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Netanyahu and Gantz talk about annexing the Jordan Valley, but what does it actually mean?

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-01-24 19:22
Thousands of Israelis and tens of thousands of Palestinians share this contested part of the West Bank. How did we get to talking about annexation, and how might it look like?

Trump’s ‘peace plan’ forces Americans to choose: a Jewish state or a democratic one?

The Forward - Fri, 2020-01-24 19:09
Trump will invite Netanyahu and Gantz, both supporters of annexation, to the White House. They will endorse the plan.

It’s no election campaign gift or friendship: Putin just blackmailed Netanyahu

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-01-24 19:01
Russia will free an Israeli woman jailed on drug charges, but the ironic smile on Putin’s lips told the whole story. Meanwhile, Bibi’s talk of annexation is causing problems for Benny Gantz

Prince Charles visits Jerusalem tomb of grandmother who saved Jews during the Holocaust

Haaretz - Fri, 2020-01-24 18:39
Princess Alice of Greece's actions under Nazi occupation a source of 'immense pride,' British royal told Holocaust Forum

Their romance ended. Then the duo behind Lola Marsh became Israel’s biggest indie band.

JTA - Fri, 2020-01-24 18:19

(JTA) — Gil Landau and Yael Cohen, the two core members of Lola Marsh, don’t seem to care much about any of it — the pressure of being Israel’s biggest indie band, the baggage that comes with being labeled as Israeli occupiers in some of the places they perform, even the stress of collaborating together as ex-boyfriend and girlfriend.

Calling on separate phone lines from Tel Aviv, they sound genuinely relaxed, as if they just put down a thoughtful book after hours of reading. Gil calls his bandmate Yaeli, a small but cute sign of affection.

“We prefer to deal with the fun stuff,” Gil says. “If someone asks us about the not fun stuff, we just try to lead the conversation to the fun stuff.”

Despite the stories that swirl around them, the pair have certainly had their share of fun since they met at a party over six years ago. Yael had worked as a waitress, Gil as a guitar teacher. Each had played in several different groups — Yael dabbled in a girl band and a cover band, Gil played in a psychedelic rock outfit — but nothing really got them anywhere.

They instantly hit it off, personally and musically, and agreed to be serious about the Lola Marsh project from the start, meeting to write and rehearse almost every day. Taking inspiration from everything from old Western movie soundtracks to modern indie rock, they crafted an original style that blends folk rock, pop and sweeping orchestral sounds. Yael’s voice is often compared to the smooth, sultry tone of Lana Del Rey.

The duo quickly signed with an indie record label, then the giant Universal music group, releasing an EP and then an album, “Remember Roses,” in 2017. They’ve since played big festivals around the world, cultivating a diverse global following and piling up several million Spotify streams. Their second album, “Someday Tomorrow Maybe,” was released on Friday.

Gil Landau and Yael Cohen of Lola Marsh perform on stage at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, Nov. 7, 2017. (Dimitri Hakke/Redferns/Getty Images)

Among other topics, the album deals with moving on from hard times — including from each other. After starting the band, Gil and Yael started to date, but it didn’t last.

Miraculously, they emerged from their relationship as even better friends, and Gil thinks their songwriting process got more comfortable as well. This time around, the two gathered every day for three months to sit in a room of instruments and experiment. It was a stark contrast to the way the first album was pieced together, from old ideas and songs written between busy bouts of touring.

Inevitably, strong feelings poured into the lyrics.

“Both of us I think overcame our breakup much before we started to write the next album, it was really just the inspiration: ‘We’ve been through it together.’ ‘Yeah you remember?’ ‘Yeah, let’s write about it,’” Gil said. “It was like friends who were under something together and could share their mutual feelings together.”

“Of course it was difficult… but how do you say it — we won. It’s a success [for] both of us,” Yael said. “As musicians we have the chance to share our feelings inside the songs, so it’s kind of like a medicine sometimes… some way to get closure.”

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The product of their efforts is like nothing else in Israel — or the U.S. and Europe for that matter. At times, the band sounds like it was plucked from several decades ago, probably because Yael and Gil both love old-fashioned crooners (Yael cites Israeli singer Eviatar Banai and France Gall as inspirations). They also have a fondness for old spaghetti western soundtracks. Gil balances that out by stating his fondness for contemporary acts like Sufjan Stevens, Childish Gambino and Tame Impala.

Yael says the music scene in Tel Aviv produces all those genres and more. But as she says they are viewed as indie in Israel because they sing in English, Gil stops her.

“I don’t like to use these words, whether it’s mainstream or pop or indie … I think we have our sound and we have our inspirations, some of them are from Israel, some of them from outside Israel, and we just try to do what we like to hear,” he says.

The fact that they’re Israeli — a rarity in the international indie scene — also doesn’t matter much to them.

