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!
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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