Backpage News from the Front

March 2016 Column 3

GLEANED FROM ISRAEL’S HEBREW MEDIA

March 10 – March 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.

A FOND FAREWELL

For those who’ve followed over the years the exploits of Shlomo Avni, who petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court* claiming the right to be eaten by wild animals after he died to repay his debt for a lifetime at the top of the food chain, and how the Court, while rejecting his plea — relented in a subsequent petition to allow Avni to become food for the fish — provided Avni’s body would be buried at sea beyond the maritime limit of Israeli sovereignty…

Well, Shlomo Avni z”l — one of the most colorful Israelis ever  to serve as fodder for Chelm-on-the-Med over the years — died at the beginning of March and was buried at sea — in a custom-made iron coffin to fulfill the Court’s proviso that Avni would be buried at sea not only at great distance but also “at a great depth”…perhaps fearing the crusty old critter who passed peacefully at age 86 sitting in front of the telly in his favorite armchair, would come back to haunt the justices by floating back with the currents to make waves again. (Yediot, Ynet)

* sitting as a High Court of Justice or bagatz in Hebrew*: In Israel, one does not have to go through all the lower courts to reach the Supreme Court; the Supreme Court has a short-cut where it sits as a first seat of jurisdiction or High Court of Justice (bagatz) providing swift relief in cases where a public body is accused of misconduct — overstepping its powers or failing to use them.

AT THE FRONT

The British have the George Cross, the American have their Lifesaving Medal — awards for valor — both given to civilian emergency responders and run-of-the-mill citizens for extraordinary acts of bravery. Israel doesn’t have such a civilian award, despite the fact that all too often the homefront has become the real battle front. In fact, even the number of recipients of military medals for heroism is very limited in Israel: Since 1948, there have been only 40 recipients of the Medal of Valor (Ot HaGvura), 220 the Medal of Courage (Ot HaOz), and 601 the Distinguished Service Medal (Ot HaMofet).

Despite such an entrenched tradition that makes extraordinary acts of courage almost ‘normative’, in light of the escalating numbers of run-of-the-mill Israeli citizens confronting knife-wielding terrorists barehanded…some paying with their lives, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan favors creating a special decoration of valor for civilians that could be granted for extraordinarily courageous acts. (Ynet)

* as a rule of thumb, when there is a terrorist attack Israelis run towards the scene, while everywhere else in the world, average citizens run away from the scene.

A DOG’S LIFE

Red Magen David crews (Israel’s Red Cross) have a lot of latitude in the type of medical assistance they can provide — going far beyond the “scoop and run” mandate of the Rescue Squad in the United States. While Israeli paramedics perform medical procedures normally permitted only by a licensed physician, an ambulance team from Or Akiva came upon a badly injured pedestrian from a road accident that pushed the boundaries even further.

The traffic victim was a dog — who truly lucked out: One of the paramedics on staff, Liat Mizrachi, had eight years previous experience working at an animal hospital. Mizrachi requested a ‘break’ from their vehicle’s on-call status to initiate life-saving procedures on the pup — inserting a needle to release air from the chest cavity, inserting an IV for fluids and giving the patient oxygen. The director-general of MADA gave the crew special permission to transfer the dog to their ambulance stretcher and transport the patient to a nearby animal hospital, while the team continued to stabilize the pup. (Yediot)

IN THE JAWS OF THE LAWYERS

A website called attorney.org.il faces a battery of 34 lawyers who demanded 2.6 M NIS ($ 666.6 K) in damages for “slander and systematic detriment to the attorneys’ names and damage to their business, false documentation concerning their practices and defamation.”

The website — that seems to have aggregated ‘facts’ about the firms by data mining court records without so much as reading the results not to mention checking the facts  – had written about one law firm that the attorney in question specialized in “kick scooter accidents” (as well as mediation, insurance, taxes…international arbitration and cargo insurance). In another case the site listed the litigant as engaging in “family arbitration”…including expertise in something labeled “personality incompatibility” parallel to immigration and citizenship cases and traffic offense appeals…all of which were news to the practitioner himself. (Yediot)

DUMPSTER DIVING

The Internet is awash in stories ‘why men take out the garbage’. Here’s another rationale:

A frantic young ultra-Orthodox woman in Jerusalem realized — too late, that her 36,000 NIS ($9,230) engagement ring had probably slipped off her finger while depositing the garbage in the dumpster.

After she called the Municipal Sanitation Division in a panic, headquarters located the right garbage truck and ordered the driver to abandon his rounds to deposit his load on the blacktop outside the city dump, where relatives and public-spirited volunteers…and even the driver (!) sifted through bags of smelly garbage — alas, to no avail…but there’s a happy end to the tale of woe.

It turns out an honest neighbor had found the wayward ring near the dumpster the same day — a Thursday…and returned it to its rightful owner early Sunday morning.  What took him so long?

The finder only got wind of the ring calamity on Shabbat (among synagogue kibbbitzers, no doubt). Once the Sabbath was over, the ring-bearer rang up the relieved owner to return the ring. (Israel HaYom, NRG – Maariv)

(UNDER)STAND AND DELIVER

Anything-goes Israelis can charter a reservation for a $7,600 10-day tour to… It’s anyone’s guess.

The Hevrah Hageographit*  (Geo Tours, in English) — a company that specializes in National Geographic-style off-the-beaten-treks is offering 24 adventurous souls a “Mysterious Tour” to mark its 40th year in business. Over 50 people signed up — site unseen.

Under its long-time motto “When you get back, you’ll understand” the firm promises a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” to “a destination that there isn’t a chance that Israelis have visited there already”…quite a challenge if you know anything about Israelis*.

The travelers will only be told the destination at the airport in September, but participants will receive a list of special equipment, insurances and inoculations they need to get in advance before the Big Day. (Yediot)

* I once called an innkeeper who caters to locomotive enthusiasts (the railroad tracks hug the front porch) — the Elkhorn Inn, in one of the remoter corners of rural West Virginia (to get an update about the coal miner community where I had spent a summer in the mid-1960s with VISTA -America’s domestic Peace Corps). When I identified myself, the gal at the other end of the line answered in Hebrew ‘Ahhh, ma nishma?’ (What’s new?) and told me she was an IDF vet…

HAPPINESS IS…

Need additional reassurance six-months into the Jihadi Wave of 2015/16 that come hell or high water, Israelis will prevail? March 20th is World Happiness Day and Chelm-on-the-Med is happy to report that Israelis placed 11th in the 2016 World Happiness Report*…ranking several places under Australia, almost identical to Sweden and New Zealand and just above Austria, the United States, Germany and Belgium to mention a few.

Don’t worry — it’s not a mindless Don’t Worry,Be Happy kind of happiness.  Other indexes and surveys show Israelis are champion complainers, self-critics and worrywarts…

What about the Palestinian Territories. Oh, they ranked 108th… (Yediot, Israel HaYom)

* The report is sponsored by Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an organization launched by UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon in 2012.  Israel placed 15th in 2012.

Correction.  A reader brought to our attention the following: In the February 2016/4 column we mistakenly noted in the story “Paint Job” that “in April 2011, a 16 year old was critically wounded by an anti-tank missile from Gaza that targeted a school bus in Kibbutz Nachal Oz.” In fact, Daniel Viflic z”l succumbed to his injuries ten days later.

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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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