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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, February 2010 - Column 1


   When IDF soldiers on the Egyptian border spotted two hashish smugglers in a jeep, they called in an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. But the plane lost eye contact, so the army sent a helicopter to pick up the trail. The helicopter - low on fuel - had to give up the chase... but not before putting two pair of boots and a set of paws on the ground: a Bedouin tracker, a scout dog and his trainer. The three set up a roadblock to nab the pair of smugglers but succeeded only in flattening the vehicle's tires (without the hash which the two smugglers had jettisoned).
   But far from giving up, the twosome showed the threesome a clean pair of heels - in fact two, by taking off in different directions. The trio set off in hot pursuit of one of the pair, but the dog quickly gave out - unable to continue without a drink and a rest.
   And the no-less-parched Bedouin tracker? Bushed or not, without any ifs, ands or buts, he doggedly pressed on - ultimately intercepting one of the two suspects after several kilometers of hide 'n' seek.
   End of story? Not quite.
   The suspect protested he was "picnicking in the area with his parents" and had apparently been picked up by mistake... But, finally the law got a break in this multiple comedy of errors: as fate would have it, the ‘picnicking' imposter had left his cellphone in the jeep.


* The original (Hebrew Passover version) of I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly...


   Matchmaking is still common in ultra-Orthodox circles, but what happens when travel arrangements for an arranged wedding go kaput? Ask an ultra-Orthodox groom from Belgium who was grounded by snow that closed certain European airports, with flights cancelled like dominos across the continent - including the flight from Milan to sunny Israel that the groom and his parents were scheduled to take.
   Put off the wedding? It's considered bad luck in Judaism.
   A bit of speedy matchmaking of another kind joined Jerusalem bride and Brussels groom against all odds: the three caught their flight from Belgium to Milan, hopped off and took a train to Switzerland, ran to the airport to catch a flight to Romania where groom and parents boarded another plane to Tel Aviv - arriving breathless in Jerusalem in time for his wedding. The Brussels haredi community swears the successful mad dash must be the work of the Almighty.


   It sounds like a sequel to Not Without My Daughter: A 55-year-old Petah Tikva man, Moshe Deskel - a father of three - refused to leave his beloved Nelly to languish alone in a cell. He joined her ‘inside,' declaring he would stay put until she was released.
   The only difference in the script was that Nelly is a dog, not one of his three daughters. And the cell was in a rabies quarantine station.
   It seems that two-and-a-half-year-old Nelly had snapped, and nipped at the hand of another two-and-a-half-year-old, who happened to be a small child, after the toddler repeatedly pinched the mixed pincher while his mother calmly watched. While no medical attention was needed, Deskel was summoned to bring Nelly to the quarantine station for observation.
   Only hours later, after police were called in, did Deskel agree to leave the premises of his own volition, but he vowed he'd be back the next day to calm his nervous Nelly, whom Deskel claimed suffered from separation anxiety - having been dumped by a previous owner at the tender age of six months.


  When a group of Bnei Akiva youth just before conscription came to testify before a Knesset committee discussing national service, they found themselves barred at the gate.
   The grounds? The Bnei Akiva emblem on their movement shirts.
   Knesset guards on duty decided the insignia - the Ten Commandments, an olive branch and stalk of barley, a scythe and a pitchfork - constituted a ‘political statement.' The rulebook says demonstrations are not permitted on Knesset grounds.
   A few of the crestfallen youngsters stripped off their shirts and left them at the gate. Most turned their shirts inside out... When the chairperson of the House got wind of the incident, he swore he'd rewrite the fine print so all those in uniform (not just soldiers, but also youth movement members of all stripes) could keep their shirts on.


   It's old hat when an engineering department in academia decides to bring in a lecturer from ‘out in the real world' to teach industrial design, but the expert lecturer invited to address students at the Shaarei Mishpat Law College in Ramat Hasharon was a wee bit further from the heights of the ivory towers. He hailed from the University of Hard Knocks.
   Ali Jo'arish (45) from Ramle - purported to be one of the heads of one of the most illustrious organized crime families in Israel - is reputed to be one of the underworld's most outstanding arbitrators and mediators. Jo'arish prefers to emphasize that he mediates all sorts of disputes - business, domestic and ‘other.' His lecture was part of a forum held under the auspices of the Abraham Melamed Peacemaking Research Institute devoted to enriching students' skills in conflict management and mediation.
   Israeli students are notoriously disrespectful of any ‘sage on the stage,' but in the case of this dude, no one dared disrupt the judge's lecture by walking about, talking or toying with their cellphones.


* Copyright© 2010 by Daniella Ashkenazy. All rights reserved worldwide. For limited usage, see FAQs. All stories are completely rewritten by Daniella Ashkenazy from news items gleaned from Yediot Aharonot, unless another news source is stated.