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Saul Ramonowitz. Mike Nessbaum. The Dead Goys. As everyone knows, Jews were a vital part of the birth of punk music — hell, CBGB's wasn't called "the Schul of Rock" for nothing. But Israeli Jewish punks have always gotten short shrift — until now.
American filmmaker Liz Nord documented Israel's underground punk scene for Jericho's Park: Punk Rock in the Holy Land , which screens today and Friday at Rice Media Center, on the campus of Rice University (Campus entrance #8 University and Stockton Ave. You can check out the trailer and other fun stuff at the film's website.
While a press release notes the how these punks "use their music to speak out against the conformity and militarization that marks [Israel]," the most intriguing issue this raises is that, apparently on the eve of 2007, mohawks and tats are still seen as non-conformist in Israel. What's next — a safety-pin through Ben-Gurion's nose? Never mind the matzoh balls!
Apparently, one of the only ways to get out of Israel's mandatory military service is by being declared psychotic. It's not clear if Nord ever asks, "Hey, if you live in a country smaller than New Jersey, completely surrounded by neighbors who want to kick your ass, is compulsory military service maybe a necessary evil?" But then again, maybe she, like the feisty yelladim in Vaadat Kishut, were just too busy rockin' out to ask. — Craig Malisow