Music-loving Iranians craving nostalgic Persian songs of a bygone era, or the upbeat dance music that is banned in their Islamic state, have new darling: Rita, the Israeli singing sensation.
Rita Jahanforuz, 50 years old, is Israel’s most famous female singer—and suddenly she’s big in Iran. Iranian-born and fluent in Persian, Rita, as she is universally known, moved to Israel as a child and has lived there ever since. Her latest album, “All My Joys,” revives old-time Persian hits, giving them an upbeat Mediterranean flavor that caters to the Israeli ear.
The album went gold in Israel in just three weeks, despite being sung entirely in Persian. It also propelled Rita onto the music scene in Iran, where she was all but unknown outside of Iran’s small Jewish population.
Now, from nightclubs in Tel Aviv to secret underground parties in Tehran, Israelis and Iranians alike go wild when the DJ plays her hit “Beegharar,” or “Restless.”
Rita’s fans within Iran, where the government heavily filters the Internet, use tricky software to furtively download her songs online. Bootleg CD sellers in the back alley of Tehran’s old bazaar wrap her albums in unmarked packages and hush any inquiries when asked if they sell her music.
“Shhh…don’t mention Israel. Just say music by ‘Rita Khanum,’ ” which means “Ms. Rita,” said a young man named Reza selling bootleg music CDs and DVDs of Hollywood movies.
The governments of Iran and Israel are each other’s sworn enemies, and within Iran it is considered a taboo to publicly endorse anything that has to do with Israel. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said Israel should be wiped off the map. Israel has said it would consider pre-emptively bombing Iran to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon.
Rita, however, with her striking beauty and bubbly demeanor, has emerged as an unexpected bond between ordinary Iranians and Israelis—part cultural ambassador, part antiwar spokeswoman. A picture of Rita with the banner, “Iranians we will never bomb your country,” is posted on her Facebook page.
“These days, people only know the language of war and violence and hatred,” said Rita, referring to Israelis’ view of the Persian language, during a recent interview in Tel Aviv. After she started receiving emails from Iranian fans, she realized music can “puncture the wall” of tension.
Rita’s family immigrated to Israel in 1970. She grew up in a suburb near Tel Aviv listening to her mother sing melodies from their homeland as she cooked in the kitchen.
Her singing career kicked off when Rita joined a band in the Israeli army in the 1980s. She rose to stardom quickly, singing solo and mostly in Hebrew or English, packing concert halls and performing for Israeli officials and foreign delegates.
A year ago, she decided to revisit what she tells audiences is the “soundtrack of my childhood” by adapting Persian classics that most Iranians know by heart. Her 2011 single “Shaneh” is based on a traditional song that Iranian grandmothers are known to whisper to their grandchildren as they comb their hair. An homage to a lover, it includes lines such as, “Oh, love, don’t comb your hair because my heart rests in its waves.” Rita reworked the song, staying true to the lyrics but giving it a more modern sound, somewhere between pop and Jewish gypsy music.
Iranian fans responded overwhelmingly, bombarding her with emails and messages online. “Rita, I want one of these concerts in Iran. You have an amazing voice and you are another pride for Iran,” wrote an Iranian fan on one of her videos on YouTube.
In September, when Rita visited Radio Ran, a Persian-language Internet radio station based in a Tel Aviv suburb, the studio was flooded with calls from Iranians around the world.
In an Israeli television interview, speaking of her Iranian fans, she joked that if she ever traveled to Iran, she would like to sing a duet with Mr. Ahmadinejad, “Maybe I can soften him with my feminine charm,” she said.
Iran’s government has taken notice. Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards Corps, wrote last July that Rita is Israel’s “latest plot in a soft war” to gain access to the hearts and minds of Iranians.
Iranian hard-line websites and blogs expressed particular displeasure at Rita for sending a message to Iranians this past March for the Norouz New Year, via a video posted on the Persian website of Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Norouz messages are considered highly political and usually a tactic used by politicians like President Barack Obama and Iran’s opposition leaders.
“I hope that we all live alongside each other by dancing and singing because this is what will last,” Rita said in her Norouz message.
In May, Rita performed a sold-out concert in the city of Ashkelon, on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, singing mostly Persian songs. Fans crowded the stage and danced the aisles.
After the show, concert goers said they were swept away. “Listen, I’m not Persian,” said Meir Kanto, a 72-year-old farmer. “But the culture is so colorful and so beautiful, from my perspective, let them conquer us. It wouldn’t hurt.”
