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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, APRIL 2015 COLUMN 2
As the second chag approached (celebrating the last day of Passover),Ashkenazi Jews across Israel faced an unprecedented culinary nightmare: a shortage of instant kneidlach (matzah ball) mixes at Israeli food chains sparked by a spike in demand leading producers to ask ‘why is this night different from all other nights’? (Yediot)
Remember the strange ‘ground transportation scheme’ initiated by Royal Jordanian Airlines flights during Protective Edge…departing Ben-Gurion Airport for the Far East by bus, rather than by plane?
Well, now Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines has been dragged over the coals by a consumer column in Yediot Aharonot for selling a ticket to an Australian tourist that was scheduled to land in Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur when Israeli airspace is closed to all air traffic. Pegasus then had the chutzpah to demand a hefty $316 penalty fee from the Australian for changing the date of his flight to the next evening.
A company rep in Tel Aviv said the charge was “a technical glitch,” leaving in abeyance the nagging question – what if the plane had actually taken off? (Yediot)
OUT FOR A STROLL
Maybe they smelled spring in the air.
First, three rhinos from the Ramat Gan Safari left their one thousand dunam (250 acre) compound to check out the parking lot after the guard fell asleep on the job, startling some early-morning joggers headed for the adjacent ‘people park.
Within days, motorists elsewhere in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area spotted a 40-kilo Emu running down the main drag in Herziliya at 50 kilometers an hour (just within the speed limit one should note). A concerned citizen, worried by the way the unlicensed bird was weaving dangerously in and out of traffic (and running red traffic lights) managed to herd the Emu towards a safe patch of lawn near the Seven Stars Mall, until animal welfare workers could catch the inquisitive but by now confused Emu. Authorities set about hunting down the owner – apparently an unknown ‘pirate’ petting zoo. (Yediot, Israel HaYom)
According to Israel HaYom columnist Aharon Lapidot, the attorney general of the city Linz in Austria said - referring to a genocidal post by a Turkish barber living in Austria - that “to call for the extermination of the Jews is a legitimate criticism of Israel.”
If that’s not enough, the German Ministry of the Interior established a special committee to examine the state of antisemitism in Germany and report back to the German parliament how they think it can be combated. Ironically, there is not one Jew on the committee. A Ministry spokesperson said “the decision was taken without any malintent”… (Israel HaYom)
When Spike Lee’s movie Da Sweet Blood of Jesus debuted in the United States, in the audience of celebs was an individual who no doubt raised more than a few eyebrows with his thick beard, black kipa, and tzitiyot dangling-down over his trousers – the mark of an ultra-Orthodox Jew.
What was a nice Jewish boy doing at the debut of a movie that the New York Times dubbed “a grisly and ghoulish vampire story” seasoned with some heavy sex?
Twenty-eight year-old Achia Asher Cohen Alloro who just graduated from the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, explained his presence: “It wouldn’t be polite on my part if I wouldn’t see the movie.” The Jerusalem Habadnik had composed one of the songs in the movie score.
The two men met by chance at a music workshop in the Canadian Rockies. Alloro was asked to ‘play something’ at a gala reception and chose an original composition of his that put to music the 121st Psalm (“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help”), which his travel mate (another Academy student) sang in Hebrew. The guest of honor at the reception was Spike Lee. The Israeli musician hadn’t a clue who Lee was, but the rest is history. (Yediot)’
ACT OF COMMISSION
In an incredibly bizarre act of commission, the Mifal HaPais (pronounced ‘pious’) paid a university law professor 59,000 NIS ($14,750) to write and publish on an reputable online legal discourse forum an academic opinion supporting the Israel National Lottery’s position that it was both reasonable and proportional that candidates responding to the Mifal HaPais’ public tenders to market lottery tickets be required to reveal any criminal investigations against them.
Don’t Pais personnel know that the writer’s fee they offered was totally unreasonable and disproportional, considering the measly compensation typically paid for delivering academic papers???*
The strange ‘deal’ came to light only because a sharp-eyed journalist at Yediot Aharonot noticed that within days of publication of the learned opinion, the National Lotteries, apparently in a gamble to impress the court, liberally quoted from the ‘commissioned’ paper in their reply to a seven-judge panel weighing the appropriateness of just such a practice. (Yediot)
* In most cases, at best waiving a conference attendance fee or at best, a $100 honorum.
STATE OF THE NATION
Next Thursday Israel will celebrate its 67th independence day. If one needs more proof that Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 didn’t even leave a dent on the rollicking Israeli economy: McKinsey Global Institute announced in a “Debt and (not much) deleveraging” Report“ that since global meltdown in 2007, debts worldwide (of governments, corporations and financial institutions, and households) have risen by $57 trillion – 286 percent of the gross global product.
Israel is one of a handful of countries out of 47 surveyed that registered a drop in their national debt-to-GNP ratio between 2007 and 2014.
Not only that, Israel in fact leads the world – with a 22 percent (!) dive in its debt-to-GNP ratio…leaving everyone else with an improvement trailing in the dust: Saudi Arabia (a 14 percent drop), Argentina (11 percent) Egypt (9 percent) Romania (7 percent). (Yediot, McKinsey)
CHUTZPAH DOESN’T PAY
The Ramat Gan police station received a truly unique call on the police hot line (‘dial 100’): A citizen just outside the station told the duty officer he could see someone breaking into the impounded vehicles compound at the rear of the station (in broad daylight!) and about to take off on an stolen electric-powered bike.
Floored cops took up the chase on foot, and nabbed the thief – a familiar face, which helped - before the bicycle thief could fade into the woodwork. The incident came to light in court when the suspect was hauled before a judge: The bench turned down his lawyer’s request that his client be released “since it was only a property offense”; the judge replied evenly that in fact “considering the nature of the crime” she was extending the suspect’s detention for another five days. (Yediot)
CHECK THE FINE PRINT
Food conglomerate Osem is trying to corner the ketchup market in Israel by claiming Heinz Tomato Ketchup doesn’t have enough tomatoes in it to justify being called ketchup…at least not according to the fine print of the Israel Standards Institute’s criteria.
Freak occurrence? Apparently not.
A class action suit was recently won by two consumers against the Israeli dairy conglomerate Strauss for labelling its popular chocolate pudding Milky ‘chocolate’ rather than ‘chocolate-flavored’ when the product doesn’t contain what’s defined as
‘shokolad’ according to the fine print of the Israel Standards Institute (‘think Hershey bars’). Only cacao, it seems. (Yediot, Israel HaYom)
* The same much-loved Milky that was the focus of high-cost-of-living protests as reported by Chelm-on-the-Med in November 2014. See Cut-rate Prices