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In neighboring Lebanon, Ikea is coming to the rescue of 13,000 Syrian refugees who fled their homeland, offering to supply ready-to-assemble 17.5 sq.-meter (188 sq. feet) huts designed to accommodate a family-of-five in a crunch. Prices could plummet from $7,500 a unit to $1,000 a piece if enough units are ordered, they underscored. The Lebanese government – which feared the accommodations (complete with built in and heating but alas, sans Ikea’s signature furnishings) will be so comfy, the Syrians will stay put forever – after months of foot-dragging, finally approved the plan after a high-echelon official in the furniture giant promised Ikea would equip the ‘upgraded’ refugee housing with wheels so they could be towed to Syria once the civil war ends.

            And at home? A homeless Israeli, one of a dozen protesters living in improvised shanties and makeshift tents in a Tel-Aviv park, refused the Tel-Aviv Municipality’s offer of a genuine tent that could keep him and his wife a bit warmer in January temperatures. The squatter sounded off in a tv interview, charging city hall’s ‘upgraded tent’ was totally inadequate: “The tent’s too small,” complained Alex Rusov. “There isn’t room for our double bed.” (Yediot Aharonot, Erev Chadash with Rafi Reshef, ITV)



The Ramat Gan Safari was stunned to discover that two penguins Suki and Chupchikoni, observed busy building a lovers’ nest, aren’t what they’re knocked up to be.  Female and male penguins can only be told apart by their size and behavior, but a blood test revealed that Chupchikoni - who looks and acts like a male penguin - is actually a girl penguin.

            Zoo caretakers revealed that there were plenty of young male penguins in the same cage to choose from, suggesting mutual attraction between these two consenting adult birds was the upshot of free choice, not catch-as-catch-can under pressing circumstances.  



Israeli petty thieves have been facing a string of bad luck of late.

            First, an offender failed to get away with highway robbery after lab reports proved a half-eaten apple left at the scene of the crime* belonged’ to a certain suspect who by the time lab results came in five months later, was already under arrest for another dumb caper - saving the law the bother of having to search for the bad apple.

            Not long afterwards, another luckless burglar – a woman - was collared red-handed by a house owner. In the scuffle between the two women, the lady of the house bit the intruder. While the latter escaped by the skin-of-her-teeth, unfortunately she left a piece of skin (from her finger) between the home owner’s teeth. Woe and behold, several days later, the burglar was fingered and hauled into custody by police, after the two women bumped into one another on the street.     

* a taxi that he and an accomplice had hijacked at knife-point 



While children under five ride for free on public transportation, bus coops have been in the habit of charging passengers 3.30 NIS (just less than a dollar) for unfolded strollers.  Adding insult to injury, operators allow two-wheeled shopping carts filled with veggies from the open market to ride for free.  Even surfboards*) are exempt in Tel-Aviv from the strange ‘vehicle surcharge’…thanks to the intervention of City Hall.

            There ought to be a law? 

            Soon there will be, it seems. A private bill now before the Knesset, sponsored by dozens of parliamentarians, is based on the best interests of the child – that “on a bus, an [open] stroller is safer for the child than in the hands of his parents,“ making it illegal to charge for children riding in their own strollers.  

* a recent directive from the Tel-Aviv municipality to the Dan Bus Coop in the Big Orange.



Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world - ranging from huge structures like Yad Vashem and the Land of Israel Museum to small hole-in-the-wall quirky ones like the Israel Tax Museum and the Ayalon Institute...  According to CNN, Israel has 200 museums for a population of less than 8 million).

            Has Israel reached the saturation point?  Nope! 

            Under Jewish logic* (‘What, so many museums?!  Ahhhh, there’s surely room for one more!), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is planning a one-thousand square-meter Museum of Israeli Diplomacy. To fill it, the Ministry has asked the State Archives to hand over piquant and landmark documents and other artifacts and ‘displayables’ that will tell share milestones in Israeli diplomacy, parallel to exhibiting piquant gifts given to Israeli diplomats and vintage diplomatic apparel (frocks and top hats mandatory).  

            When will it open? They didn’t say.

            Judging by the American experience – never.

            The National Museum of American Diplomacy in Washington DC, a 3,252 square meter (35,000 sq. foot) affair announced with much fanfare in November 2004 as “coming soon at the State Department,” only began looking for artifacts in February 2011, and was officially “launched” by Secretaries of State Clinton and Baker in January 2013 – on paper that is (or on canvas as the case may be)  defined as a ‘project’ in process, which, diplomatically put, “will open in two phases”…but with no dateline as to ‘when.’ because there’s no money in the public kitty.

* Reminiscent of the classic Jewish joke: A gentile shoemaker arrives in town, sees there are four cobblers and decides to try his luck at the next town. A Jewish shoemaker arrives in the same town, sees there are four cobblers and immediately sets up shop.  If there’s enough business for four cobblers there’s certainly room for one more shoemaker.