Backpage news from the front

Operation “Protective Edge” (Tzuk Eitan) – Column V
a mixed bag of piquant

August 1, 2014 – August 7, 2014  
Keep your Spirits Up and Your Head Down!



On the media front: The London Times refused to publish a full-page paid ad penned by Nobel Prize laureate Eli Wiesel that dared to criticize Hamas, revealed the New York Observer.

The reason?

The ad – titled “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’ turn” – was “too strong and too forcefully made and will cause concern amongst a significant number of Times readers,” said the paper which previously marked Holocaust Day in January 2013 with an editorial cartoon of Israel’s prime minister “cementing peace” with a wall build with Palestinian bodies as bricks and Palestinian blood as mortar. (Ynet)



Forget the pro-Israel placards and the mass demonstrations; judging by the atmosphere in Paris and other European capitals and the hostility of the media, few are listening.

Jewish students and Israelis in Vienna, Austria and Amsterdam’s Leidse Square have organized a hopefully-more-effective way of hammering home to the world what Israelis experienced daily:  A sirens sounds and dozens of people strolling across a major public square somewhere in Europe hit the pavement and huddle there for 15 seconds as the siren blares, while a banner is unfurled saying “Imagine you have 15 seconds to save your life.”

Others are invited to stage similar flash mob demonstrations in their own cities – next time around (or tomorrow for that matter, if the 72-hour cease-fire doesn’t last*).

* As this column goes to press on the afternoon of Thursday August 7, Hamas has yet to extend the cease-fire, so a word to the wise come 8:00 AM Friday morning: Keep an open ear it may not be a motorcycle accelerating that you hear.



Half the summer vacation went down the tubes due to the war?  Help is on the way: Nestia Froussman, a 16 year-old from Beersheva has established a Facebook petition calling on the Minister of Education to extend the summer vacation to make up for lost time. (Yisrael HaYom)



If you think you’ve seen everything, in a truly marvelous line of logic, Navi Pallay, the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, charged that Israel is guilty of war crimes against civilians of Gaza because it refuses to share its Iron Dome ballistic missile defense shield with the “governing authority” of Gaza (Hamas) shooting rockets at Israel*…a truly original interpretation of “all is fair in love and war.” (Channel 2 TV)



A pet parakeet spooked by sirens and falling and intercepted rockets in Ashkelon, flew the coop. But, far from taking wing for calmer climes like any sane bird would do, the budgie who goes by the name Quickie, flew straight from the frying pan into the fire, landing on the shoulder of a surprised IDF reservist in the midst of the battle. When the unit pulled back for some R&R, Quickie ‘hitched a ride’ with them, where the patriotic parakeet was photographed roosting on the top of the floppy fatigue hat of one of the tank crew.

The bird was reunited with its owner – Inbal Barbibi after she recognized Quickie on the back page of Yediot Aharonot.*

* Locating the unit, she took the budgie back home, although the bird could have feasted forever on the mountains of half-eaten munchies laying about, goodies sent as a sign of support from the home front.



Aware that an avalanche of socks and skivvies already threatened to bury Israeli soldiers alive, Kal Auto Ltd. sought a new way to support the troops.

Exploiting the drop in demand for its rental cars due to the war, the chain dedicated 100 cars from its fleet to ferry soldiers home for free on short 24-hour leaves, just like a taxi special. Calling for ‘volunteer drivers’ to step forward, CEO Shmulik Klein asking rhetorically: “When a soldier lives in Ma’alot-Tarshecha [in the Galilee] how much time remains at home if he travels by public transportation?” (Yediot)



Shai Saban who runs a computer store and fix-it lab in Kiryat Malachi hasn’t lost his sense of humor. The head of the Kiryat Malachi Merchants’ Association told Yediot’s regional paper for residents of the south that sales in the town were down 50 to 80 percent but quickly added, philosophically: “On the other hand, it’s solved the parking problem in town.”

* And speaking of computers, where were Israelis surfing during the month-long war? Vacation spots witnessed a 63-67 percent drop, parallel to a 92 percent increase in searches for cemeteries and 55 percent rise in searches for flags. The popular price comparison  website Zap reported a 400 percent increase for information on hearing aides. (Yediot)



It’s hardly surprising that a cargo of food – ‘humanitarian aide’ from Turkey to Gaza that arrived at Ashdod Port was carefully examined by customs officials. Discovered among the sacks of flour was an industrial-strength mixer and hundreds of solid metal balls, customs revealed.

Officials weighed whether to release the ball bearings – that looked suspiciously similar to the ones that lace Palestinian rockets. The manifest said the metal balls were designated for…chocolate-making!

Well, it turns out this such balls are used in the mixing process, but then again – in Gaza commercial fertilizer and household ammonia aren’t used solely to grow cherry tomatoes and clean the john.* (, Yisrael HaYom)

* Key ingredients in bomb-making.



After Hamas launched 3,360 rockets at Israel’s civilian population using their own women and children as human shields and dug 32 tunnels designed to kill or kidnap Jews and their children in their sleep, in an op-ed titled “How to Fix It” in Foreign Policy, former President Jimmy Carter called on the United States to take Hamas off the terrorist organization list and recognize it as “a legitimate political actor.” Israel can be consoled with the fact that the 89 year-old former president only castigated Israel and charged it purposely targeted civilians, and he didn’t call for putting Israel on the terrorist list.

And the sitting president?

The best Obama could muster speaking to the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit was to labeled the above war crimes “a particular military strategy” which Barak Obama branded as acting “extraordinarily irresponsibly” as if Hamas was a bunch of rowdy teenagers guilty of smashing beer bottles on a street corner while breaking curfew. (Ynet)

* + another 119 that fell in the Gaza Strip



Meet the Gaza mindset.  Ah, the advantages of youth!

A 77 year-old Gazan resident from Jebalia – Ibrahim Muhammed Da’ud, interviewed in a random street survey on Sunday July 13th remarked:  “If I was younger, I would put on an explosive belt and go blow myself up in Tel Aviv,” adding “We don’t need homes, we need a state.” (Ours, apparently.)

Another elderly Gazan – age 76 – found a creative alternative suitable to his age and abilities. An Israeli officer stretched out his hand to help the injured man get up…only to find he was hiding a handful of grenades under his tush. The officer and his soldiers jumped back. The old man got up and prepared to throw one of the grenades at them, and joined the list of Palestinian fatalities in the war. (Ynet, Yediot)



A new scheme for the optimistic patriot: Help business in the south by buying a coupon for a vacation at a romantic and tranquil zimmer in the south which can be redeemed once quiet is definitely restored.  (Yisrael HaYom)

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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