In Tehran, guests at a recent engagement party jumped to their feet shimmying their hips and shoulders when Rita’s voice echoed from the speakers, mixing the rhythms of an old and uniquely southern Iranian song to techno dance beats. Even middle-age couples joined in.
“She is singing from her heart. So what if she is from Israel?” said Manijeh, a 43-year-old relative of the bride who asked that her surname not be published. “We love her.”
Source: Wall street Journal
Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators have rarely spoken to each other during the last three years, but that didn’t stop a group of Jewish and Arab teenagers from trying to settle the decades-old conflict.
More than 500 students gathered last month in Even Yehuda, a Tel Aviv suburb, for the Israel-Middle East Model United Nations. The conference capped six months of meetings by the group’s “conflict resolution committee” to analyze the dispute that has shaped their lives.
They didn’t resolve it, but many said they understand the other side better now.
“I always dreamed of changing. I never liked the situation we’re in,” said Lisa Rahamim-Flam, a teenager from central Israel.
While high school students around the world participate in model United Nations conferences, many attending the Israeli version had first-hand experience with conflict.
Rahamim-Flam comes from a small village that lost three teenagers in a 1996 Palestinian suicide bombing. Outside the grounds of the conference’s meeting place at American International School, the signs pointing to nearby bomb shelters provided a clear reminder that this is the volatile Middle East.
The mock conference included a Security Council and several committees, including disarmament, human rights and territorial disputes.
Most of the participants were Israeli Jews and Arab citizens of Israel, who make up about one-fifth of the country’s population. They complain of discrimination by the Jewish majority and tend to identify with their Palestinian brethren in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Beyond the political debates, students said they found that personal contact with “the other side” brought down walls that typify relations between Arabs and Jews.
Shrouk Badir, 18, from the West Bank village of Battir was the only Palestinian on the committee. Badir went to great lengths to win a scholarship to the American school in Israel and gain personal exposure to Israeli society and culture.
“There is hope,” she said. “There’s got to be some sort of solution.”
Badir said she wanted to break down Israeli stereotypes about Palestinians. “There are people who are open-minded from the other side,” she said. “They’re not all terrorists.”
After months of debating, the last committee session ended in hugs and tears.
In one emotional moment, American student Jessica Fordon turned to a teary-eyed Badir. “Palestinians, I feel, they get kind of a bad rap, but from now on I will have a very, very open mind when I meet Palestinians,” she said.
Badir and Rahamir-Flam became close, as did Shaya Schloss, and Orthodox Jew from the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, and Reem Shaheen, a Muslim girl from Nazareth in northern Israel.
Many participants acknowledged their core beliefs haven’t changed. But they said they are more open-minded and will use the skills they’ve learned to create bridges between Jews and Arabs.
In a reflection of the real world, a decision was made not to come up with a final peace resolution. Instead,
the students created a YouTube video called “iWish Conflict Resolution 2012″ and pledged keep working together through youth groups and volunteer work.
Last week, Tel Aviv held its very first Hackathon, where over 70 Israeli entrepreneurs came together to brainstorm ideas, and left at the end of the day with several ideas up and running.
The event was organized by Innovation Israel, a 3000-strong community of Israel’s entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists and more. The Tel Aviv Hackathon had a very clear goal set in place before the event started – “make Israel go viral.”
With the aim to create viral web and mobile applications, social campaigns, and more, speakers at the Hackathon also gave the participants a little bit of insight into how to get a product noticed by the media.
The Next Web caught up with Ben Lang, one of Innovation Israel’s co-founders and a co-organizer of the event, to find out a little bit more about how it went.
One of the main projects that emerged from the Hackathon aims to forge a connection between people living in countries of conflict. Peace Connector, which was coded by Daniel Sternlicht and Yoni Tsafir, uses Facebook interests and profiles as a means of bringing people together online, in ways which their countries cannot.
Speaking about how the idea emerged, Ben said, “The co-organizers of the event, Nir Kouris, Michael Shurp, Kfir Bendet and I, were brainstorming for ideas that people could work on at the hackathon. We put our brains together and thought of something that could connect us, all Israelis, to people in our neighbouring countries. We wanted to keep it simple but make it effective, which is how we came up with the idea.”
So how exactly does Peace Connector work? Once you’ve granted the app access to your Facebook profile, your location and interests are stored.
