"They tried to rape me, they harassed me, and I just felt guilty that I was too beautiful"
Moments after assuming the position of AM chairman, Yona Elian talks about her plans ("I will make sure that artists are appreciated in their lives too"), recalls the fatal criticism of the film "Norit" ("It was Ashkenazi arrogance") and talks about the harassment "from actors and directors" She and her friends passed time after time.
Sagi Ben Nun
Friday, 05 August 2022, 00:00
Share on Facebook
Share on WhatsApp
Share on Twitter
Share by email
Share in general
These days, Yona Elian-Keshet has several reasons for parties: first, she was recently appointed to the position of chairman of AM - the Union of Israeli Artists;
Second, this week marked the 50th anniversary of the release of the mythological film "Norit" in which she first met her husband Shashi Keshet;
Third, in a few months, the power couple of the cultural world will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, just like the characters they played on the screen did.
"In the beginning I didn't want to act in the movie 'Nurit'," Elian recalls in an interview with Walla!
Tarbut, "I was a girl at the university who studied the Stanislavski method. I went to my agent and said to her: What is this shit? Talila Ben Zakai, who used to be a journalist, happened to be sitting there, and she said to me: 'Yona, don't be stupid, if the film isn't good, after He won't be remembered for two days. There were a lot of films that entered the cemetery the day after. But if it's good - it will be good. It made sense. In the end, only good things happened to me from 'Norit'."
First of all, of course, the acquaintance with Shashi.
Before you met him on the set you weren't particularly impressed with him even though he was a star.
"I wasn't impressed by his stardom. I was a girl with a heavy head, and I wasn't interested in youth idols who sang pop like Shashi Keshet. I loved Pink Floyd. He wasn't in my milieu at all. But magic happened. I wasn't impressed by his stardom until the first day of filming. They took me in a taxi and we picked up Shashi. The way I saw him - that's it."
In a few months you will celebrate 50 years of marriage.
Are there plans for special celebrations?
"No, we don't like celebrations."
Yona Elian (Photo: Courtesy of those photographed, Rami Zarnagar)
Director George Ovadia suffered insults.
"Davar HaShavu" critic Zeev Rav-Nof wrote a review about "Norit" under the title "Mediterranean Subculture".
Aharon Dolev wrote in Maariv: "I was sure I was in Baghdad or Damascus (...) a nightmare in the daytime."
"It's definitely a form of Ashkenazi arrogance. It's part of processes that have happened since the establishment of the state - they wanted to wipe out the Spanish culture. Yiddish was also forbidden. They wanted to grow a new culture here without the roots. As soon as people started making cinema here with their heart, which is related to the place they came from, Voices began to rise. George Ovadia was one of the better directors I worked with in the cinema. He knew how to cut when the film needed to be edited. It is true that this was not French cinema. They really humiliated Ovadia, cursed him, said terrible things about him, and not justifiably There was probably something real in the movie 'Norit', which passed from our love story unintentionally, there must have been something true there because it worked - one million and 900 thousand people watched the movie after its release. To this day, small children see it, the parents show it to them. Like 'Sabri Marnan' is a good sitcom of its kind. You can't compare it to 'The Handmaid's Tale'."
About two weeks ago, as mentioned above, Yona Elian was elected to the position of chairman of AM, the Union of Israeli Artists that has existed since 1979, thereby becoming the first woman in the position.
During the transition period since Yaakov (Yankel'a) Mendel left, the belief in the rights of the performers, served as the chairman and member of the executive committee Ron Gang.
Yona, you are a great artist, appreciated and loved, why a little after the age of 70 would you need the headache of being Yo" RAMI, a union with quite a few problems?
"This is not a celebration.
This body needs to be rebuilt.
This position is voluntary.
I took on a task.
I have spent many years volunteering, on the executive committee of the 'Elam' association, volunteering for the 'Amech' association, on the executive committee of the Cinema Fund, now I am on the Cinema Council.
When they offered me to run for office, I said first of all 'What do I need it for?'
