Monday, 12 September 2016

US election: Trump campaigners confident of votes from Israel

“I feel a Trump presence in the room,” observes Hilla Benzaken, shuddering for effect. “I can feel this presence just hovering over the country. Just saying his name makes me uncomfortable, I feel like it’s the end of days or something.”
Benzaken has just been in the audience of a nonpartisan forum that listened attentively, if not always politely, to a debate between a Democrat and a Republican on the subject of who should be the 45th president of the US.
She is registered to vote in Massachusetts. But the debating room in a modern community centre, adorned with a US flag, is 8876km away — in the seaside ­Israeli city of Netanya.

You can read the full story, published in The Weekend Australian, here

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

From Bondi Vet to Israel's 'snake pit'

Originally published by The Australian. 
When a large black-headed ground snake was discovered slithering about the halls of the Knesset — the Israeli parliament — on a scorching summer’s day, it elicited guffaws among the political correspondents that the reptile would feel right at home.
Capturing the non-venomous creature and releasing it back into the wild would have been a simple task had the Knesset’s newest member, Sharren Haskel, been at work, thanks to her years of experience with Wires, the NSW wildlife rescue organisation.
Ms Haskel, 31, was last month sworn in as a representative for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, fulfilling a political ambition that had flourished since return to Israel three years ago.
Read the full article here

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Malaysia favours Palestinians but buys from Israel

Originally published on The Times of Israel

In the winter of 2013, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak stepped across the Egyptian border at Rafah and made a rare visit by a head of government to Hamas-ruled Gaza. Razak, whose country does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, told reporters: “We believe in the struggle of the Palestinian people. They have been suppressed and oppressed for so long.”
It was crystal clear which side he was on. Yet all that time, his country was importing more and more Israeli products — but not talking about it much, certainly not in Gaza.

Official data published by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) tells of a booming, but very discreet, trade relationship that is blossoming between the two countries, despite a hawkish prime minister in Jerusalem and Razak’s Islamist and proudly pro-Palestinian government in Kuala Lumpur.
Read the full story here

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Homes away from home in Iran

IN the northern Iranian city of Mashhad, in the years before the Islamic Revolution, there lived a young man called Vali. He was fascinated by the foreigners passing through his remote city. Many were heading into Afghanistan, back when it had a prominent spot on the hippie backpacking route.

You can read the full story here

Originally published in The Weekend Australian on July 27 2013.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Israeli political satire served up in English

Satire has long held a valued place in Israel’s public discourse. With a political situation that veers between grimly serious, to hysterically daft and back to tragic, Israelis need a pressure valve. What better way to try and come to terms with the political reality than by having a good belly laugh it?
For Hebrew-speaking Israelis, there have long been comedians willing to send up the most send-uppable of public figures. The classic is the current President, Shimon Peres, who for comedians must surely be a gift that keeps on giving. Ariel Sharon’s rotund gruffness and Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu’s omnipresent smirk are also favorites. Indeed, Netanyahu implicitly acknowledged the strong following satirists have in Israel with his recent appearance alongside his "Eretz Nehederet" doppelganger.
The full story can be found here (for free if you register for or subscribe)
Originally published in Haaretz 19 July 2013. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Elusive ingredient a roadblock to fertile ambitions

As thank-you letters go, it is fairly unusual. Thank you so much for your sperm. This is essentially what Kelly Osterberg and her female partner wrote to the man who donated his sperm so that they could have their baby boy, Wyatt, in February 2012.

When they donate to sperm banks, men have the option of explaining their motivation for a big decision that doesn't necessarily spring to mind on a rainy day.

Read the full story here

Originally published in the Sun-Herald, April 7th 2013.