Offbeat Israel: Mishloach Manot for Hard Times

The animation director of Waltz With Bashir has released a short movie intended to rally opinion against the Gaza blockade.

Yoni Goodman’s new film, “Closed Zone,” consists of animation and real footage from Gaza, and addresses the lack of freedom of movement for Gazans. In it, a young boy pursues a flying bird — a symbol of freedom — but is blocked wherever he goes by a large hand.

The hand stops him leaving Gaza by boat. Elsewhere, it turns him back to the course of fire. At the Rafah crossing with Egypt, the hand is shrouded in an Egyptian flag and is joined by another hand, adorned with an Israeli flag.

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Goodman produced the film for Gisha — Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, an Israeli nonprofit organization. He started the film before the recent Gaza campaign, but reworked parts after the campaign.

With the festival of Purim coming up on Tuesday, Israelis are out at the supermarkets in force, buying all sorts of goodies to put in mishloach manot, traditional Purim food baskets given to friends and family.

In recent years, the bar for mishloach manot has been raised significantly. Once a homemade cake and a bar of chocolate did the trick; these days, some Israelis opt instead for gourmet goodies with large price tags.

In view of the global economic crisis and the rising cost of food, some of the country’s leading Sephardi rabbis have issued a ruling urging people to take a more frugal approach. They are telling people to “restrain from wastefulness” and suggesting that Israelis shun candies for foods with nutritional value and a long shelf life.

In a country of people who love to share information, it seems there are two groups of people you can rely on to protect your secrets — Catholic priests and strip-club owners.

The nation has become gripped by the question of whether outgoing head of the Israeli navy, Eliezer Marom, had a lap dance in a Tel Aviv club. The club owner is rumored to have a video that would provide a definitive answer but is refusing to part with it. This story will fill you in on the saga.

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Offbeat Israel: Mishloach Manot for Hard Times

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