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CHELM-ON-THE-MED©, February 2011 - Column 2


         Israel gets some strange requests via diplomatic channels, but surely the plea from the monarch of the Zulu tribe King Goodwill Zwelithini is one for the books.

         The South African ethnic leader asked Israel to help circumciser 10,000 members of his newly-formed royal guard - most of them Zulu warriors between the ages of 17 to 24. The king hopes five million rank-and-file Zulu will follow suit.

         The strange foreign aid request is part of the war on AIDS, spurred by research that suggests circumcised men are less susceptible to AIDS. The problem is there are few experts in Africa in circumcision employing modern surgery procedures, so quite logically, the king called on the Jewish state to lend a hand. 

         Israel already sent a team of doctors, nurses and public heath experts that set up a clinic and teach local medical personnel the art of safe circumcision, but the king has issued another royal request:  That Israel set up 70-80 circumcision clinics throughout his kingdom.




The Chilean miners trapped for 69 days half a mile down in the bowels of the earth were showered with presents after their rescue - including $100 iPods from Steve Jobs and tickets to a Manchester United - Real Madrid soccer game. The Government of Israel offered the miners an all-expenses-paid week-long "spiritual pilgrimage of the Holy Land." 

The rescued men said they'd love to come, provided they can take 70 relatives along with them including 31 partners, two mothers, 33 children, one grandchild, one nephew and one step-daughter. One miner was reported to have requested to bring both his wife and his mistress.

 * The group (shaved down to one escort per miner) is scheduled to arrive on the 23rd of February. They will tour Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth and historical landmarks like the Dead Sea and Masada, but asked to skip "closed places' like the Western Wall Tunnel. No wonder.



         Global warming has resulted not only in less rain for Israel.  The intensity of less frequent rainstorms has increased. One such storm was so fierce it flooded businesses hugging the Med, particularly eateries in the Old Tel Aviv Port area. Assessing the damage to his demolished eatery - the Comme il Faut, chef Adi Abu was heading out the door when a gigantic wave literally inundated his fish restaurant...leaving in its wake a 4.2 kilogram grouper.

         While it's hard to know who was more surprised by this kettle of fish - the astonished chef or the open-mouthed fish, Abu recovered first, and grabbed the fiercely flapping grouper...which was soon swimming in a savory sauce of fresh tomatoes seasoned with fennel, garlic and cilantro.  

         An hour later - come hell or high water - Abu and his manager Tal Chaliba sat down for a last supper among the shambles of their restaurant. 




         It doesn't sound like a very promising match:  She's a hot-headed Spaniard from Barcelona who a year ago killed her previous mate.  He's a battered spouse from Israel whose previous mate poked out one of his eyes in a scrap five years ago.

         Actually Pepa - the intended bride and Koko - the designated groom don't have a lot of choices. The pair are endangered Great Hornbills - one from the Barcelona Zoo, the other from the Ramat Gan Safari.  

       Safari veterinarians are guardingly optimistic about introducing the two - albeit gingerly and gradually.  Ten year-old Koko is a strong and striking male, they stress. The mercurial 21 year-old Spanish Great Hornbill is going to think twice before messing with this particular dude - mating aside. 

         Pepa is scheduled to 'make aliyah' by the end of February. (Yediot and the Ramat Gan Safari)




         The second anniversary of the 2009 Cast Lead campaign is safely behind us without a repeat performance,  Yet, Israel's nationwide network of wailing sirens and tzeva adom (Code Red) audio alerts that warn civilians of enemy rockets and missiles is hardly about to be mothballed.  In fact, enhancements are in store: With everyone and his brother armed with a cell phone, the IDF Home Front Command plans to add personalized SMS messages to all cell phones within radius of any incoming projectiles anywhere in the country. 

         The ingenious albeit unique SMS application integrates input from GPS technology and input from the national cellular antenna grid, pinpointing in a split second the location of any and all cell phones at any given moment. Such Instant Messaging will tell recipients what's headed their way and what they should do - hit the ground or run for shelter. 




            How did an authentic Churchill cigar turn up in Israel?

More than half-a-century ago, in 1950, Winston Churchill gave career diplomat Eliyahu Eilat one of his signature cigars when Israel's first ambassador to London presented his credentials to His Majesty's Government. Eilat kept the vintage cigar for forty years, through thick and thin. In 1990, with death knocking at the door, Eilat decided to bequeath the odd but iconic heirloom to Yad Sarah - a non-profit that lends medical equipment to those in need, at no cost.  Like countless other Israelis, Eilat had availed himself of their services in his declining years.

Yad Sarah is now auctioning off* gifts they received from grateful clients, in order to equip a new center in Beersheva - including the Churchill cigar.

 * In 2009, a partially-consumed cigar that Churchill smoked at the Casablanca Conference while planning D Day was valued by Antiques Roadshow at 800 sterling.  See