At times, there’s this sense that Israelis are everywhere, or — at the very least — behind some of the more interesting things happening out there. Involvement in politics and technology is a constant, of course, but for the purposes of a top five, we’re thinking more stars than start-ups. Actually, we’re talking celebrities, both the known kind and the up-and-coming. From our perspective, it’s always good to know who’s out there.
1) Ninet Tayeb — or Nina, as she’s known by her friends and family — is a 29-year-old Israeli pop singer who initially became known for winning the first season of “Kochav Nolad,” the local version of “American Idol.” But now she’s getting out there, telling Israelis to “Rock the Vote.” The Israeli version of this American concept is still being filmed, but a group of actors and celebrities offered their services, hoping to push more Israelis out to the voting booths come January 22, 2013. “When people sit and complain about why this is like this-or-that, and half of them don’t even go vote, then what can be changed?” asked Tayeb.
2) Tomer Barzide didn’t intend to create his alter ego, Pini-the-Israeli-living-in-London for a Ynet website production. But in the course of a project for his film-school class in London, the Ra’anana native found himself producing shorts about Pini, a fairly typical Israeli guy who goes to London, thinking he’ll be the next Chef Gordon Ramsay after his stint cooking at Israeli army bases. The several-minute-long clips are generally hilarious, often cringe-at-the-screen worthy, and are now heading into a third season.
3) With the success of Showtime’s “Homeland,” the psychological thriller based on Keshet Television’s “Prisoners or War,” why not snatch up a few more Israeli television series? The word is that the American ABC channel is remaking “Your Family or Mine?” — an Israeli show about the lives of a couple and the Friday night dinners spent with their extended families. The US version will be called “Tribes” and is to be produced by Greg Malins of “Friends” fame. As with the Israeli version, which depicts the different personalities of the two families (one Moroccan, the other European) on alternate weeks, “Tribes” will do the same, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
4) Not every Israeli export brings the same kind of skill set to the international table, but it’s worth mentioning that Bezalel Raviv’s “Tunisia” — an “anthem to the Jasmine Revolution” — is now No. 12 in the World Song Contest, in which 51 countries are competing. The Tiberias-born Raviv wrote the song in honor of his parents, who came to Israel from the West African country and always spoke about the goodwill between Arabs, Jews and Christians in their homeland. Using Arab and Jewish imagery, as well as words from the Jewish liturgical song, “Dror Yikra,” Raviv may just have written an electronic pop Middle Eastern anthem.
5) Ohad Eilam doesn’t like to classify his music, a solo effort that includes piano, acoustic and bass guitar. He believes that “any description just narrows music down,” but he aims to have his music “express creativity and freedom.” This Staten Island, New York-born 31-year-old moved back to Israel with his Sabra parents when he was 7, and has pretty much been playing and singing since he was a kid. He spent five years performing with a group called missFlag, an English-speaking band, before striking out his own, and recently released his first solo album, “Layers.”