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If anyone needs confirmation that Pope Francis is a down-to-earth personage, when Argentinean-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio visited Israel, what did the spiritual leaders of the Catholic Church and the Prime Minister of the Jewish state talk about in the military helicopter between the airport and Jerusalem? 

            The upcoming 2014 Modial* in Brazil, what else!

            But Pope Francis isn’t solely a devoted soccer fan: He revealed to Natanyahu that during his visit to Jordan, even he the Pope watched the dramatic 86-98 victory of Maccabi Tel-Aviv over Real Madrid in the Final Four of the 2014 Euroleague Basketball Championship, after Maccabi miraculously defeated CSKA Moscow 67-68 in the last seconds of the semifinals.

* Mondial: French for ‘global’ – the popular name for the FIFA World Cup in the men’s football championshipthat began on 12 June and will run through 13 July.



Count on the Palestinians to mark the festive visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land ‘in their own signature way’: While visiting Bethlehem which is under Palestinian Authority (PA) governance, the pope’s mass in Manger Square was orchestrated against the backdrop of a mural of the nativity scene with baby Jesus swaddled in a Palestinian kaffiyah…and the ceremony was brought to a halt by the muezzin in the minaret at the edge of the square who chose* to broadcast the Muslim call for prayer at full-volume over his PA system, momentarily drowning out the Pope with “Allah Akbar” (Allah is Great), a rather cheap shot, to say the least. (Yediot, Channel 10, Haaretz)   

* Haaretz claims the PA asked muezzins to ‘pipe it down’ during the Pope’s visit.



While Rechov Hazyit (Olive Street) is the most popular street name in Israel according to Google Earth, not only ‘founding fathers’ and cultural icons rate street names; countless local politicians have been honored with a street or boulevard in their home city or town – provided they’re dead.

            But why wait?  Why shouldn’t illustrious locals have the opportunity to bask in the glory of having a street or round-about named after them before they bite the dust?  Moreover, why leave such fateful decisions to the vicissitudes of time and chance? 

            In a tradition-breaking move, the city council of Ashkelon unanimously voted to adopt the recommendation raised by mayor Itamar Shim’oni at the request of his deputy-mayor Shabtai Tzur – that the street where Tzur lives – presently Heyl HaYam Street* – be jettisoned and renamed in honor of its most illustrious resident.

            Shaptai Tzur, of course.  

 * Israel Navy Street



            Who wants to be a director in a government company? 

            Who doesn’t!

            No less than 14,000 persons responded to an ad in the papers placed by the Ministry of Finance inviting qualified individuals in the public-at-large to submit their candidacy for a place on the board of one hundred government corporations: 8,800 of the applicants held a master’s degree and 1,250 had a PhD; 1,500 had served or were presently serving as director-generals of business entities; and 150 had already served as chairs of the board of director elsewhere.  Four thousand three hundred of the candidates were women.   

            The Government Corporation Authority commission mandated to choose 500 new directors have waded through and weeded out 10,000 applications – only three hundred rejected for lack of basic credentials.   



When the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Jawdat Ibrahim to receive two more foreign missions on their way from Ben-Gurion Airport to Jerusalem – one, a bunch of American and Canadian airport officials, the other, nine high-tech correspondences from Hungary, at a fixed price of $25 per diner, not counting the tip – the Abu Gosh restaurateur sent the Ministry a curt refusal.

            Ibrahim had been entertaining official guests for a host of government ministries for over a decade, and he admitted he thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to rub elbows with the parade of movers and shakers in high places, so he accepted tardy pay schedules endemic to government accounting offices,* as part of the bargain. However, serving as a goodwill ambassador was not the same as unpaid servitude, he told the civil servants: Unpaid bills for hosting Ministry guests taken to his restaurant for a taste of traditional Arab hospitality and cuisine as an introduction to Israel had been piling up for a year.  Free lunch was not on the menu.

            But, assistance is on the way:  A new bill before the Knesset will require government companies and local and national governments to pay domestic suppliers’ and service providers’ invoices within 30 to 45 days or pay steep interest and a CoL penalty.   

* Apparently not just an Israeli ‘habit’ it’s reported that Italy (and other European nations) collect piles of overdue bills, as well. 



An Israeli researcher has theorized that the reason American has a rising number of kids with peanut allergies, and Israel has so few kids with peanut allergies is…Bamba.  The physician says* the wildly popular peanut-flavored melt-in-your-mouth snack that Israeli kids eat even as infants, the minute they go onto solid food…probably desensitized sabras to peanuts.

* backed up by a 2008 study published in the Journal of Allergies and Clinical Immunology that found Jewish children in the UK had ten times higher rates of peanut allergies than their sabra counterparts in Israel…the dependent variable being exposure to Bamba!