June 2016 Column 4

GLEANED FROM ISRAEL’S HEBREW MEDIA

June 14 – 20, 2016

by Daniella Ashkenazy

ABOUT THIS COLUMN: “Backpage News from the Front” is a series of weekly special reports ‘for the duration’ of  the Jihadi Wave of 2015/6 (for lack of a better name) that combines the regular odd and only-in-Israel Chelm-like-but-true news stories ‘hiding’ in the Hebrew media that are normally reported by this author twice-monthly in columns entitled “Chelm-on-the-Med Online” – antics that Israelis continue to do even in the worst of times, and piquant aspects of heightened conflict – from the galling, to the touching, to the downright bizarre. 

FRAMED!

When in 2004 the International Court of Justice wrote an advisory opinion on the “legal consequences” of Israel’s security fence, the learned judges were so   misinformed that they quoted the 1922 Mandate for Palestine (the legal scaffolding for establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine) as a foundational document for a Palestinian state!*

Indeed, Palestinians have been incredibly successful in usurping the term ‘Palestinian’ after Jews began calling themselves ‘Israelis’ in 1948.** Up until then the term ‘Palestine’ applied almost exclusively to bodies founded by Zionists – names that now sound like a misnomer: the Anglo-Palestine Bank (Bank Leumi L’Israel), the Jewish Agency for Palestine (the Jewish Agency), the Palestine Symphony Orchestra (the Israeli Philharmonic), the United Palestine Appeal (United Jewish Appeal), and the Palestine Post (the Jerusalem Post).

Palestine Post???

In an incredible blunder, on an official visit to Jeddah in mid-June, as customary in diplomatic relations, President Mahmoud Abbas came bearing gifts…presenting a framed copy of the front page of the Palestine Post (!) from 13 August 1935 to his host King Salman of Saudi Arabia as a gift from the Palestinian people. (Rooter, Al Riyadh)

* See Reply, a rejoinder this author researched and wrote together with Eli E. Hertz of Myths and Facts in 2004.

** Palestinians branded the term Palestine “artificial”  – a Zionist plot, until the PLO co-opted the purely geographical term in 1967 as a nationality to brand Israelis as invaders. 

AGE BEFORE BEAUTY

Who isn’t familiar with the ‘long gray line’ of frail and ailing elderly people forced to wait in queues like everyone else?

Well in Israel the Ministry for Social Equality is behind an amendment to the Veteran Citizens Law -1989 that will allow anyone age 80 and above to ‘jump the queue’ to be served without standing in line at National Insurance, the police station, the post office, at box offices (movie theatres, museums, etc.), the pharmacy…and even the supermarket (!), by flashing their Senior Citizen card.

The proposed amendment – adopted by the Cabinet – doesn’t cover places where senior citizens are sitting – queued-up to fill up the tank at the petrol station or in a line of cars to enter a national park. (The Marker, Yediot, Israel HaYom)

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Turning ‘let the buyer beware’ on its head, the Israeli Consumers Council’s legal counsel ruled ‘let the seller beware’ as well:  Groupon* – a wildly successful and perfectly ligit online coupon business that operates like an ad hoc buying club, only for individual items or services (and as ‘come on’ for new businesses) – should fulfill its promise of a ten shekel (less than $3) vacation in Greece to 110 persons who signed up and received authorization saying ‘thanks for buying Groupon’.  The notification failed to note in the small print that the authorization of purchase they’d just received was only, in essence, a lottery ticket for raffling off ten 10 shekel vacations among all the registrants – not the winning ticket itself.

The occasion? Groupon was celebrating its 10th million group coupon since its founding in 2009 with an array of 10 NIS bargains. (Globes, Walla.co.il)

* Quick adopters of news technologies, a recent survey found 95 percent of Israelis buy things online. (Israel HaYom)

A MAN OF LETTERS?

Who ‘owns’ the very first drafts of Israel’s Declaration of Independence?

If you ask the sons of the late MordechaI Beham, they do…and Daniel and Rafael Beham want to sell the historical documents at auction for a tidy sum – with bidding starting at $250,000, expecting to fetch half a million to a million dollars. Seventeen days before independence was declared in 1948, their father – at the time a 33 year-old lawyer in private practice – was asked to draw up a declaration.

The State of Israel seeks to block the Kedem Auction House from putting the documents – in Hebrew and English –  on the block, claiming they rightly belongs to the State of Israel.

Just how similar are the Beham documents to the actual declaration?  Not very. Certainly not after another eight persons (including Ben-Gurion) revised and re-revised the original in the countdown to statehood… Beham’s version is about as uplifting as a standard rental contract, with each clause beginning with ‘AND WHEREAS (capitals in the original…including “AND WHEREAS the God of Israel gave this Land to our Forefathers”).

Mordechai Beham’s greatest ‘contribution’ to the final document?  His usage of the term tzur yisrael (the Rock of Israel) in another draft to refer to the Almighty’s role – a compromise between the religious who wanted more specific Divine intervention, and secular leaders who wanted to keep Elokim out of the declaration entirely…(Calcalist)

A study by historian Professor Yoram Shachar published 13 years ago retraces how the final version of the Declaration of Independence (ensconced in the Tel Aviv Museum) emerged, revealing Zionist leaders weren’t looking for something lofty and therefore asked an attorney-at-law to pen something, not an illustrious writer… Ben-Gurion – last but not least to edit the document – changed all that (see “Early Drafts of the Israeli Declaration of Independence” in a 2003 issue of TAU’s law review Studies in Law). 

SEX AND THE 6TH GRADER

Six graders in a Haifa elementary school about to enter their teens almost got an accelerated crash course in sex education when the subcontractor making copies of their video-taped graduation ceremony inadvertently* added some extra theatricals to the kids’ performance: some short but very revealing porno footage…

Luckily most classes in Israeli schools have What’s App accounts where staff and parents can communicate with ease. Alerted by an astounded parent, at 9 pm the principal sent an urgent text messages to all parents riddled with quadruple exclamation marks warning them to prevent the children from viewing the DVD until new discs could be made, explaining why. The principal requested parents return the originals to the school as soon as possible. (Israel HaYom)

* The subcontractor apparently sought to enhance his profit margin by overwriting used DVDs instead of using new ones.  

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