Explaining what happens next, Ben said, ”Once someone else signs up from a country of conflict with a shared interest you will both receive an email telling you to connect. Essentially we define countries in conflict (i.e. Israel and many countries in the Middle East, US and Afghanistan, North Korea and South Korea etc.) and try to find matches through that.”
Ben gives us an example, “If someone from Iran likes to play tennis and I sign up and also like to play tennis since we are from countries of conflict we’ll receive an email in this form below. You’ll only be matched once.”
This of course, begs the question, how can a service like this help overcome years of conflict? Ben is optimistic, “We want to connect as many people as possible. Dialogue between these countries of conflict is crucial and if politicians can’t do it, why not let the people do it. Every conversation with a stranger starts with a common interest or fact, whether its about an app, year of birth or favourite sport…”
Other projects that were built at the Hackathon include Hummus Day, an attempt to turn May 15 into a day to celebrate and eat the Middle Eastern dip, Hummus.
Gefilte is an interesting app, which is yet to launch, whose sole purpose in life is to let your mother know that you’re ok. So what exactly does the app do? “The Gefilte app sends your mother a daily email letting her know her precious son or daughter is alive and well. A simple set up ensures her (and therefore your) peace of mind.”
Gefilte is connected to Twitter, and as long as you post an update, your mum will get the email – but she won’t see your tweets. Unless she happens to already follow you on Twitter. While the name of the app does lend itself to an Israeli user-base, the idea of a worried mother is certainly universal, and in the midst of protests, unrest, the occupy movement and more, this could be one way to let your mum know everything is ok on a daily basis.
To get a glimpse into the Hackathon itself, check out the video below in which Ben presents Peace Connector:
A few years ago, a mixed team in these parts was unthinkable. In the arid Middle East, hockey is virtually unheard of, and relations between Arabs and Jews in this combustible area, next to the tense borders of Lebanon and Syria, are generally downright chilly. The Arab players on the Metulla junior ice hockey team, coming from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, technically aren’t even Israeli.
But thanks to an accidental combination of generous philanthropy, a local hockey enthusiast and a sports-mad Arab mayor, the mixed team of teens and preteens is thriving.
“When you play together, you forget that you are Arabs and Jews,” said Mayyas Sabag, a 12-year-old forward from the Druse village of Majdal Shams. He is one of five Arab athletes on the 14-member team, which is traveling to Canada this month.
The team is the product of Metulla’s Canada Centre, a sprawling sports complex donated to this rural border town in the 1990s by Canadian Jews. The building houses Israel’s only Olympic-size hockey rink.
And when the hockey players get skating, the only tension they feel is the thrill of competition.
“When I’m on the ice, I don’t feel the ground underneath me,” said Maya al-Yousef, a 13-year-old Druse Arab.
With her curly hair crushed into her helmet, al-Yousef was among two dozen youths speeding, skidding and weaving on the ice during a recent practice session, amidst a blur of whacking hockey sticks, shouting coaches and flying pucks.
The two Arab girls and three boys on the team said they had never met Jews their age before playing ice hockey. Jews said the same about Arabs. The Arab youths have adopted a halting Hebrew from Jewish teammates.
Language aside, there are clear cultural gaps between the loud and mostly secular Jewish children and more conservative, polite Arab youths.
The coach, parents and sponsors all acknowledge the project is only a small step toward real peace in the region. And while many players said they were not necessarily close friends, they said the meetings have changed the way they view each other.
“In a short period of time we got to know each other,” 14-year-old Niv Weinberg said. “We aren’t the only ones in living here (in Israel). This country isn’t ours alone.”
Levav Weinberg, a 30-year-old Metulla apple farmer and hockey enthusiast, began the Canada-Israel Hockey School two years ago with funding from Jewish Canadian philanthropist Sydney Greenberg. He subsidized coaching, equipment, uniforms and rink time with the dream of bringing the popular winter sport to Israel.
To encourage enrollment, Weinberg talked up the project to a friend: Dolan Abu-Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams.
Majdal Shams village is nestled in the Golan Heights, a mountainous plateau Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war. Although Israel later annexed the territory, the move was never internationally recognized, and unlike Israel’s own Druse community, who serve in the military and are generally well-integrated, Golan residents still consider themselves Syrian, or refer to themselves simply as Arabs or Druse.
Such barriers made little difference when 34-year-old Abu-Saleh promised parents a free bus to Metulla, 12 miles away, if their children took up the sport. Within weeks, 100 Arab youths turned up. They even had a translator.
