Israelis were more curious this year about the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit than they were about the goings-on in the Big Brother house, according to Google Israel’s list of most popular news searches.

Google released its annual “Zeitgeist” list for the Israeli version of its search engine on Wednesday, which identifies the terms Israelis looked for most frequently in 2011.



Schalit edged out Big Brother, Syria, Iran and Libya for the honor of most searched news term, while Apple’s iPhone 5, the Hapoel Tel Aviv sports club, the medical residents’ strike, trains and Bank Hapoalim rounded out the top 10.

The list of fastest-rising general search terms shows Israelis were easily distracted by online and mobile games.

Gaming website Friv topped the list, ahead of the iPhone 5, the third season of popular television show Ramzor, iPhone games Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds, and Israeli online gaming website Mikmak. Kika, the Austrian furniture brand that opened a store in Netanya in September, and Israeli TV programs A Star is Born, Chosen People and Naor’s Friends also made the top 10.

St.-Sgt. Schalit predictably ranked first for fastest-growing “people” searches. The list also featured four Mizrahi singers – Omer Adam, Eyal Golan, Dudu Ahron and Moshe Peretz. This would suggest many Israelis disagree with the assertion made by veteran singer Yehoram Gaon in March that the Middle Eastern genre is “garbage” and “a natural disaster.”

Only two foreigners made the list, both of them teens – Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber, who visited Israel in April, and his girlfriend, American actresssinger Selena Gomez. Supermodel Bar Refaeli, celebrity pastry chef Carine Goren and children’s star Yuval Hamebulbal (“Yuval the Confused”) were also popular search terms.

Refaeli (No. 1), Bieber (3), and Schalit (8) were the only persons to feature among the 10- most popular image searches.

Other popular searches were for flowers, the iPhone 5, love, Purim, hearts, the Israeli flag and the Smurfs – who are featured in a recently released movie.



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