Oh, what a year it was

Looking back, 2014 was a year full of ups and downs for Israel.

Peace talks ended early, war came too soon, a new president took office, and the government coalition split apart like a pair of cheap pants revealing dirty laundry the public would rather not have seen.

Yet, alongside the major events there were also the quirky, improbable, and sometimes plain daft stories kept us smiling throughout.

Here are some of the more memorable ones.


The year kicked off with a report about thick-skinned, merciless predators — not the at the Knesset but at a crocodile farm in the Jordan Valley. The place was ordered shut after a security breach enabled 70 of the reptiles to escape. Although they were recaptured, 1,000 crocs were in need of a new home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair, caused a storm by dating a non-Jewish Norwegian lass. Rabbis, politicians, family-members, all had a go at Yair for finding a mate out of the tribe while most members of the public impressed with the younger Netanyahu’s diplomatic efforts.

Bringing home an unkosher blonde is bad enough but when your kid walks in carrying an un-exploded mortar bomb he found under a tree it’s time to call the police and clear the whole street. Thankfully, nothing went off.

In what has become something of a trend IDF soldiers from an elite unit were filmed prancing around in the snow wearing just their underclothes. The exact military advantage was not clear but some analysts suggested the IDF was preempting the possibility of being caught with it’s pants down.

Kuwaiti authorities panicked after discovering Israeli potatoes had infiltrated the country and were spying on shoppers from supermarket shelves. Several of the vegetables were captured and subjected to questioning methods that included boiling in oil. Authorities were said to be satisfied with the results.

A personal friend of the-then Finance Minister Yair Lapid revealed that while the minister had never puffed a joint he had enjoyed a hit from a bong or two, apparently making him suitable for the job.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, July 15, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem, July 15, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)


Former President Shimon Peres, at the time still in office, set a Guinness World record by giving an online civics course to 9,000 Israeli teenagers and immediately set another record when 9,000 students simultaneously raised their hands and asked to go to the toilet.

Two female anteaters were brought to the Ramat Gan safari to join a lonely male member of the species in the hope that it would cheer him up. Rabbis, politicians, family-members all had a go at the safari for finding mates from out of the tribe.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz’s wage slip went missing prompting military police to launch a major investigation to track it down before the public found out whether or not the army’s accountants had been telling the truth in their budget reports. In a partial success investigators eventually found the commandos’ missing uniforms.

A family from an Israeli town near the Lebanese border claimed to have a weeping Virgin Mary that cried tears of oil. Hundreds rushed to see the holy miracle. In an effort to boost its own popularity the National Tax Authority installed statues of  weeping citizens in all its offices, but results were limited.

Israel’s newly-formed equestrian team asked the public to help choose the design of its jackets for the 2016 Olympics. After getting a wealth of feedback the selection process was said to be proceeding with leaps and bounds.

A leaking pipe disrupted a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office. Much media fun was poked at the dripping diversion until questions were raised about who leaked the leak to the press.

Jerusalem municipality planned English courses for the capital’s taxi drivers to ease communication with tourists. The project ran into trouble when the drivers were unable to understand the concept of the word “please”.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a splash in Malibu during a private visit to a friend. Security officials and police diverted traffic so that his entourage cause pass through smoothly and caused road jams that backed up highways in Oregon.

Municipal authorities in the southern city of Dimona tried to raise the city tax for the site of the local nuclear reactor site, said to house some of Israel’s (alleged) atomic weapons. In response officials at the site demanded that the city’s garbage collectors come by and remove its waste products prompting refuse workers to threaten a labor strike.

An African-American Jewish convert living in Jerusalem legally changed his name to Barack Obama after the US president. A special committee at the Interior Ministry spent two months, yes, two months, reviewing the request before finally approving it. The committee then spent a week trying to decide if its members wanted tea or coffee and another week on the whole question of how many spoons of sugar.

An Egyptian journalist demanded that Israel pay Egypt compensation for the damages caused by the ten plagues listed in the bible. Israeli authorities submitted the request to a special committee at the Interior Ministry that is still working out how to open the envelope.

Southern farmers grew enormous gourds in a bumper crop that saw some of the fruit reach over a yard in length spawning a thriving Internet industry selling natural gourd pills.

Workers at Ein Yahav weigh a gigantic pumpkin (photo credit: Rami Sadeh via Agriculture Ministry)
Workers at Ein Yahav weigh a gigantic pumpkin (photo credit: Rami Sadeh via Agriculture Ministry)


The Tower of David Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem had a good laugh pranking Game of Thrones fans into thinking that a episode of the hit TV show would be filmed within its walls. The misunderstanding gained new proportions when several members of Knesset called to reserve seats in the belief that it was reality show.

