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At the height of heated controversy over drafting orthodox youth at 18 for national service, for a moment residents of Mea Sha'arim thought 'forced mobilization' was underway. The ultra-orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood was swarming with men in military haircuts navigating the narrow alleyways with maps in hand! A false alarm, the soldiers were only members of an elite IDF special forces unit on a training exercise – a unit of 'body snatchers' that specializes in apprehending terrorists on their home turf.

      Residents were reassured, but probably affronted to learn that Mea Sha'arim with its narrow streets, courtyards and alleyways had been chosen because "it best resembled the labyrinth of the casbah (citadel) of Nablus."


Ahmed Tibi, a Member of Knesset from the Arab town of Taibeh, saved the life of Fadi Massarwa from his home town, The a fearless but mindless 28-year old constituent decided to jump head-first into the Med while touring Spain without checking the depth of the water. Further complicating the matter, the hapless swimmer landed in a Barcelona hospital with a broken back but sans travel insurance.

      The young man's parents called their neighbor Achmed Tibi who just happened to be vacationing in Barcelona. The gynecologist-turned-parliamentarian flew-in an orthopedic specialist from Israel to evaluate the jumper's injuries and ability to fly. Then Tibi pulled strings to bump two passengers off the next El-Al flight to Israel in order to accommodate a stretcher.

      The MK negotiated a trade-off whereby the two passengers left in Spain would be compensated for the inconvenience by Massarwa's family – clearing the airline of any accountability, since a new Israeli law* just took effect empowering passengers stranded due to major delays, cancellations, overbooking...or being bumped off a flight for another reason, to sue for compensation – a bill that MK Tibi, in fact, had sponsored.

FYI: Passengers flying in and out of Israel must be fed and given lodging during major delays, and are entitled to sue for up to 10,000 NIS ($2,480) in an Israeli court for compensation without proof of damage, if they don't receive direct compensation from those responsible for the plight of their flight.


With divestment from Israel a popular 'calling' among Israel's adversaries, the late Chilean ambassador Joaquin Montes Larraín's last diplomatic mission and parting gift to his host country was a moving gesture of friendship that gives a poignant touch to the immortal words of medieval poet Yehuda Halevi who wrote "my heart is in the East, and I am at the ends of the West": The 61 year-old diplomat (who died in an Israeli hospital in a last-ditch battle to beat a rare form of leukemia) requested days before his death that his body be cremated and half his ashes scattered in Jerusalem, half in his native Chili as a symbol of his deep personal attachment to Israel.

      On a Wednesday after a mass was said for Larrain in a Jaffa church and a farewell ceremony held at Ben-Gurion airport, all that remained was to fulfill the second half of the Chilian diplomat's last request.


Ilan, a familiar figure on Ashdod's seashore decided to end single-handed a wave of thefts from unwary bathers, after the popsicle vendor realized the situation was prompting his regular customers to come to the beach without their wallets for a change. 

      Ilan baited a stretch of beachfront where he operated a refreshment stand, with six bags stuffed with empty wallets and worthless paraphernalia, and within days bagged his catch. Catching sight of a fellow fingering the 'merchandise,' the fearless concessionaire collared the culprit and an accomplice hot-handed helping themselves to wallets in the public changing room, leading to the arrest of a gang of four men and three women. The out-of-towners had rented a holiday apartment in Ashdod for a month. netting an estimated half million NIS ($125,000) in cash, cell phones and jewelry from Ashdod's sun 'n sea worshippers before they were nabbed. (Yediot,


Before Israeli radio began broadcasting around-the-clock, programming would close with the national anthem, Hatikva, but for 42 years Israeli television's First Channel (which for decades, was the only channel) signed off its broadcasts with a 28-second daily selections from biblical or talmudic sources or midrashim* showing a yod pointer moving across a parchment page of the text as a baritone voice that sounded like the Almighty himself reads the short portion, signaling to the People of Israel that dwells in Zion that it was time to hit the sack. The iconic finale with its thematic flute opening and closing signal, have been the target of numerous spoofs, including humorist Shlomo Nitzan's hilarious rendition of the opening passages of Genesis.

      Surrendering to a visual age, the powers-that-be have decided to retire the almost iconic written text and pointing finger-shaped curser for a more graphic presentation.

* homiletic teachings on the Bible


A new circular from the Ministry of Education saying educators can't check for lice in children's hair without parental permission or suspend untreated kids – leaving countless kindergarten teachers scratching their heads.