Maccabi Tel Aviv’s European basketball victory on Sunday night has set off a national outpouring of joy in Israel. Some 20,000 people turned out in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Monday evening to greet the returning players and see the hardwon Euroleague Cup.
Even though the team is dominated by foreign-born players, the victory fostered a rare sense of national pride in a country often driven by internal divisions and international criticism, and provided an opportunity to flaunt a sense of normalcy to the world.
Maccabi’s dream season culminated Sunday with an overtime victory over Real Madrid in the Euroleague basketball final in Milan.
Thousands of fans clad in Maccabi yellow filled Rabin Square Sunday night, with many jumping into its landmark fountain. Celebrations erupted in other cities as well, with TV and radio stations airing special broadcasts.
“Amazing the support Israel is giving us. Feels like we brought together an entire country,” tweeted Sylven Landesberg, a U.S.-born guard on the team.
In Milan, the nearly 10,000 fans that made the trip partied all night, hoisting a huge flag of Israel in a public square and hollering the national anthem.
According to initial ratings figures, about a third of the country watched Sunday’s game live on TV, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. Both men called head coach David Blatt after the game to offer congratulations.
“You were an example of determination. The whole team fought like lions and won,” Peres told Blatt. “I watched the whole game and nearly had a heart attack. You are heroes and have brought incredible pride to the state of Israel.”
Peres, who said he was wearing a yellow tie, invited the team to his residence for an official reception upon their return. “Israel is good at impossible things,” he said.
A nation of 8 million, Israel still has a small-town feel to it when it comes to its international sporting successes. While jubilant celebrations from Maccabi’s die-hard fan base were to be expected, the national celebration reflected the type of patriotic fervor rarely seen around other professional sports clubs
All three of the major Israeli TV stations aired special broadcasts to cover the team’s arrival at the airport. Hundreds of fans waited for the team in the terminal as officials engulfed the players and coaches as they disembarked from an El Al plane.
Following the official reception there, the team was to meet Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai before the main festivities were planned at Rabin Square. All other news was pushed aside, as the country’s leaders stopped their business to rally around the team.
Upon greeting visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, Netanyahu informed her that “you’ve come to something of a national holiday because yesterday we proudly saw the victory of Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team for the European championship, so this is a time of great celebration.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv has long been a source of national pride, even as its player base has become less and less Israeli.
Maccabi has seven Americans who played at US colleges, and only two Israel-born players are part of the regular rotation. Their foreign players, including former Boston College guard Tyrese Rice, former UNC Greensboro point guard Ricky Hickman and former University of Virginia forward Devin Smith, were instrumental in Sunday’s victory. Another trio of American basketball players with ties to Judaism play as Israelis.
The high concentration of foreigners has drawn accusations from rivals that the team is comprised of mercenaries with very little to do with the country. But Maccabi has largely remained one of the few bodies of consensus in a deeply divided society.
The team has dominated Israeli basketball for decades and has grown into a European powerhouse, winning five titles. But in recent years, its aura has begun to fade.
Last year, it lost the Israeli title for the third time in six years — after having lost it only once in the previous 39 — and entered the European championship as a huge underdog.
The team that won back-to-back European titles in 2004-05 featured future NBA players like Anthony Parker, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Maceo Baston. Later, homegrown talents Omri Casspi and Gal Mekel also migrated to the NBA.
In contrast, this year’s team was devoid of big stars. It needed a dramatic win on the road to even make it to the Final Four and its victories over heavily favored CSKA Moscow in the semifinals and Real Madrid in the final were sparked by the outstanding play of its bench.
Rice, the tournament’s MVP, hit the game winner in the semifinals and dominated the final game, scoring 26 points, including 14 in overtime.
“No one believed in us,” Maccabi captain Guy Pnini said. “It is hard to fathom and this will take a long time to sink in.”
What was deemed as impossible just a few months ago became a reality on Sunday night, with Maccabi Tel Aviv recording a stunning 98-86 overtime victory over Real Madrid in Milan to claim a sixth European championship title in club history.