Weinberg faced a new challenge: getting Jewish youths involved. Their parents were reluctant to allow them to play with Arabs, he said.
Weinberg won parents over with $5 classes, overcoming concerns with an affordable way to keep children busy. More than 200 Jewish children have since signed up, in addition to about 120 Arabs.
The school keeps new Arab and Jewish students in different classes, seeking to build their confidence on ice before introducing them to each other. But when they are skilled enough to compete, the youths are placed on mixed Arab-Jewish teams.
“Then they understand: ‘These are the team members I have — and (getting along) is the only way to win the game,’” Weinberg said.
For a while, Weinberg also managed to bring in a small number of Lebanese children, thanks to another accident of history. The border runs through the nearby Israeli-controlled village of Ghajar, where the residents, while citizens of Lebanon, are allowed to enter Israel.
But the project collapsed when some Ghajar parents withdrew their children. An Israeli army checkpoint at the village’s entrance frequently delayed other players, holding up training.
Metulla, which sits right on the border with Lebanon, is no stranger to conflict. In 2006, Israel fought a brutal monthlong war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. The fighting left Israel in control of both sides of Ghajar. While the area has been largely quiet since then, Majdal Shams experienced two deadly incidents last year when Palestinian protesters from Syria tried to crash across the frontier.
Ice hockey in Israel, a country of nearly 8 million people, is modest: There are about 6,000 players in Israel in three different age leagues, coach Ben Chernie said. But thanks to its rink, and a large local population of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Metulla has emerged as Israel’s hockey capital.
The Metulla junior ice hockey team has trained together for more than 1½ years now. They are ranked No. 4 in Israel’s Peewee league.
“Next year, if not first place, they’ll be second place,” Weinberg said. “A year ago they weren’t in a level to play in the league.”
Their patron, Greenberg, is hoping to improve their rank — and love of the sport — by flying them to Canada for a 10-day ice hockey tour.
They’ll watch the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators play, meet some players, receive coaching and play against other teams, said Shoshana Rabinowitz, Greenberg’s assistant.
They’ll be hosted by Jewish families in each city. The Druse and Jewish youths were partnered off together to help foster friendships, Weinberg said.
“This is how it starts, in small things,” he said.
During training on the rink this week, Sabag and his Israeli teammate, 14-year-old Lidor Bez, buzzed around Weinberg on the ice, demanding to be partners during the Canada trip. They want to sit beside each other on the plane and stay with the same families, they said.
“He’s a friend of mine — a good friend,” Bez said. “When we play together, we aren’t going to let each other fail. Even if he is from Syria, and I am from Israel.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
Join us for a unique food and wine event that will showcase acclaimed chefs from Israel and Toronto, Muslim and Jewish, cooking for co-existence. www.chefs4peace.com
This inaugural five course culinary event will be launched in Toronto at Mideastro Bistro, located at 27 Yorkville Avenue starting at 6:30pm Kashrut/Halal observed. The event will be hosted by accomplished Food Critic and Author Bonnie Stern and Founder of Chefs For Peace Kevork Alemian. The roster of celebrity Chefs include; Pastry Chef Ibrahim Abuseir from The David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, Executive Chef Yossi Elad from Mackneyada in Jerusalem, Executive Chef Abderrahman Khallouk from Kara Mia in Toronto, Executive Chef Benny Cohen from Midestro in Toronto and Executive Chef Eran Marom Marron from Marom Bistro Modederne in Toronto.
To Reserve or for more information contact Shirin Ezekiel by clicking here
CHEFS FOR PEACE a nonprofit organization, was founded in November 2001 to implement events using culinary arts as a strategy to facilitate coexistence between the two peoples.
CHEFS FOR PEACE will utilize the interest in food, cooking and professional culinary opportunities to provide experiences between people separated by partisan circumstances
CHEFS FOR PEACE believe that through using the vocabulary of the kitchen, and mutual understanding and practical cooperation, they will try to acknowledge the true one path, and that is PEACE.
BONNIE STERN is one of Canada’s most popular food personalities. She is founder of the Bonnie Stern School of Cooking in Toronto which she opened and operated from 1973 to 2011. She has studied and taught cooking around the world, authored 12 bestselling cookbooks, hosted three national cooking shows, and appears regularly on various television and radio shows across Canada.
