July 2016 Column 1

GLEANED FROM ISRAEL’S HEBREW MEDIA

June 21 – July 6, 2016

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.

BOILS DOWN TO TIMING…

The Knesset just passed into law Yom HaAliyah (which, of course, has nothing to do with Hag HaAliyah…Hebrew for Ascension Day among Christians).  Designed to underscore the importance of immigration (aliyah) to Israel, Aliyah Day was supposed to be marked on the date when according to Jewish tradition Joshua and the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan River into the Land of Israel – the 10th of the Hebrew month of Nissan.

When???? Luckily someone in the House realized, just in time, that the date – five days before the Passover seder – was a non-starter: Who would show up for a “special plenum session of the Knesset” or “special programming in schools” mandated by the law, with parliament already adjourned for a month, and schools already closed since the 5th of Nissan…

The date of Aliyah Day was moved to the 7th of Cheshvan, a ‘safe’ two weeks after life returns to normal in Israel after the High Holidays and Shavuot. (Yediot)

ARISE AND BUILD

Sergeant Yehuda Hayisraeli was wounded during the 2014 Protective Edge campaign, the most critically injured soldier of the war. After two years in intensive rehab, doctors at Sheba Hospital felt the young war veteran could be released from the hospital – go home and continue his rehab for head injuries as an ambulatory patient…but the building of a special unit and adapting his split-level house to his needs ran into a solid stone wall: the fact that the settlement where Yehuda’s parents and his wife and two children live is in Samaria – beyond the Green Line. Such settlements don’t have an ‘approved Master Plan’ – necessary for a building permit … The powers-that-be ruled that without a permit the money could not be allocated…even as an exceptional case!

Immediately after the scandal broke on Channel 10 News, the My Israel movement established a website under the banner ‘homeward-bound’ that collected within 24 hours 1.2 M NIS ($324,000) in crowd funding from the public-at-large (8,327 donors) to build the unit — double the 600,000 NIS sought.  (Channel 10, Maariv – NRG.co.il)

HONORING THE DEAD

Haifa is redefining concepts of ‘a dog’s death’ to signify a miserable and undignified end in the back of a garbage truck.

The municipality has established a special pet morgue with a three M NIS (almost $900,000) refrigerator that can accommodate up to 90 animals. In the case of pets with electronic chips, city hall will contact the owners and inform the family of the death. The new arrangement allows families to come and part from their pet before the corpse is disposed of, with the option to take the animal with them for burial.

The facility – which is located at the municipal dog pound – will also try to match descriptions of lost dogs reported to authorities, with any ‘John Doe’ or ‘Jane Roe’ brought in – to locate ‘next of kin’. Mayor Yona Yahav explained the rationale: “A pet is an integral part of the family raising it, and it is fitting that leave-taking be dignified [for the family] and dignifying [for the deceased].” (Yediot)

 I SEE QUEUE

As we have noted more than once, Israelis are quick to adopt new technologies…even institutions that go back almost to the Jurassic Age such as the postal service.

Israel is perhaps the first country in the world to enable customers to make an appointment not only with the doctor, but now with the clerk behind the counter at the local post office.

The smartphone app includes options for which queue to request a number – the ones handling the mail and other services, or the special ones handling parcel pickups. The free app can be downloaded at Google Play for Android and the iTunes App Store for iPhones. As part of enhanced personalized service, customers can also change a parcel’s coded tracking number to something legible to the user, like ‘smartphone cover’ or ‘socks’. (Yidiot)

TROUBLED WATERS

Twenty years ago, the Technion’s Institute for Marine Engineering Research advised the Eilat municipality on the design of an artificial lagoon envisioned as a tourist attraction. The ecological lagoon was supposed to be self-cleaning and refreshed by the tides – but failed to do the job, leading local residents to brand the site the Murky Lagoon.

In 2002, the Eilat Development Corporation filed suit against the Institute demanding 25 M NIS ($ 6.8 M) in damages for faulty planning. Finally, in mid-2016, a Tel Aviv court has settled the case: However, city hall was awarded only 1.5 M NIS ($405,405).

Why? The bench ruled that only 15 percent of the damage was the Institute’s doing.

What about the rest?

The enterprise was not a total loss, said the court. The above sum would suffice to fix structural problems so the lagoon waters would be washed by the ebb and flow of the tides…provided city hall and other relevant municipal parties stopped dumping sewage water into the lagoon – an operational problem that was responsible for 85 percent of the problem… (Yediot)

YES, MA’AM — NO MADAM

Israel law recognizes a woman’s ‘autonomy over her body’ to an extraordinary extent — not only offering, in practice (albeit through ‘loophole clause’*) abortion-on-demand and free of cost; engaging in prostitution by a woman is not criminalizing under Israeli law (only pimping is a crime).

Now a magistrate court has ruled that 14 women who rented ‘space’ in a Yad Eliyahu apartment to conduct their business had not run afoul of the law. Judge Itai Hermalin ruled that the flat owner — who was also a prostitute — had the right to rent out rooms to sisters sex workers. The bench also clarified that there was nothing illegal if a woman or several woman working as independent contractors rented a property for the same purpose, as flat mates. (Israel HaYom)

* automatic approval by pregnancy-termination committees for any married woman claiming her pregnancy is the fruit of an extramarital affair — no-questions-asked and no need to prove such a liaison exists (a category supported by the religious establishment). It is believed many women exploit the category leading to a 95 percent approval rate of termination requests.

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