Israeli embassy to Norway initiated a preliminary meeting between Israeli and Norwegian companies, who discussed opportunities to promote business interactions between the well-developed Norwegian oil sector and Israel’s developing natural gas industry. The acting finance minister, who is the leader of the Progressive Party, has expressed public support of a tighter cooperation between the two countries in the field of energy over the past.
Despite calls made in recent years in Norway – inter alia among local artists – to boycott Israel, the new Norwegian Culture Minister Thorhild Widvey said: “We don’t see the boycott as an effective tool to promote positive change. The Norwegian government is interested in tighter cultural relations between the two countries. I am certain that a deeper mutual understanding is a prerequisite for achieving progress on political matters.”
Last week, Widvey opened a conference for Norwegian television producers, which was dedicated to the success of the Israeli television industry in exporting drama series.
About 160 Norwegian televison producers and both private and state networks heard lectures by two of the Israeli industry senior personalities: Karni Ziv, director of the drama and comedy department at the Keshet franchise, and Reshef Levi, a producer and screenwriter. The sides discussed future cooperation opportunities.
“I am impressed by the achievements of the Israeli television and film industry, development of television series that were a national and international success, series that were exported and highly praised around the world – like ‘In Treatment’ and ‘Homeland’,” said the Norwegian culture minister.
“I believe that the success of Israeli productions could inspire the Norwegian industry. It shows that even a relatively small country can achieve great accomplishments. The key to success is a good story and quality directing.”
Two months ago, the couple lost their daughter two weeks after she was born.
“Because of the gunfire and the siege on our town in the Daraa area, we were left with no choice but to deliver the child at home—and the medical condition of my baby deteriorated,” the woman told Israel Hayom. “All our pleading at the [Syrian] army checkpoint to go to the hospital did not help. We went back home and our daughter died there.”
While the couple remains hospitalized, their wounds are not life threatening.
Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom attended a meeting on Saturday of the International Renewable Energy Agency in the United Arab Emirates, with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations.
It was the first time Israel has sent a minister to a meeting of IRENA since the organization’s founding in 2009.
“Shalom is representing Israel, which is taking part in the meeting like all the other member states of this international agency,” according to a member of the Israeli delegation.
He declined to comment on whether Shalom hoped to hold any contacts on the sidelines with Gulf Arab officials.
Over 1,000 delegates are attending the organization’s annual assembly in Abu Dhabi, including heads of state and ministers from some 150 countries and representatives from over 120 international organizations.
Haaretz revealed in May last year that Israel had allocated a budget for a diplomatic mission in one of the Gulf states, without specifying which.
The UAE hosted an Israeli delegation for the first time in 2003 for a meeting of the International Monetary Fund. But, unlike fellow Gulf states Oman and Qatar, it has never hosted an Israeli trade office. Both missions have since been closed: that in Oman in 2000, and the Qatar one in 2009.
The Israeli flag will be flying from the international particle physics laboratory CERN as of Wednesday.
The blue Star of David will be joining the flags of 20 other countries at the Globe of Science and Innovation, the spherical building near Geneva that has become CERN’s most publicly identifiable landmark, to mark Israel’s having become the 21st member state – and the non-European full member of the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
This is a happy moment,” said Eliezer Rabinovici, a physicist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who heads the Israeli Academy of Science’s National Committee for High Energy Physics as well as the Israeli research team at CERN. “The Israeli scientists have cleared a path for Israel to become full members of a scientific enterprise aimed at studying the secrets of the universe while engaged in global collaboration.”
Rabinovici will be speaking at the flag-placing event, as will Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.