October 15, 2018

Israeli Fame-Drain

“Academics in Israel often lament the country’s “brain drain” – the phenomenon of Israelis with advanced degrees migrating to Europe or North America to pursue their careers. The Israeli government has even launched programs designed to lure them back to the country, with incentives and job placement services.

But in recent years, another effect has been shaping up – not the brain drain, but the “fame drain.” After finding success locally, celebrities are increasingly setting out for Hollywood, leaving Israel’s film industry behind for greener pastures.

The most recent example is comedian Guri Alfi, one of the most popular stand-up comics in the country, who transplanted his wife and four daughters to Los Angeles last month to pursue a writing and acting career.

Watching Alfi explore his new surroundings – through the aid of social media, of course – it is clear that the comedian has many like-minded friends in California. Within the first few weeks of his arrival in the United States, Alfi has hung out with Fauda’s Lior Raz, singer and actress Ninet Tayeb, actor Mark Ivanir and actress and producer Noa Tishby.

And it’s not just actors looking to leave their mark on Hollywood. Directors Gideon Raff and Ariel Vromen have both put down roots in Los Angeles. Mentalists Uri Geller and Lior Suchard dart in and out of Israel so fast you’ll think it’s all an illusion.

And wildly popular Israeli musicians Omer Adam, and Static and Ben-El set up concert dates in North America this year. Adam was forced to cancel them over visa issues, while the pop duo Static and Ben-El followed up their US tour up by signing a huge deal with Capitol Records to produce seven English-language albums. The singers have said they want to stay in Israel, but would consider relocating to the US if work demands it.

Should Israel be celebrating its cultural ambassadors abroad, or lamenting their need to depart the country to live out their dreams?”

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