Maccabi’s mere presence in the Euroleague Final Four was a huge surprise, but the yellow-and-blue never had any intention of just making up the numbers in Milan, coming back from 15-points down to snatch a dramatic win over CSKA Moscow in Friday’s semifinal.
Tel Aviv wasn’t supposed to have a chance against Real Madrid either, but no team could overcome the unflappable character of David Blatt’s men, with Maccabi erasing an 11-point deficit on Sunday before securing the win in overtime in front of over 9,000 yellow-and-blue fans who dominated the arena.
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Leading chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants are arriving in Israel this week to participate in a fundraiser for Ezrat Avot, an association providing for Jerusalem’s elderly population.
The fundraiser was initiated after the construction of a health and life enrichment center in the city for needy senior citizens was halted due to lack of budget.
Chef Shalom Kadosh of the Fattal Hotels chain decided to help out and sponsor a special culinary event which will be held Thursday with chefs from around the world, who will cook a gourmet dinner together with Israeli chefs.
The funds raised at the event will be dedicated to the completion of the Jerusalem center.
Chefs Marc Haeberlin and Philippe Legendre from France, German chef Harald Wohlfahrt and Israeli chef Moshik Roth from Amsterdam, who share several Michelin stars, will be joined by Israeli chefs Aviv Moshe, Golan Gurfinkel, Yoram Nitzan, Meir Adoni, Mika Sharon, Ezra Kedem, Segev Moshe and Eran Schwartzbard.
The event will be held at the renovated Cardo hall at Jerusalem’s Leonardo Plaza Hotel and will be hosted by writer Hanoch Daum. It will also be attended by the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, who has been aiding the Ezrat Avot association.
Last night marked the 2014 opening of Gindi Tel Aviv Fashion Week. The smell of fashion filled the streets of Israel’s metropolitan wonder, as couture graced Israel’s infamous catwalk. Even the unexpected pouring rain did not damper the festivities, if anything, it seemed to put the stamp of European approval on the proceedings.
Organized by Gindi Real Estate Group and the great Israeli fashion producer Motty Reif, the event showcased the 3rd year of restoring “runway” back to the promise land. In years past, Israel had a strong fashion industry that held an annual fashion week for the last time 30 years ago. Alas, trends change and the sartorial scene took a back seat (trunk) while technology took over the country’s innovative forefront. That is until 2011, when the first revival fashion week strutted it’s style almost 3 decades later. Since then, Tel Aviv has proudly presented Israel’s fashion week… in some years even 2 (but more on that complicated story another time).
The Opening Night Gala was adorned with fashionistas and celebrities galore, and of course Dreed*Tea was on the scene to cover every last bit of the thrilling event for Size Doesn’t Matter. The reception’s atmosphere allured mingling international and local guests dejure with delectable cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with every coming pose. Culminating the night was a runway show, where none other than MISSONI presented their spring/summer collection.
The esteemed guests of honor included 3 generations of the chevron clad Missoni family, as well as Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani. Attending from the Missoni legacy was Rosita Missoni, the patron and founder, Angela Missoni, the daughter, and the current designer, Teresa Missoni the granddaughter and the heiress of the brand.
Thats enough insider buzz for now. Our award winning photographer, Yuval Tebol captured the raw spirit of the night, so feast your eyes on all the happenings of Opening Night Gala . For more play by play visit see Dreed*Tea post about it.
Although unprotected sex with a carrier of human papilloma virus is the main cause of cervical cancer – and killed 80 Israeli women last year – a weakened immune system resulting from smoking, poor nutrition or other infections can also be a cause.
So said the European Cervical Cancer Association, that called this week’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, which Israel is observing along with Europe.
A total of 200 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer here in 2013, but the morbidity (illness) and mortality (death) rates in this country are lower than the more than 40 countries in Europe. The morbidity rate for cervical cancer in Israel (per 100,000 women) is five and the mortality rate is 1.5, compared to close to 35 and 12, respectively, in the worstoff country, Romania.
