Backpage News from the Front

March 2016 Column 2


March 3 – March 9, 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.



In a stabbing spree in Jaffa, one of the intended victims, Yishay Montgomery, (26) clobbered the knife-wielding Palestinian assailant with his brand new 12-string Guild acoustic guitar leaving a head-size hole in the side of the instrument…and was promptly presented with a replacement the very next day from the collection of the all-time enfant terrible of the Israeli rock world Aviv Geffen…who breaks guitars on stage regularly when singing his 1992 hit – “We’re a fucked-up generation.”

In fact, similar offers are flowing in, including a music shop that offered to donate an instrument no-strings-attached, while almost $6,000 was donated overnight on GoFundMe to send Montgomery several new guitars from the USA.

Just in case he needs a spare, perhaps…* (,Yediot)

* Seeking some background on the ‘guitar hero’ Chelm-on-the-Med came across a YouTube clip of Yishay (who just came back from an extended sojourn in Canada, but was born in Moshav Beer Tuvia, my neighbors…) playing his guitar in the Canadian wilderness (130 views). There’s also a clip of Montgomery trying to put a hand axe into a tree stump from a distance of four or five meters (90 views) that strongly suggests he’d do well sticking to guitars as his ‘weapon of choice’…


How much chewing gum is stuck — under-the-table — under one pupil’s desk?

A group of 11 Israeli high school students settled the question once and for all: Between 75 and 150 pieces of used gum per desk. And, that’s only during the first three months of the school year.

The group harvested 20 kilograms of gum from the 1,000 desks in their high school, then with the assistance of a food technologist from Elite Foods, the kids experimented recycling the gum — grinding up the yucky globs and dissolving the shavings in white petrol, which produces a product suitable for the glue industry.

The next step? Kibbutz Nir David’s Nirotek self-adhesive label factory that suggested the recycled chewing gum be turned into a ‘green’ glue that can be applied to high-quality stickers.

The last step? There are plans afoot to install gum recycling canisters in every classroom in Israel. (Israel HaYom)

* Israelis consume 750 tons of chewing gum annually.


Chelm-on-the-Med has reported happier romance sagas at the Ramat Gan Safari* and other animal parks.

The love story of Shraga and Shula got off to a bad start and an even worse ending after handlers at the Kfar Saba Chai-Park decided to introduce the four-year old California Kingsnake Shraga to a suitable mating partner — three-year old Shula.

“In the first hours, it looked like the male and female were getting on well, even entangled with one another (DA the corkscrew-fashion in which snakes ‘spoon’ before mating),” said the park manager Ariella Katz.

Alas, handlers left the two ‘to get on with it’…but the next morning Shula was nowhere to be seen…well almost nowhere to be seen: Shraga – a black snake covered with symmetric white polka dots — had grown in bulk overnight…and the only sign of Shula was her tell-tale tail — sticking out of Shraga’s mouth – a rather kinky** form of oral sex… (Israel HaYom)

*  see “Romeo in the Ramat Gan Safari” and “Over the Dyke”, for example.

** The zookeeper reassured the public that such behavior is extremely rare and extraordinary, even for a California Kingsnake.


In efforts to fight anorexia, not only have Israeli lawmakers prohibited using models who are emaciated or photos that have been graphically (i.e., digitally) manipulated to narrow the model’s body measurements even further (the Law for Restricting Weight in the Modeling Industry — 2012). The Ministry of Education has issued directives to ban standard practices of school nurses weighing and measuring schoolchildren, because of the stress it carries and apprehensions that the outcome can tip the scales and trigger anorexia. (Yidiot)


Kill the messengers? Nope, this time it’s kill the whistle-blower!

In a unique cyber attack on Israel, YouTube — which tolerates some the most gruesome and inflammatory video clips imaginable —  ‘terminated’ the NGO Palestinian Media Watch’s YouTube account…an Israeli watchdog that monitors and exposes hate speech and incitement on Palestinian Arabic-language media that blatantly support terrorism and demonize Israelis/Jews and the State of Israel.

* An avalanche from PMW readers led YouTube to backtrack, and reinstate the account 18 hours later. 


It’s not unusual for Ministers of Education to face protests by parents over this or that shortcoming — a controversial curriculum, overcrowded classrooms or security concerns, but the revolt Minister Naftali Bennett faces hit much closer to home…and we don’t mean the ranks of the Jewish Home party.

After several months of ‘unproductive talks’* to convince Bennett and his wife Gilat to get them a dog — the Minister’s children struck. Bennett came home bushed from a long day at the office to find himself ambushed by his own four kids — the house plastered with placards declaring “Demonstration! We want a dog” (preferably a Lab*).

If constant badgering didn’t work, his third-grade daughter Michal warned undiplomatically: “I have ongoing plans of how to continue the campaign.”  (Yediot)

* after the family dog Kula — clearly a Lab — died of old age at 15 (but not before the Lab was caught in the middle of a taped interview with Ynet news lapping up Bennett’s espresso


Galei Tzahal radio journalist Yael Dan revealed that in the latest spat of knifings, Yonatan Azriahav – who was stabled in a liquor store in the Petach Tikvah shuk by a terrorist — pulled the knife out of his own neck after fleeing the scene, then went back into the store…and fatally stabbed his Palestinian assailant in the chest and neck with the same knife as the attacker grappled with the store owner.

Poetic justice?

Not if you’re Yariv Oppenheimer: The executive-director of “Peace Now” (Shalom Achshav) charged the 40-year-old Breslov hassid’s actions* constituted “an extrajudicial execution”… (‘Making the Afternoon’ with Yael Dan — IDF Radio, Walla news) Photo credit: Channel 2 video screenshot

* The ‘first victim-then-first-responder’ suffered multiple stab wounds to his upper body.







About the Author
Daniella Ashkenazy is a bilingual Israeli journalist and the founder and CEO of Chelm-on-the-Med Online, a news outlet in English of zany news from Israel culled from the Hebrew press, designed to transform preconceptions about Israel – one chuckle at a time
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