Backpage News from the Front


January 7 – January 13, 2016

ABOUT THIS COLUMN: “Backpage News from the Front” Is a series of weekly special report of piquant news and satire gleaned from the Hebrew press during the Jihadi Wave of 2015/6 (for lack of a better name) in lieu of the author’s regular twice-monthly columns of wild and wacky news stories called “Chelm-on-the-Med.”


Remember the old ‘instant communications’ joke about the fellow who knocks on your door asking whether you heard the voice mail he left asking whether you got the fax he sent to check whether the e-mail he transmitted to you arrived safely?

Well, it’s no joke if you’re in an intensive care unit and need to call the nurse but for all the fancy monitors of your vital signs — the call buzzer doesn’t work…or there’s no one at the nursing station to hear it.

As a backup, Ashkelon’s Barzilei Medical Center staff in the cardiology intensive care unit attached old fashioned low-tech hand bells to the beds — you know, the kind by now only found in kindergarten music and rhythm lessons — along side the standard call buzzer, as a failsafe backup. (Yediot)


In the course of the Israel-Arab conflict, loss of a family member is traditionally marked by Palestinians in “Days of Rage” with demonstrations promising revenge. By contrast,  Israelis tend to mark such tragedies by life-embracing memorials — from building a new hiking trail or neighbourhood park, to holding an annual public-spirited event* or establishing an NGO dedicated to the loved one.

One of the most unique is the way the Appelbaum family chose to commemorate the death of Nava Appelbaum and her father Dr. David Appelbaum (an emergency medicine specialist) z”l – among seven Israelis killed by a suicide bomber in 2003 at a Jerusalem café during the 2000-2006 Terror War, literally on the eve of Nava’s wedding.

The Appelbaum family turned her wedding dress into a wedding canopy or hupa. Her brother and sisters were married under this unique hupa.  Nava’s first cousin was just married in December 2015 under the very same wedding canopy. (Israel HaYom)

*For instance, recently 400 family members and friends of Ohad Shemesh z”l — an IDF soldier killed in action during the Protective Edge campaign in 2014, marked Shemesh’s 29th birthday by fixing up homes of elderly residents of Ashdod in need of repair — considered fitting, since. Ohad had engaged in Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) in a host of ways, including the building of an orphanage in Haiti. (Yediot)


Grandparents picking of their grandkids from daycare is a very common sight in Israel, but one doting granddad in Mod’in set off alarm bells after he went to fetch his seven-month-old grandson, was handed the wrong infant…and never noticed!

Suffice it say, when the kid’s mother showed up to pick up her baby panic broke out, and police were called in.  But before the cops could launch a manhunt, the ‘kidnapper’ walked back into the childcare center — 20 nerve-racking minutes later — with the missing kid. Grandma had taken one look and realized he’d been handed the wrong kid and sent hubby to ‘return the bundle of joy’ and pick up their own grandson.

Three caretakers were being interrogated about the incident.(Yediot, Israel HaYom, 


Okay, it’s not on par with the guitar John Lennon used to play the Beatles hit Love Me Do that recently sold for a whopping £1.7 million at auction, but an aspiring vocalist Rotem Cohen plopped down 46,000 NIS ($12,105) to buy Arik Einstein’s aging piano, purported to be the instrument where Einstein — a pillar of Israeli popular music who died in 2013 — composed some of his greatest 1970 hits like Sa L’at  (Drive Slowly)  and Ma Iti (What will be with me?).

Immediately, a chorus piped up to challenge such claims to fame. One of Arik’s closest friends, Tzvi Shissel (who produced Einstein’s first seven albums) retorted: “Although the piano was in his home, if Arik knew how to play the piano,* he must have done this late at night, because I never heard him play it.” (Yediot)

*He took piano lessons when he was nine years old


A decade ago the Knesset passed a law that slapped price controls on popcorn sold at concession stands in Israeli movie theatres; the step was then enhanced in 2014 by a ‘captive audience’ law (for sports stadiums and movie theatres) that allowed movie patrons to bring their own popcorn from home…actually, any item “of the same kind sold by the establishment.”

When an usher refused to allow a movie patron allergic to milk and corn to take in an order of McDonald’s fries as a substitute, a member of the ruling coalition got ruffled.  Moldova-born MK Tali Ploskov (the Kulanu party*) — pressed the Ministerial Committee for Recommended Legislation to sponsor an amendment to the ‘captive audience’ law to permit taking “any food item of the same kind sold at the site” — that is, carrying-in carry-out from adjacent food courts…

Theatre owners went through the ceiling. The fusion of falafel and shawarma, stir-fry Chinese noodles, pizza, French fries and espresso…and their plush upholstered seats and carpets was a recipe for disaster, protested theatre owners…not to mention the overpowering olfactory effect of such a lethal concoction in close quarters like a darkened movie theatre.

Yuck. (Yediot)

*Pronounced KOO-la-nu, literally ‘everyone’ – a tiny party devoted to economic and cost-of-living issues.


Massive use of sun screen has been lauded as a boon to humanity and an effective way to avoid skin cancer, but it turns out suntan lotion is toxic…

Up until now, the main ingredient — oxybenzone — which provides broad-spectrum UV coverage, has at most been accused of causing a vitamin D deficiency among users.

Now an international team that includes two scholars from Tel Aviv University’s Zoology Department — Dr. Omri Bronstein and Professor Yossi Loya have found oxybenzone causes massive damage – lethal mutations and other grave damage to the DNA and hormonal systems…among sea coral. (Yediot)


In the short span of two weeks, the IDF designed and began issuing special flexible cloth turtle-neck collars to compliment ceramic vests issued to soldiers at roadblocks and on patrol, after terrorists critically wounded or killed several personnel with stabs to exposed neck and throat areas.

What about civilians?

During the 2000-2006 Terror War businesses like cafes began placing guards at the entrance — patrons paying a small fee in addition to the service tip, to keep suicide bombers at bay. It was only a matter of time until inventive Israelis found a way to counter knife-wielding jihadists on the prowl. Meet PMS Migun which promises to offer more than reinforced turtle-neck sweaters…

Soon, for 200 NIS ($50) anyone will be able to have their most upscale and fashionable jacket or designer sweatshirt dipped in a special invisible solution that renders the garment not only knife-proof but also bullet resistant – shielding all vital organs without loosing any of the apparel’s comfy feel. (Yediot)





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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