GLEANED FROM ISRAEL’S HEBREW MEDIA

February 11 – February 17, 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.

 TURNING THE TABLES ON TERRORISTS

To encourage more Jerusalemites to go shopping despite the security situation, the Jerusalem Municipality is installing six solar-powered ‘tables’ at strategic locations around the city where pedestrians can power-up their smartphones.  Not the new-fangled wireless charger pad kind; the cables to do so will be available ‘on loan’ at nearby businesses such as cafes – in the hopes those juicing-up their phones will do so after ordering pastry and coffee-to-go. (Israel HaYom)

OY, GEVALT!

The high opinion of ‘everything Jewish’ among the Chinese is at risk!

In May 2014, Israel’s largest manufacturing conglomerate — Tnuva — was sold to the Chinese giant Bright Foods  Now, the advanced food processing technologies that the Chinese plan to ‘export’ for the benefit of those back on the Chinese mainland are not only Israel’s milk products. According to Calcalist, plans are afoot to introduce stir-fry Chinese to a host of Israeli-made delicacies – including not only frozen bourekas (savory pastries) but also – of all things…ready-to-bake frozen Jachnun* — a slightly sweet oily Yemenite ‘pastry’ for Shabbat, with the consistency of wet shoe leather after being baked in a slow oven for 13-14 hours (!) until golden brown…the only similarity with puff pastry being its layered texture.  (Calcalist)

* Israelis of diverse ethnic backgrounds have developed a taste for Jachnun and its ‘chewy’ texture.

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK!

Remember the September 2015 story (“Sidetracked”) about the absentminded engineer at the controls of a commuter train that barreled along for 41 minutes without a stop* — passengers fearing either they’d been railroaded by terrorists …or even worse: no one was at the controls!

That worst scenario is not as outlandish as it seems,

Someone lost track of a mammoth railway car designed to tamp down the gravel bed surrounding railway ties on the newly-resurrected  60 kilometer Haifa-Afula-Beit Shanan Line scheduled to open in 2017.

The adventurous yellow metal behemoth took off on an unauthorized and unscheduled ‘jaunt’ on its own, only coming to a halt 17 kilometers further down the line with no one aboard and no one the wiser. The public works authority Nitivei Israel fired the project foreman and blamed his employer — the Bahnbau Gruppe that specializes in laying/relaying railroad track, a German subcontracting firm responsible for operating the massive railway car.

SOLD SHORT

In what, no doubt, is one of the strangest charge sheets in the history of criminal law where someone tried to sell someone else a bill of goods, a father (33) offered his infant daughter for sale, without any intention of actually turning over ‘the goods’ and subsequently was changed with “receipt of something [payment] fraudulently under grave circumstances.”

The suspect had discussed with a co-worker selling his three-month old daughter for 100,000 NIS ($26,314) and an acquaintance sought to take him up on the offer. (Israel HaYom)

AND SO FORTH?

Israel is blessed with four seas: the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. A new Ministry of Interior master plan for Israeli beaches stipulates what is and isn’t permitted on Israeli beaches — carrying some good news and some bad news in regard to urban encroachment.

On one hand, the guidelines stipulate only lifeguard stands, open-sided shelters and access paths are permitted 30 meters from the shoreline, while permitting cafes, parking and sports facilities between 30-100 meters of the shoreline. The master plan prohibits residential or commercial construction within 100 meters of any shoreline.

On the other hand, the stipulations of what can and can’t be built ends with a potentially dangerous catchall: vekadomeh (“and so forth” or “et cetera”), say critics.  (Yediot)

* The Ministry of Interior’s Beach Planning Authority is holding a virtual public hearing on the issue, inviting the public to have their say – Go criticize the plan or make a suggestion.

DISTANCE IS RELATIVE

Where is Timbuktu and where is the capital of the world?

It’s subjective.

When an elderly pensioner from the boondocks found he’d won eight million NIS (about $2 M) in the national lottery, he and his wife boarded a bus from their home in the Galilee to collect their winnings at lottery headquarters in Tel Aviv. The travel-weary couple told Mifal Hapais officials wryly that one thing they would definitely do was buy an apartment in the Big Orange…close to their six children, and grandkids.

Go abroad?

“For us Tel Aviv is abroad,” retorted the pair evenly. (Yisrael HaYom)

* Not enough evidence?  A 74 year-old moshavnik from the Sharon — the northern coastal plain between Haifa and Tel Aviv – asked his kids to take him to Mifal Hapais headquarters after he read in the papers that he’d also hit the jack pot…because he didn’t know how to get to Tel Aviv! The lucky winner said he habitually checked the winning lottery numbers at 6 AM every Sunday morning when the paper arrived on his doorstep…but only after he checked the obits —  published on the same page as fate would have it — to ascertain whether an unfortunate acquaintance’s number was up first…

CEREMONIALS

Always dreamed of a dramatic backdrop to your wedding…let’s say an authentic Roman amphitheatre or Herod’s Masada synagogue?

The Israel Nature & National Parks Authority has decided to permit people to celebrate life cycle events like bar mitzvahs and weddings…and IDF swearing-in ceremonies at three national parks — Caesarea, Masada, and Tzipori*.  The conditionals: There will be no partying — only ceremonies and at most light refreshments, thus ensuring events won’t interfere with normal activities of other visitors. (Israel HaYom)

 * a Roman- and talmudic-era city, west of Nazareth

WHERE IS QUINCY?

Minister of Health Yakob Litzman (United Torah Judaism party) favors establishing a second forensic medicine center — one that will be “an independent and neutral body.” Today, there is only one medical examiner body …known in Israel simply as ‘Abu Kabir’* — a government-run facility that operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Health.

The fact that Abu Kabir is a state-run and operated body while at the same time providing forensic testimony for other government-run and operated agencies is ‘sticky’ to say the least. Possible professional conflicts of interest bother the Minister.

There is only one problem:  There are only three forensic experts in the entire country**, plus two doctors doing their specialization in forensic medicine… (Israel HaYom)

*  Abu Kabir is a neighborhood that straddles the border between south Tel Aviv and Jaffa where the facility — whose official name is The National Center of Forensic Medicine — is located.

** If you happen know of a forensic pathologist toying with the idea of making aliyah, they can send their CV to Litzman personally, here: ylitzman@knesset.gov.il

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