But then I thought, maybe I'll use what I've achieved in life to help my friends, who are the artist family,
Yona Elian (Photo: Courtesy of those photographed)
"This move is also related to what happened in Corona, where the artists' sector was the most unhappy. We were the last to be closed and the last to open, and to this day the world of culture has not fully recovered. Older people are still afraid to go to cultural events, the money stopped, everything fell apart, I saw around me So many young artists that the ground has been dropped from under their feet, I see young people really struggling, so I told myself that I would try to help a little. The status of the artist in Israel is terrible, the culture budget in the country is terrible. I always joined the delegations to the prime ministers, the ministers of finance and the ministers of culture and we begged for budgets. We didn't just ask For ourselves. The elected officials always liked to take pictures with us in the Knesset corridors, but we were waved off politely or politely and there some minister scraped some money off our ends. Very very difficult.
"There are the stars who earn more money, there are many artists who work - but cannot make a living from the profession. This country loves its dead artists. When an artist dies, he suddenly receives a lot of respect, and suddenly we become the 'soundtrack of our lives,' suddenly all his songs are played and suddenly everyone They talk about him. But in life there are difficult stories about the lives of artists. This characterizes both young and adolescent artists. In other countries, there is more appreciation for art in places where you have to give money, for example in France. In Germany, artists have amazing pensions, because there they recognize the fact that artists are not really prepared arrange a solid financial path for themselves, then they are taken care of. If I can help a little in improving the lives and conditions of the artists - then I have done something."
Former Minister of Culture Miri Regev, when she took office in 2015, called the artists "ungrateful and low-key".
This statement is mainly indicative of Regev, yet in the role of AM chairman you will surely encounter some artists who will not show gratitude or exaggerate their complaints.
"Miri Regev was not righteous, period. Complaints are human nature. This is about my family, the family of artists, and if I can somehow move things around and influence - then I have earned my wages and the art world will earn its wages. Make sure that artists do not receive appreciation only after their death."
Elian's appointment to the position of AM chairman is a full circle for her, as her husband, the actor and singer Shashi Keshet, is one of the people who founded the union in 1979, along with Yafe Yarkoni, Shlomo Artzi, Ili Gorlikatsi, Jordana Arzi and others.
"AM got up in our living room in Tel Aviv, when Shlomo and Shashi were sitting and talking about the situation.
I was at Bhima at the time and served as a representative of the players in the Histadrut.
The wages of the players in the Histadrut were then tied to the needle workers.
It made me laugh so much.
So Shlomo and Shei talked about the situation of the artists, and said that a union should be formed.
Then they brought in Ili Gorliktsi, who was the big engine that founded AM, and then founded Eshkolot."
More in Walla!
Fire Fire Fire: Nuno's talent burned the barbie - and that's just the beginning
To the full article
Yona Elian in the play "The Housewife" at Beit Lisin (Photo: Kafir Bolotin)
Elian brings a new and fresh spirit to the artists' union, and she certainly deserves 100 days of grace, but as a new chairman her task will not be easy. She enters a troubled union, and it is difficult to think of any resounding actions of his in recent years, perhaps except for the AM Awards ceremony, which is also Not without problems.
This union has long since become a much less relevant body and this is reflected, among other things, in the union's meager budget and little support from the state.
According to AM's own financial report, there was a large drop from 2019 to 2020 in the support of funding bodies from NIS 429,000 to NIS 332,000.
The union also received few points from the Ministry of Culture due to the relative minority of activities it reported.
For example, in the group activities section (seminars and workshops for artists, etc.) in the support tests of the Ministry of Culture for 2021, Ami received zero points.
"That's right, Ami fell behind in the Ministry of Culture's support tests," Elian admits. "There is already a letter with the Minister of Culture Troper asking to correct the data provided by Ami in the request for support. There was some kind of glitch last year and no data was provided by Ami.
But there were courses and there was activity - but it was not reported.
This thing will be taken care of.
I should point out that the administrative side related to CEOs is not my side, even though I know and study all the data."
This raises the question - are you going to be just the "presenter", the representative face of AM, or are you going to immerse yourself in the hard and gray flow of the work?
I am the chairman of the union, whose job it is to inspire, to chart a course, to criticize what is being done. We need to establish special committees, we need people. Many details need to be corrected and studied. Take for example the matter of AM's collection, which is less effective, this is also due to There are older artists who cannot pay the full amount, so they are charged less."