The rates are lower among Arab (mostly Muslim) Israeli women (exactly one death per 100,000) than among Jewish Israeli women (1.4 per 100,000). Having sex partners who underwent circumcision is regarded as a major reason for lower rates here.
As both Muslim and Jewish men are routinely circumcised, the more conservative sexual habits (fewer partners) among Muslim Israeli women is thought to be the reason for the difference compared to Jewish Israeli women.
The more sexual partners one has, the more likely the virus will spread.
Most women are infected with the virus at some time in their lives, but in 90 percent of cases, the virus disappears without causing harm, destroyed by the host’s immune systems, often without even being noticed. Some strains of the virus can cause genital warts, while others can result in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (also known as cervical dysplasia and cervical interstitial neoplasia). This is potentially pre-malignant, but it is not cancer and is usually curable.
A sexually active woman of ordinary risk between the ages 35 to 54, or a high-risk younger woman, can prevent most cervical cancer by undergoing regular Pap smears to look for irregular cervical cells. The European association recommended that young teenage girls and young women (and young males to prevent transmission) undergo vaccination against papillomavirus to reduce the risk of transference.
But opinion is not uniform. One of the experts who dispute the effectiveness of the treatment is Prof. Uzi Beller, a leading genital cancer gynecologist at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, declared that it had never been proven anywhere that the vaccine actually protects against cancer, but only against genital warts.
“We don’t have a serious problem of cervical cancer here; the whole campaign was premature and a waste of good money,” he told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “and routine Pap smears would have been more effective.”
In fact, although the Health Ministry offered the vaccine free for the first time last fall to over 10,000 girls, only about 60% of them (or their parents) agreed to the shots.
New research pointing to the positive link between cervical cancer and smoking was published in 2012 in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention.
While Israel still has some regulatory kinks to work out, the small Middle Eastern country is poised to link its innovative spirit with Europe’s established business practices to spur growth in technological breakthroughs, according to business leaders at the recent Go4Europe conference in Tel Aviv.
“We are looking for the best talent in the world, and Israel is known for having some of the best talent,” Meir Brand, the managing director of Google Israel, Greece and sub-Saharan Africa, told The Media Line. “We also look for the entrepreneurial spirit and the risk taking that Israelis are comfortable with.”
Brand was among a large group of leading financiers and high-tech CEOs who discussed their vision for creating more cooperative connections between Israel and Europe. The presenters spoke of Israeli know-how and Israelis’ inclination to challenge the status quo.
“One thing in Israel is the cultural element, the disrespect of authority, together with extremely strong technical skills,” Dor Skuler, the vice president of Franco-American telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent told The Media Line.
“There is also a very healthy and strong team spirit (among Israelis). They’re very helpful to each other, and they have a mindset that focuses on the success of the team. They also have a real hunger to disrupt the market.”
While Israel holds promise with those looking to create new digital products, companies who want to engage in larger infrastructure projects still face issues of regulation and government interference.
“There’s a lot of non-coordination between ministries when it comes to national infrastructure, which can cost an entrepreneur a lot of money because of delays if they don’t know how to work the system,” Yosef Abramowitz, a solar power pioneer and CEO of Energiya Global, told The Media Line.
“Our advice for international investors who do want to benefit from long term, green investments in the state of Israel is to find a trusted local partner who can navigate the politics and bureaucracies in Israel.”
According to a recent Bank of Israel study, the average construction time for a project in Israel is 14 years. This lengthy process is one that has stymied business opportunities.
“We’ve seen solar energy companies that have left Israel,” Abramowitz said. “And we’ve seen solar energy companies that have closed shop. So that should be a warning sign to the Ministry of Finance that the state has been squandering the opportunity to have billions of dollars invested in its energy infrastructure. Security has to be given to investors about the future of the industry.”