“We don’t say, ‘Hey, we’re from here and you’re from there,’ and ‘We believe in this and that.’ … We really try to make it that we and the audience will come to the show, close our eyes and just feel something else for an hour and a half,” Gil says. “Not, ‘OK, I’m in Berlin, I’m in New York, I’m in Paris.’ No. You’re just in a show.”

Yael says they haven’t experienced any harassment in places they’ve performed in Europe that are hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment.

“We always say we like to play in front of people, not in front of countries,” she adds.

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Summer tourrrr

A post shared by LOLA MARSH (@lolamarshband) on Jul 2, 2019 at 6:42am PDT

But there are some instances where the pair get to talk about their country in a positive way with fans, usually when they’re asked about what life is like in Tel Aviv, Gil says. He also fondly recalls a time when they met an Iranian band backstage at a festival and the two groups had a cordial conversation.

But normally, he tries not to think about what others might be thinking about his identity.

“I deal with the next show on tour,” he says.

The post Their romance ended. Then the duo behind Lola Marsh became Israel’s biggest indie band. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Ezra Schwartz, an American terror victim, loved baseball. Now there’s a field in Israel in his memory.

JTA - Fri, 2020-01-24 18:11

JERUSALEM (JTA) — American teen Ezra Schwartz will never play on the baseball field in Raanana that bears his name.

But hundreds of Israeli young people, including some of Ezra’s cousins, will have the chance. In doing so, they will be honoring the memory of a young man who was on his way to volunteer at a nature preserve when he was killed in a 2015 terrorist shooting in the West Bank.

Last week, Israeli teens and their parents, joined by Israel’s Olympic baseball team, which is preparing for the Tokyo games this summer, held a groundbreaking for what has been dubbed “A Field for Ezra.” Organizers hope the field, located in Raanana Park in central Israel and built with funds raised by the Schwartz family, the Jewish National Fund and the Israel Baseball Association, will be ready for baseball activities by the fall.

In a message read at the ceremony, his father said Ezra was “a boy who loved baseball.”

“Nothing made Ezra happier than being on a baseball field. I can’t imagine Ezra’s life without baseball, and I can’t imagine growing up and not having a field to play on,” Ari Schwartz said in the message, which was read last week by the teen’s uncle, Yoav Schwartz of Raanana. “Now these boys and girls in Israel will have that.

“This field is a gift from Ezra to all the kids who will laugh and scream after a big win. This field is a gift so kids can pitch and catch and run and hit for many years to come. This field feels like Ezra is sharing his passion with all those kids who will create memories here that they will never forget.”

Ezra was studying for a year at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh before he was on track to enroll in Rutgers University in New Jersey when he was killed. A Palestinian attacker shot into the minivan in which Ezra was riding through the Etzion bloc. Ezra, who lived in suburban Boston, was 18.

Ezra Schwartz (Twitter)

The park, which now bears a trail dedicated in the teen’s memory, had been established a year earlier in memory of three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped in June 2014 by Palestinians from a traffic junction in Gush Etzion and later killed by their captors. The area had been a neglected forest filled with garbage that was being converted into a nature reserve.

In addition to his love for baseball, Ezra was a devoted New England Patriots fan, and the NFL team honored him with a moment of silence just days after his murder – flashing a photo of him on video screens at Gillette Stadium wearing a team jersey. Team owner Robert Kraft, who is Jewish, paid a shiva visit to the family.

Ezra, his father said, loved being in Israel for the year before college, and he was excited about the growth in popularity of baseball there.

Hundreds of Israelis, mostly boys, play on Raanana baseball teams starting in the third grade. (There’s a girls’ softball league, too.) Raanana also has a professional team, the Express, in the Israel Association of Baseball. But the city has been without a field for several years, with condominiums being constructed on the site of the old field. The teams have been using one of IAB’s main fields in Petach Tikvah as their home.

Ari Schwartz in his message talked about the life lessons that both he and his son learned from baseball.

“Baseball taught him a lot. It taught him not only self-confidence and pride, but also how to fail and that it’s OK to fail,” the message said. “It taught him that hard work matters, that practice matters. It taught him to cheer for your teammates and listen to your coaches. He became a great teacher and passed on what he learned not only to his teammates and brothers but also to me. I became a better coach and better father by learning from Ezra.

“I may be a better coach because of Ezra and I may be a better father because of all the things I learned from Ezra, but I am a father in pain.”

Ari Schwartz called building the field a response to terrorism and a way to celebrate his son’s life. But then reality takes hold.

“This will not be a field of dreams like in the movies,” he said. “I will never be able to have a catch with my son again.”

The post Ezra Schwartz, an American terror victim, loved baseball. Now there’s a field in Israel in his memory. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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