A lot of artists in the industry don't even know what Ami does at all, and have raised a question mark about Ami's relevance.
"Those who ask what is the right of existence of AM reminds me of the question: what is the right of existence of the old artists?
AM's right to exist is, among other things, to give a lot of attention to the veteran artists as well as those who are not stars. This year we have already raised donations to give to the older artists during the holidays, this is very important."
Yona Elian and Shashi Keshet in a clip from the movie "Norit" directed by George Ovadia, released in 1972 (photo: screenshot, screenshot)
One of AM's only notable enterprises in recent years is the AM Awards ceremony.
On the one hand, it is very nice that great respect is given to veteran artists as well as to artists who are not famous.
On the other hand, it is unfortunate that the recognition is not accompanied by a monetary award.
Another problem with the Emmy awards, which we first pointed out in Vala! Culture last year, is the discrimination against women. At the last Emmy ceremony, which Elian herself won among others, there was a big gap between men and women in receiving the awards - the 22 awards that were given were distributed to 16 men compared to only 6 women.
"It will be fixed," she promises.
"There is something to take care of. I also think that an award should be given to the promising player."
The Shaham players' organization was founded against the background of Ami's inaction and inaction.
Over the years, Shachem has become much more prominent, effective and significant than Ami in the actions and agreements it achieves.
It is against this background that young players go to Shaam and very few of them join Ami.
Why do you even need these two bodies to represent the players?
"You don't need two unions for players. My biggest dream is to unite with Shachem.
This is my vision.
I think Shachem is doing a great job. A large part of the young players only know Shachem, and rightly so, and they received wonderful treatment there.
It's true that Sha'am are more prominent. But here at AMI we have not only actors but also Shalom Hanoch, Jordana Arzi, magicians and dancers.
My dream is that there will be one super organization, with departments, and each department will specialize in a specific area, then it will have more power because the amount of people has power.
I understood that in the past there were talks for unification, I hope it will happen.
"What's our big trouble? The parades. You know, I just filmed a Netflix series in Antwerp. This city is smaller than Tel Aviv but it has 40 synagogues! Why? It's terribly Jewish. Because everyone has a different kind of wig and a different kind of tassel. Part of our being We are weak as a society due to our division."
More in Walla!
22 AM awards were handed out, 16 of which went to men; Shimi Tabori: "I don't mind, there are more men in the Knesset too"
To the full article
Yona Elian at a party with his uncle Topaz and Shashi Keshet (Photo: Maariv, Naor Rahab)
The series for which Eliane has photographed in Antwerp in recent months is "Diamonds", an Israeli-Belgian crime drama that follows the story of the diamond industry.
The series was created by Rotem Shamir and Yuval Yafet in a joint production by Keshet and the Belgian production company De Mensen.
It will air on Netflix and the Belgian broadcasting corporation Eén.
"It was an extraordinary experience. The conditions are different from an Israeli production - not in terms of special treats, but the fact that you shoot only 3-4 scenes a day is a luxury you dream of and doesn't happen here. It's a series with eight episodes, and the budget for each episode there is like a budget of a feature here, a million dollars. The strange thing was that we filmed it when the corona was at its peak. Tests and more tests and it was horrible. I was alone in the airports. It was crazy. I was with the trolley, I walked and the fields were empty. I had a lot of connections because of flight cancellations In Corona. I traveled through Istanbul and Holland to Brussels. Some 19 flights. Huge airports, and I'm with the trolley alone, without people.
You are taking on the realistic role of AM chairman, after you have already taken on the role in the play "The Landlady" in Beit Lisin" in which you play a woman in a senior bureaucratic position, a vice president at the Shalom Center, who is responsible for a lot of money - who gets into trouble.
Let's hope of course that God forbid you don't get into trouble as AM chairman in a similar way to your character.
"What else is there to exploit there? How much money is there already in AMI?
What's more, I want to bring donations to AMI. This is also part of my vision, to bring donations. And I also dream of establishing a home for artists in Tel Aviv."
