TEL-AVIV BEATS OUT NEW YORK
First Tel-Aviv was declared one of the top ten coastal cities by National Geographic, then it raked in accolades and prizes from Forbes, Newsweek and the New York Times. Now the Big Orange has taken second place for ‘innovation’ among 200 cities around the world in a popularity contest sponsored by the Urban Land Institute. The Big Apple came in 3rd.
Among the factors that brought Tel-Aviv to the attention of 980,000 voters who participated in the ballot around the globe: A futuristic project to institute free WiFi on the streets and in the parks and cafes of the Big Orange by urging every household to contribute a smidgen of their broadband to the pubic domain. Another winning innovation: Promises of a “SkyTran” – a personal rapid transit system that designers say will whisk commuters across town at 240 kilometers an hours in two-seater pods hanging seven meters above ground.
What voters didn’t know is Tel-Aviv has been announcing a subway system is just around the corner since the mid-1960s when the first subway station (at the Shalom Tower building) was actually dedicated with much pomp and ceremony by the then-sitting prime minister Levi Eshkol…a station without any sign of a subway system to match.
When the defense lawyer in a multi-million shekel bankruptcy case presented a doctor’s note claiming his client Rachel Sofer was too ill to appear in court and was bed-ridden for a week, the two hadn’t a clue what a hornet’s nest they’d stirred up. The bench sitting on the case hit the ceiling.
Sick and tired of delaying actions, Judge Varda El-Sheikh motioned the lawyers to approach the bench and ordered the court stenographer and the two litigators to follow her.
Exiting the courthouse, the foursome flagged down a cab and made a beeline for the defendant’s home, where El-Sheikh reconvened the case to give Sofer, hopefully, her last day in court after years of foot-dragging.
Sick or not, the debtor was given one week flat to cough up the 250,000 NIS ($69,444) she’d been told sixteen months earlier to turn over to a court-appointed trustee of her assets, or face sixty days in the clinker. (Yediot Aharonot and Israel Hayom)
FEAR OF FLYING
A small dog was discovered in the hand baggage of a passenger, stowed under her seat, when just before heading down the runway at Ben-Gurion Airport the apparently meek and mute pooch began to bark. The spooked pilot terminated the takeoff and returned to the terminal where the owner was collared and taken off the plane, dog in tow.
Why wasn’t the stowaway picked up when her hand luggage went through the x-ray machine before border control, asked the miffed Brits?
Officials at Ben-Gurion Airport told London that unlike nail files “everyone knows small pets in the cabin with their owners don’t constitute a security hazard” (another way of saying his bark was worse than his bite) and failure to investigate the mutt was therefore not an oversight on the part of airport security personal. At most, the American tourist with the canine in her carry-on was guilty of trying to sneak the pooch on to the British Airlines flight without paying for its ticket – a matter that was irrelevant to passenger safety.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a new strategy to bring the Arab world closer to Israel. Share family recipes…
Iraqi-born Linda Abdul Aziz, New Media Consultant for Arabic Content at the Ministry, posted on the MFA’s tweeter and Facebook accounts her family recipe that ‘marries’ a veggie version of Maqluba (a concoction of meat, rice and vegetables served like an ‘upside down cake’) with Mujadara, (rice and lentils, whose name BTW means ‘smallpox’ in Arabic because the lentils look (yuck!) like pox marks…). Aziz’s Maqluba is based on carrots, tomatoes and cheese, instead of meat.
Abdul Aziz, who immigrated to Israel in 1970 from Aleppo (Halab, in Arabic) said she wanted to break the misconception that Mizrachi Jews carry no weight in Israel.
Of course the last time Israelis tried to endear themselves to their neighbors by saying ‘there is nothing more Israeli than wiping up hummus’ to underscore in the subtext, ‘hey, we’re just like you,’ it kindled a food war – with Arabs saying Israelis were trying to ‘steal’ hummus, sparking a decade-long struggle between Lebanon and Israel over the Guinness World Record for the largest plate of hummus.**
* Another tack baked by Abdul Aziz is to upload Israeli vocalist Zahava Ben aping the singing the Arab world’s counterpart to Latin America’s Mercedes Sosa - Umm Kulthum .
** See Upcoming Spring Offensive (April 2010).
FAST FOOT WORK
The last leg of Route 1 into Tel-Aviv is a toll road, designed to discourage cars from entering the Big Orange. Vehicles carrying less than four passengers at the height of the rush hour are socked with a hefty toll if they use the designated Fast Lane for car pools and public transport.
Sure enough, no small number of fast-thinking Israelis have found a quick way to get around the toll. Pulling a fast one on Fast Lane operators, lone motorists have begun pulling off the highway momentarily – swerving into the service lane to the Tel Aviv fast-lane park-and-ride facility at the Shapirim Junction – to pick up three perfect strangers waiting for the free shuttle bus into the city, thus dodging the 70 NIS ($18.90) toll for taking the Fast Lane.