Bonnie writes a weekly column for the National Post and her articles have appeared in numerous magazines. She leads team-building classes for major corporations, has pop up cooking classes on many topics and instructs HeartSmart cooking seminars for health professionals. She has conducted popular workshops for the James Beard Foundation in New York City and leads culinary cultural trips to various delicious destinations. Bonnie is also the creator of a ground-breaking book club in which novelists are invited to discuss their work during thematic dinners.
Bonnie Stern is the recipient of many awards including ones from the Toronto Culinary Guild, the Ontario Hostelry Institute, Cuisine Canada and most notably she is the recipient of the 2007 Premier’s Award. Bonnie Stern’s Essentials of Home Cooking won the coveted International Association of Culinary Professionals’ award.
Specializes in baking. Owner of the late café-bistro ‘Sak Kemach’ (Bag of Flour) in Mevaseret Zion for four years. In the previous decade he opened ‘Sardo’ in Tel Aviv with Hani Farber which was highly praised by those in the know, and then conquered the kitchens of ‘Oceanos’ and ‘Cacao’ in Jerusalem, ‘Aluma’ restaurant in Tarshicha and ‘Mitbach Shel Rama’ in Nataf. A member of the ‘Chef’s for Peace’ non-profit organization and the international ‘Slow Food’ movement, which supports the use of local ingredients. Heavy influenced by the Italian kitchen.
Machneyuda is an authentic Mediterranean market restaurant owned and managed by three Jerusalem chefs with impressive resumes: Asaf Granit, Yossi Elad and Uri Navon.
Machneyuda is an unusual collaboration between three chefs, gathering the styles of each one and bringing to bear a culinary creation belonging to each side of the triangle – a simultaneously complex and simple Jerusalem kitchen – pedantic, exact, straightforward and not unnecessarily sophisticated. During each service, one of the chefs takes the lead in the kitchen, with the others falling behind as cooks on the line.
The menu at Machneyuda is written on a huge board daily, and is based on select ingredients that were plucked by the three chefs from the nearby market stands. Everyday diners will find a different selection of dishes in four price categories with two fish dishes, two meat dishes and a selection of vegetarian dishes in each category.
The restaurant interior, another non-conventional element, is divided into two levels; the kitchen, the pantry and the dining areas meld together seamlessly, providing a theatrical and dynamic view and a joyous dining experience. The open kitchen testifies that ‘we have nothing to hide.’ With a cheerful and colourful porcelain tile canopy, the kitchen is located on the first floor taking up a large area without taking up serving space – the food here is the very site of the happening, and all that is left to do is sit back and enjoy the show. Diners are invited to sit at the small bar looking out at the kitchen staff (and also have chat with them, of course), to find a spot at one of the wood tables or take a load off at the low bar. On the second floor are additional spots – low and high, including a small bar overlooking all the happenings below.
A passion for food and a long-standing family tradition are what influenced Executive Chef Abderrahman Khallouk to pursue a career as a professional Chef. Interested in all aspects of the culinary art, Abdul has seen his cuisine develop throughout the years, traveling around Morocco, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy & England learning about different cultures and their cuisine.
Abdul’s real affair with cuisine began in early 1980’s when he moved to England from Morocco to study at Croydon College, England, where he successfully acquired City & Guilds certification and National Vocation qualification for catering & hospitality food hygiene.
Eager to put his creativity to work, Abdul held various positions at several famous restaurants like The Nest, Villa Italia, Mama Angela Restaurant, Flombe Restaurant & Mediterraneo Restaurant in London, England.
Abdul then moved to Canada in 1997 and worked for famous Italian restaurants in the GTA; Via Ale Gro, Dimmi, & Canelli’s.
Abdul also had an opportunity to work with the late famous Italian chef Pasquale Carpino, also known as the singing chef.
In 2006, Abdul’s long-time dream came true when he opened his own restaurant Kara Mia offering modern Italian cuisine in the City of Vaughan.
Abdul’s boisterous personality leaves a definite impression on guests and a unique imprint on the cuisine at Kara Mia. He has created a distinct menu that showcases inventive and sophisticated yet approachable cuisine. Abdul’s culinary style focuses on bringing out the flavor of each element of a dish. Part of his process includes utilizing fresh ingredients from the best sources possible.
Chef Abdul has established a tradition at Kara Mia of serving the best steaks and seafood in town while providing the most attentive service imaginable to guests and patrons.