In the play, based on Naa Yadlin's book "The Housewife" directed by Ido Rosenberg, do you have difficulty portraying someone who does something that is perceived as bad and inappropriate?
How did you manage to connect to it?
"Actors should not judge their character. But I definitely know that she is wrong, and her actions are unjustified. Look, she is a very complex character. She is not unequivocally 'bad', not unequivocally 'good'. And there is a very big plus that a character puts you in To the bottom and also below. The biggest compliment I received was from someone who came to me and said: 'What can I tell you, the better you play, the worse this character is'! And that's great in my opinion. It's true that I have to find justifications when I play her."
Yona Elian (Photo: Maariv, Eric Sultan)
The show is also a lot about mothers, your character is not the mother of the year, to say the least.
Did she make you think new things about your mothers?
"My character is not a good mother. She tells the truth, and it doesn't matter who is standing in front of her. She is domineering. Impatient. But there are women like that. I have reflections on mothers all the time, I am also the chairman of the friendship circle of the women's lobby.
As much as we have progressed, it is constantly two steps forward and one step back.
Because in the end, in the collective subconscious, if I didn't put the children to bed, I felt guilty, not father.
It's never dad.
Although Shashi was a full partner because he is a kibbutznik, and with him it goes without saying, but somehow the ministerial responsibility was always on me, because that's how I was brought up.
To this day they sing on Hanukkah 'My mother gave me a biba'.
And the father?
He buys the spinner."
Tzipi Pines, the executive director and artistic director of Beit Lisin, is not only your boss but also your friend for many years. It might put you in a conflict of interest if you were asked as AM chairman to support some struggle of artists against Pines?
"Tzipi is a friend Shelly, we meet, travel abroad, but as far as the profession is concerned - there are no friends. Tzipi and I have been friends since university and have a very complex relationship, which only two intelligent women could overcome, two men would kill each other. We have an agreement , that in professional meetings there is no question of friendship, in terms of what I want and what she wants from me. We are capable of it. If it is necessary to fight against her - we will fight."
What do you think about the announcement of the labor dispute announced by Shaam against Beit Lisin, against the background of the cancellation of performances for about two weeks during the shutdown of the theater by the technical workers without any financial compensation and without notice, and also against the background of Shaam's demand for a collective agreement.
"Let's see what happens. I promise that my position will be completely objective. By the way, I am also an actress who was affected by this strike. So whose benefit should I be? Regarding the demand for the collective agreement, I have not yet learned the details of the collective agreement. I don't know if this is the best thing . There may be a better constellation. A collective agreement belongs to the Histadrut, doesn't it? Maybe it should be up to the players' choice."
More in Walla!
"Trust Saul" season 6 episode 11: The visit we didn't need
To the full article
Yona Elian at the inauguration of the new building of the Beit Lisin Theater in Tel Aviv, in her first public performance since she recovered and was released from the hospital due to the kissing disease (Photo: Reuven Castro)
By the way of inequality and Beit Lisin, at the end of last year there was a conference of theater creators where Tzipi Pines, the executive director and artistic director of Beit Lisin, was accused by theater creators of discriminating against women from directing and writing positions. Among other things, they pointed out that out of 11 plays that were running at the time only One was directed by a woman, Pines herself.
"I'm not part of Tzipi's decisions, but I know her well. She is definitely in favor of promoting women. I don't think Tzipi did the apartment on purpose. Maybe there wasn't enough supply. I've done a lot of female roles, also of Israeli playwrights, for example 'The Housewife' which is based on her book of a woman - Noa Yadlin, and two women wrote the adaptation - Shlomit Arnon Bar-Lev and Liat Fishman Leni. It is true that the director was a man. I know that Tzipi really likes plays with women's roles, by virtue of being a woman she sympathizes. But if the result is like this, the bottom line There weren't enough women - so she needs to fix that, there's no doubt. And I know her, she'll fix it. She's very pro-women. If there's one of my friends who's a feminist, it's Tzipi."
Eliane says that the fight for women's rights is another goal of hers as AM chairman, as well as the fight against sexual harassment in the industry.
"Am's executive committee has 50 percent women.
The status of women should be taken care of.
