Backpage News from the Front
By Daniella Ashkenazy
“Backpage News from the Front” Is a series of weekly special report of piquant news and satire gleaned from the Hebrew press during Operation “Protective Edge” (Tzuk Eitan) in lieu of the author’s regular twice-monthly columns of wild and wacky news stories “Chelm-on-the-Med.”
July 25, 2014 – July 31
Alexander Gerst, a German astronaut with the European Space gency at the international space station sent a tweet with a picture of the sky over Israel and Gaza at night saying he was saddened to see that the fighting was so fierce one could see the explosions from outer space. Gerst went on to say that borders were indistinguishable from outer space.
The dovish daily Ha’aretz whose logo is ‘the paper of thinking people’ is apparently equally unfamiliar with the nighttime sky over the Middle East where the contours of tiny Israel are lit up like a giant Chanukah candle due to state-of-the-art halogen lighting along highways and city streets – what Gerst described as “unusual streaks of light and ‘orange fireballs’.” Without blinking not to mention thinking, Ha’Aretz not only published the piece as genuine; its headline was “The saddest picture from space: Explosions in Gaza”! (Yediot, Ha’aretz)
Israeli forces continue to uncovered* more and more terror tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel, prompting Israel HaYom’s editorial cartoonist Shlomo Cohen to dub the warren of passages that underlies Gaza ‘the Gaza Underground’ with lines running the length of the Gaza Strip and all ‘stops’ on the Israeli side of the border…
According to a one-liner circulating around Israel “once the war ends, Israel should hire the Gaza tunnel-diggers to finally make the vision of a Tel-Aviv subway system (i.e. which has been ‘just around the corner’ since the 1960s**) a reality.
On a more sober side, among the posters spontaneously designed by Israelis graphic artists to promote Israel’s messages to the world is a graphic poster of a little girl’s room by Ruth Elbaz – bed and dress decked out in pink and white décor…with a hole to a tunnel which has opened up in the floor, with the chilling message written on the wall: MONSTERS DO EXIST. (Israel HaYom, Yediot)
* sometimes discovered only when terrorists popped out of exits in the middle of the night. not only with assault rifles in hand, but also plastic handcuffs and syringes filled with sedatives.
** See the Chelm column from June 2013, Column 1.
RUBE GOLDBERG TO THE RESCUE
Even the papers abroad have given massive coverage to way Israelis of all walks of life spontaneously embraced three bereaved families of ‘‘lone soldier’ whose sons fell in Gaza.*
The outpouring of empathy and small gestures of kindness take all sorts of forms. An innovative moshavnik named Tzvika Biton from the Western Negev jerry-rigged a makeshift shower (complete with shampoo and towels) by mounting on a wagon a black plastic tank used to supply drinking water to poultry runs and hitching the contraption to his jeep, with a makeshift collapsible plastic burlap stall in tow, and set out to shower the troops with affection – 2,000 of them in the course of week. (Channel 10 TV)
* For those who may have missed this story, twenty-thousand people from all over the country came to the funeral of Sergeant Sean Carmeli z”l from Texas in Haifa and 30,000 attended the funeral of Sergeant Max Steinberg z”l from California in Jerusalem – mourners for soldiers whom they didn’t know at all, while 7,000 Ashkelonians braved rockets to do the same as an act of gratitude for Sergeant Jordan Bensemhoun z”l from Lyon France and his family, a third ‘lone soldier.
NO SIEGE MENTALITY
It’s good to know who your fine weather friends are.
And who declined to join the move to sever Israel’s air link to the world by cancelling air traffic in and out of Israel, a step initiated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Washington* citing ‘security concerns’ – the only Hamas victory so far in this war?
British Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, and Egypt’s Air Sinai.
Oops! Less than a week later, Royal Jordanian and Air Sinai cancelled all their flights to Israel until further notice. Well, there are the unflappable Brits who are stalwart enough to sit on a nail without complaining as Chelm discovered*, not just stand firm during the blitz.
In response to the American move, the social media in Israel were awash in barbed comments and spoofs, including a tongue-in-cheek communiqué that “while the FAA banned flights to and from Ben-Gurion Airport, the Israeli Air Force announced that its flights to Gaza were continuing on schedule.”
* The move (suspiciously timed to coincide with John Kerry’s arrival to pressure for a premature cease-fire, although the Administration claims ‘they had nothing to do with it’) worked like the Domino Theory – leading most European carriers to join suit. The ban was cancelled two days later, but the damage had been done.
** See January 2012 Column II in the Chelm archives
Turkish Airlines followed the United State’s example and stopped flying to Israel, literally turning around on a dime. One passenger, Yaniv Hadad, told a reporter that his plane was preparing to land in Israel when the Turkish pilot did an abrupt ‘about face’ and flew back to Turkey, leaving the passengers terrified they were being hijacked.
With thousand Israeli vacationers unprotected in Istanbul and Anatolia airports and hotels, looking like sitting ducks for a mega terrorist attack waiting to happen, the Israeli cabinet ordered an immediate airlift to whisk them out of harms way (via Cyprus and Greece) – at Israeli government expense.
`Was it hard? No, this was a walk in the park compared to bringing 14,310 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the short space of 36 hours back in May 1991, said retired El-Al pilot Colonel (res.) Eliezer (‘Cheetah’) Cohen (Channel 2 TV, Yisrael HaYom)
STAND WITH US
All kinds of support pour in, one from the small Congregation of Zion in Stockton, California that expressed their solidarity with Israel by symbolically standing up and vacating the pews in their sanctuary to seek shelter, as a siren piped in from Israel over the Internet went off. The video clip of the simple but touching demonstration was posted on the Internet. (Channel 2 Reshet tv)
WOUNDED BY FRIENDLY FIRE
Motorists on a main drag in the city of Ramat Gan who pulled over to the side and took cover as best they could when warning sirens sounded were astounded to find when they returned to their cars ten minutes later* that they’d been ticketed for parking in a red-and-white No Parking Zone.
The Ramat Gan municipality refused to squash the tickets. They only agreed to convert the tickets into warning citations. If the motorists repeated the offence they would have to pay the first parking fine, as well… (HaKol Kalul, Channel 10 TV)
* Homeland Command directives are to wait 10 minutes after seeking cover, to avoid being hit by falling debris from intercepted rockets and Iron Dome missiles falling to earth.
HOLD YOUR FLOWER POWER
Hazak bYachad (Strong Together) a public-spirited ad hoc organization of Israeli bodies across the political spectrum purchased 13,000 flowers from a flower supplier in the badly-pounded Eshkol region facing Gaza to bolster their business, and sent the bouquets to the wives of career personnel and reservists…perhaps because “flowers in the cannon mouth and girls in the turret” envisioned in an optimistic post-Six-Day War army entertainment troupe song would be exceedingly premature. (Yisrael HaYom)
NOTE TO THE READER: This is the fourth edition of Backpage News from the Front, reprinted courtesy of Chelm-on-the-Med Online (www.chelm-on-the-med.com). Readers are urged to share these stories with others; there is no copyright issues or charge – just say ‘courtesy of Chelm-on-the-Med’ or cite the URL. Three previous editions can be accessed on the Chelm website under ‘Special Editions’ in the main menu on the left.
Keep your Spirits Up and Your Head Down!