Chef Eran Marom was born in Haifa, Israel. At age 15, Chef Marom began his culinary studies and cooked through mandatory military service in Israel. At age 20, Chef Marom attended Ecole des Arts Culinaires et de l’Hôtellerie in Lyon, France (now the Paul Bocuse Institute) learning under the supervision of Chef Paul Bocuse. He later studied under world renowned chefs World Pastry Champion, Pascal Molines and Alain Le Cossec, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1991.
At age 22, after two years in France Chef Marom was contacted by Chef Daniel Boulud of the restaurant “Daniel”. Over the next years Chef Marom was able to fine tune his talents and skills to the delight of discriminating patrons and his mentor Chef Boulud. Chef Marom later traveled through many parts of Europe and North America looking to expand and explore his culinary vision. This journey took Chef Marom to Toronto where he found a new home and would begin the challenge of starting his own kosher restaurant.
Today, Chef Marom is owner and chef to Marron Bistro a kosher fine dining restaurant located on Eglinton Avenue West in mid-town Toronto. Here he creates various succulent culinary dishes, combined with his unique style and careful attention to detail, that has gained him local acclaim.
Chef Benny Cohen was born in Israel to French Moroccan parents. He graduated top of his class from the School of Culinary Arts in Tel Aviv as a Certified Chef in 2001. He was instructed, guided and inspired by the likes of Chef Ofer Gal and Chef Oren Giron.
Chef Cohen’s tour around the world exposed him to the varied cultures of Spain, Greece, Turkey, as well as South and Central America, re!ning his knowledge and developing his creativity. Among his overseas pedigree, one will !nd the critically-acclaimed Michelin star restaurant Messa, and NG and Bodega in Israel.
When he moved to Canada three years ago, Chef Cohen’s first foray into the gastronomic world of North America included creating a What-a-Bagel Eatery concept, a breakfast/brunch club, and heading up the kitchen at Shoom Shoom, a Mediterranean bistro. Chef Cohen initially joined the Mideastro team at its first location in Vaughn a year ago. He started by consulting and incorporating the flavours of the Middle East into a Mediterranean menu, resulting in a mouthwatering fusion. He then took charge of Mideastro’s second location, Mideastro Yorkville, becoming its Executive Chef. Although remaining true to Mideastro’s core concept of a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern fusion, Chef Cohen brings his own expertise, ingenuity, and experience to every dish.
Experimenting with spices he sources from top locations overseas allows Chef Cohen to o”er a palate range exclusive to Mideastro. The intricate balances he imbues his creations with are sophisticated and diverse, the likes of which have yet to be tasted by the breadth of Toronto’s gourmands.
President joins world of social networking, launches Israeli, international Facebook pages with help of Mark Zuckerberg
The president of the State of Israel is joining Facebook and is set to receive a near-royal welcome. Shimon Peres is planning on taking advantage of the social network to call on citizens of the world to ask him questions through his official page on the site and even to suggest ideas that could promote peace in the Middle East.
Peres’ page in its Israeli version will be launched on Friday and the international version will be launched with more pomp and ceremony at the Facebook headquarters in San Francisco.
The initiative is part of a new project to promote peace. Its main goal is to create communication with citizens of countries that Israel does not necessarily have diplomatic relations with, with an emphasis on younger citizens from Arab countries. The plan aims to enable them to propose ideas on possible methods of bringing people, rather than just countries, closer.
The president is expected to set out for a visit to the US during which, on March 6, he will visit the Facebook headquarters in the Silicone Valley where he will meet with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Peres will also give an interview which will be transmitted live on Facebook Live. Facebook members from around the world will get the opportunity to ask the president personal questions.
As part of preparations for the launch, the President’s Residence asked musician Noy Alooshe – who was responsible for the Gaddafi ‘Zenga Zenga’ clip – to produce a video clip that would be broadcast on social networks in which Peres asks web surfers to be his friends on Facebook. The clip, Be my Friends for Peace will be premiered when Peres visits the Facebook offices.
Yet Peres’ cyber campaign doesn’t stop there. The President’s Residence noted that they are preparing to launch the project “Peres 360″ which will see him becoming “available” 24 hours a day on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the President’s Residence.
The social networks will be synchronized to allow maximum accessibility to the president’s activity in real time.
“Launching a Facebook page for the president is an extremely important move to strengthening the ties between the president and the broad public throughout the globe,” added the Director General of the President’s Residence Efrat Duvdevani, “and it will form a platform to promote President Peres’ vision of peace while offering positive exposure for the State of Israel.”