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Who is likely to win an estimated 700,000,000 NIS ($189.2 M) public tender to store and safeguard government documents including protocols of cabinet meetings and investigatory commissions – a facility scheduled to be built in Arad, a town ‘overlooking Masada’? 

            Four companies originally bid on the tender, but three withdrew from the bidding. Who was left? A real winner: An archiving firm whose archive in Maaleh Adumim in the Judean Desert burned down…

            The Ministry of Finance said “the tender isn’t over, and no decision has yet been taken.”




How do the Japanese perceive Israel? 

            The traditional way to find out is to organize a series of focus groups, but the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo chose another tack: They organized an open Internet competition asking Japanese surfers to suggest a suitable mascot for Israel. The winner was promised two free round-trip airline tickets to Israel.  The winning design, judged embassy’s spokesperson Ronen Medzini, could be used in Israeli public diplomacy – as an emblem on the ambassador’s business cards and as a logo for ‘made in Israel’ goods for manufacturers who seek to capture a piece of the Japanese consumer market.

            Over 466 entries were received ranging from dancing pitot and smiling falafel balls to Jews with side curls, at least two scrappy cats (one with a Moshe Dayan-style Star of David eye patch), and countless medallions employing an Israeli flag motif. One of the most original was Mr. Matkotten – a smiling green mattkot* beach paddle, dotted with prickles and prickly pear fruit (sabras, in Hebrew), sporting Biblical sandals and a Star of David T-shirt.      


* an Israeli beach ball game for two played with rackets, played like ping pong…but without a table or a net.  See the Chelm story “Drop the Ball” for details.




While journalism professionals mourn the passing of traditional print media, there is good news from Israel: 84 percent of Israelis over the age of twenty devote some of their leisure time to reading genuine newspapers – you know those clumsy pulp dinosaurs permeated with the distinctive smell of printer’s ink that make a genuine rustling sound when you turn the pages by grasping the edge with your thumb and your index finger*.  

            Not only that: Eighty-six percent of Israeli males and 72 percent of females read the news and politics section, 51 percent  compared to 22 percent read the economic section and 39 percent of men compared to 3 percent of women read the sports section – which might explain how a country of eight million souls supports 18 (!) daily newspapers, including eleven Hebrew dailies – three of them economic dailies, and five Russian-language newspapers. 

            Good news?* Don’t be silly: The Economist’s 2012 “Democracy Index” ranked Israel 37th (down among the “flawed democracies”) because, among other things - the state of its print media…


* index finger: the pointer used in ‘clicking’ a mouse and navigating a touch screen, once used to flip through index cards in something called a ‘card catalogue’ in libraries or to find portfolios in a large clumsy oblong metal containers called a ‘filing cabinet’




Rishon le-Zion found a truly unique vehicle to promote adoption of

new words coined by the Hebrew Language Academy to replace English words that have infiltrated Hebrew speech and writing for lack of a Hebrew term such as “talkback” (now say t’guvit) and “blackout” (cheeshachon) .

            City elders hung giant signs with the new words on the sides of their municipal garbage trucks.




When conservationists decided to restore the wetlands to the Enot Gibeton Nature Reserve near the Tel Nof Air Force Base that had been mostly drained by the British 60 years ago, they planned to restore natural wildlife to the newly-flooded bog - just the vegetation, the frogs, the birds and the fish… minus the swamp’s celebrated mosquitoes.

            However, in the course of first removing any non-indigenous forage and fauna lurking in the area, workers fished out of the small remaining bog left by the British…a mammoth 15 kilogram (33 pound) carp. 

            No one has a clue how the carp got there or how long it has been there.    Will the monster end up as gefilte fish?  Or will the whopper be pardoned by the Nature and Parks Authority, like a White House turkey on Thanksgiving? 




Among young people today, proposing has become an major production that must leave as indelible an impression as the marriage ceremony itself – such as the enterprising Israeli in New York who got permission to ask for his future wife’s hand from the podium of the UN General Assembly (reported by Chelm-on-the-Med in May 2009).

            Recently, an over-enthralled prospective groom asked two buddies to stage a mock abduction of his girlfriend by two masked assailants in front of one of Herzlya’s busiest shopping mall.  Suffice it to say, the dimwit’s caper not only scared the pants off his future fiancé, who almost died of fright; it set in motion a major manhunt with roadblocks snarling traffic throughout the Sharon region. 

            Now the Israel Police Force is weighing whether to sock the over-imaginative groom-to-be with the costs of the false alarm.