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Visits to Israel by thirteen German life guards and seven Israeli life guards to Germany - to share Israeli lifesaving techniques on Mediterranean beaches with German colleagues, afforded an apt opportunity to repay Germany in kind for the strategic edge provided by three $1.3 B state-of-the-art submarines Germany will be building for Israel over the next decade.

            The German lifeguards were equally impressed by the capabilities of an Israeli-designed sea-going vessel: the hasake (pronounced CHAH-sah-kah).

            Conceived in the 1930s, the hasake is still used by Israeli lifeguards to quickly reach and transport a drowning swimmer back to terra firma. A cross between an inner tube, a kayak and a flat Arab fishing skiff, the hollow one-man ‘float’ was originally made of wood, then fiberglass (and even solid Styrofoam). It’s shaped like a ‘surfboard on steroids’ – longer, wider, and thicker - and is more stable. The hasake is navigated using a ‘stretched’ kayak paddle. 

            Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai decided to gift Germany two of the city’s hasakot to improve the Germans’ strategic edge on Baltic beaches… (Yediot) Photo credit: Wikipedia commons

 Want one, too? Check out Beersheva-born New Jersey entrepreneur Shlomo “Sol” Lazarovitz’s ‘standup paddleboards’ under the Hasaki label. $1,500 each...paddle not included.   



How is Israel responding to UNESCO’s declaration of the Temple Mount a Muslim world heritage site…with no ties to the Jews?

            Prime Minister Bibi Natanyahu ordered a 45,000 NIS ($11,842) replica of the relief that adorns the Arch of Titus in Rome which depicts Roman soldiers carrying away the seven-branch menorah (candelabra) and other spoils from the Temple Mount after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. The replica is being presented to the director-general of UNESCO Irina Bokova as a present and will be displayed permanently in UNESCO headquarters in Paris with explanations in English, Hebrew, French and Arabic.

            “The objective historical record was carved in stone by non-Jewish rulers 600 years before the appearance of Islam in the world,” said Israel’s ambassador to the UN Carmel Shama HaCohen evenly. (Yediot) Photo credit: The Arch of Titus menorah, and a 7-branch menorah motif in the mosaic floor of the ancient Ma’on synagogue in the western Negev, Antiquities Authority.    



Four Palestinians were detained at Border Control at the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan with strange kind of contraband. The four had no less than 100 wild goldfinches (chuchiot, in Hebrew) hidden under their clothing.

            The stressed-out birds – some dead, the survivors on the verge of suffocating, were fed and watered and given a brief period to catch their breath before the Israeli veterinarian on duty sent the stowaways back to Jordan.

            Israeli officials hinted the four offenders might be changed with cruelty to animals, as well as attempted smuggling and possession of protected species. Two more would-be ‘importers’ were caught the same week with 24 goldfinches in their pants which Israeli officials released into the wild on the spot. (1075 FMI, Nana10, Haaretz) Photo credit: Ministry of Agriculture


* Palestinians mate the goldfinches in captivity with canaries to produce a ‘hybrid song bird’ popular in the Palestinian Authority areas called a banduk (actually, Arabic for bastard) that has very colorful plumage and an incredibly long and beautiful twitter. According to Haaretz, a prize banduk can fetch up to 10,000 NIS ($2,630). In one case – during an Israeli raid on an illegal ‘banduk mill’ with hundreds of birds, it was found that the breeder had set up an ulpan (intensive language course) playing their signature call on a tape recorder to ‘teach’ young birds to sing.  



Like ship builders and mariners since the 14th century, miners also name their tunnel boring machines (TBMs) with female names. Thus, when Chinese construction workers building the Tel Aviv Subway stood to embark on tunneling the Petah Tikva-to-Bat Yam Red Line that will cut across Tel Aviv 30 meters below the sidewalk at a steady speed of 10 meters a day – they sought a suitable name for their behemoth-like TBM – a name that would signify “a stalwart successful and beloved woman…who left her mark on society.”

            The choice was a no-brainer: Golda*. Israel’s first and only woman prime minister Golda Meir…renowned for her signature frankness and ‘balls’.** (To savor Golda’s gutsy manner and candor, see this vintage 1970 footage!) (Yediot, Israel HaYom)  Photo credit:  NETA rapid transit website


‘Golda’ is only the first of eight Chinese TBMs to be engaged in tunneling the Red Line – and the tunnel-builders are looking for more suitable names. Submit your suggestions at


** Minister of Transportation Katz said ‘Golda’ was chosen because Golda Meir “was the one who more than 40 years ago laid the cornerstone for a rapid transit system”…  Was Katz mistakenly referring to the ‘orphaned’ station at the Shalom Tower whose corner stone was optimistically laid by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol 50 years ago, in 1967? Or did he mean the 1973 ‘green light’ by Prime Minister Golda Meir’s cabinet, allotting 5 million IL to ‘draw up plans’. Without tunnels, such fits and starts didn’t even amount to ‘putting the cart before the horse’…



An upscale Tel Aviv restaurant faces a class action suit by a group of clientele who feel they got gypped when they ordered Zepra’s horridly expensive 130 NIS ($34) beef filet dish and 135 NIS ($35,52) veal dish, while a food lab showed the orders were made of less expensive…pork. The difference in taste, admitted an employee, was masked by a hefty dosage of Asian spices.

            The plaintiffs want their money back for everything they ever ordered over the past seven (!) years…plus another 5,000 NIS ($1,315) per customer, across the board.  


            Ironically, the law suit didn’t just claim diners had been shortchanged. It further claimed that such underhanded behavior damaged their “freedom of choice and autonomy…desecrated their personal dignity, and forced them to break the halachic prohibition on eating pork”…which sounds rather overblown considering the restaurant in question is not kosher and has pork, and shrimp and soft-shelled crabs clearly featured on the menu. (ynet) Photo credit: Zepra website