January 28 – February 3, 2016  

GLEANED FROM ISRAEL’S HEBREW MEDIA

January 28 – February 3, 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.

CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY

Solidarity takes innumerable forms in Israel.

The Anti-Trust Authority has put in place special dispensations that clear rival companies that ‘cooperate’ during wartime of any suspicion of creating a monopoly or price rigging.

The arrangements reflect realities during the 2012 Cast Lead and 2014 Protective Edge campaign when manufacturers in the south found it difficult to keep up production due to daily rocket barrages from Gaza, in some cases after their plants were damaged by Palestinian rockets.

Rival companies elsewhere in the country with similar technologies stepped forward to help out — offering their competitors the use their own production lines at night and other off–hours so the beleaguered manufacturers would not loose clientele due to failure to meet their contracts, helping to minimize their losses*.  (Yidiot)

* Manufacturing plants in the south suffered an estimated 30 present drop in profits during Cast Lead due to reduced productivity and worker absenteeism due to employees being forced to stay home with their children due to closure of schools.

 

SIMPLE AND ELEGANT

Remember the story of the manicurist who wrote a ‘groundbreaking’ book how to stop biting your nails (see “Substance Abuse?”)? Well another sign that not all Israeli breakthroughs are high-tech is Mor Levi from Upper Nazareth.

The high school grad invented and obtained a world patent for a stencil that transforms applying eyeliner professionally into a walk in the park, even for a beginner*. To design the ultimate stencil Levi measured the eyelids of 100 women in search of a ‘one size fits all’ product, and signed up for a three-year ‘young entrepreneurs’ program to flesh out her idea and prepare and get a preliminary world patent application or PTC**. In 2012 Levi graduated high school…with a prototype in hand; mom and pop coughed up the 50,000 NIS ($17,857) necessary to finalize a world patent for Easyliner stencils which are already being retailed in upscale cosmetic chains like Sephora. (Yediot)

* Although she was an art major, Levi had had trouble mastering eyeliner when she first started using makeup in 10th grade

** a streamlined and cheaper initial process for filing a patent application covering a large number of countries

 

CARRIER DISEASE

Remember the late 2015 story (“Reality Check”) about a bunch of Gulf States, including Kuwait, that had the chutzpa to make discreet inquires whether the Jewish state was willing to sell them Iron Dome systems although they don’t recognize Israel or its right to exist?

Well, it turns out that Kuwait Airways had double chutzpa — having refused to sell Israeli national Eldad Gatt a ticket on their attractively-priced flight from New York to London (something other Gulf States like Qatar Airlines agree to as a matter of course). Suffice it to say, the refusal breaches US Department of Transportation’s anti-discriminatory regulations. When Gatt filed suit, rather than sell the Israeli a ticket, Kuwait Airways retorted ‘No way!’…choosing to close their lucrative JFK-LHR transatlantic route altogether. (Yediot)

 

LIQUID ASSETS

How frugal are Israelis when it comes to saving water? Although Israel no longer has a water deficit and in fact has a water surplus thanks to desalinization, 86 percent of the population turns off the spigot when brushing their teeth or soaping the dishes and 83 percent limit their showers to less than 10 minutes, according to a 2014 survey.  (Israel HaYom)

 

THE RIGHT TO LIFE

Remember the case of Dima Bakshi z”l (“An Unbreakable Bond”) whose army buddies received an Honorable Menschen in the 2015 Chelm Awards for collecting tens of thousands of shekels to fly the ex-solder’s bereaved mother to Israel to participate in a memorial service with them, then fly the coffin to Russia with her for burial? Well such acts of compassion and solidarity aren’t just the portion of fellow homo sapiens.

Customs officials learned that Cain — a dog able not only to sniff out drugs but also quantities of money,* who had been retired in January 2015 from seven years of service and adopted by someone in Haifa, had been diagnosed with cancer. The dog had already undergone amputation of a leg and faced extended rehabilitation and expensive cancer treatment to try and save his life. Cain’s buddies in customs’ K-9 corps all chipped in to cover the growing cost of treatment, setting up a special bank account (09/001/88011777) in the dog’s name urging member of the public to contribute, as well. (Yediot)

* according to handlers he was taught this unique skill…in America, a function designed to catch smugglers/money launderers at US customs – which all goes to show,  the retort attributed to Roman emperor Vispasian’s about his tax on public urinals in Rome — Pecunia non olet  (turned into the adage ‘money has no smell’) is only partially true.

 

THE JEWS AND THE ELEPHANT QUESTION

Several years ago, one of the inhabitants of the ‘ecological village’ Tzukim (pop. 100)  – 25 families,  most individuals in mid-life crisis who fled ‘civilization’ to make a living as artisans building doll houses or stone wind chimes, or offering ‘eco tourism’ and alternative medicine regimes) – came upon the skeleton of…an elephant in a nearby wadi.

What was an elephant doing in the middle of the Arava and could it be one of Hannibal’s or Ptolemy’s war elephants, he pondered?

It took some time to convince the experts to make the six-hour 480 km round-trip from Tel Aviv to Tzukim and back to examine the evidence. The prognosis: Yes, it was an elephant.  But forget about a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction. It wasn’t Hannibal’s.  Nor Ptolemy’s.  Carbon dating showed the bones were 20th century vintage – at best a ‘relic’ of the days when travelling circuses boasted not only acrobats and clowns, but also girls on elephants and lion trainers. The elephant had been dumped there by a Russian circus (without being caught, it seems) after it died on the way to Eilat to catch a freighter to the next venue on tour.

Yet, the Tzukimans’ pipe dream wasn’t so out-of-hand: According to Maariv and the Israel Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, in 2010 a ten year-old local kid named Matan Goldstein from moshav Ein Yahav also found the remains of an elephant (see the photo) in another Arava wadi. I this case it was a fossilized jawbone with teeth from an 18 million year-old elephant…but there you go! ((Yediot, Maariv, most.gov.il)

 

STRANGE TOURIST TRAP

By 2060 Japan is expected to lose a third (!) of its population.  Not due to any sudden catastrophe, mind you.  It’s the upshot of a moribund birth rate that perhaps explains the latest entertainment fad in Japan: With babies at a premium (at 7.93 births per 1000 population), the lowest fertility rate in the world*, there are places where the kids…and childless adults can feed Koi fish with a baby bottle filled with milk.

Why has this craze* ‘made aliyah’ to Israel…where by comparison, the birth rate is 18.48 births per 1000 population, the highest fertility rate in the western  world**?  It’s beyond me, but the ‘attraction’ has been ensconced  in a million shekel ($256.410) tank with 200 Koi as bait to lure shoppers to the Derech HaYam mall at Atlit – south of Haifa, scheduled to open in February. (Yediot, CIA statistics)

*  ranking 222, worldwide (not counting the ‘states’ of Monaco (p. 30,000) and Saint Pierre & Miquelon (p. 5657 and falling) which ranked 223 and 224).

** Israel ranks 96…while the USA came in 158, the UK 161 and Australia 162.

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