Congressional candidate Allan Levene proposed resolving the Israeli-Palestinian by creating a second state of Israel on the coast of Texas in return for Israel withdrawing to its pre-1967 lines. The residents of the small town of Palestine, Texas immediately appealed to the UN against the idea. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon released a statement saying he was “concerned” with the development.

A drunk Israeli teenager was rescued after falling into waist-deep into a tank full of dung. It took all the skill of local firefighters to extract him from the storage tank before he sank out of sight, in particular because none of them wanted to get within 50 yards of him.

Israel’s national airliner EL AL introduced a new musical pre-flight safety video for passengers that delivered all the usual instructions that no one pays attention to, but in bizarre format. The purpose was to get passengers to pay more attention, which it likely did, but may have also left them terrified at the thought of the plane being piloted by a crew bouncing around skin-tight shiny blue jumpsuits and scary makeup.

Israeli and American researchers managed to insert nanobots into cockroaches to test a hi-tech slow release method for drugs, hopefully a lethal dose of arsenic.

A group of rabbis in Jerusalem who to reenact the Temple’s Passover paschal offering drew sharp criticism from animal rights groups who condemned the practice as being immoral. The rabbis then prepared to burn some incense but were stopped by officials from the Environment Protection Ministry and then arrested by police for being a public nuisance after they waded across a fountain to reenact the splitting of the Red Sea.

A cockroach, file photo (Photo credit: CC-BY-SA Sputnikit Wikimedia Commons)
A cockroach, file photo (Photo credit: CC-BY-SA Sputnikit Wikimedia Commons)


During a filming session in his office Netanyahu made a surprising rant against the young generation’s fascination with taking photos on mobile phones. The prime minister then stamped his feet, complained that his neighbors in the adjacent Finance Ministry were making too much noise, declared that Sports Ministry would get their ball back “when a man walks on the moon” and then took a nap.

Those ever-enterprising farmers from Israel’s southern desert region named a new type of melon in honor of visiting pop singer Justin Timberlake who thanked them for gesture but hinted that he bears a closer resemblance to the gourds.


Over 2,000 people sat down for a record-breaking Shabbat meal in Tel Aviv. There were also 800 bottles of wine, 80 bottles of vodka, and 50 bottles of whisky so none of the participants remembered what the food tasted like.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England congratulated President Reuven Rivlin on his nomination. Rivlin reportedly quipped that by the time he gets to the queen’s age he’ll have finished his seven years in office still have time for another four in the Knesset to which the queen responded “we are not amused.”


The start of year’s darkest times as the country went to war but there was still a smile to be found in the IDF’s English-language name for the conflict, Operation Protective Edge that made it sound a bit too much like a condom, adding a whole new meaning to the phrase “keep me covered.”


As the conflict raged on another enterprising southern farmer chose to take out his frustration at government attitudes to local rocket-ridden communities with a variation on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — he dumped a load of cow manure on his head and invited ministers to follow suit. They didn’t.

Police raided a bomb shelter that had been converted into a well-equipped casino and also turned up a stash of marijuana. The finance minister was said to be taking a personal interest in the case.


As the conflict wound down it emerged the IDF’s most veteran reservist, a 77-year-old,  is the oldest combat soldier in the world. There were no details on exactly what Nahum “Nahche” Gilboa did during the campaign but we can only hope that with decades of wisdom under his belt he was able to keep his clothes on whenever there was a camera pointed in his direction.


Cops from central Israel admitted in court that they regularly used a local convenience store’s scales to weigh large drug-bust evidence because they didn’t have the right equipment in the station.
Police received several thousand offers from well-meaning citizens who said they would be happy to measure future evidence in their homes and return it to the station the next day.

Female IDF soldiers showed that they can do anything the boys can do when they peeled off their uniforms for a saucy calendar promoted by a Tel Aviv fashion firm. Military police made numerous requests to fully investigate the matter, all of which were turned down.



An Israeli start up company installed therapy bubbles in New York where passersby could sit in a giant goldfish bowl and talk online with a therapist for free. Skeptics argued that it was unwise to begin a conversation with a therapist by saying “I’m sitting in a fishbowl.”


Palestinians in the West Bank town of Bil’in got into the Christmas spirit by dressing as Santa Claus before going out for some festive rock throwing at Israeli security forces. The IDF responded by disguising soldiers as reindeer.

Finally, as the early elections loom and party primaries were in full swing politicians took to producing short video clips to get their messages across on social media. The Israeli Cinema Association asked that all the clips be rated “R for “Ridiculous.”

About the Author
When he isn't writing outlandish blog posts just for fun, Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.