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It was surely one of the wildest albeit briefest  ‘go slow’ strikes in the history of labor disputes or the wackiest ‘work by the book’ tactic ever devised by protesting employees…

            During a last-ditch attempt to enlist organized labor behind port workers’ struggle to torpedo the building of two privately-managed ports in Haifa and Ashdod,* during a critical meeting with Histadrut (Labor Federation) secretary Ofer Aini, a high-echelon member of the workers’ committee, Avinoam Shushan, fired off an SMS to all port workers saying he was “in a fateful meeting with Aini” and each and every one of them should drop whatever they were doing (hopefully not literally!) and “say two psalms for our success.”     

* supposedly capable of breaking the stranglehold Ashdod and Haifa Port workers wield, enabling them to win scandalous salaries and perks. Is it any wonder 7,000 people applied for 30 new longshoremen positions (offering 13,000 NIS or $3,611 as ‘starting pay’)!



            The wife of an employee in one of Israel’s defense industries hired a detective to establish whether her 40 year-old husband who had suddenly begun working out - becoming fit as a fiddle, parallel to sending a steady steam of SMSs at all times of the day and night - was having an affair. But the affair took a surprise turn of events when the misses opened the packet of incriminating photos, only to discover that the lady with the hots for her hubby was a blooming grandma.  Adding insult to injury, her husband’s mistress was none other than…her own mother…



During Bibi Natanyahu’s trip to the US for the UN’s General Assembly, in an interview with the BBC World Service in Persian, Israel’s prime minister presented a unique definition of what freedom is all about: Turning to Iran’s young generation, Natanyahu declared that “if Iranians were free, they would expel this regime and [then] they could wear jeans and listen to western music.” 

            His comments sparked a rise, but – alas - not an uprising: A wave of piqued young Iranians gave the PM a dressing, posting pictures on the Internet of themselves in their beloved jeans – including a woman in skinny jeans and sneakers under her tunic and sporting fashion sunglasses under a long headscarf. Another Iranian posted a photomontage of Natanyahu drawing a red line above the knees of a pair of fashionable women’s jeans, instead of the now-iconic image of Natanyahu’s anarchist’s bomb poster drawing attention to the point-of-no-return on the Islamic Republic’s race to get the bomb.     


NOBLE FINALE 1991/2013

Israel Prize laureate Yehudit Arnon, founder and choreographer of the Kibbbutz Contemporary Dance Company, died recently at age 87. 

            Sent to Auschwitz in 1944, the SS wanted the 17 year-old Czech-born inmate to dance at their Christmas party. When she refused, she was forced as punishment to stand barefoot in the snow; Arnon swore that if she survived, she would dedicate herself to dance. 

            One of the most unforgettable stories I ever published was in a 1991 column of quirky news* which told how Arnon, a member of kibbutz Gaaton, received a small unexpected package from abroad. After vacillating whether to call the bomb squad, Arnon gingerly unwrap the suspicious parcel.  Inside was a box containing a nylon bag with the ashes of renowned American choreographer Gene Hill Sagan. The sender was a Philadelphia crematorium.

            After the initial shock, Yehudit Arnon realized the remains were a last request from her long-time friend who had died of AIDS two months earlier. She packed the ashes in a simple kiln-fired jar and placed it in the heart of a sculpturegarden at the entrance to the Gaaton Kibbutz Dance Troupe's studio and went back to dancing.

 * ‘Gleanings,’ a forerunner of today’s columns, carried by the news monthly Israel Scene between 1986-1994.



Even Israel’s laid-back society has some limits: The Prime Minister’s Office has issued a dress code stipulating that from now on, no employee, no matter how lowly, is to show up at work in sweats, shorts, undershirt-style shirt or tank top with their bellybutton exposed.  Even flip-flops (!) are ‘out’… 

            Faceless civil servants hidden-away in tiny airless and at times un-air conditioned cubicles ‘somewhere in the building’ were up in arms, saying the new directives were out of whack with Israel’s climate. One unidentified but flabbergasted veteran retorted: “We finished high school a long time ago* and it’s not clear why they are trying to ‘educate’ us.  Ish b’emunato y’chiyeh! (Each should live according to his faith)

 * where school uniforms are common.



Usually it’s the candidates that sling mud at one another in elections, but in one recent municipal race, the mud-slinger was the father of the candidate Arieh Yitzchaki (69), who sent a letter to all constituents in Kfar Yonah (p. 17,000), just outside Natanya, saying his daughter, attorney Metal Yitzchaki-Toledano who was running for mayor, was “unreliable.”*

            It wasn’t the first time her father made news; during the August 2005 Disengagement from Gaza, Dr. Yitzchaki, an historian, barricaded himself in his home in Kfar Yam in Gush Katif armed with an M-16 rifle, daring anyone to try and uproot him from his house (but then agreed to be evacuated without a fight, once he had captured the headlines). 

 * Was anybody listening? Apparently – yes. One of five candidates on the ballot, Yitzchaki-Toledano came in third.