You can see a 70-year-old actor playing a character having an affair with a 40-year-old woman, and you won't find it strange.
But if it is the other way around it will seem strange to people.
These are things that need to be fixed.
I haven't seen the fourth season of 'The Handmaid's Tale', it's getting so close to what's really happening that it's hard for me to watch.
They say, there are already bank managers, there are pilots, there are doctors, there are surgeons.
But with all this - we still live in a man's world, and we have to fight against that.
It is the men who control the economy."
In December 2017, shortly after the MeToo movement broke into the world, Elian participated in an interview with the "People" program at Bequest 12, because a familiar Israeli man tried to forcibly rape her, and she fought him very hard.
"As an actress, I have gone through all the stages of MeToo. If you take 100 women in a room - 99 and a half of them have been sexually assaulted," Elian says, "this attempted rape may have been more serious, but there were other harassments, also in the theater from former directors, former actors. One of the hardest things that happened in my generation, that we thought we were guilty. Because we were too beautiful, or we dressed too nicely or too revealing. It was education. None of us had anyone to talk to, to tell us - no, it's your body. Today A young player does not dare."
More in Walla!
"You don't give women a chance", "Don't lynch me": the stormy confrontation between Tzipi Pines and the creators
To the full article
The show "The owner of the house" also refers to the Israeli left.
You said earlier that you are an enthusiastic supporter of the unification of the Ami and Sha'am unions and in general are in favor of unification in the nation.
What do you think of the fact that while in some polls Labor and Meretz are on the borderline of the blocking percentage, the chairman of the Labor party Merav Michaeli insists on opposing the unification of the parties
The fragments of opinions, the fragments of currents and the fragments of parties.
It is terrible.
Everyone feels this way - but they are not ready to unite.
How can you even know who is on which list?
A union on the left, and a union in general, would help us all.
Even if there are differences of opinion - it should not divide.
People don't have to become enemies.
"I've lost my way in politics. Everything is so far-fetched, unreal and happening so much above our heads. I don't understand people who go into politics, where you have to lead a people and lead a country and are supposed to create the good conditions for the society they will lead, but everyone, without exception, worries First of all, their personal matters, and that's what leads their way. I can't understand it. Almost everyone is sick of this thing. It destroys us."
In some polls Netanyahu is very close to 61.
Does it worry you that he will return, and perhaps appoint Itamar Ben Gabir as Minister of Culture?
"If it happens - we will deal with it. I will not give up. Whatever happens - I will deal with it. Now that I have taken on the role of AM chairman, I will devote a lot of energy to fighting for what is necessary, to the best of my ability. And if I fulfill even half of my dreams , I think the situation of artists will improve in Israel."
Yona Elian and Shashi Keshet at the AM Awards 2021 (Photo: AM PR)
In February 2015, after external interference by the Prime Minister's Office in the work of the Israel Prize committees was revealed, many judges resigned from the prize committees they were members of, including Yona Elian, who was a member of the Israel Film Prize.
"I resigned both because of Netanyahu's interference and stirring and because they published the names of the judges, which is not allowed according to the protocols. At that moment I said - I am not staying here."
Also this year, you were on the Israel Theater Award Committee, which selected the actor, director and theater founder Oded Kotler.
What did you think of the uproar it caused because of his "beast speech"?
"I'm not giving him an award for political views. I'm giving him an award for his work in art. No one was equal to him. I think he deserved the award very much. What a man! And after everything he's done, even now, when he's 85 years old, he's playing in Fring This means that this soul of his is a real soul."
More in Walla!
"I heard that he said he would have been happy to share the prize with me": this is how Tamir Kaliski reacted to winning a consolation prize
To the full article
Yona Elian wins at the 2021 AM Awards ceremony (Photo: AM PR)
By the way of politics, in high school you were the partner of former minister Haim Ramon, your daughter is married to the son of former Knesset member Mickey Rosenthal.
Take any of them for advice on politics?
"I didn't get any advice from them. Miki, by the way, is a charming man steeped in ideology, there aren't many of them. I don't see my position as a political one. Being in a leadership position is fine. To engage in politics, as far as lies are concerned, I don't know how to lie. I lie in positions On stage so much, so in life I have no strength for lies."
