Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shyne-ing Star: Moshe Levi Raps Ultra

From Mexico City, the world's formost Orthodox rapper moved to Jerusalem in 2010, correspondent Karl Vick blogs in  For an ultra-orthodox Jew he seems, well, unorthodox. Read on:

Moshe Levi both fits in and doesn’t. Race is only part of it. Israeli Jews come in all shades, from the Falash of Ethiopia to the pinkest German Ashkenazi. When it comes to religious observance, however, skin color generally signals less than attire. The round felt hat, formal suit and high white stockings Levi sports is the uniform of the Ultra-Orthodox, Jews who dress in the clothes of 18th century Eastern Europe for a reason: They take great efforts to form communities removed from a modern world riven with degradations like television, the internet and, yes, rap music. As a group, they are also the poorest Jews in Israel, families often subsisting on welfare while the husband spends the day studying scripture.
That’s not Levi, who doesn’t actually read Hebrew. “I’m more of a doer than a reader,” he says.
Nor does he follow a particular rabbi, another Ultra-Orthodox norm. “I definitely try not to get into the whole gang affiliation thing,” Levi says.  If on some days he wears a striped suit, other times flat black, it’s because he admires the traditions. He also jets up to Paris for Fashion Week.
“I don’t really have time to figure out their thing. I have my thing.”
His thing is not Zionism, the ideology that brought Israel into existence as a state.  “Absolutely not,” Levi says. “I just said I’m absolutely not into sects or gangs. I love all human beings.”
His thing is music. As Shyne, he has completed two unreleased albums, Gangland and Messiah. Both are rap, but “totally philosophical and sophisticated,” he says. “No misogyny. None of that deranged stuff  I used to be into” a decade or so ago, as a protégé of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs at Bad Boy Entertainment. He was with Combs and his girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Lopez, when the ruckus broke out in the Club New York.  Combs and his bodyguard were also tried but acquitted.
“I don’t even want to be a rapper,” Levi says at one point in the interview. “I don’t listen to that music. I’m a musician. I’d rather be like Bob Marley or Leonard Cohen, one of those guys.”
 Read more.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Israeli democracy 'shackling freedoms' says FT

“In recent weeks, the country has been consumed by an anguished debate over a series of new laws and proposals that many fear are designed to stifle dissent, weaken minority rights, restrict freedom of speech and emasculate the judiciary. They include a law that in effect allows Israeli communities to exclude Arab families; another that imposes penalties on Israelis advocating a boycott of products made in West Bank Jewish settlements; and proposals that would subject the supreme court to greater political oversight.”
so writes Tobias Buck, Jerusalem correspondent for the Financial Times.  He adds that, despite the coarsening of domestic political discourse that has unleashed fury and dismay inside the Jewish state, 
"the chances of Israel turning into a dictatorship are about as high as those of Saudi Arabia turning into a liberal democracy."

Faint praise, indeed. When rightwing Israeli extremists attack the IDF troops who are pledged to protect them in the West Bank, as happened yesterday, the mind boggles at their warped vigilante notion of "price tag." The entire country pays the coast of their shortsighted actions.

 Israelity bites.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Core Issue: When did the Dead Sea Die?

Geo-scientists are drilling for knowledge and located a pebble beach hundreds of meters beneath the Dead Sea. The BBC reports on its significance from a conference on the West Coast of America:
The Dead Sea is an extraordinary place. The surface of the inland waterway sits at the lowest land point on the planet, more than 400m below sea level...Lake dry-down happened 120,000 years ago without any human intervention.