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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, April 2010 - Column 2


   A 2003 poll of Israeli schoolchildren at a Jerusalem high school showed 73 percent didn't have a clue who* composed the words to Israel's national anthem, Hatikvah. Incorrect answers ranged from visionaries like Theodore Herzl and David Ben-Gurion to songster Naomi Shemer and pop vocalist Zvika Pik. But that hasn't dampened the spirit of Dr. Tsvi Tzameret, the chief pedagogue of the Ministry of Education. 
   In honor of Israel's 62nd Independence Day - which falls this year on April 20th, Tzameret has launched a musical competition devoted to Israel's Declaration of Independence. Students are invited to set the landmark document (or passages of it) to music, as lyrics. Musical language is wide open: symphonic poem, Hassidic tunes or Rap for that matter. Winning compositions (that need to be submitted on CD with the musical score) will be integrated into the school curriculum. The savvy and seasoned educator surmises that in the course of composing their personal masterpieces, budding musicians will become well-acquainted with the content of the document.

* poet Naphtali Herz Imber. (The melody was borrowed from Czech composer Smetana's symphonic poem "The Moldau")



   In January 2010 Abu Gosh* restaurateur Jowadat Ibrahim challenged the Guinness world record for the largest plate of humous. The title was briefly held by the Lebanese who in October 2009 created a two-metric ton plate of humous that had broken Israel's 400-kilo Guinness record from October 2008.
   The food fight was sparked by Arab charges that Israelis were spreading lies that humous was an Israeli dish. In 2008 the head of the Lebanese Industrialists Association Fadi Abboud even threatened to file an international lawsuit against Israel for ‘identity theft'.
   Ibrahim's four-ton creation - executed by 50 Jewish and Arab chefs was spread on a 6-meter diameter satellite dish, and accompanied by 5,000 pita. Leftover humous was donated to charitable organizations on a take-away basis - provided the charities came carting their own containers.
   Far from admitting defeat, Lebanon promised a ‘second round' with Israel, come spring - a spectacle they are threatening to hold - in protest - on the Israeli-Lebanese border opposite Metula.

* An Arab village outside Jerusalem


   A recommendation for amending the Road Accident Compensation Law calls for excluding compensation for ‘people who collide with "driverless parked cars" (e.g. mostly kids on bikes) and limiting coverage to cars "involved in an accident in places designed by law for motor traffic."
   Sounds clear cut?
   Think again. This is Israel.
   "Why are Israelis required to take 27 driving lessons? To learn to drive on the curb," quips American-Israeli comedian Yisrael Cambell.
   Interpretation of ‘places designed for cars' could turn into a toss-up. Currently Tel-Aviv residents armed with neighborhood parking permits are not ticketed by municipal parking inspectors if they fail to find a vacant spot, drive up and park on the sidewalk, provided the spot they pick is close to their flat and there is room for a baby pram to squeeze by.


   What couple isn't familiar with this universal point of domestic strife: Like clockwork, it's regularly set off when the wife - still half-asleep gets ticked-off (again) after lowering herself squarely onto an ice-cold toilet bowl in the wee hours of the night.
   There's a win-win solution but it comes from a strange source: Israel's Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.
   The key was revealed when an inquisitive journalist posed as a potential buyer for Barak's plush apartment in the Akirov Towers in Tel-Aviv. A tour of the premises with the former chief-of-staff's second wife Nili Barak not only revealed that the dinning table that seats twenty is equipped with individual spotlights that illuminate each diner's plate, and that on a clear day one can see Lebanon through a floor-to-ceiling picture window. The real scoop was that the master bath comes equipped with side-by-side appliances, just like the kitchen: a designer toilet and...a urinal.
   Nili Barak explained: "That way there's no fight who puts down the toilet seat."


   The war over ‘Who is a Tourist'* flared up again after the Ministry of Tourism proudly announced that February 2010 broke all records for visits to Israel: 222,000 entries at border control points -- 46 percent more than 2009. What broke the rosy picture was disclosure that 44,000 of the extra ‘visitors' were day trippers, so the real gain was only three percent.
   In the past such day tourists were mostly Mediterranean cruise passengers and some travelers-in-transit, but no longer: Typical is a group of Russian tourists who spent two weeks in Egypt and 14 hours on a brief but breath-taking tour of Christian holy places in Israel.
   Crossing the Israeli-Egyptian border at Taba at six in the morning, by 9 AM the participants were already in Bethlehem - marked by a visit to the holy sites and a brief break for sandwiches...brought from Egypt. By noon the group was already in the midst of their tour of Jerusalem holy sites. Dining briefly in East Jerusalem, the day trippers were back in bed in their Taba hotel before midnight.
   The one consolation: The Russians were so impressed, they said they'd be back.

* see "Israeli Guest Houses" in January 2009, Column 1 for more.


* 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.