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Here’s additional grounds to praise paperless offices.

            Spooked employees at the Rechovot Municipality were shocked to find a snake peeking out at them from among the files in the city’s Tax Collection Department… Turns out the equally taxed reptile had been caught inside the ‘jaws’ of a loose-leaf binder and from the looks of it (see the video) was relieved to be rescued by the municipal snake catcher. Yes, there is such a paid position at most municipalities in Israel… responsible for safely removing and releasing* snakes - mostly a local wild species of poisonous viper or tzefa - from homes and garden, oft attracted by air-conditioning interiors** and cool shady irrigated foliage during Israel’s long summers.

            But the visitor in question wasn’t a wild viper; it was a more than meter-long Ball Python – a non-venomous sub-Saharan African constrictor. As fate would have it, city hall is perched on top of Rechovot’s main shopping mall and it’s assumed the ‘stranger’ must have slithered up through the air conditioning ducts from a pet shop in the mall. (Nana 10 News) Photo credit: Rechovot Municipality


*  Israel has a narrow fragile ecosystem and even the Vipera palaestinae is a protected species under Israeli criminal law, along with other indigenous reptiles including frogs; lawbreakers face a 700 NIS (close to $200) penalty.

** For example, a neighbor of mine found a viper was regularly entering their house through French-style sliding doors to the patio while they were at work, spending the day curled up on top of their upright piano in the living room. Surprising the uninvited guest by an early return home, at first they thought the napping snake was a piece of rope! 



Palestinians have a very livid imagination – in the past having accused Israel of a host of loony ‘diabolical plans’ to do them in ranging from a 2009 charge that Israel was distributing aphrodisiac-laced chewing gum in Gaza to corrupt Palestinians’ morals, to a 2016 claim that Israel planned to trigger a tsunami to drown all the Palestinians in Gaza (see past item Flood of Ideas).

            And the latest delusion?    According to the Palestinian News Agency Ma’an, a line of whimsical bright pastel miniature plywood domiciles on the edge of the Jewish settlement Nofim in Samaria inhabited by strange looking stout baby blue-haired creatures is a “new illegal Jewish settlement” even if it bears no resemblance to the signature cluster of converted marine container ‘mobile homes’ that typify new outposts in Judea and Samaria…

            In fact, the Disney-like dwarf-size dwellings plopped down overnight are only a movie set where popular Israeli children’s  performer/entertainer Yuval Shem-Tov, better known as Yuval Hamibulbal (‘Befuddled Yuval’) is shooting a new DVD set in a make-believe hamlet called Paplicoocoo.* (Yediot) Photo credit:  Paplicoocoo – Ben Zion Meir Leyosh Facebook page; a typical Israeli outpost - Yesh Din  

*  ‘Coo-coo!’ in Hebrew doesn’t mean ‘nuts’.  It’s an expression/greeting  used to  amuse a small children - like saying ‘peek-a-boo’ – a sure-fire source of misunderstanding when an Israelis ‘innocent abroad’ spontaneously make faces at a stranger’s baby in a stroller...



The IDF is investigating army chow at Israel’snew state-of-the-art training bases ‘city’ (dubbed ‘Ir Ha-Ba’dim’) near Beersheva after an aghast draftee was dished up what looked like a ghoulish Halloween prop on her plate: a barbequed drumstick with a grisly looking chicken foot still attached…nails and all.

            The ‘tidbit’ had without-anyone-taking-notice somehow gone through the entire food chain of the vendor who won the 23 year (!) tender to operate the base’s kitchens and other basic services. The vendor’s catering wing literally feeds an army – 8,000 personnel and 30,000 meals a day…including vegan alternatives.* (Ynet) Photo credit: Facebook page of the recipientof the bizarre portion


* ‘Israeli salad for breakfast’ aside, in 2014 the IDF ombudsman said he believes “the right to food is a basic right,” and “it is only right that the IDF take the needs of the vegan community into account - as it does those of other communities” (alluding to super-duper glatt kosher meals for ultra-Orthodox soldiers).  Major General (res.) Yitzhak Brik ruled draftees who declare they are vegans are entitled to receive alternatives,  wherever they be, ordering army messes to stock tofu and fully vegan lentil and corn patties. Furthermore, the ombudsman ordered small IDF kitchens to provide storage space in the frig for food brought from home by vegan soldiers…



Chinese tourism to Israel is on the rise* according to a Yediot profile. But what sparked Li-Yong from Beijing to visit Israel was truly unique: Returning home from working for a Chinese construction company in East Africa, Li-Yong was standing at the checkout at the Duty Free in Addis Ababa during a layover between flights when he discovered he was short by a dollar in cash for the $71 bottle of Johnny Walker Green Label he planned to take back to family in Beijing. He was about to forgo the purchase when a perfect stranger behind him in line handed him a dollar bill. She told him she was touring Africa after finishing her military service in the IDF. “I said to myself, I have to go see the place where these considerate Jews live…” (Israel HaYom) Photo credit: Israeli Embassy in Beijing


* 80,000 visitors in 2016, up from 40,000 in 2015, with 100,000 tourists expected in 2017.



Need proof that Israel is a country that welcomes immigrants? 

            Israel’s Ministry of Education recognizes* all sorts of academic degrees from abroad – education that entitle holders to special salary perks that can amount to thousands of shekels a month. Over a million Jewish immigrants came to Israel from the Soviet Union in the 1990s. The Ministry of Education’s list of recognized institutions of higher education includes not only universities and colleges in the Soviet Union. It even recognizes the KGB’s school for training Soviet spies! (YediotPhoto credit: 1971 diploma from the KBG’s Felix Dzerzhinsky** School of Higher Education, on sale on ebay for $47.90


A Ministry official said they didn’t need to examine the curriculum; Israeli automatically recognizes any institution with academic recognition in the immigrant’s country of origin.


** Felix Dzerzhinsky was the founder of the CHEKA in 1917, a forerunner to the KGB devoted to ‘internal security’