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


   Summer weather and other conditions bring with them some strange aberrations.
A visiting Israel living abroad landed at Ben-Gurion Airport, and like everyone else on the flight, the first thing he did the minute the wheels touched down was to touch base with the world. Turning on his cellphone, he waiting for the usual "Welcome to Israel" to appear. But instead, much to his dismay, the following message was plastered across the display: "Marhaba*, Smell the jasmine and taste the olives. JAWWAL welcomes you to Palestine."
   Had someone hacked into the phone system? Cybernapped his new iPhone?
   The Ministry of Communications explained the strange message: sometimes JAWWAL - a cellphone franchise in the Palestinian Authority - and the Partner cell phone provider in Israel get crossed signals when Partner is overloaded with calls. And sometimes the signals from Palestinian Authority cellphone companies are so strong they overpower the Israel ones... due to weather conditions.**

* welcome, in Arabic.

** Those traveling to the historic performance of Verdi's Nabucco at Masada via Arad in mid-June encountered similar "Welcome to Jordan" messages in the descent to the Dead Sea as Israel's franchises faded in and out and Jordanian franchises automatically kicked in every fifth hairpin turn.


   Israelis' love for humous is legendary. There's falafel fast food. There are snacks of whole cooked chickpeas and humous passed through a meat grinder and deep fried so that they look like spiced-up fried Chinese noodles. And there are plates of humous spread for every palate. Is there no limit to uses of Israel's national dish?
   Well - yes and no.
   The Volcani Institute* just debuted a beverage made entirely from chickpeas that they claim can replace milk. In a taste contest, the drink rated 3.5 on a 5-point scale for taste, but 80 percent of the participants said they wouldn't dream of putting humous in their coffee.

* agricultural research center



   Four thousand inhabitants of a Muslim Senegal village named Bani Israel claim they're Israelites who got separated "thousands of years ago" from the Children of Israel in Egypt.
   According to the village president, Dougoutigo Fadiga, his ancestors were "‘nightwalkers who walked at night to escape persecution in Egypt." Another resident filled in the details, claiming their long-lost kin had passed through Ethiopia to Timbuktu to set up house on the Horn of Africa.
   The Senegal government press agency APS broke the story, based on a tip from sanitation project workers who had asked about the origins of the village. Fadiga told the APS that he'd heard that thousands of Falasha or Beta Israel had been recognized by the State of Israel as being black Jews and were airlifted to Israel in Operation Moses.
   Fact or fantasy, Fadiga didn't say whether he and his flock hoped to obtain similar recognition from Israel.


   Plenty of people collect and trade vintage ‘stuff' - stamps, baseball cards, phonograph records. Aviation hobbyist Don Mokedi was lucky enough to get his hands on a Mig 23ML model fighter jet, traded for one of his Durnier 28 light aircraft. Mokedi's rare models are not, however, plastic. They're full-size genuine aircraft.
   Not the kind of thing you pick up at a garage sale, the former F-16 pilot who runs a civilian parajump operation, bought seven (!) decommissioned Durnier 28s - called Agurs or Cranes in Hebrew - at an Israel Ministry of Defense army surplus sale. When American collector David Canobie asked to buy one of the Agurs, Mokedi played his cards right - he asked for Canobie's Mig in return.
   Most of the former Czech Mig arrived in Ashdod Port broken down into parts. Mokedi says reassembly is like "putting a giant puzzle together." The only other Mig 23ML in Israel arrived in one piece in 1989, hand delivered by a defecting Syrian pilot who landed his plane at Meggido.


   Israel's National Insect Collection housed at Tel Aviv University has one million species - the largest of its kind in the world.
   For curator Dr. Amnon Friedberg his odd occupation is an all-consuming passion. Friedberg says, "Sometimes I stop the car at the side of the highway, get out and dig in a field for hours" (far from deterred, it seems, by the one-in-a-million chance he'll uncover a new species). What prompts Friedberg to throw in the trowel and go home? Only when his worried wife gets bugged enough to call and ask where the blazes he is this time.


   The organization of former members of the Knesset has banded together to lobby for improvements in their retirement package. The 22 recommendations include not only exhibiting on Knesset grounds the artwork of former members who have taken up photography or painting. The ex-MKs are recommending that the Knesset establish an ‘upper house' made up of... former parliamentarians with nothing better to do. The body wouldn't have any real legislative powers. It would operate parallel to the Knesset in an observer capacity more or less. Thumbs up - thumbs down one presumes.


* 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.