Don't you feel that there is an excessive dose of musicals?
That the theater is going through a process of videoization and that reality stars are being recruited at the expense of acting school graduates?
"Artists who studied acting and specialized in the field are losing their respect and livelihood in favor of reality stars. Fighting for this is just as important as fighting for money and conditions. A young actor told me - I studied for four years, and I stand in the row at the back, and in front stand kids who have become famous. This needs to be fixed This phenomenon started from the moment the repertory theater took the place of the commercial theater. I played in the commercial theater. In the whole normal world there is a subsidized theater, which tries to deal with the more 'dangerous', deeper and more meaningful materials, and the commercial theater makes commercial productions like 'My Wife with My Husband' ', 'My husband with my wife', 'My sister with the stewardess', etc. This is the normal situation. I am not against comedies, I did it in the private theater. But I understand that the subsidized theaters have to fight for the audience because there is not enough funding for art."
What do you regret?
"I don't regret anything. Like Edith Piaf. Actually, I regret one thing: that I didn't have time to talk more with my parents, they died too soon."
More in Walla!
"At the launch I started singing and the whole audience joined in. It's one of the most exciting moments I've had"
To the full article
Yona Elian (Photo: Courtesy of those photographed)
השבוע לפני שלוש שנים השתחררת מבית החולים איכילוב לאחר שבועיים אשפוז במחלקה פנימית בעקבות מחלת הנשיקה. איך את מרגישה היום?
"היום אני בסדר גמור. קיבלתי את מחלת הנשיקה שהסתבכה מאוד. מחלה עם שם כזה רומנטי אבל היא נוראית. זה הסתבך והיו שלבים לא נעימים, אבל זה עבר. הייתה לי תקופה לא קצרה של שיקום. כל המערכות היו צריכות להשתקם מחדש. היום אני כבר נמרה. אני עושה שתי הצגות ביום שבת, אתה יודע כמה כוח צריך בשביל זה?".
לצד הדאגה הרבה בציבור ובתקשורת, שנבעה מאהבה אליך, היו שמועות על מותך. אבל אומרים שזו סגולה לאריכות חיים.
"הרגו אותי פעמיים בתקשורת. אמרתי: עד מתי זו סגולה? עד מתי אתם רוצים שאני אחיה? שמע, זה היה טראומטי. בעיקר למשפחה שלי. זו הייתה תקופה איומה, ואחריה היה לי רצון להסתגר, לא רציתי להתראיין. ועם הוותק למדתי שכמה שאת מדברת פחות עם העיתונות - יותר טוב לי".
בגיל 72, עד כמה המוות מדאיג אותך?
"ברור שהמוות מעסיק אותי. לא ברמה של לקחת כדורים. זה מעסיק אותי מכיוון אחר - אני מתגעגעת להורים שלי. שניהם נפטרו בגיל מאוד צעיר. אבא היה בן 67, ואמא בת 65. אני הייתי אז בת 40. פתאום כל הדור שלהם נמחק, כל ההווייה שלהם נעלמה, התרבות שהם הביאו מפולין נעלמה, השירים שהם אהבו נעלמו, השמות שהתגלגלו בבית נעלמו, משחקי הקלפים נעלמו. עוד מעט גם הדור שלנו ייעלם. זה מה שמעסיק אותי. פחות מעסיק אותי המוות הפרטי שלי, כי אני חושבת שכשאתה מת אתה לא כל כך יודע. אני חרדה יותר לחיים של המשפחה והחברים שלי. פעם גיל שישים היה הסוף. היום קיבלנו עוד שליש. כשהייתי בת 18, אם היו אומרים לי שאלילי הרוק יהיו בני 75 ועדיין יובילו את הסצנה של הרוק בעולם, ושאני אלך לראות הופעות שלהם, הייתי מקיאה. אבל זה מה שקורה".
לסיום: ליו"ר אמ"י לשעבר, דודו דותן ז"ל, היה מערכון מפורסם על בית האבות של אמני ישראל. תקדמי את הרעיון הזה?
"Why, it will be unbearable. Everyone will only talk about themselves all the time. M-S-E-M-M."