GLEANED FROM ISRAEL’S HEBREW MEDIA
January 14 – January 20, 2016

ABOUT THIS COLUMN: “Backpage News from the Front” Is a series of weekly special reports of piquant news and satire gleaned from the Hebrew press during the Jihadi Wave of 2015/6 (for lack of a better name) in lieu of the author’s regular twice-monthly columns of wild and wacky news stories called “Chelm-on-the-Med.” 

OVER THE TOP

As if Israel doesn’t have enough on its hands with ‘terror in the streets’…a group of Israeli radical fringe artists has taken over the old municipality building in Tel Aviv ‘til March 2016 and decked the hall with theatrical installations devoted to what the participants label “artistic terrorism” including a female ‘artist’ who sits at the tops of a free-standing flight of stairs boasting multiple stab wounds while playing a harp…

The curator described the event as “a terror action against the state” – further clarifying:  “I hate almost everyone in this country.” There’s a 70 NIS ($18) admission fee for such live evening performances from anyone who wants to see the spectacle. (Calcalist)

AN EYEBROW RAISER

An Israeli dorban or giant porcupine that was caught in a hunter’s trap* and brought to the Ramat Gan Safari’s Wildlife Hospital with an injured eye wasn’t operated on by a veterinarian.

Heading the operating team was a ‘people doctor’ who was asked to pinch-hit for the licensed vets and agreed to treat the unconventional patient: Dr. Eilat Pri’el an eye specialist from the nearby Sheba Medical Center who specializes in reconstruction of eyelids.

The procedure was crowned with success and the patient will be released into the wild once it heals.(Yediot)

* Tai agricultural workers, coming from a hunting culture, don’t always abide by Israel’s strict laws that forbid such traps.

RELIC…OR GIZMO

In a unique case of ‘crowd-sourcing’, the Israel Antiquities Authority published an all-points bulletin asking the public to help solve a mystery.

What on earth was the strange 8.5 kilogram gilded object found in a building in an old Jerusalem cemetery?  For six months, archaeologists were stumped.

Sure enough out of 300 responses received from the public, someone had a definitive answer: The object is “a gilded Isis Beamer” — and no this has nothing to do with ISIS. It’s a New Age doodad of solid brass and gilded with real gold, sold online by a German firm that claims it can “harmonize even extremely strong geopathic and electromagnetic radiation fields” (whatever that means) in “large buildings, industrial halls, administration buildings, schools and…furniture stores.”  Why furniture stores in particular and not shoe stores, for instance? Or opticians?  Or pharmacies?

What was it doing in a cemetery is anyone’s guess. Will anyone claim it?

The heavy-duty Isis retails for €1,115.00.

Not including shipping costs. (Israel HaYom)

ADD-MISSION

Back in the late 1980s, the forerunner to Chelm-on-the-Med — a column called Gleanings in Israel Scene — reported the story of two communications majors at TAU who sought to skip class with a classy…or perhaps one should say classified excuse: a claim they were Mossad agents and should be excused from regular attendance at a seminar course they’d enrolled in. Asked to provide authentication, the pair forged a letter from Gideon Chai ‘the head of external affairs at the Ministry of Defence’ confirming their status and asking the department to keep the information confidential. What blew their cover was the pair had failed to do their homework: The Mossad doesn’t belong to the Ministry of Defence; it operates under the direct authority of the Prime Minister’s Office…

In a similar ruse, an unidentified fellow was in the habit of disappearing for several days at a time telling his wife he was ‘on assignment for the Mossad’ and his regular job as a lowly security guard was just a cover. The scam worked perfectly for four years, until one night his cell phone rang while the great pretender was fast asleep – blowing his cover and spilling the beans to his spouse that hubby’s frequent trips abroad were with a mistress, not for the Mossad. (Yediot)

* What does the Mossad seal say? It’s a quote from Proverbs XI:14: “Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
 

IT’S ELEMENTARY?

In 2008 the Israel  Supreme Court ruled that the state must impose the teaching of math, English, science and computers on haredi talmudic academies, but a special law allowed some ultra-ultra-Orthodox institutions to dodge the ruling, leading the Court to do an about face in 2014 ruling forcing such talmudic academies or yeshivot to provide a ‘secular education’ would be “paternalistic.”  But was it proportional (midati or ‘fair’) — another hallowed principle in the eyes of the High Court of Justice? I guess we’ll find out:

A unique class action suit by 54 ultra-Orthodox individuals who ceased to be religiously-observant* — all of them members of an NGO called Out for Change (Yotzim l’Shinui) — has been filed, suing the State of Israel for damages — economic damages, discrimination and mental anguish — inflicted on them by the state not forcing their yishivot to include a basic general education in their high school curriculums. (Israel HaYom) 

* According to a study, in 2013 approximately 1,300 haredi youngsters abandon a religious lifestyle — 10 percent of their age cohort.

STRANGE ‘BLUNT INSTRUMENT’

What constitutes a dangerous weapon? If one believes the cops in Tzfat, a pita filled with fragrant fresh-fried felafel balls, which an angry 55-year-old grandmother of three threw at her husband, qualifies.

“My husband bought us felafel for dinner, and then an argument broke out between us [i.e. he’d come home drunk] and I threw the felafel on the floor.  He claimed it hit him, and I called the cops because he was running around and yelling.  When the cops came he claimed I had attacked him with the felafel.”

In response, the cops arrested the ‘assailant’ and held her overnight at the police station. A Police Force spokesperson defended their judgement saying the pair of law officers had “acted according to the rules”…”due to sensitivity to domestic violence which required them to weight a host of considerations”…which apparently did not include the weight of the assault weapon. (Yediot)

PRINCE CHARMING

A consumer who bought a pricy head of lettuce that promised it was pesticide-free found a frog hiding between the leaves.  After the customer shipped the produce back to the producer, the company — Carmel Produce in moshav Hayogev in the Jezreel Valley — deftly turned the incident into a bonanza posting a photo on their Facebook page boasting the frog  — an endangered species called an Ilanit Yeruka. The frog had chosen Carmel’s hothouse of organic lettuce precisely because it was, indeed, pesticide-free! The stunt garnered oodles of free publicity and some 8,000 likes.

The frog — far from croaking, was still very much alive — apparently no worse for wear despite its trip to the grocery store and back, and was released back into the wild by the firm with much fanfare. (Israel HaYom, Yediot, The Marker) 

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