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.

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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.
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Originally published in Haaretz 19 July 2013.